RXP019 Tasha Levert – The Role of Pornography

On this episode of the Red X Podcast, Tasha Levert Phd who holds a PhD in marriage and family counseling offering provides insight into the link between pornography and sex addiction. Nicole shares a USA Today article about demand for human trafficking.

Nicole and Lance talk about A War Against the Cowbird, book written by Nicole. Lance is the former mayor of Apex and has been picking up some hobbies, including learning to draw cartoons, since he has more time without mayoral duties. Lance is also working on creating a screenplay for A War Against the Cowbird. The two also discuss Nicole’s upcoming skiing trip.

Nicole talks about Shield North Carolina:

“I want to tell you a little bit about Shield North Carolina. I started Shield North Carolina two years ago as a mom that was disgusted at the reality of people trafficking children for sex. We believe in a world where kids can live free of fear of exploitation. We are primarily focused on prevention efforts at the community level and are currently developing a prototype for responding to trafficking and supporting restoration at the municipal level for other grassroots movements to replicate. We’ve been a part of passing legislation at the municipal and state level and are currently working on federal legislation to create greater restitution for child pornography victims. Our approach is to be relentless, collaborative and bring together best practices from across the country. Please consider making a donation to Shield North Carolina so we can continue this important work. Go to www.shieldnc.org to make a donation. We are careful stewards to make your dollars count in turning the tides in the anti-trafficking movement so that next generations can live in a world where kids fulfill their purposes and never have to worry about being sold. www.shieldnc.org Can follow us on facebook. Can you become a monthly donor?”

In the News:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/nation-now/2018/01/30/sex-trafficking-column/1073459001/ 

Sex Trafficking would not exist if people were not willing to pay money for sex. You want to end human trafficking. You have to end demand.  Who would be willing to buy sex? Or, more difficult to fathom from a 15 year old girl or boy? Some slimy pervert who lives in isolation and only emerges to commit these crimes. According to USA today who interviewed a 17 year old survivor from the midwest who was trafficked at age 15 they are from quote All walks of Life end quote. She says that there were more than 150 men who purchased her in a month most people in their 40’s. 

In 2016 a study by the Center for Court Innovation found that between 8,900 and 10, 500 children ages 13-17 are exploited each year in the US. But there are also several hundred children commercially exploited each year who are under the age of 12. 

The study also found that victims were an average age of 15 and that on average each child is purchased on average of 5.4 times a day. If you take the number of children commercially exploited in the US by the average number of purchases, by conservative estimates, adults are purchasing children for sex 2.5 million times a year. 

Also consider that with easier access to children overseas who are being exploited, the internet and cheap airfare that buyers are also going oversees to purchase sex.

http://theconversation.com/these-are-the-customers-who-support-sex-trafficking-in-the-us-121866

So who are these guys? Well they aren’t all guys. Although women make up a fraction of buyers, women also purchase. 

But the most common buyers are those who have the disposable income. Most buyers are middle class, middle age, caucasian men. One study discovered that men who purchased were slightly more likely to be married and were more educated. And they can run the gamut. Identified buyers have included law enforcement, lawyers, truckers, teachers, pastors, city employees, etc. These are men who may be well known and respected in the community.

Nicole welcomes Dr.  Tasha Levert, marriage and family counselor at Broomtree Counseling.

When Tasha began her counseling career in year 2000, they were just starting to learn about risks with googling. At Broomtree Counseling, she sees clients all over the nation as she can provide counseling remotely. She treats adolescents and adults on general issues such as anxiety and depression. However, for about half of her patients, the issue of pornography presents.

Tasha says that 1 in 3 visitors to pornography websites are women. We often talk about pornography as though it’s more of a male problem and so men might be more open to talking about it than women who may have more shame about viewing pornography.

Tasha didn’t learn about human trafficking until the year 2010 but that pornography and human trafficking are closely related. Traffickers want us to think that pornography, prostitution, and sex addiction are all on a spectrum and different. However, pornography meets the legal definition of human trafficking if there’s force, fraud, or coercion involved in its production. We often talk about pornography like it’s the least harmful when compared to human trafficking or prostituion. But the truth is that pornography drives human trafficking. Rape is rape and often viewing pornography is viewing human trafficking? How can you know in pornography if that person is against their will or not? Eighty-eight percent of pornographic content presents violence against women. There is no ethical way of knowing if the act is consensual or not. Pornography can teach men how to be violent and can teach women to tolerate it.

Where parents don’t teach about sex, porn will. Pornography can develop a strange curiosity, but sex is not just physical, it’s emotional and spiritual. Pornography doesn’t teach that; it only teaches the physical aspect. The language we use in explaining sex is often focused on safety. By middle and high school, Tasha says we need to start talking to children about pornography and have parents help them navigate the issue. Otherwise, Google is where a lot of kids find answers to their questions about sex. Tasha talks to her own girls about dreaming about ending human trafficking. The discussion is not just about making good and bad choices, it can be about empowering children to take up social issue of ending human trafficking.

Tasha says that 56% of divorces involve a spouse having a problem with pornography. Seventy-nine percent of men view pornography at least a month. People may not immediately report that it’s a problem. One in 8 men are purchasing sex. Sex can become only physical rather than being about intimacy, vulnerability, and emotional connection. Spouses feel like they need to be the ones that take the place of the pornography. This can be very damaging to relationships. But, it’s preventable. Seventy-nine percent of pornography viewing happens in our homes. Parental controls can be helpful but there is always a way they can be gotten around.

The DSM V (manual used by psychologists/psychologists to diagnose mental disorders) doesn’t include a pornography addiction as a recognized mental illness. The struggle with the DSM V developers is that people cannot addicted to something that doesn’t have a chemical source; unwanted pornography viewing is considered a compulsion. However, anxiety, depression or some other mental illness typically co-occurs with unwanted sexual behavior compulsions.

Tasha says that the unwanted sexual behaviors of a person reveals insight into their emotional brokenness. In Jay Stringer 2018 was able to find out that what you google search may tell you something about your own brokenness. For Tasha, understanding a person’s specifics about their google search for pornography provides insight into their path for healing. Pornography is not about pleasure, it’s about shame. Individuals may be reenacting trauma from the past and viewing it in pornography. Tasha says she wants to help clients understand what event happened in their life where they gave up on hope. The important questions should not be if they are addicted or not but if they are free.

Even occasional usage of pornography drives demand. Traffickers accumulate data based on what people are google searching for. If people are typing in the words teen pornography, traffickers are going to get teens. Traffickers use an analysis of what people are searching for as a marketing tool. They may also force their victims to view pornography as a way to train them. Buyers may also come to a victim with pornography and ask them to act it out. Allison, a previous guest on the Red X shared her own experience with this.

Don’t perpetuate shame. Shame only increases the unwanted behavior. We need new conversation with our kids, ourselves and our communities. As Americans, we’re becoming more educated on how we consume things—was the product we buy environmentally friendly and ethically sourced. Likewise,  we can make sure we are not participating in an industry that is degrading to another human being.

The good news is that the brain is designed for change. It takes some time and work to create a new behavior but it is worth it. Addiction wants to say, you can never change but your brain is designed in a way that can change so you can take next step to freedom.

Jay Stringer, Unwanted.

Find Tasha: Tashalevert.com or broomtreecounseling.com

Episode Description coming May 12, 2020.

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