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How is porn connected to trafficking?


There are all kinds of connections between pornography, sexual exploitation, and sex trafficking. Often, they’re one and the same. But pornography and sex trafficking are connected in more ways than just one.

For example, traffickers and abusers often use pornography to groom victims and “train” them on what is expected of them. Reports show that many sexual predators show their victims pornography during the grooming process in order to lower their victims’ inhibitions, desensitize them to sexual advances, and normalize the sexual abuse they will experience.

Because pornography can so effectively normalize sexual violence, it can then set the stage for victims’ abuse, especially when consumers’ viewing habits and fantasies involve violence or other fetishes. Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her home at age 14, was regularly shown pornography by her captor before he would rape her. She explains, “He’d look at me and he’d be like, ‘Now we’re gonna do this…’ The things that these women were being photographed doing were things that I was being forced to do, and it was almost like they were setting the bar, setting the standard of what my captor was going to force me to do next… It almost felt like this pornography was my sentencing.”




In fact, many survivors who have been sold for sex report being shown pornography by their traffickers or buyers to illustrate what is expected of them. As one survivor named Lexie who was sex trafficked as a child explained, “Right before any time a customer was brought into the room, I would be shown pornography. And being that young, I think it translated for me as an overall thing, as a woman—this is what men expect from you, and this is what people want from you.”

Not only can porn normalize abuse for victims, but it can also normalize sexual abuse in the minds of pornography consumers. Research suggests that when someone is consuming pornography, they’re participating in objectification. And when consumers develop a pattern of objectification and dehumanization—viewing others as objects to be used rather than complex beings with individual agency—it can also become easier to commit violence against them. In fact, research has shown that porn consumers are more likely to express an intent to rape, less likely to intervene during a sexual assault, more likely to victim-blame survivors of sexual assault, more likely to support violence against women, more likely to forward sexts without consent, and more likely to commit actual acts of sexual violence. In fact, some evidence suggests that this desensitization toward sexual violence through the consumption of porn can then manifest in more willingness to buy sex, which increases the demand for individuals being trafficked for sex. Source: https://fightthenewdrug.org/how-porn-can-fuel-sex-trafficking/

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