The complex experience of child pornography survivors

Child Abuse Negl. 2018 Jun:80:238-248. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.03.031. Epub 2018 Apr 7.


This research explores the complex experiences of survivors of child pornography production. The study was conducted among a convenience sample of child pornography adult survivors (N = 133), using an online survey which included a series of open-ended questions. Nearly half of respondents reported that they felt the production of sexual images caused specific problems that were different from the problems caused by other aspects of the abuse. Nearly half of the sample worried all the time that people would think they were willing participants or that people would recognize them, one-third refused to talk about the images and 22% denied there were images. The qualitative analysis identified three major themes which emerged from the survivor's perspective as adults: Guilt and shame, their ongoing vulnerability and an empowerment dimension the images sometimes brought. Recommendations for further research and additional implications are discussed.

Keywords: Child pornography; Sexual abuse images; Survivors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data
  • Emotions
  • Erotica / psychology*
  • Female
  • Guilt
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Shame
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult