Going with the literal definition, coerced child pornography can be defined as “any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child which includes a photograph, video, digital or computer-generated image indistinguishable from an actual child and an image created, adapted or modified but appear to depict a child”, but can something as cruel as this be effectively put into just 4 lines? How can a visual representation of children and adolescents being in pain sexually arouse someone? Why do people involve in this? Is this heinous act motivated by psychological dysfunction or just erotic desire?
According to a 2020 study, more than 21.7 million cases were reported for child sexual exploitation, despite being strictly against the law in most countries. Notably, most of the victims are not abducted by the offender but manipulated in some or other way to cooperate.
Reasons behind child pornography:
Most of the viewers of child pornography are pedophiles, ephebophiles, or hebephile. They have strong sexual attraction towards children of different age groups, which they commonly regard as their “love for children”. People who watch child porn are highly suspected of pedophiles because people watch porn according to their sexual preferences. These children typically age between 13 to 18. Pedophilia falls within the scope of paraphilia, where people become sexually aroused or have sexual fantasies about engaging in extreme or uncommon sexual acts.
The obsession of people with always being younger and beautiful. A human being is suspected to watch child pornography for personal sexual gratification. While looking at children, they tend to imagine themselves to get a younger and more appealing version of themselves and feel positive about themselves.
Sometimes, people try to deal with their childhood sexual abuse by watching child porn. This makes them feel in control. Having been exposed to sexuality at an early age, they also remain under the misconception that childhood and sexuality are somehow related and use child porn to cope up. They have described this as a way to keep them from actually committing crimes against children, like having a glass of wine to avoid consumption of illegal heavy drugs.
People watch child porn to escape from their emotional turmoil and use it as a distraction. This gives them a sense of relief and helps them to cope up with their negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
With the growing popularity of the internet all over the world, child pornography has significantly increased. This is because the source of these graphic files remains anonymous and they are easily affordable and available. Due to the increasing popularity of the internet, the offender doesn’t even need to be present in the same place as the victim. The internet has opened the gates for digitized sexual abuse and rape.
Impact of child pornography on its victims
Child pornography is a cruel and shameful act committed usually by adults. These experiences exercise a long-lasting emotional and sometimes also physical effect. These include depression, posttraumatic stress, borderline personality disorder, somatization disorder, substance abuse disorder, and dissociative identity disorder. The physical impacts include teen pregnancy, and negative effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) and the sympathetic nervous system.
As mentioned above, a large number of children are not abducted but manipulated. They know the offender and somehow, they convince these children to cooperate with it. They start feeling a sense of loyalty and personal shame that keeps them from disclosing everything. It can have devastating physical, sociological, and emotional effects.
Isolation and withdrawal
Victims of child pornography often tend to isolate themselves from family, and friends. This can be due to a sense of shame or insecurity. They do so intentionally to avoid any form of human contact. They withdraw themselves from everyone and choose to go through the trauma alone.
Posttraumatic stress, depression, and anxiety
Victims go through posttraumatic stress and depression. They unwillingly continue to have nightmares and flashbacks of the horrific incident. This will sometimes subside given some time or can be chronic. Moreover, the victims feel ashamed, unworthy, unsafe, and unhappy all the time.
While it’s a known fact that a human being craves human contact, it’s significantly difficult for these victims to establish new relationships with people, irrespective of its nature. They are unable to open up and therefore, cannot have a successful long-lasting relationship.
People who have been victimized also experience the impact physically. They can develop sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy, or some other injury caused to them during the process. They feel humiliated, insecure and unsafe about their body and have difficulty in establishing any sort of physical relationship with anyone in the future. Sometimes, they also try to self-mutilate or commit suicide.
Sometimes, survivors do not exhibit the will to go through the trauma and emotional turmoil. They feel emotionally helpless and weak. To cope up with it, they turn to illegal harmful drugs or alcohol. These can deteriorate their physical and mental health even more.
Child pornography is a horrible reality for the new generation. Not only it causes mental trauma to its survivors, but it also causes damage to its viewers. Subconsciously, they feel guilty, ashamed, personally unsafe, and always live with the thought that what if someone they know is going through the same thing. While it’s beyond our control to wipe it out completely, there’s always something you can do. Avoid personally engaging in this heinous crime and take care of yourself and the people around you.
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