Sanctuary for the Abused
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Porn: One Man's Shame
from: Diane Herceg, Texas
to: United States Justice Department Commission on Pornography
My son, Troy Daniel Dunaway, was murdered on August 6, 1981 by the greed and avarice of the publishers of Hustler magazine.
Hustler magazine published the article "Orgasm of Death" in its 1981 edition. Its publishers edited the article, illustrated the article, distributed the article and even mailed the article to my home address. The article graphically depicted autoerotic asphyxiation. I have attached a copy of the article to this letter. At the time, Hustler knew or should have known that the magazine would end up in the hands of youth under the age of 18 and children. Their own surveys showed that a portion of their mail subscribers were under the age of 18, and that the vast majority of the homes to which the magazines were mailed had children in the home.
My son read the article "Orgasm of Death", set up the sexual experiment depicted therein, followed the explicit instructions of the article, and ended up dead. He would still be alive today were he not enticed and incited into this action by Hustler magazine's "How To Do" August 1981 article; an article which was found at his feet and which directly caused his death.
I feel these magazines should not be sold anywhere because most people do not care who buys them and will sell them to anyone just to make money. Even if only adults buy them, they are in homes where young people can see them. Most magazine publishers will print anything just to sell the magazines; not caring what happens or who gets hurt or killed, or how many families are nearly destroyed by the effects of losing a child or a family member.
I think the government should step in and put a stop to all pornography before any more lives and families are destroyed. I hope that the government will accept its responsibility in putting these peddlers of smut and death out of business forever.
When I found my cousin's hidden stash of soft-core pornography a few weeks after being molested by an older boy at church camp, my emotional ground was broken enough for those seeds to sink deep and grow quickly into a devastating force in my life.
I began to introduce other boys to pornography. I spent as much time over at his house as I could. When my cousins stash of material was no longer titillating, I began to frequent liquor stores that sold pornography. No one at the stores seemed to mind my looking at the magazines I bought them when I could, and when I couldn't; I would steal them, and sell the pictures at school. I quickly learned that the more graphic and explicit the photos, the more money I made. This began a slow progression from the "men's magazine" pornography which I had encountered at my uncles to the hardest types of pornography I could find at the liquor stores. Several other boys became my "buddies" in these escapades. We would dare each other too ever more risky attempts to steal pornography. Often, one of us would occupy the person at the counter so the others could steal what we wanted. The thrill of this risk was intoxicating to me.
But even this thrill wasn't enough after a while, The pictures in the magazines got old, and I began to look for graphic, explicit images. To get the same high I had received in viewing the softer images of women. After a while pornography still seemed to lack the punch it once had, so I began to look for more real and dangerous ways to satisfy my desires.
I began to experiment with voyeurism, watching girl's undress through holes in the wall or windows, or sneaking into the girl's showers. I would literally do anything to see a girl's nude body. Watching girls undress was like having the pictures of my porn fantasies come to life. The tragedy was that my pornography habit kept me totally alienated from any real relationship with girls. I found it difficult to relate to real girls, who didn't behave like the girls in pornography, I didn't have girlfriends, because the girls I met or dated reacted with fear and disgust to my pornography-inspired advances toward them.
Pornography had taught me that the way to be accepted and loved was through sex, but in reality my obsession with sex brought me only alienation, loneliness, and shame. All this continued to escalate moving into harder and harder material and more risky episodes through my high school years until finally a crucial experience motivated me into a recommitment to my Higher Power.
I dropped my pornography habit cold immediately. I opened my own roofing business to support my self as I was going to college, and I met this wonderful woman at the college. After a 9-month period of dating, we got married. I firmly believed that I had turned my life around. I didn't view pornography, nor do any unhealthy sexual activity. But the injury my life had been subjected to had not been dealt with or healed properly, I was like a man walking around on a badly healed broken leg. There was a fundamental weakness only waiting for an unusual stress for another break to occur.
That stress occurred eighteen months after my marriage.
My wife was pregnant with our first child, and because of her symptoms and reaction to the pregnancy, our sexual relationship began to evaporate. As I tried to deal with the mounting stress in our marriage, I was driving past an adult bookstore one day, and my sexual frustration nagged me into going inside.
It's difficult to describe my reaction to my first visit to a hard-core adult bookstore. I was deeply shocked and disgusted at the material I saw there. I was ashamed of myself and promised myself never to go into a place like that again. But the sight of this hard-core material and my shame at being there was also like a sudden injection of some incredible drug straight into my veins. In an awful way, it excited me tremendously. And in spite of my vow to myself, I found that as my relationship with my wife worsened, I went back there - again and again. Using the pornography as a drug to numb the pain of a struggling marriage.
Just as it had in high school, my pornography addiction began to consume more and more of my time. I found reasons and excuses to visit the store for more, and more hours every day. My business began to suffer as much as my marriage. I would hide money from my wife to spend on pornography; finally, I was finally forced into bankruptcy. Still my habit progressed.
Since I went to pornography in the first place to escape, the pain of bankruptcy only increased my need for the escape of pornography. And then came a move to California, and things got better for a time. It's difficult to explain completely, but at each critical time in the progression of my addiction, I felt I was being given providential opportunities - chances to stop, and turn myself around.
But I didn't take them, I was too afraid to let anyone see the real me. I was convinced that if someone saw the real me, the one that struggled with all this evil stuff, they would find me dirty, disgusting, and would have no other choice, but to reject, abandon me. The move to California was a chance like that. For several months, I tried to commit myself to making a new start for my family and business.
Then one day my business carried me to an area where there were sexually oriented bookstores and I fell completely back into my addiction, picking up where I had left off. It became such an easy way out. I felt that I was too dirty to love, inadequate as a man, father, husband and that no woman could accept me and love me. In my pornographic fantasies, those needs for love and acceptance were seemingly met.
Once again, my addiction drew me into more and more graphic and even violent material. Gradually, I found a growing interest in sadistic pornography. In the ever-increasing violence of my fantasies, I found an outlet for my anger at all the rejection I had faced from women all my life, which wouldn't love me or meet my needs. Pornography and violence are woven together, as to say sex, anger, power, and violence should be a part of the same experience.
Porn glamorized the violence.
As my mental scenarios demanded more graphic expression, I gravitated to more and more twisted and violent pornographic images. This material that once would have nauseated me, now have become my fantasy. I want make it clear here, before I proceed with the final stages of my addiction, that pornography never FORCED me to make these choices. But at each stage, as pornography began to have longer and more influential contact with my life, my ability to resist the compulsion for it grew less and less until I was seemingly powerless to resist it. I now found myself in this helpless situation.
I remember times when I would drive by a liquor store that sold pornography and force myself, with all of my willpower and every ounce of my mental strength to drive on past . . . only to find myself involuntarily turning around and returning to the store to buy pornography. By this time, images on paper and film were beginning to lose their power to satisfy me. Increasingly, I craved the "real thing"; it started out with going to a strip tease joints.
Just as with the bookstore, my first visit left me shocked at myself. I left promising never to return again! But I was soon back, spending hours and hours watching the girls. From there I progressed to massage parlors, and finally to using prostitutes. Just as at each step before, what was at first shocking and repulsive became easier and easier to accept. In fact, it was the shock and repulsion that gave me that "rush" I craved. And I craved it more and more. I would arrange phony business trips to cover my activities, and I would hide or even steal money to cover the costs of my habits. I laid out elaborate plans to keep myself from being suspected or caught.
Even in my own mind I lived a double life. My public life was commendable, but the fruit of my private life was full of bitterness and pain. This pain only increased as I made futile attempts to draw closer to my wife sexually. I thought that the way for us to be close was for us to have a better sex life. I was hoping she would be like the women of my pornographic fantasies, she naturally responded with revulsion.
Ironically, I even tried to "spiritualize" my requests by appealing to distorted biblical ideas about her duty of "submission", that her body belongs to her husband, and that it was her responsibility to meet my needs sexually. But again my attempts at this kind of closeness only ended in more alienation and anger. As this anger was building, I found that even my visits to prostitutes didn't dissipate the rage inside me.
More and more, I found myself fantasizing about satisfying myself and venting my rage at the same time. I deserved love, and if I can't get it through the natural channels, then I will have to take it. I began to entertain thoughts of raping a woman. At first, it seemed only like a game. I would make intricate plans in my mind about how I would do it without being caught. Then I began to do "trial runs" of a rape.
I would visit dark parking lots around department stores at night and follow women home. Then I would sneak into the back yard to watch them undress through the window. These games, became real, intricate "trial runs'' of a rape. But always something stopped me. It remained, for the moment, a game. But an ever more serious game. Finally, as I was getting out of my car at a racquetball club. I saw a woman walking to her car alone in the dark parking lot. She fit my perfect woman fantasy; she was the one of my dreams. Something inside me said this is your chance, she's yours", and my game became reality. I followed her to her car and asked directions as I positioned myself in front of her open car door, then I lunged at her, and forced my way into her car, my hands on her throat.
Terrified, she asked me what I was going to do to her. I told her. All I saw as I looked into her eyes was fear. Those that shocked me like a someone had hit me with a baseball bat, and woke me up. Suddenly, with my hands around her throat, I realized what was happening - how far I had come down a horrible road. I came to the sickening realization that I had intended to kill this woman, if necessary, to keep my terrible secret.
Reeling from the shock of my awakening, I released her, muttered something about having made "a mistake", and walked in a daze straight to my car. I need to emphasize that not until that moment, when I was a razor's edge away from killing someone, was I finally forced to admit that I had a terrible, uncontrollable problem. Up until that time, even though my will was being increasingly sapped by my addiction, I had still managed to lie to myself. Now the truth descended on my like an avalanche. Once the truth was out, it pursued me relentlessly.
Naturally, the woman had seen me walk to my car and taken my license number. As I was home beginning to open my secret up to my wife, the police came to my door and arrested me. After that came time in jail. I tried to defend myself by pointing to my sterling reputation in the community. This was just a onetime occurrence, my attorney argued. And so I was given a lenient sentence. Unlike problems such as alcoholism, my problems with pornography and sex were the type of sin that unspoken rules prevented openly discussing - or forgiving. I became a spiritual "leper" and found little support from some of my former "friends".
Little wonder, then, that I didn't "confess" my entire pornography problem. I was still playing a game of damage control, and I revealed as little as possible. I bitterly regretted having been caught. But it was not the process that led to my personal catastrophe. Naturally, the strain on my marriage, already near the breaking point, reached a critical stage during, the aftermath of the rape attempt. In a last-ditch effort to save my marriage, I took my wife on a getaway to Santa Barbara, CA only to find us in a hot and bitter fight.
Deep in my heart, I still resented the rejection I felt from everyone, especially my wife. In a self-justifying tirade I rehearsed to myself how my entire problem had really been my wife's fault. "If only she had met my needs," I thought. "If only she had totally accepted me, I wouldn't have had to look elsewhere." I believed that if a woman kept her husband sexually satisfied he wouldn't be looking outside the home.
But at that moment, a door cracked open and lighted up the first step on the road to freedom to control my own life again.