is-porn-abuse
Are Porn Users Abusive? Yes – Here’s Why

Women married to porn users usually suspect something is wrong in their relationship, but they rarely realize it's emotional abuse. Find out why porn use is abuse.

Every betrayed wife asks herself at some point: are porn users abusive?

At BTR, we believe that pornography use is abusive to partners and children.

Porn Users Control Their Partners (That’s Abuse)

The biggest way that someone can control another person, is controlling the narrative.  That’s not just through hostility. That can be through lies of omission or commission. I might be saying one thing, but I might be doing another. I could just be withholding pieces.

Anne Blythe, Founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Control is a key piece in all kinds of abuse: emotional, sexual, physical, financial, and more. When a pornography users controls his partner by lying about or withholding important information about his sexual behaviors, he is abusing his partner by way of control.

Porn Users Are Emotionally Abusive

Most pornography users are not only controlling their partners, but regularly putting them down, even if it’s so subtle it’s hard to pinpoint.

Regardless of how often or how severe the put-downs are, victims feel the effects and they suffer immensely.

It could go from subtly as disparagement to outright telling their wife she’s unattractive. When they are called on it, they are just like “oh, you can’t take a joke”. They’ll subtly chip away at a victims self-esteem to justify lying to them.

Anne Blythe, Founder Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Porn Users Are Psychologically Abusive

Gaslighting, a universal tool of abusers to distort their victims’ reality, is psychological abuse.

And porn users gaslight their victims. A lot.

Anne Blythe gives one clear example of gaslighting, “I call it manipulative kindness. That could be “You seem really tired right now, why don’t I go run the errands”? In actuality, he’s using this to go act out. The intent is not kindness, it’s actually to get an alibi.”

For victims, gaslighting feels confusing and many women feel guilt and shame when they don’t trust the “apparent kindness” (which is actually insidious psychological abuse).

Porn Users Blame Victims: That’s Abuse

As difficult to pin down as it is harmful, porn users often blame the victim for their abusive behaviors.

If you would just… why don’t you… I wouldn’t do this if….

They’ll call you crazy. They hurl chaos tornados, where they stand back and spin it to such a way that you feel crazy.

Anne Blythe, Founder Betrayal Trauma Recovery

When women come to their partners with concerns or worries and then have it turned on them, incredible psychological damage is done and trust is broken.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Porn Users

The most important thing for victims to know is: it’s not your fault. Trust your gut. Get safe.

Pornography use IS abuse. That’s why you feel so unsafe, angry, and confused.

For support, attend a Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Session TODAY.

13 Comments

  1. Alisha Straatman

    I loved this week’s podcast so much. What really stuck out to me was the relationship side of healing. Sobriety isn’t just about not doing it but actively working to better the relationship. And as much as it hurts, I realized my former spouse never did that. Thank you for educating me on the steps of recovery.

    Reply
    • Anne Blythe

      I’m so glad it’s helpful.

      Reply
  2. Marie

    I see some similarities in my current relationship. My husband has been sober for ten years. But our relationship is worse than ever.

    He still lies about things, never shares with me his feelings (or anything) and if we disagree he won’t talk to me about it for weeks. Unless I seek him out. He controls when we talk. For instance, we had a four hour trip and after three hours told me we could now talk. He didn’t want to talk the whole time.

    My situation is different. I see now that he isolated me from friends and family. But he did it/does it with fear. How own fear. After he was caught, he told me he was attracted to my mom, my sisters. It was so awkward that I pulled away from them. He would act so strangely with my friends. He’d skitter away, avoid looking at them, or not make eye contact. If I asked him why he was acting this way, he would blame me and say that he thought I’d accuse him of being attracted to them.

    When I told him I wouldn’t, he would become flirty and touchy with them. When I told him I thought he had crossed the line-he would blow up and say he just “knew” I would accuse him.

    This expanded to all outings. Soon he was sweating and turning red around certain women and if I said anything he would tell me he was just scared I would think he was attracted bc of how beautiful she was, thin she was or because she lacked stretch marks like I have (if she was in a bathing suit) things I hadn’t thought before.

    After years of avoiding public situations with him and basically raising the kids myself bc he won’t go out with me or I won’t go out with him, I find myself exactly what he says. Now I DO see women he would be attracted to and for some reason it scares me.

    Has anyone ever made a scary face like someone was behind you? And you just *feel* scared and you react as if there is?

    That’s how I feel when I’m with him.

    He doesn’t want to get counseling or therapy. And the last therapist I talked to made me feel so small. I don’t know why I’m afraid now. I know it’s an overreaction to him being attracted. But it’s how I feel now. Just paranoid.

    He tells me I’m the cause of all of this, but I know I never felt this way before he started doing these things.

    Even now, he’ll be rude to some girl at work and blame it on me. Like I would have over reacted if he was nice. And then the next time he’ll be too nice. It’s so strange.

    I almost wish he would yell or be overtly domineering.

    But I can see how this strange “fear” of his is really blaming me and making me question myself and then I eventually act like he says I will.

    He controls the narrative in our house, and his fear and blame have controlled me.

    I wish I knew someone else whose husband controlled in this passive aggressive way. Most recovery women I’ve talked to say they wish their husbands would be as cautious with women as mine. That’s not recovered though.

    Doesn’t part of recovery mean women are people now? Not objects to be lusted after or sex objects to be avoided?

    I wish I felt normal. I feel like since our issues are so strange that no one can help or relate.

    I’m posting this here in case anyone has felt the same about the different way their addict spouse reacts about things.

    Reply
    • Anne Blythe

      Thank you so much for sharing! Your experience will help other women in abusive relationships.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Hi Marie. I have similar things as you. It is all part of it.

      Reply
    • VB

      Thank you. I have also noticed some similarities to what you’ve described

      Reply
    • Leticia

      My situation isn’t exactly the same but there are a lot of similarities. I never trust that mine is careful around women when I’m not around but he wants me to think so. The over avoidance . Very subversive ways of harming your self confidence. I’ve gained some weight recently now that I’m not in full trauma mode. If I complain that I’m fat or that I feel fat, he just looks at me and says nothing. Most people would say great. But I know his ways and I know that’s his way of saying yes without saying anything. He would deny it, of course. Even writing it it doesn’t sound as bad as it is. I used to ask him if I was beautiful, he would say .” You’re beautiful…..to me.” With this underlying implication that no one else with ever think that.

      Reply
    • Chantal

      I have the same problems in my marriage. Everything you’ve said is just like in my marriage. A passive aggressive husband, who thinks by being quiet and avoiding looking at women he is keeping himself pure.

      No matter how many times I’ve told him that looking isn’t the problem, lust is his problem. In avoiding looking at women – he’s also de-humanizing them. He should be able to look at women through the eyes of Christ and see them for who they are not through the eyes of lust. He says he’s stopped acting out – even though he hasn’t. And he won’t take accountability for his abuse – including lying. He’s still lying. He says he’s “trying” to tell the truth and “trying” to be a good man.

      I asked him why is it so difficult for him to be honest and treat women with respect. He didn’t reply. Our relationship after 40 years of marriage is platonic, and I initiated an in-house separation just over a year ago. I can’t bear the thought of him every touching me again, and I struggle with trusting any man to such an extent that I can’t even attend church. I’m constantly wondering just how many of the men in church are or have struggled with porn and abused their wives physically, spiritually, emotionally, verbally, financially, sexually and/or mentally. All things my husband had done to me throughout our marriage.

      Now at the age of 64 he decides he will “change” which means he says he wants to stop his bad behavior, but hasn’t actually stopped. There is no connection with me on any other level. He says he if I allow him back into the bedroom then he will connect with me in all other levels; emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. I tried explaining to him that his thinking is warped and backwards. That physical touch of any kind comes last. Makes no difference.

      Reply
  3. Dana

    I really appreciate the BTR articles and perspective. Porn, lying, manipulation, omissions, controlling the narrative and victimization is truly abusive to the other person in the relationship. That was hard for me to admit, that I had let myself be “abused” for so long. It causes cumulative damage for sure. I wish I had fully understood the concept of boundaries 20+ yrs ago. Looking back, there was never any true repentance or restoration attempts only the “I’m sorry, I won’t do it again” until the next time and the next time. I thought my feelings, my pain was heard and understood. It obviously was heard and disregarded. I continue to work through that and heal. Thanks for what you do 🙂

    Reply
    • Anne Blythe

      Yeah, this type of abuse is so hard to spot and heal from. Welcome.

      Reply
  4. Anonymous

    This was so powerful. Thank you for shedding light on domestic abuse – and especially that it is not always violent.

    My heart has recently been pulled to understand domestic violence – with God’s help now I see that it’s not just violent abuse that needs to be healed.

    I did know that in my head, but now that knowledge is connected to my heart, and understanding and I will continue to learn more so that my support is as valuable as it possibly can be!

    Reply
  5. Nichole

    My boyfriend had been lying to me the first half of our relationship and hiding his disgusting porn addiction… He took a lot of anger out on me and said so many super hurtful things I cannot forget. The awful things he said play over and over in my mind.

    The lying was so bad. I didn’t know until my gut was practically yelling at me to check his phone. I found everything. It made me feel physically ill. I wanted to vomit. Since then I’ve felt so inadequate. He then told me he has “wandering eyes” and made it clear that if I ever called him out on it in public, he would leave me and not let me back into our apartment.

    Things got worse. I was so on edge. I checked his phone and all social media platforms. There was so much porn. I started growing a resentment toward the women in the porn. My self confidence plummeted along with any trust I had in him. He kept lying about how he wasn’t looking it, but I found out he uses incognito mode. I hate that! It’s so shady! He would ask me, “When are you ever going to get over it?” or “When will you trust me again?”

    It’s hard to trust someone who lied the entire time! He had the audacity to tell me he missed the way I used to be and it sent me spiraling into this deep depression where I had thought about just ending it. I couldn’t take the lies or the thought of him going back to old habits. Feeling like I was less than and the woman he looks at. It’s been a mental struggle. He says he hasn’t viewed porn for months, but he doesn’t understand the damage is done. I love him and even through the hard times I still showed him love and compassion. But now I get these remarks and he jokes around that he still looks at porn or he slept with a client and it just puts me right back into flight or fight. It’s terrible! I told him to stop playing like that because if he’s not that shouldn’t even be a thought or a joke. I’ve gone back to checking his phone ( nothing found) I always ask if he’s gone back, and I am having trouble not worrying he will. I feel like I’m on the uphill of a roller-coaster and my mind is breaking how do I fix this and know for sure things are alright?! I really feel like sometimes I’m going crazy, and I cry all the time. When he can’t get an erection, I assume it’s because he’s masturbating to that nasty crap again. It’s really tearing me apart. He’s shown he has made improvements. How do I stop this insanity going on in my mind??

    Reply
    • Anne

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’m so so sorry. It actually doesn’t sound like he’s stopped at all. I’d assume he’s actually not joking, but telling you the truth – also, he doesn’t seem to care about your or mind hurting you. Have you considered that you’re actually currently a victim of emotional and psychological abuse and sexual coercion?

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

recovering from betrayal trauma
Have you been lied to? Manipulated?

Discovered porn or inappropriate texts on your husband's phone?
Are you baffled by illogical conversations with him?

Here's What To Do Next

Get the steps we wish EVERY woman had!

Check your inbox to see What To Do Next. We'll be with you every step of the way.

Get the Podcast Straight to Your Inbox Every Week

Get the Podcast Straight to Your
Inbox Every Week

Welcome to the BTR Podcast! Keep an eye out for our first email!