Culture

Why Were So Many Serial Killers Porn Addicts?

By Meghan Dillon··  6 min read
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If there’s a hill we choose to die on, it’s the belief that porn and the porn industry are inherently exploitative and harmful to women.

No, this isn’t some puritan manifesto decrying the evils of sex. We believe that sex is wonderful with the right person, but this isn’t just about sex. It’s about the porn industry, the negative psychological effects of porn, and the rise of violence in porn. It’s a little-known fact that some of the most infamous serial killers in history were porn addicts, and some went as far as admitting it influenced their crimes.

The Link Between Porn and Serial Killers

Some of the most violent and prolific serial killers were involved with porn from a young age, one of the most famous being Ted Bundy. On the night before his execution, Bundy was interviewed by psychologist Dr. James Dobson and admitted to being addicted to porn. He said, "Like most other kinds of addiction, I would keep looking for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material. Like an addiction, you keep craving something which is harder, harder, something which gives you a greater sense of excitement. Until you reach the point where the pornography only goes so far…"

Bundy also told Dr. Dobson, “This is something that I want to emphasize, the most damaging kinds of pornography, and again I’m talking from personal experience, hard real personal experience, the most damaging kinds of pornography are those that involve violence and sexual violence because the wedding of those two forces, as I know only too well, brings about behavior that is just too terrible to describe.”

Bundy also noticed that porn addiction was common among many of the violent criminals in prison. He continued, “I’ve lived in prison for a long time now, and I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me, and without exception, every one of them was…deeply influenced and consumed by an addiction to pornography.”

Bundy also admitted to looking at photos of victims before going out to find another victim, a habit he shared with fellow serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Another serial killer with porn addiction was John Wayne Gacy, whose wife divorced him in 1976 after discovering his porn collection “which was all centered around young boys.” 

Richard Ramirez, Edmund Kemper, and David Berkowitz are also on the list of serial killers who were addicted to porn. Does this mean every porn addict is bound to become violent or a serial killer? Of course not. We’d be seeing much more violence and sexually motivated murders if that were true. However, the link between porn, violence, and sexual violence is both alarming and a discussion worth having.

How Porn Desensitizes and Normalizes Sexual Violence

We all know that porn sets unrealistic expectations for those who consume it. It turns women (and the men, but let’s be real, porn is extra degrading towards women) into sex objects, leading to less than satisfactory sexual relationships. Turning women into sex objects not only dehumanizes them but also creates an easy environment for exploitation and violence.

According to the National Center On Sexual Exploitation, “Pornography fosters aggression by normalizing and depicting verbal and physical violence as enjoyable. Aggressive acts against women in pornography occur in roughly 87% of the scenes, and 95% of the time when these acts are committed, women respond with expressions of pleasure or neutrality. Pornography acts as a form of sexual education, teaching the lesson that female sexual partners ought to enjoy physical acts such as hitting, gagging, slapping, or nonconsensual sex. Unsurprisingly, the research is clear that even mainstream pornography use by frequent viewers is associated with greater intent to commit rape – a real danger for a domestic abuse victim/survivor.”

Aggressive acts against women in pornography occur in roughly 87% of the scenes.

Now we have the rise of revenge porn. Revenge porn is when someone (usually an ex-parter) shares a sexual video or photo of someone without their consent. Mary Anne Franks is a lawyer and law professor at the University of Miami School of Law and believes these blurred lines can lead to horrific consequences. In an interview with Self, she said, “Domestic violence sounds like a serious thing, and sharing pictures doesn’t always sound serious to people. But these things can’t be separated – nonconsensual [sharing of] pornography is becoming one of the most common ways to try to control and intimidate a partner.”

The normalization of porn has led to the normalization of sexual violence. Revenge porn is inherently problematic at best and similar to sexual assault at worst, but our culture doesn’t always view it as such. Any non-consensual sexual act is a crime (including unsolicited dick pics) and should be treated as such. The normalization of porn does nothing but blur these lines even further, putting women everywhere in danger.

Porn Destroys Your Brain 

The normalization of violence isn’t the only thing wrong with porn, as research also shows that porn has a negative effect on our brains. In a 2021 interview with Howard Stern, pop star Billie Eilish opened up about how being exposed to porn when she was 11 affected her relationship with sex and her body. She said, “As a woman, I think porn is a disgrace. I used to watch a lot of porn, to be honest. I started watching porn when I was like 11. I think it really destroyed my brain and I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much porn.”

The average age of a child's first exposure to porn is 11.

She continued, “The first few times I, you know, had sex, I was not saying no to things that were not good. It was because I thought that’s what I was supposed to be attracted to. I’m so angry that porn is so loved, and I’m so angry at myself for thinking that it was okay. The way that vaginas look in porn is f*cking crazy. No vaginas look like that. Women’s bodies don’t look like that. We don’t come like that.”

Eilish’s story is heartbreaking yet common, as the average age of a child's first exposure to porn is 11. Research shows that consuming porn literally changes the structure of your brain and desensitizes us to violence. Think about it this way: if you watch horror movies on a regular basis, a PG-13 flick isn’t going to cut it for you because you’re desensitized to it. The same goes for porn, correlating to the increase in disturbing trends in porn like rape and incest fantasies.

Closing Thoughts

From exploiting underage girls to creating an unsafe work environment for women, it’s safe to say that the porn industry is both toxic and corrupt. With the rise of violent porn and our culture being so desensitized to violence, should it really surprise us that some of the most evil serial killers in history were porn addicts? Though not everyone who watches porn is destined to become violent, the correlation between porn and violence is undeniably disturbing.

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