Crime TV

Could Watching Violent Porn Influence Someone To Act?

In "Making a Murderer," Brendan Dassey's brother was accused of looking at hours of violent porn. Is there a correlation with watching violent porn and being violent? 

In Season 2 of “Making a Murderer,” Steven Avery’s post-conviction lawyer Kathleen Zellner pointed the finger at Brendan Dassey’s brother as a possible suspect in the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach, in part because of his alleged interest in violent porn.

The first season of the Netflix docu-series was released in 2015, and it raised many questions about the convictions of Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, who were both sentenced to life in prison in 2007 for the death of Halbach in 2005.

The second part of the docu-series shows how challenging it can be to overturn a conviction, and it focuses heavily on Zellner’s investigation into what really happened to Halbach. Zellner explains that her investigation into the truth left her with some questions about Brendan Dassey’s brother Bobby. She talked frequently about Bobby’s alleged interest in violent pornography.

Zellner said there is evidence that shows Bobby downloaded violent porn.

“We have found thousands and thousands of images that could only have been accessed by Bobby Dassey,” Zellner said. She showed a document from her investigation team that showed he made internet searches like “11 year old sex,” “rotten girl,” “gun to head,” and “f--- preteen girl.”

“Torture, bondage, pedophilia, nightmare stuff,” she said. “Fascination with death. … decapitated girls, things like that. I mean, this is astounding.”

Zellner accused Bobby of compulsively making such searches for hundreds of hours.

Why is this significant? Zellner hinted that there could be a link between those who are into grotesque porn and murder.

She’s not the only one. Experts say violent pornography doesn't cause crime, but can encourage someone with a predilection towards violence.

"What pornography will do is fuel the fantasy,” John Douglas, a criminal profiler and former FBI special agent and unit chief recently told Oxygen.com at Death Becomes Us, a true-crime festival in D.C. “It’s not the cause of it, it just fuels an already screwed-up mind. You could say the same thing about a violent movie. Did the movie cause it or did it fuel this guy’s thinking?"

Neil Malamuth, a psychologist at the University of California who has been studying sexual aggression for decades echoes that statement, as cited in a New York Times article, and indicates that men who are highly aroused by rape porn are less likely to attempt sexual assault if they have a lot of empathy. If they are narcissists, it will increase their chances of committing violent crimes. In one study he participated in, entitled "Pornography and Sexual Aggression: Are There Reliable Effects and Can We Understand Them?" it was determined that sexual criminals are more aroused by violent sex and those who are already sexual criminals are more likely to act out sexually after viewing violent sex. 

That study finds that people who already have a tendency towards violence often seek out such images, stating that "Men who are hostile and, therefore aggressive toward women are attracted to the kinds of images that portray and reinforce their already held hostile attitudes and behaviors."

Peter Madsen is one such person who is believed to have narcissistic and psychopathic qualities. He reportedly watched violent porn before killing journalist Kim Wall.

“The same day that Madsen met Wall, he searched the internet for “beheaded girl agony”, and watched a film of a woman having her throat slit.” according to the Independent.

While violent porn may inspire or be the precursor to a violent act for some, that's obviously not the case for everybody. 

Violent porn can be “a facilitator for one person, while having no effect on others," a 2017 Psychology Today article citing research by criminologist Eric Hickey states. "Still, the fact the certain serial murderers have insisted that pornography was a major factor in their killing young women and children cannot be ignored.'"

One such serial killer that claimed to be profoundly affected by violent porn was Ted Bundy. He pointed the finger at violent porn for his brutal actions, but not everyone believed the connection he was making.

In his last interview before his 1989 execution, Bundy told a broadcaster that “pornography . . . was the fuel for his fantasies to do the things he did,'' Reverend James Dobson (who Bundy confided in before death) recited, according to a 1989 Chicago Tribune article.

A criminologist warned the public in a 1989 South Florida Sun-Sentinel op-ed not to blindly believe Bundy's violence-porn addiction claim, citing his contempt for society and visible "sneer" in his last interview. That op-ed states that it would be "naive" to accept that "Bundy knows the 'real reasons' for his behavior and that he would reveal those reasons to us if he knew them." 

Gina Pace contributed to this report.

[Photo: Netflix]

Searching for the best true crime podcasts? Subscribe to Martinis & Murder and join hosts Daryn Carp and John Thrasher as they chat about creepy crimes and unsolved mysteries... while sipping on killer drinks from our murderous mixologist Matt the Bartender. Each episode will focus on a new true crime, with all the gory details, and a cocktail recipe to get you through.

All Posts About:
Kim Wall Steven Avery Ted Bundy Crime TV