Have you ever been to Washington DC? It is a fabulous place to visit. So much of our American history is contained there, either in the monuments, museums, or government buildings. It is a city where history is made.

I’ve had the opportunity to visit there multiple times. Tomorrow, I will travel to Washington DC again.

This time, I will have the honor to of speaking with several members of Congress about the issue of human trafficking at the National Foundation for Women Legislators Summit on Human Trafficking. The topic I’ve been asked to speak on is pornography and how it relates to sex trafficking.

I am thankful for this opportunity to raise awareness with people who can impact change on a national level.

I will be sharing a platform with a friend of mine, who also happens to be a survivor of sex trafficking. We will be addressing the issue of pornography: how it is a health crisis in our nation, the impact it has on the teen brain, and the link between pornography and the purchase of sex. She will be sharing her testimony.

I believe pornography is the root of all sexual exploitation. And just like any weed that grows in a garden, if you don’t pull it out by the root, it will come back, usually stronger. 

Susan Knight describes pornography’s impact on dopamine in the brain in her article, The Five Stages of Pornography Addiction. She continues to explain how it affects a person’s health and well being in that it has damaging impacts on the brain. She states that:

Dopamine rewards you for seeking the visual pleasures porn presents… The brain chemicals motivate some to repeat this behavior…. Because of this chemical release — and the consequences of behavior — pornography addiction is considered to be a form of chemical brain damage. People become dependent on pornography for physical and emotional satisfaction. (Knight)

An overabundant amount of dopamine is considered the chemical cause for an addiction, and this can lead to a harmful use of a brains rewards system.

Pornography desensitizes the mind to brutality and victimization. It normalizes sexual abuse and it fuels demand for sexual exploitation. Like drug addiction, there is a progression in the viewing of pornography that can lead to the purchase of sex, thus perpetuating sex trafficking.

When a person no longer gets a dopamine release from natural pleasures (ex. relationships with people) and only from unnatural pleasures (ex. a computer screen), this is known as “desensitization.” Wilson’s mentions desensitization in his book and expands our understanding of it, by maintaining:

Desensitization is probably the first addiction-related brain change porn users notice. They need greater and greater stimulation to achieve the same buzz (‘tolerance’). They may spend more time online, prolonging sessions through edging, watching when not masturbating, or searching for the perfect video to end with. But desensitization can also take the form of escalating to new genres, sometimes harder and stranger, or even   disturbing. Remember: shock, surprise and anxiety can jack up dopamine. (Wilson 97-99)

Pornography victimizes men, women and children who are used to produce porn. It also victimizes the viewer, through impacting their brains, sexual performance, and their ability to relate to others. It is a health crisis.

 “…with the emergence of the use of computers to traffic in child pornography, a new and growing segment of producers and consumers is being identified. They are individuals who may not have a sexual preference for children, but who have seen the gamut of adult pornography and who are searching for more bizarre material” (Trueman, Patrick).

Our children are at risk and our nation has a tsunami coming straight for us and we stand by clueless as a nation. We must fight back.

We must push for obscenity laws to be enforced and where there are weak laws, we must demand stronger ones. We need to communicate to marketing firms and companies that succumb to the pressure to use sex to advertise their products that we will not stand for it any longer. In response, we need to avoid purchasing their products. We need to ask our hotel chains if they allow the purchase and viewing of pornography in their establishments and if they answer yes, we must be willing to inconvenience ourselves to find other accommodations.

We must raise our voice for those who have been silenced.

If we don’t stand up against this, who will. Will you? Will you be the key?