Pornography offers a playground for sexual and violent fantasies to be thought about, perfected, masturbated to, and eventually acted-out. Hazelwood and Warren [1
] indicate that sexual fantasies are an important component of sexual crimes. Fantasies serve an important role for the sexual offender, helping to influence the offender’s choice of physical, sexual and verbal interaction with the victim, and the offender’s preferred sexual acts and rituals. Several authors have indicated that fantasy alone is not satisfactory and that there tends to be a progressive desire to put the fantasy into actual behavior [2
A sense of sexual entitlement paired with use of pornography may lead to coercive and forced sexual contact [6
]. Men who have a sense of entitlement and believe that they deserve sex are likely to be frustrated when women resist their sexual behavior
and may resort to the use of force to gain sexual contact [6
]. Men who frequently use pornography tended report to report engaging in sexually coercive behavior [9
Several researchers [10
] found a similarity between the content of sexual fantasies and the actual crime. In addition, [12
] found that coercive sexual fantasies were related to a sexual preference for physical violence measured phallometrically, which would suggest that the violent behavior of both batterers and sex offenders are impacted by coercive sexual fantasies. Reviewing the pornography collection allows the investigator to see the fantasies that guided an actual offense and the fantasies that may well guide a future offense. The pornography collection offers insight into the offender’s thinking, fantasies, and sexual and violent preference.
Prentky et al. [3
] indicated that once the restraints for inhibiting the acting out of the fantasy are gone, the individual is likely to progress to acting out the fantasy and will continue to progressively reenact the fantasy in “trial runs” until the fantasy has been acted out as close to perfect as possible [13
Prentky and Knight [14
] indicated that the degree of deviant sexual arousal may be related to both the frequency of offending and to the amount of violence in offenses [14
]. Preference for deviant sexual arousal may be implied by the type of pornographic material the offender views and possesses. Over time, the offender generally becomes more diverse in the type of pornography viewed, and the preferred pornography tends to become more deviant and aggressive in nature. As a result of repeated viewings, the offenders themselves assume a more deviant and aggressive nature. Imagine then how a batterer or sexual offender begins their criminal career with minimal physical aggression, but escalates over time to more deviant and violent behavior [15
Subsequent violent behavior is then a form of reenacting the deviant sexual fantasies. Prentky and Knight [14
] go on to state that detailed studies [16
] found that the onset of repetitive sexually aggressive behavior coincided with the first appearance of rape fantasies and that these repetitive offenders were also characterized by a high incidence of paraphilias. It is hypothesized that the offender continues to “stage” or practice his fantasy, and the unsuccessful match between the reality of his attempts and the richness of his fantasies contributes to reoffending. Pornography provides the fuel and content of the offender’s sexual fantasies.
From an expert’s view, who better than a serial rapist to explain the role of pornography and fantasy in sexual violence? Osanka and Johann (1989) reported an interview that Dr. Dobson conducted with Ted Bundy in which Bundy stated:
“My experience with pornography that deals on a violent level with sexuality is that once you become addicted to it and I look at this as a kind of addiction- I would keep looking for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of materials. Until you reach the point where the pornography only goes so far. You reach that jumping-off point where you begin to wonder is maybe actually doing it will give you that which is beyond just reading about it or looking at it.”
It is no surprise that people tend to choose the kind of pornography that relates to their sexual preference. If in fact the content of the pornography was offensive to the offender, they would cease use of it. The fact that the sexual offender and domestic batterer tend to become increasingly more sexually preoccupied and invest more time in the viewing of pornographic material suggests an acceptance of the degrading and violent theme portrayed in the pornographic material. This preference and acceptance of the content and themes of the pornography also suggest and support certain clinical diagnosis. In fact, those with child pornography
related offenses were found to meet the diagnosis for pedophilia even without a history of actually engaging in touch/contact offenses against children [18
Bergen and Bukovec [20
] found that over 50% of the male batterers involved in their study indicated that they have committed rape or sexual assault
. Specifically, 14% of the male partners and 28% of the husbands used physical force. Approximately 6% forced their partner to view pornography and 4% forced their partner to reenact what was seen in the pornography.
] found that both sexually violent pornography and non-violent dehumanizing pornography have antisocial effects on the viewer. Repeated exposure to either sexually violent pornography or non-violent dehumanizing pornography increased men’s self-reported proclivity for rape and forced sex acts [21
In 1984, Malamuth and Donnerstein provided some interestingly powerful research about the impact of pornography on the violent offender. There appears to be a direct causal relationship between exposure to aggressive pornography and violence against women [22
]. Zillman and Bryant [28
] found that after massive exposure to pornographic materials, men found pornography less offensive and objectionable. Some researchers argue that it is the aggressive images in the pornography and perhaps not the sexual explicit pictures that encourage violence and rape [29
]. Research has shown a consistent relationship between exposure to pornographic material and sexually aggressive attitudes and behaviors [32
In addition, massive exposure to pornography significantly increased men’s sexual callousness toward women. Some findings provided by Hazelwood (1998) suggest that: 1) 61% of serial killers (not necessarily sexual murders) used and/or had pornography collections; and 2) at least 90% of pedophiles used and/or had pornography collections. Regular pornography users very likely experience frustration and are more likely to be unaccepting of a partner refusing their sexual demands [9
]. Both violent and nonviolent pornographic material appear to strengthen the relationship between sexually aggressive attitudes and behavior in men, although the relationship is strongest for violent pornography [33
Having a pornography collection implies at least some degree of preoccupation with pornography as well as an investment in the collection. Anecdotally, this author has found that the majority of cases of sexual offenders and physical abusers regularly used some form of pornography.