UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | February 27, 2024

Porn not harmless

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When Annie Vandermyde was abused by her husband of 10 years, she felt lost and alone — unsure where to turn. 

 
Annie Vandermyde, a Dixie State University alumna from St. George, is among the millions of victims across the U.S. who have been abused by a loved one. The stories of those abused, sexually or otherwise, often has roots in the growing sexual exploitation crisis. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. Sexual assault is on the rise, especially on college campuses. 
 
Dawn Hawkins, executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, cited the reason for the increase in sexual exploitation and assault as being the accessibility and normalization of sexually violent and explicit media, especially pornography. 
 
“Pornography is leading to increased sexual assault cases and more demand for child porn, sex trafficking and prostitution,” Hawkins said. “Porn users are starting to feel entitled to sex, which is a huge red flag.”

Women who have husbands addicted to porn feel worthless most of the time, Annie Vandermyde said.
 
“[Pornography] is a darkness that takes over,” she said. “Women [with husbands addicted to porn] feel tricked, manipulated and played.” 
 
Annie Vandermyde eventually asked her husband to leave her. The longer her husband was away, the more she realized she was much healthier without him. She decided to divorce her husband and move on with her life without him. Annie Vandermyde started the nonprofit photography organization, Hashtag Fly, to empower other victims of abuse to feel beautiful again by taking their picture and portraying them in a positive light. 
 
Ashton Vandermyde, a junior finance major at DSU from West Jordan, is Annie Vandermyde’s brother and is now helping her with Hashtag Fly. 
 
“[Sexual assault] is so prevalent today,” Ashton Vandermyde said. “It’s important to create awareness for it instead of being hush hush about it, because otherwise, it will never stop.”
 
According to Covenant Eyes, an internet safety resource, 68 percent of men and 18 percent of women look at porn on a weekly basis. As long as pornography is allowed to continue to be the norm, there will be a flood of sexual exploitation and assault, Hawkins said.
 
“Pornography is so destructive, because by objectifying women, it is in itself a form of sexual exploitation,” Hawkins said. “College students especially need to know porn is not harmless, and that by using porn, they could be inadvertently fueling the sex and child porn trade.”
 
As despicable as sexual assault and exploitation are, it is the prevalence of pornography and glorified sexual violence in the media that are the underlying causes of it all. In order to make America a safer place for everyone and for future generations, we as a society need to make a conscious effort to stop feeding the demand for pornography.  
 
This story was updated on April 22 at 4:15 p.m.