For Karen, discovering her husband Johnny’s secret involvement with porn was especially upsetting because of the ramifications of what he had been looking at. They had been thinking about starting a family. “I opened a file of his on our computer,” Karen said, “and it was filled with sexy pictures of young girls. I was devastated. I had no idea what to do. I wondered, Can I stay married to somebody who is playing this close to the edge of child pornography? It frightened me. If the pictures had been of thirty-year-old women, it still would have upset me, but my fears would have been different. After seeing his porn, I realized I could not in good conscience bring a child into the world who could be in danger from him. I questioned whether I’d ever be able to have kids. I loved Johnny and it grieved me that someone I loved so much had sunk so low.”

Like Karen, women whose husbands or boyfriends are into the more extreme types of porn—involving force, humiliation, torture, or sex with minors—often react to the discovery of the porn habit with extreme alarm. Finding out that her boyfriend or husband is sexually aroused by images of people coerced, tied up, or in pain, can result in a woman fear­ing for her own safety, or the safety of others.