Do you suspect that your partner is using porn? Have you discovered pornographic material on his phone or computer? These 4 tell-tale behaviors of pornography users will validate you and help you understand how his behavior is harming you.
Tiffany Barnes join Anne Blythe on the free BTR podcast to share her insights and experience regarding the ways pornography users abuse women. Read the full transcript below and listen to the free BTR podcast for more.
Pornography Users Gaslight Victims
Gaslighting is a universal tool of abusers. By distorting the victim’s reality, porn users can avoid accountability and shift blame onto the victim.
Gaslighting is also known as crazy-making.
When Tiffany would confront her abusive ex-partner about his pornography use, she was gaslit:
He just tried to make me feel like I was being crazy, and I did. I questioned it a few times; am I
crazy? Is this just me being ultra-paranoid or something?
Pornography Users Attempt To Normalize Their Porn Use
Often, pornography users employ tactics to make their sexually depraved behaviors appear normal to avoid accountability and make the victim feel “prude”, boring, or immature.
Some of the ways that pornography users attempt to normalize porn are:
- “Hiding” pornographic material in plain sight
- Calling pornographic material “art”
- Saying things like, “Everyone does this”; “I’m a guy, that’s what guys do”; or “No other woman would have issues about my porn use.”
- Saying that they use pornography to help the marriage/relationship become stronger
- Blaming the victim by saying things like, “If you would have sex with me more, I wouldn’t do this.”
Pornography is NOT a healthy and natural piece of human sexuality: it is abuse and exploitation. When victims can ground themselves in this truth, their partner’s manipulation won’t work any more.
Pornography Users Dehumanize Their Partners
Many women report being photographed, videotaped, or even live-streamed by their abusive partners. Women are sexually coerced, degraded, and physically harmed when phonography users demand sexual contact.
Pornography itself is objectification: selling women’s bodies for money. When men choose to view pornographic material, they are by default objectifying other human beings. This rarely stays compartmentalized.
- Pornography users dehumanize their partners by:
- Fantasizing about them
- Asking them to perform sexual acts that the victims are not comfortable with
- Asking victims to view pornography with them
- Demanding or guilting partners into having sexual contact
- Filming, photographing, or otherwise sharing sexual photos of victims, with or without consent
Pornography Users Sexually Coerce Partners
Any time a man has sexual contact with his partner without fully disclosing his sexual history, including pornography use, he is guilty of sexual coercion.
Healthy sex is consensual. Women cannot give informed consent when men withhold key information about their own sexual behaviors. This is sexual coercion, a serious form of sexual abuse.
If you think you are being sexually coerced by your partner, ask yourself: Have we ever had sexual contact when he had used phonography but hadn’t told me? If the answer is yes, then you are a victim of sexual abuse.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Pornography Users
At BTR, we understand the confusion, fear, and devastation that women experience when their partner is using porn.
That is why we created the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group: so that women can have access to multiple, live sessions every day.
The BTRG gives women the opportunity to process trauma, ask questions, and share difficult feelings in a safe place. Join today.
Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
I have some amazing news! We just surpassed 1 million downloads to the podcast, which I never ever
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Tiffany Barnes on Emancipating Herself From Abuse
So, Tiffany Barnes has come back to continue her conversation today. I’m so grateful for Tiffany and all
of her hard work. If you haven’t heard last week’s episode where Tiffany talks about her childhood story
listen to that first and then join us here.
Now back to our conversation.
Anne: When I was on your podcast you talked about the fact that he was using pornography, but you didn’t really see that as an abuse issue. Can you talk about that here?
Pornography Users May Hide Material In Plain Sight
Tiffany: Yeah, absolutely. So, he was a photographer, that’s what he always wanted to do. It was a
hobby but turned into more where he was perusing it professionally. He would have Gisele Bundchen and some of the other Victoria Secret models; he was always looking at pictures of them or he had coffee table books of them in scantily clad clothes and bikinis and things.
Well, I thought well he’s a photographer. He admires beautiful photos. There was a Sonte D’Orazio book
he had of women who just had underwear on or they’re naked and you see everything. I didn’t think
much of it, but in hindsight, as you say now, I’m like, okay, he was doing this stuff right in front of me all
along. It escalated to a point that we had the computer in the bedroom because it was tight quarters
being in that basement apartment and then sharing with his friend that was living on the other side of
Pornography Users Gaslight Victims
He would look up these photos online and he started looking at them right before we’d go to bed and
then he’d want to get into bed and do something. Sexually is what I mean when I say do something. I’m
like, you’re not going to get your rocks off by visually stimulating yourself by looking at these naked
women, these supermodels, or just women you think are gorgeous and then come get into bed with me.
I would say things like that, and he would make me feel like I was a complete idiot. That I was making
stuff up. He just tried to make me feel like I was being crazy, and I did. I questioned it a few times; am I
crazy? Is this just me being ultra-paranoid or something? That was something that happened regularly.
He would get on our computer and would look at stuff like that.
Pornography Users Objectify Partners
Now that I’m thinking of it, I was one of his subjects. He would love to take pictures of me just while out
and about every day. I was very skinny and slender at the time and I was modeling on the side here and
there, but then of course behind closed doors, he’d want me to take photos like what he was looking at
Anne: And you didn’t recognize that this was abuse at the time? How did you end up leaving that
relationship? Did you recognize it was abuse while you were in it and even getting out or did you have to
be out of it for a while to recognize whoa, that was abusive?
Pornography Users Avoid Accountability
Tiffany: So, when we were in it I started to get more vocal about it and say, this doesn’t make me feel
right, this shouldn’t be happening, why do you have to go do that before you get into bed with me, and
things like that; and then we’d get into these big blowup fights. As I said, he’d make me feel crazy. We
were together 4 or 5 years and I would ask about the marriage subject. Do you think we’ll ever get
married? Not, hey, when are you going to propose to me, but like, hey, do you think we’ll ever get married,
because nobody wants to waste their time obviously and we are this far in.
Anytime I would mention that M word, marriage, he would freak out. It would cause a huge disturbance in our relationship and we would fight. It became something that I walked on eggshells and dared never to ask it again.
Pornography Users Exhibit Narcissistic Traits
To answer your question, I had this little epiphany where I’m like, if he doesn’t know by now if I’m
somebody that he could marry and I can’t even talk about it, then I am wasting my time. So, I kind of
started hinting; I started sleeping on the couch. For the last 6 months of our relationship, I slept on the
couch and I would say to him, you know, if you keep treating me like this I’m going to leave, and I don’t
think he believed me. I went apartment looking on the side and found an apartment, signed a lease,
didn’t know how in the world I was going to make it work financially but did it anyway and moved out
one day while he was at work and never let him know where I went.
Pornography Users Are Controlling
He called me and was like, where the heck are you and what are you doing? So I mentioned the marriage thing. If you don’t know if you’ll marry me and if we can’t even talk about it what is the point? He’s like, well just come back and I’ll propose to you on a mountain in Paris or somewhere in Europe. I’m like, it’s too late. So, then he tried to
use his manipulation of giving me the things he knew I’ve always wanted and withheld from me. To push
Pornography Use Is Sexual Coercion
Anne: Yeah. So, after, let’s call it a lifetime, of experiencing abuse what have you learned about abuse
that you think would be important for women who are currently in emotionally and psychologically
abusive relationships? Now, I say that because the bulk of women who listen to my podcast are not
being physically battered. They are being sexually abused because they are experiencing sexual coercion
where they have boundaries for their sexual relationship that they want respected and those
boundaries are not being respected.
Sexual Coercion Can Be Subtle
So, they say to their spouse or boyfriend, hey, I don’t want porn, I don’t want you to cheat on me; and he’s lying and so he’s not getting her consent. So, they are a victim of sexual coercion, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, but most of them have not been punched in the face or shoved because that makes it pretty obvious pretty quickly.
For women who listen to this podcast, what do you think are the important things to point out with your
experience with your non-profit and a lifetime of abuse?
Victims Can Use Their Intuition to Seek Safety
Tiffany: That’s an excellent question by the way. The first thing that comes to my mind is intuition/gut.
There were so many times going back to even when I was 6 that I knew something wasn’t right. I didn’t
know it was specifically the word abuse, but I knew something wasn’t right. My stepfather was doing the
things he did and when Danny would come to bed and do the things he did and the way I felt I knew it wasn’t right. Listening to my gut was huge and it was something I should have done sooner.
A huge piece of advice I would leave your listeners with is if you feel a certain way you are feeling that way for a
reason. I know that is kind of vague but listen to your intuition. If something in your brain is saying this
just doesn’t seem right or doesn’t make me feel right or a plethora of various things, but along those
lines, then it’s probably not right.
Victims Can Courageously Speak The Truth
In addition to that, I think the biggest thing is there are many times I didn’t say something in fear of
another abusive episode happening, whether it was a beating or the emotional or the mental or whatever. So,
saying something, and when I say say something, and this is something I say tremendously in my non-
profit over and over and over. See something, say something. If you don’t say something, nothing can be
done. We know this about the reporting of abuse, the prosecuting of abuse, specifically with mental and
emotional abuse there are no scars to prove anything. So, it’s just kind of word against word. Reach out
to somebody you trust.
Victims Can Journal Their Experiences To Prepare To Confide in a Safe Person
For me, at a time I trusted nobody other than a bonded book that had the word journal written on the
front of it. So, my journal. If that’s what you’ve got to do, write something in a journal and get it out and
see how that felt and then be able to move forward to talking to an actual person about it. I know the
hardest step in anything is the start that stops you. It’s that first step of, oh my gosh, I’m afraid to say
something because who knows what he’s going to do. If you can take that first step and you realize
okay, I’m strong and I did that. How did that feel? Then you take the next step and the next. Then you’ve
got a momentum going to build yourself back up to healing.
The BTR Checklist Can Help You Find Safety
Anne: Yeah, we have a checklist on our website that gives women a starting place. I love what you said that the start is the hardest thing, and the first thing is the same thing you just said; open up to a safe person, and that checklist helps women recognize who is safe and who is not safe. It gives specific things that’s an unsafe person might say, for example. So that they can be like okay, that’s not a safe person so I need to move on to get support.
Healing From Betrayal & Abuse Is a Process
Tiffany: Yeah, I love that. I think it’s big. It’s big in the healing transformation, but also just standing in
your power because you feel so powerless when all of this happens. Standing in your power and saying
okay, I’m going to say something because I just can’t do this anymore. It mentally gets you down. I
mean, here I am at 38 years old, the last abuse I experienced was what 20-21, so 18 years ago and I’m
not here to discourage the listeners but I’m still a work in progress. I’m still doing things on a daily basis
to remind myself that I a worthy, that I am beautiful, that I am strong. You know, all the things that you
don’t believe when you are mentally beaten down and emotionally beaten down.
Pornography Users’ Victims Can Find Joy & Safety
Anne: I’m proud of you for all of the amazing things that you’ve accomplished in the face of abuse. Can
you talk about that, like goals that you’ve set for yourself and the way that you have built your life post-abuse to create the life that you now have? That you feel peace and feel happy? I do need to say a disclaimer here that when you do not have children with your abuser moving on and building the life that you want is much easier than if you’re connected in some way. So, the fact that you don’t have children with your abuser is a blessing in this case, but can you talk about how you built a life of safety and peace now?
Pornography Users Damage Victims’ Self-Esteem
Tiffany: Yeah, absolutely. The biggest thing is my support, meaning the people I allow around me
whether that be intimate, very personally close, or that third bubble layer. I really learned to value
myself in a way that I am careful who I let in, and of course, that does come from a history of abuse but
what I mean by that is I’m just at a point in my life. And it doesn’t matter if I was 21 or I was 72
everybody should have this in their life they deserve it, that I just don’t need to be around people who
don’t believe in me and are there to pick me apart. I even have cousins and aunts and uncles
that might not be a huge believer in me because of the emancipation that I did against my parents.
That’s hard, but really to get me to where I am today, I’ve been resilient to all those other things.
Betrayal Victims Can Become Resilient
I can literally go through anything now and overcome it. It’s a belief that sometimes wavers right, everybody is human, but I have to remind myself that I am resilient, and the way I do that is I believe in meditation. I used to think it was a very esoteric woo-woo kind of thing once upon a time. Probably 5 years ago if I would have had this
conversation with you the word meditation wouldn’t have even come out of my mouth. I’ve really
embraced it in the last 5 years or so. Whether mediation for you might be praying, mediation for you
might be sitting in a quiet room listening to your thoughts or trying not to listen to your thoughts.
Meditation Helps Betrayal Victims Find Safety & Peace
Meditation to you might be staring at a landscape and listening to birds. You know, meditation is different for everyone. I bring that up because it’s really important to be comfortable with yourself
and to listen to the thoughts that might come into your head but not necessarily give them a ton of
credit because sometimes our mind tries to confuse us or our mind tries to remind us of, oh, but
remember you were not worth it back then. You have got to remind yourself, yes, I am, because I have
grown, and I have made the steps and I’m doing the things that I need to do. So, meditation is huge.
Positive Affirmations Can Help Victims of Pornography Users
For me also is positive affirmations. If you were to come and step into my house you can’t go into one
room of my house, including the bathroom, that there is not a positive affirmation. Whether it’s me
writing a post-it note on the mirror or something on the wall hanging up. I have a daily affirmation
calendar that I change every day and it’s a new affirmation. I think kind of rewiring your thoughts and
your beliefs about yourself through positive affirmations really help. People used to make fun of it, you
know, that Saturday Night Live skit where the guy would talk to himself in the mirror and be like, gosh
dang it, I’m special and everybody loves me, but it’s true. That stuff works. Negative self-talk is not going
to get you anywhere. The positive self-talk and then visualizing it and seeing it in front of your face as
well gets you so far and it has helped me tremendously.
Abuse Is An Epidemic
Now as far as goals, obviously I’m still running Share. I want it to be a national initiative that is
recognized everywhere in every state and then a global initiative because abuse in any form is an
epidemic and the statistics aren’t getting any better, and specifically right now during COVID. You know,
when people are trapped in their homes with their perpetrators.
Pornography Users Harm Their Children
Anne: Yeah. Many of the women who listen to this podcast are in a relationship with an emotional and
psychological abuser, a man who uses sexual coercion, and they fear getting out of the relationship
because they feel like they need to stay in the relationship.” After all, it’s better for the children if I do
that.” Being a victim of childhood abuse from your parents what would you say to that for women victims
who are feeling like getting out is too hard, I need to stay in, plus it’s better for the kids.
Tiffany: So, getting out; if the woman says getting out is too hard she’s talking about herself,
and not in a selfish way, but it’s hard for her because she’s going to have to be a single mother. She’s
going to have to do this on her own. Maybe she feels like she has no support or whatever the case may
be, but you’ve got to look at it this way. By staying, you’re affecting all of these kid’s lives and not in a
positive way because they are now going to be exposed to it in some capacity. Whether it’s not
being able to give your 100% as a mother because you’re dealing with this abuse in the home or they
are seeing the abuse take place in the home. Not necessarily physical, they can see the emotional.
Victims Can Think Long-Term About Their Children’s’ Needs
I just had a podcast this morning where a lady was talking about emotional abuse and how much it
affected her seeing her mother and her father do that to each other. So, I would say, think long-term. I
know that’s hard to do in the moment and feeling that you can’t do it whether it be financially or
support wise or safety-wise or whatever the case may be. But if you don’t do something now it’s going
to have a trickle effect even greater on your children than if you were to leave. I don’t say that to make
them feel guilty or bad but that’s the truth of the matter from somebody who has been there.
Victims Can Choose to Seek Safety For Themselves & Their Children
If my mother had, when I said, hey this is what Robert is doing to me, would have taken my side; if she
would have said, okay, this is absolutely crazy and I am protecting you as my daughter and Robert you need to leave, then Tristina, my little sister who is 9 years younger than me, would not have had to deal
with the abuse she went through. If that makes any sense. So, if she would have stopped it with me it
was only one statistic instead of my sister and we suspect even my brother because my stepfather was
molested by his father. So, just try to keep in mind that’s it’s going to be so much easier on the other
side to look back and say, I can’t believe I went through that, than to be in it. I get that but think of those
Divorce Doesn’t Stop Pornography Users From Being Abusive
Anne: Absolutely. I think there is one thing that we do need to acknowledge here and that is that
divorce doesn’t solve abuse. So, if you get divorced and you are out of it but your ex is still engaging in
abusive behaviors and you share custody then there is still going to be abuse happening. So, even
though you’re protecting your kids more than if your abuser lived in your home, if you’re required by
law which most everybody is to send your children with your abusive ex because maybe you have 50/50
custody or sole custody or whatever it is, he will still have access to those children. So, divorce is not the
answer, it doesn’t solve abuse, but it is a way to start stepping out of it in some cases, in most cases.
I want to caution everyone from thinking the solution is divorce because even when you divorce or even
if you divorce, if you share children, that abuse is still ongoing both to you and to your children. That’s
what makes the situation so difficult for victims. With the court systems the way they are and
with the situation they are in with custody, you can’t just completely walk away from the abuse.
Pornography Users Wear Victims Down
Tiffany: Yeah, I didn’t really think of it. I mean I don’t have children of my own, I’ll have to say that so
take what I’m saying with that grain of salt, though I have raised my siblings. I ended up taking them
out of foster care and raising them, but it’s not the same. I didn’t even think of that aspect. It’s such a
tricky place to be in. It comes down to having confidence in yourself and having that strength. But then
again, where does it come from when you are getting beaten down every day.
Anne: And I do think victims are stronger the more they can get away from the abuse, and divorce
facilitates that. So, even if their abuser is still engaging in abusive behaviors, if they have separated
themselves as much as possible from the harm they are going to get stronger, they’re going to live a
more healthy emotional life/physical life, they’re going to feel better even if the abuse is still sort of this
thing that’s hanging over them and their children possibly for the rest of their lives. At least you are
providing some type of barrier, which you wouldn’t have otherwise.
It’s The Start That Stops You
Tiffany: I just want to say probably the phrase I’ve already used here is it’s the start that stops you. So, I
challenge everyone that listens to take that first step. Whatever that first step looks like for you.
Whether it’s journaling or taking the time to sit in peace with yourself and meditate or reaching
out to somebody who you feel is safe. Continue to listen to this podcast. It’s a tremendous resource for
you ladies out there who have gone through this and just keep tuning in to hear these stories that will
help you and what Anne has to offer. That’s awesome.
Trauma Mama Husband Drama Helps Victims of Pornography Users
Anne: Thank you so much Tiffany for coming on today’s episode.
Tiffany: Thank you.
Anne: Thank you to so many of you who have purchased Trauma Mama Husband Drama. It’s a picture
book for adults that I wrote to really help synthesize the situation for people in a really simple way
because it seems so complex but it’s actually pretty simple when you start looking at it as an abuse
If this podcast is helpful to you, consider supporting it. Until next week, stay safe out there.