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Inspiring Sex & Porn Talk
Between Partners, Parents and Children
To clarify before you read, I am not for or against pornography!
It has it's advantages and disadvantages; it's benefits and drawbacks, of which I am presently researching/studying both sides of the story in preparation for psychoeducation resources I am creating.
My aim is to inspire Sex & Porn Talk between parents and children, and partners.
For partners, it's about having the facts around sex and porn so creating agreeable boundaries of what is, and is not, acceptable within their relationship. As I work with partners of sex addiction/compulsivity, I witness how porn results in betrayal trauma within the relationship. But this is only part of a complex story. Often problems with porn are an indication that there is an underlying issue for one partner or in the relationship.
For parents, it's about have ON-GOING conversations with their children from a young age so they have the opportunity to become conscientious and critical consumers of pornographic media who can tell the difference between pornography and the reality of sexual relationships.
Sex Education you didn't, and wont, get at school.
Personal experiences led me into the world of pornography. Read my blogs. As an adult, I know this is a fantasy world, for a child every world is real. Introducing this media material when a child is developing has neurological, development and emotional consequences.
Porn is very easy to access, quickly shared and inevitable most, if not all, children will at one point be exposed to this media. According to recent research in the UK, the average age a child views pornography is 11 years, the youngest 7 years and by 14 years old 66% of children had watched porn.
(British Board of Film Classification. (2020). Young people, pornography & age-verification. BBFC. Retrieved from https://www.bbfc.co.uk/about-classification/research. )
Early viewing impacts children's understanding of sex and relationships, influences their behaviour towards others which is then 'played out' in school and within friendship groups. This can result in early sexualised behaviour and now primary schools (age 4-11 years old) are having to manage these types of behaviours. As a former safeguarding supervisor, I was witness to this first hand.
It's not a red flag if you find a child has viewed some pornography and they are 8 years old.
It is a red flag if you find your 14 year old child has been watching pornography since the age of 8.
Early messages stick for a lifetime - think about some of the sexual messages you remember from your childhood and how they influence you now.
Now as a therapist, I am witness to young adult clients who have PTSD and betrayal trauma resulting from their partner's pornography viewing.
'My boyfriend has been watching porn since he was 7 years old. He says he has stopped but I don't think he has. We are struggling to have an intimate relationship. When we have sex, it feels rushed and he doesn't seem to be able to emotionally connect with me. Every time he looks, or gazes, at another woman I think he is thinking about having sex with them. I keep imagining that he is going to cheat on me. It's exhausting and my anxiety is high; it has made me ill'
Taken from my client work. To protect the client no name has been assigned and this statement reflects the work with more than one client.
You may be thinking 'Well porn has been around for years. Why is it such a big deal now?' The internet has been evolving for several decades. However in the late 1990s and early 2000 wireless Internet was being rolled out commercially to the public. With mobile phones following suit and by 2010 we saw the release of 4G technology. Since this time people have had access to high speed pornographic images and videos.
What was once viewed on the top shelf of the newsagents is now readily available at high speed from a mobile hand set in the pocket of a child. If you have watched porn, or any other type of media, you will know the amount of content that can be viewed in a one hour session. Some users are surfing videos 'on the edge' for several hours!
For a developing brain, this is sensory overload and one of the biggest dopamine hits they will ever experience. Who wouldn't want to go back to feel that high! Unfortunately, when you get that high you have to come down to a low as that is how the brain regulates - this low is eventually recognised as depression and one of the main implications of regular, long-term porn use. I know this from my personal experiences, research and from talking with colleagues who work with sex & porn addiction (or sex & porn compulsion as there is a debate to what uncontrollable viewing is classified as).
All behaviour as a child is mimicked. If pornography, is the main way a child learns about sex and relationships, this is taken through into relationships as adults.
In ALL the books and advice leaflets I have read, from agencies like National Society for Protection of Child Cruelty (NSPCC), they have said the same thing: have open, honest conversations about sex and porn from an early age.
You can't stop children viewing pornography, you can offer them a conversation about the facts at their level of understanding so they can make informed choices for their present and future relationships.
Personal choices are the most powerful tool anyone has to control the direction of their life.
I am presently creating resources to supports adults having open, informative, regular conversations about sex and porn offering a balance approach to these topics. If you would like a copy of the free resources when complete, please follow the link below and leave your email address.
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