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LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: Pornography Effect 101

By Marilisa Walker

Following a heart wrenching break up of our nearly 11-year marriage, and after he ran our Chamber of Commerce award-winning businesses into the ground, stole all my money and drove off in our only car on a sizzling hot summer afternoon in August while I was taking a nap, I experienced “an overwhelming and overpowering feeling of not being able to make sense of it”—which is what I logged in my journal four months later.

Throwing myself on the kitchen floor and sobbing uncontrollably, while these antics provided some emotional relief but horrified my dog—yet was I still left with an irreconcilable quandary.

If I could only make sense of what happened between my husband and I, then I could understand it.

If I could understand it, then I could deal with it.

In the same way a patient sees a doctor for a distressing physical symptom, the doctor is rendered powerless to treat that disease unless a DIAGNOSIS is first given.

What are we dealing with, exactly?

My dilemma seemed to be rooted in, why, why, why when we seemingly had so much going for us, could our relationship and life end up in such shambles?

True, I can never go back in time insomuch as to restructure a nanosecond and change even one singular event for the better—or force a different outcome—yet it is my conviction that if I understand the dynamics of what happened: I can have an insurance policy shored up AGAINST that future time in which the same scenario will likely repeat itself—”I just met this wonderful man”—leaving me devastated and heartbroken with the proverbial rug pulled out from under me yet again!

I, justifiably, have a real fear and concern I might inadvertently find myself years from now, in the same unpleasant situation. After all, I have racked up two husbands now—both addicts.

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
Albert Einstein

Einstein was certainly one of the sharper knives in the drawer and his take on a situation is fairly reliable.

“Many women do not evaluate themselves or their relationships,” says Dr. Joyce Hamilton Berry, a clinical psychologist in the Washington, D.C., area. “Consequently, they do not recognize the similarities that attract them to certain types of men.”

Dr. Berry explains that when a woman repeatedly chooses the wrong man, those bad choices attempt to fulfill “needs” that sometimes go back to the woman’s childhood.”

Furthermore she asserts that “People seemingly are drawn to a specific character type; until you learn what it is that keeps you boxed in, you are never going to be able to extricate yourself.”

So this examination—diagnosis—on my part is born out of judiciousness, rather than sentimentality.

It is not out of longing for the relationship to be restored, for to restore such a twisted relationship would mean that I have no self respect at all—thinking I am no better than to be lied to, stolen from, and psychologically abused—this is emphatically not the case!

Our relationship was like an endless game of “go fish;” in vain did I try to match the other cards up to the face card that was showing—an impossible task.

The face card that was showing was “what he said,” the other cards that never matched were “what he did.”

What he SAID and WHAT HE DID were not congruent.

It was as if you looked outside to determine the weather, finding a snowstorm of unprecedented magnitude, you opted for sandals and shorts!

So, doctor, what then, based on your stringent findings, would you say is the diagnosis?

Pornographic Projected Objectification

This is a term I have coined myself, to the end that other women might get a handle on what, exactly, went down—because my situation is by no means unique and there are countless woman, girlfriends, wives, children, and employers left scratching their heads as to what in the world is wrong with this guy?!

It is my contention that Pornographic Projected Objectification is so prolific as to be staggeringly common. You know, similar to air—everybody pretty much breathes it.

If you expect me to escalate my theory of PPO to the tenor of a puritanically snubbed wife, with nothing but theological arguments against the wrongness of porn and a few dog-eared Bible passages (although I certainly could, having graduated from Moody Bible Institute School of External Studies—“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9) consider these facts from SafeFamilies.org.

  • As of 2003, there were 1.3 million pornographic websites; 260 million pages (N2H2, 2003).
  • The total porn industry revenue for 2006: $13.3 billion in the United States; $97 billion worldwide (Internet Filter Review).
  • U.S. adult DVD/video rentals in 2005: almost 1 billion (Adult Video News).
  • Hotel viewership for adult films: 55% (cbsnews.com).
  • Unique worldwide users visiting adult web sites monthly: 72 million (Internet Filter Review).
  • Number of hardcore pornography titles released in 2005 (U.S.): 13,588 (Internet Filter Review).
  • Adults admitting to Internet sexual addiction: 10%; 28% of those are women (Internet Filter Review).
  • More than 70% of men from 18 to 34 visit a pornographic site in a typical month (comScore Media Metrix).
  • More than 20,000 images of child pornography posted online every week (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 10/8/03).
  • Approximately 20% of all Internet pornography involves children (National Center for Mission & Exploited Children).
  • 100,000 websites offer illegal child pornography (U.S. Customs Service estimate).
  • As of December 2005, child pornography was a $3 billion annual industry (Internet Filter Review).
  • “At a 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, two-thirds of the 350 divorce lawyers who attended said the Internet played a significant role in the divorces in the past year, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half such cases. Pornography had an almost non-existent role in divorce just seven or eight years ago.” (Divorcewizards.com)

I am, at my very core an entrepreneur; a business person.

Two very obvious things jump out.

  1. There is a DEMAND for pornography.
  2. There is a SUPPLY of pornography.

Yet it is neither demand nor supply that is of any consequence.

Instead, I am interested in the effect of its use.

When one is a heroin addict, no one delves deeply into the molecular structure of what heroin is comprised.

We are merely concerned with heroin’s effect on a life—and not the heroin itself.

Effects of pornography’s use

In a well balanced, thoughtfully written piece for the United Kingdom’s The Guardian, writer Edward Marriott investigates,  Men and porn.

First Marriott lays the traditional groundwork of proliferation:

In the US, with the pornography industry bringing in up to $15bn (£8.9bn) annually, people spend more on porn every year than they do on movie tickets and all the performing arts combined. Each year, in Los Angeles alone, more than 10,000 hardcore pornographic films are made, against an annual Hollywood average of just 400 movies.

Marriott further writes:

There is a widespread sense that anyone who suggests pornography might have any kind of adverse effect is laughably out of touch. Coren and Skelton, former Erotic Review film critics, focus on their flip comic narrative, scarcely troubling themselves with any deeper issues. “In all our years of watching porn,” they write, in a rare moment of analysis that doesn’t get developed any further, “we have never properly resolved what we think about how, why and whether it is degrading to women. We suspect that it might be. We suspect that pornography might be degrading to everybody.

As for the extent of my own husband’s addiction, he once told me that he’s been evicted from his home choosing to spend his last money on pornography, a want, and not shelter, a need.

Obviously this thinking is not born out of sane logic, but of irrational logic, as addicts are not known, by their nature, to be bastions of rational thought.

Please bear in mind that I am not talking about a person who has a casual relationship with porn. I am talking about an ADDICT.

What is an addict’s most pressing obsession? SUPPLY.

Anything, and I do many anything, that stands between an addict and his supply, must be what?

Must be SACRIFICED.

So if I had money that could keep the supply coming, he stole it.

If I had assets that would boost consumption, he borrowed against them—secretly.

If I had employees that needed to be paid, he rather, paid himself first and wrote them hot checks.

If I had clients deserving a service, he instead, took their money but called on the date of the event to tell them, graciously, that he “could not be there,” but would be “by on Monday to refund their money. According to the Better Business Bureau’s complaint, Monday never came.

Wife, kids, job, business, reputation—does not matter. All will eventually be placed on the sacrificial altar of “supply.”

One third of the way through his article, Marriott drops the big bomb on every one’s mind:

Yet what about the millions who consume pornography, the men—for they are, despite pornographers’ claims about growing numbers of female fans, mostly men—who habitually use it? How are they affected? Is pornography, as most these days claim, a harmless masturbatory diversion?

In a moment of candidness, the writer provides us with a vulnerable glimpse of his own use of pornography:

For most men, at some point in their lives, pornography has held a strong appeal and, before any examination of its effects, this fact has to be addressed. Like many men, I first saw pornography during puberty. At boarding school, dog-eared copies of Mayfair and Knave were stowed behind toilet cisterns; this borrow-and-return library system was considered absolutely normal, seldom commented upon and either never discovered by the masters or tacitly permitted. Long before my first sexual relationship, porn was my sex education.

No doubt (though we’d never have admitted it then) my friends and I were driven to use porn through loneliness: being away from home, we longed for love, closeness, unquestioning acceptance. The women over whom we masturbated—the surrogate mothers, if you like—seemed to be offering this but, of course, they were never going to provide it. The untruths it taught me on top of this disappointment—that women are always available, that sex is about what a man can do to a woman—I am only now, more than two decades on, finally succeeding in unlearning.

It is safe to say that men who are addicted to porn find themselves vacillating between two lands—the reality of what a woman is—one who has hopes and dreams and parents and ate two pieces of toast with strawberry jam for breakfast that day, is worried about keeping the electricity on and earning enough money for her children’s daycare—and the antithesis porn—fantasy woman has no such affections, silly you, and is but hot n horny and ready to please.

Women then, in this fantasy world, must first be dehumanized before they can be used; and it only stands to reason, men who use them, must first be dehumanized as well.

It is clear to me that my husband was himself, first a victim—after which he then victimized me; a trickle down effect, if you will.

Victims are victimized themselves, the abused become the abusers; hurt people, hurt people.

In a most shocking interview, a male porn star, no longer in the industry, was asked to describe ways in which he was treated while on the set.

As he explained the humiliating regimen that he was subjected to go through to produce the all important climax shot at the end, a distinct and palpable change came over his countenance. This poor man was visibly reduced to holding back bitter tears.

“I was treated like an animal,” he said softly.

It’s all too easy to see the humiliating effects of pornography on women, to the exclusion of the suffering on the part of the men.

Everyone is dehumanized. Make no mistake. Everyone.

Embracing the lie

Marriott goes on to make a revealing point:

Pornography, in other words, is a lie. It peddles falsehoods about men, women and human relationships. In the name of titillation, it seduces vulnerable, lonely men—and a small number of women—with the promise of intimacy, and delivers only a transitory masturbatory fix. Increasingly, though, men are starting to be open about the effect pornography has had …

Willful suppression of the truth only then leaves room in one’s life to then, predictably, embrace the false.

Is it really any great surprise that the rest of the addict’s life is merely the living and acting out of that requisite untruth?

This can explain how, as the cycle continued and became ever more central and necessary, lie upon lie had to be told.

First there is the lie—are you looking at porn again?

And then a lie had to be told about the lie, and so on and so on.

It’s as if the addict begins to see himself and those around him, in an endlessly distorted, maniacally cruel, fun house mirror. The horrible paradigm shift is complete.

False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.” Socrates

One of the most damaging aspects of our relationship, which I had told him in many a fight regarding his use of porn and the financial disaster that would surely follow was:

“How could you look in my face day after day and lie?!”

And I also stated, “For me to stay in this relationship with you means that you are asking me to believe lies!”

Looking at the world through the murky lens of porn

Marriott makes his conclusion:

Even when in a loving sexual relationship, men who have used porn say that, all too often, they see their partner through a kind of “pornographic filter.” This effect is summed up eloquently by US sociologist Harry Brod, in Segal’s essay Sweet Sorrows, Painful Pleasures: “There have been too many times when I have guiltily resorted to impersonal fantasy because the genuine love I felt for a woman wasn’t enough to convert feelings into performance. And in those sorry, secret moments, I have resented deeply my lifelong indoctrination into the aesthetic of the centrefold.”

This is my point exactly—Pornographic Projected Objectification

I view it—the pornography. I project it—the pornography.

I look at nothing, not cognitively, not even consciously, without donning my porn goggles first.

Let me be blatantly honest—if you were to ask a woman what it’s like to have sex with a porn addict, they would tell you that there is a “disconnect”‘ during sex. While their partner is present in body, they are simultaneously elsewhere, for in the porn addict’s mind, the retrieval of pornographic images is a must. They have literally chemically conditioned their sexual response to ultimately only obey that stimuli.

Pornography’s chemically altered brain

Donald L. Hilton Jr. wrote an article entitled, “Slavemaster—How Pornography Drugs and Changes Your Brain. Following are excerpts:

Pornography is a visual pheromone, a powerful, $100 billion per year brain drug that is changing human sexuality by “inhibiting orientation” and “disrupting pre-mating communication between the sexes by permeating the atmosphere,” especially through the internet. I believe we are currently struggling in the war against pornography because many continue to believe two key fallacies:

Fallacy No. 1: Pornography is not a drug.

Fallacy No. 2: Pornography is therefore not a real addiction.

In the center of the brain is the nucleus accumbens. This almond-sized area is a key pleasure reward center, and when activated by dopamine and other neurotransmitters, it causes us to value and desire pleasure rewards. Dopamine is essential for humans to desire and value appropriate pleasure in life. Without it, we would not be as incentivized to eat, procreate, or even to try to win a game.

It’s the overuse of the dopamine reward system that causes addiction. When the pathways are used compulsively, a downgrading occurs that actually decreases the amount of dopamine in the pleasure areas available for use, and the dopamine cells themselves start to atrophy, or shrink. The reward cells in the nucleus accumbens are now starved for dopamine and exist in a state of dopamine craving, as a downgrading of dopamine receptors on the pleasure cells occurs as well. This resetting of the “pleasure thermostat” produces a “new normal.” In this addictive state, the person must act out in addiction to boost the dopamine to levels sufficient just to feel normal.”

As the desensitization of the reward circuits continues, stronger and stronger stimuli are required to boost the dopamine. In the case of narcotic addiction, the addicted person must increase the amount of the drug to get the same high. In pornography addiction, progressively more shocking images are required to stimulate the person.”

These facts deeply wound the spouse. How can she even begin to compete with very real chemical changes in her partner’s brain, let alone ignore the intense level of betrayal and subsequent rejection? The answer is, she can not.

Towards the end of our relationship, my husband could not even bring himself to have sex with me because he had already gotten all his pleasure and chemical fix from porn. A real woman doesn’t “do it”‘ anymore.

According to one website dedicated to helping those effected by the partner’s use of pornography, a hallmark sign of addiction is this:

Your sexual life has dwindled, or is dead. You may find that your partner is no longer initiating sex.

“And, last we checked,” writes a woman regarding her husband’s porn use, “being committed to a relationship meant finding ways to exercise your independence in a way that didn’t make your partner weep.”

As for me, I am resolved to no longer cry on a kitchen floor.

Marilisa Walker is a strategic consultant and staff writer for House 61, a shelter that serves those who have experienced sexual abuse, domestic abuse or are human trafficked.



68 Comments on "LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: Pornography Effect 101"

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  1. Emi says:

    This all hits too close to home. It helps to read others stories, though. Never really dealt w/my ex-husband, who was very into porn as well as a sex addict. This was many yrs before the internet…60’s-70’s. And, I did think all the “problems” (he never hesitated to let me know it was all my fault) were “because of me”. I thought this was just how men ARE. . From Day 1, his “relationship” was with the television as well as the soft porn paperbacks he always had hidden away in drawers. TV was on continuously. I have a friend who is a recovered sex addict. She says that compulsive non-stop TV is another hallmark of a sex addict. We giggled over that one. Before he could do anything, the very minute he hit the front door, he had to flip on the TV. We were divorced years ago. He immediately remarried and I know for a fact it was a sex-fueled relationship. They have been married 30 years. They’re now heavily born-again Christian types. My gut tells me that she may have promoted Christianity to “rehabilitate” him. His Xtreme level of evangelicalism tells me that this is a form of dysfunctional “repentance” and a way for him to feign recovery from his sex/porn addiction. He has sent me forwarded emails w/a focus on Xtreme, abusive Christianity. What I see in those emails is someone who isn’t able to be in touch with his true self. He is unable to express who his human side is. But, he needs a persona, so he covers all this up with being an ultra devout evangelical completely over-the-top scarey “holier than thou” in your face Christian. I felt embarrassed by those emails…as if this was his way of making his vulnerability known in a peculiar way. A smoke screen and even a call for help. If he is Xtreme enough, maybe he can convince himself and his family and his community that his is somehow nOrMal and completely respectable. He wants the world to believe he is the poster boy for Christianity. Hallelujah! He does community service work now. I find that ironic. I have long wondered whether he sexually abused his daughter. Given what I know about him and his activities, his attitude of entitlement to anything providing sexual release, I would not be surprised at anything he has done since we were divorced. When I saw his daughter’s pictures, it was so apparent that she had had a boob job! Skinny with ** gigantic** boobs. He was really into boobs. That gave me the willies. He was willing to go to any length to satisfy his porn addiction. What better way than to be able to secretly admire his dtr’s boobs? He could surround himself with covert porn. He had an air of entitlement to anything he could conjure up when it came to sex. His sexual/porn addiction was escalating at the time of our divorce. He had always used paperback porn in the bathroom, usually right after he came home from work…way before we were married. Much later I realized exactly what he was using that book for (I was extremely naïve and had no idea about porn). I also wonder whether he became an internet porn junkie and got hooked on the x-rated movies on cable. Guessing from our email correspondence, he uses his computer all the time. I’ve since cut off the emails because they were getting weird…not porn, but just some strange content, plus the blazing declarations of him being a Chrisitian. I did think that the porn wasn’t far behind. When we were married, his best friend was also a sex addict. Eventually, he turned this best friend and his wife against me. It probably had something to do with telling them I was cold and never wanted sex…blah, blah, blah. Hmmmm….wonder why? They were visiting us in our home from out of state and took a weekend to shame, manipulate and control me into divorcing him. It was an unbelievably bizarre weekend. Lately I’ve thought: How dare you two behave as if you were educated psychologists? You listened to his side ONLY, and made the assumption that everything he said was true. Instead of taking a helpful, healing approach, you took it upon yourselves to further destroy a troubled marriage. How dare you!! It was none of your business. Many of you have shared some well thought out overviews of relationships with porn addicts. My ex’s problems go way back into his childhood. Now retired, he lives in a small community in south central Texas. He’s orignally from Arkansas, the Bill Clinton state. The two of them look almost exactly alike!!!! Height, hair and facial structure. My ex is leaner. When the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, it was as if I had my ex shoved in my face every day. It was an extremely painful time to be reminded of my marriage with all its dysfunction. It also turned out to be an education in sex addiction. It was my a-ha moment about our marriage. Pillars of the community…HA! Given the levels of abuse that have occurred in every phase of my life, I don’t know if I can ever recover. From some of the emails he and I exchanged, I got the feeling that something must have erupted in his marriage. He alluded to the fact that he wasn’t in contact with his “best friend” the sex addict any longer. Said something about “we all have changed.” Got the feeling that his wife may have laid down the law, demanding no contact with that best friend-sex addict guy. My ex makes too much money for her to divorce him. And, who knows, she may be the sort who can live with someone like him, and take the high road…being an Xtreme Christian, and all. LOL! She seemed to be the type who wouldn’t put up with much for very long. Unlike me, who can’t seem to relinquish my doormat role. Also, over the years, my ex would repond to my comments about their good marriage by saying “Naw…..naw…..uh-uh” (meaning ‘no’) spiced up with an ever-so-slight hint of hurt, in that way he had of feigned denial…so that was telling me that possibly all was not well in paradise. I also think this is his way of leading into foreplay LOL by denying his marriage was “good” and misleading another female into thinking they had a chance with him….so he could lure them into sexual play. In thinking about what many of you have said about your husband’s p/s characteristics…my ex was a very “cold” unemotional person. He was extremely analytical. Even today, he is a person who is difficult to converse with because his attitude is so arrogant and condescending. At least with me. He never gives up on letting you know he is totally in charge and always one-ups you. Then he advises me on what he sees I need to do to change my life…where did he get that idea anyway? I gave up long ago. Oh, one time he was in Denver on business. We hadn’t talked in many years. He left a msg on my voice mail. As usual, I didn’t get home until about 9 PM because I have friends and social activities. He called my home phone all day long, but didn’t leave another msg. He must have walked from office to office, using the phone each time. I could see all the hang ups on my caller ID. I was flabbergasted, and then became amused at being able to see his human side. I also felt embarrassed for him. He is obsessive compulsive to the Nth degree. It was good for me to be able to witness and observe his behavior and humanness. Obsessions, compulsions and rampant insecurities. He hides these exceptionally well. As always, though, any time I’ve noticed his dark side, since the divorce, it makes me realize that he was doing this kind of thing when we were married. He constantly oogled and commented on other women. I was young enough and stupid enough that I just thought all men did this. When he was involved with “the other woman” who eventually became his wife, I had my first nasty STD. He later told me that I had given it to HIM! HA! The level to which they will go to project their shame. Bottomline…the sad part for me is that we were married for 11 years, and, except for our intense sexual connection in the beginning, we were just two shells of a human being, living side-by-side, never really connecting in a meaningful way. We each had our own dysfunction and fit together like a glove. I was meek, mild, and needy…and he was a sexual perpetrator, from the get-go. Fueled in part by the soft porn paperbacks from the 60’s. He was using prostitutes in Viet Nam, and he was only 19-20 yrs old. I think he may have been introduced to those paperbacks while he was in the service. Yeah…he was able to target me. And I was so vulnerable to the intensity of our relationship. He was my “first”, he was a charming (could be when he wanted sex), manipulative porn/sex addict, and I will likely never get over the sexual abuse that occurreded while we were married.

    Being able to read about your struggles, wisdom, and victories helps.



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  2. Ox Drover says:

    Emi,

    Thanks for your post, you said thought that you weren’t sure if you’d ever heal….of course you will! Going NO CONTACT….cutting them and their buddies out of our lives 100% allows us to heal, to recover, to become stronger.

    We evict them from space in our heads, our hearts, our lives and we fill that space with good things and good people. We learn and we grow! Don’t give up! No matter how bad your experience with this monster was, cut him out of your life and fill it with peace and joy! TOWANDA!!!!



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  3. Emi says:

    Ox Drover…Towanda!!! and thanks.



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  4. Emi,

    When it hits home, just let it serve as a reminder. I too am naive. I have spent more time with counselors almost ashamed of my naiveté than I care to admit. The counselor reassures me that GOOD people trust. Think of the awful horrible lives that the monsters who don’t trust anybody lead. I read just enough of love fraud to keep me cautious. If I read TOO much I gotta admit it’s depressing for me because it makes me think of him and my resentment boils up. I get angry that I let “it” go on. I didn’t want to divorce, but there was no other way to stop the pain. stop the abuse. stop the monster. It would just be a matter of time until he had a rage attack. So weird. Mine also watched a ton of tv, read newpapers, was very disconnected. He always wanted me to think he was shy. Emi, I too was vulnerable to the intensity of our sexually charged relationship. I luckily wasn’t degraded, but more emotional abuse. Wasn’t very respectful of my feelings.

    BUT you can recover. There are days I too think “will I ever be done with these thoughts?” But I make another decision to heal and put thoughts of him out of my mind. I go through one more drawer again and find something that was his or had to do with him and I THROW IT AWAY!!!! One more paper with his name throw it away. One more anything that reminds me of him and it’s a goner. It is symbolic of how to make them a goner. You can do it. Take care of yourself by doing it. Sending you strength. and a hug



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  5. aussiegirl says:

    stillinshock –

    “I was married to a sex addict. ….After a while, he just complained that he had an injury and it hurt to have sex. I believed him at the time. Imagine my shock when I found the images and letters to escorts….”

    Are you SURE you are not in Australia? Sounds like Superspath.
    Or are they really just that stupidly predictable that they ALL tell the same silly stories?

    (But of course, I KNOW they ARE; Aussiegirl answers her own question…)



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