Oct 16

How My Parents’ “Harmless” Porn Habit Affected Me

How My Parents’ “Harmless” Porn Habit Affected Me

How growing up in a porn-filled home affected me…then and now.

By Sandra Montgomery

When I was a kid my family would rent movies every weekend. VHS of course. This was the 80’s. My parents weren’t the type to censor their movie choices based on the fact that a bunch of kids were going to be watching as well, so my siblings and I saw a lot of movies that weren’t exactly age-appropriate. But this was the least of what we saw in my house.

In the bathroom were the Playboys. In my Dad’s dresser drawer was an extensive collection of porn on VHS. The Hustler magazines were under the mattress. This was common knowledge among the kids. We didn’t talk about it… not much. But once in a while we’d find one another crouched down beside the bed sneaking a tiny peek. Just a little look. Harmless, right? Until it wasn’t.

My parents made suggestive (or obvious) comments in front of my siblings and I and we kids in turn began making them to each other. We were curious about this thing (porn) that was everywhere in our home. It must be important to them if it was so wall-to-wall present in our house, right? So we became sexualized children. We exposed ourselves to each other. We talked about sex amongst ourselves and with friends. I remember getting into trouble at daycare for allowing another child to rub against me in a sexual way. The daycare providers and my parents made me feel ashamed and dirty for what had happened, sequestering me in a dark room alone for what felt like forever. I was 6.

At age 7, I woke up to strange noises in the night. Frightened, I crept out of my bedroom and down the stairs. What I saw on the screen and being acted out in front of me was incomprehensible to my childish eyes. But it wouldn’t be for long. Because I wasn’t the only one in the house who had witnessed a scene like this. Or seen it in one of the many magazines in the house. I don’t know that because we talked about it. I know that because how else would they have learned to do what they did to me?

One night a few of us kids were playing. I was about 8. A few of my brothers were just a couple of years older. The oldest of them directed a couple of the others to hold me down. At first I thought it was a game, and I think some of the other kids did too. Then I felt my oldest brother’s hot breath on my face. His pubescent body heavy on top of mine. I struggled and yelled but he was so strong. He repeated his order to my other siblings:

“Hold her down!”

And they wouldn’t let me get up as he thrust and groped against my small 8 year old body.

This was the first time. But it wouldn’t be the last. I don’t know why I never told. But I can guess.

Because my siblings may have denied it. Because it may have been brushed off as adolescent play. Or maybe I thought it was something I was supposed to do. I grew up engulfed in these pornographic images and thinking that attracting a man to have sex with was my primary objective in life. Being immersed in pornography meant that we were taught, through example, that the world is first and foremost a place for sex. That it was okay for children to witness sexual acts. And as prevalent as it was in our home, that pornified sex, not love, was extremely important. “Pornified sex” meaning that the sex we knew had nothing to do with feelings of love, a longing for intimacy or connectedness with another person.

I began masturbating at age 9. Not even understanding why. I became sexually active at age 12. I thought constantly about sex and what I should be doing to attract a partner.

Sounds like someone who grew up with an obviously crappy home life, right? Trailer trash? Nope. From the outside, all was well. I had a well-dressed, very attractive family. My parents were married, successful and active in the community. I played sports and earned good grades, even got along well with my siblings.

But on the inside I was a wreck. I was full of self-loathing and began self-medicating with drugs and alcohol at age 12. I was suicidal at age 14. I repeatedly put myself in situations where I could or most definitely would be sexually harmed throughout my teens. According to the pornography I had seen as a child my worth was in what I could do for others sexually. This pornography was ever present in my home-through my parents’ use of it and now my siblings-so this was a lesson I had been taught again and again.

25 years later, married with a couple of kids. My husband pays the price for the abuse I suffered. I’m afraid sex is dirty. I’m afraid someone will touch my children or that they’ll touch each other. I’m afraid someone will find out I was a “slut”. I’m afraid…

But it was just a little harmless porn, right?

  • If you think your “little” porn habit won’t affect your children, you’re wrong
  • If you think ignoring the pornography epidemic in our world will keep your kids safe, you’re blind
  • Kids need to know that sex and intimacy are amazing; and that sexual violence and porn are a plague
  • Talk to your kids about sex to help them develop a healthy attitude about sex; a healthy sexuality
  • Talk to your kids about what is on the internet and what kinds of things they will eventually be exposed to there
  • There is no such thing as “harmless porn”

Sandra Montgomery is a wife, mother, and sexual abuse survivor.

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