Skip to main content

Young Adults on Sexual Exploitation, Social Media, and Modern Dating, a Panel Discussion

By June 19, 2024July 3rd, 2024No Comments

Episode 116

Young Adults on Sexual Exploitation, Social Media, and Modern Dating, a Panel Discussion

In this Consider Before Consuming Podcast episode, we had the opportunity to sit down with a panel of young adults about their experiences and perspectives on sexual exploitation, social media’s role, and dating culture. Participants include survivors of human trafficking and sexual assault, former porn consumers, and anti-trafficking advocates. They highlight generational differences in addressing sexual exploitation and the impact of internet culture. Additionally, they discuss the challenges in modern dating, emphasizing the shift toward online interactions and the need for safety measures.


Introduction (00:11):
For today’s conversation, we sit down with a remarkable panel of young adults to delve into their experiences and perspectives on sexual exploitation, social media’s role, and modern dating culture. Our guests include survivors of human trafficking and sexual assault, former porn consumers, and anti-trafficking advocates. [00:00:30] Together they shed light in how social media can both aid and exasperate exploitation, highlight generational differences in tackling these issues, and discuss the challenges and safety measures in today’s online dating scene. With that, let’s jump into the conversation. We hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.

Fight The New Drug (00:53):
Thank you all so much for being here with us today. Daniel, would you like to start us off with some introductions?

Daniel (00:59):
Yeah. So [00:01:00] my name is Daniel Ramos. I live in California and where the expertise or whatever that I bring to this I had a close friend of mine who passed away a year ago who was an a survivor of human trafficking. and so just hearing her story helped me fight and really take seriously like my own personal porn addiction and stuff like [00:01:30] that. And, you know, continuing to fight and also stand up and advocate for people who are in those horrible situations.

Emma (01:38):
My name is Emma. I live in Utah right now. I’m from Texas originally. I’m here because I kind of two different things. The first thing is that I am a former porn addict as well. I had a problem with foreign from the time I was 11 to 18. and then on top of that I am a, like sexual assault rape survivor too. [00:02:00] So

Alex (02:00):
My name is Alex Cross and I’m from Wyoming, Michigan, which is just south of Grand Rapids. I, yeah, I started with pornography since ninth grade. I was introduced in ninth grade. got connected to fight the new drug, and that’s kind of what really sparked my communal fight to be a better lover and fighter. And throughout my time in college, was connected a lot with like groups that helped people fight addiction and other sexual addiction as well.

Jose (02:28):
Hi, I’m Jose [00:02:30] Alfaro. I currently live in Boston, mass. I’m from Texas and I am a survivor of human trafficking,

Bri (02:38):
Or, I’m Bri Ray. I am from Utah and I’m a survivor of sexual assault.

Hannah (02:43):
So I am Hannah. I currently live in Utah, originally from Texas as well. And my expertise, I, I know so many types of people my expertise. I’ve done, I studied social work with an emphasis in anti-human trafficking and anti-violence. And I did anti-trafficking [00:03:00] work, both state side and overseas.

Fight The New Drug (03:02):
Thank you all for being here. our first question today is how do you think our generation’s understanding of sexual exploitation is different from our parents’ generation?

Jose (03:13):
Personally, I feel like there’s a huge difference. I feel like nowadays a lot more people speak up about sexual exploitation, sexual assaults, any form of negative sexual anything where I feel like our parents [00:03:30] felt the need to stay quiet. I don’t know if that came from maybe where women felt like they didn’t have a voice or people from the L-G-B-T-Q community felt like they didn’t have a voice. I personally know that as an L-G-B-T-Q person, I felt afraid to speak up about any type of the sexual exploitation that I went through, through so I think if you go back to back [00:04:00] several generations, I think it was even worse then as well.

Hannah (04:04):
I think this is one spot where social media has really played a big key role in the fact that there’s so many movements coming out of that. It’s just so much easier to get your voice heard across so many different platforms, and it just kind of allows for a lot more broader audience and a lot more perspective and input to be heard as well.

Daniel (04:21):
I think also just depending on where people are raised and what families they’re raised from, just like the stigma around it is different. [00:04:30] So some people just want to grin and bear it, kind of ignore it, whereas other people are like, no, like, this is a, this is an issue that like we need to speak up against. And then even then there’s people who just don’t want to talk about it. and I think a lot of that at least with like the friends of mine that I have that have experienced that kind of stuff, like they are afraid to speak up because they’re afraid that no one’s going to listen to them. And the reality is there are people who they have tried to speak to about it and they didn’t, they [00:05:00] didn’t actually respect what they were saying or believe that it was true. and so I think it just depends on where you’re at. I know at least in my immediate circle, like we take it seriously. Like if someone comes to us and says like, Hey, this is a serious issue. Like, we’re like, okay, like let’s talk about this. Like let’s help get you the support you need. But then there are other people who just don’t.

Bri (05:21):
I would agree with Hannah and Daniel, I think I think right now because of social media a lot, a lot of people are able to connect as a community, whereas [00:05:30] I think previously the community sense of it wasn’t there. And so like, it’s a lot harder to speak up about something when you think you’re the only one than when you can take a quick search and realize that there’s an entire group of people who are fighting the same fight as you. So I think social media has really helped in that sense.

Fight The New Drug (05:49):
So we talked a little bit about how social media can help us speak out about this and gain community around raising awareness on this, but how do you think social media is fueling sexual [00:06:00] exploitation? Have any of you experienced being groomed through social media or received content through social media or seen content through social media? Do you know of people who have, who have been exploited through social media? what do you think, you know, that’s a unique piece of this generation’s culture is social media and, and how is that feeling the issue of sexual exploitation?

Alex (06:22):
That would be a big difference generationally, is that our parents’ generation didn’t really have much of the internet to play into sexual exploitation. [00:06:30] And so I think that just difference alone, like not just social media, but just the internet how connected we are in a positive sense, but also in a negative sense I think is something to just take into consideration. I think all of us would understand that, but maybe some other generations wouldn’t necessarily see how that’s connected to sexual exploitation.

Jose (06:51):
So my own personal story I was actually sex trafficked at the age of 16. but I actually met [00:07:00] my trafficker through social media. I met him through a gay chatting site and he spoke with me, asked me how my day was going. It was a normal conversation that led to, you know, I needed help and he was willing to offer me the help that I needed. One thing led to another, we met up, and then from there the grooming process began and then I was sexually exploited.

Fight The New Drug (07:29):
And did you [00:07:30] see, or have you known of other people who have had similar experiences being exploited through social media?

Jose (07:36):
Yes, I actually have. The thing is, is that with human trafficking, especially human trafficking within the L-G-B-T-Q community, I’ve found that a lot of our youth doesn’t even realize that what is happening to them is sexual exploitation. So I think that the educational factor is an important role [00:08:00] to help warn them and let them know, hey, like if this happens, you know, this is what it could lead to.

Daniel (08:08):
Yeah. And to add onto that, like I, I, I work and live at a home for former foster youth and one of my guys actually had that almost happen to him. and me being able to say, Hey, like, probably shouldn’t respond to this guy, and like helping him to see and helping him walk through that, like helped me to understand as well, like, [00:08:30] this is a real, a real thing that happens on social media. I mean every day a lot of us, especially millennials and down, we look, we go on Instagram and we look at a lot of memes all the time, and a lot of these pages I see start posting up more and more explicit content where we don’t know where that content’s coming from. We don’t know who these people are. in my dms, I get random messages from random people.

and then even OnlyFans, OnlyFans is huge right now started off as a way for celebrities to put out exclusive content for their fans. [00:09:00] And now you have, who knows on there, do like exploiting themselves or being exploited for money. and this is stuff that a lot of people in, I I would say younger generation, I’m seeing with the youth that I work with that like, this is just the normal thing that they experience and they joke about it and it’s normalized and it’s not actually like, Hey, let’s actually look to see where these, these, these are coming from. Like what is the source of it? Because the reality [00:09:30] is if you’re wanting to buy into this or you’re wanting to look at this, like you don’t know where it’s coming from, you don’t know who’s on the other side of that. you just, but the society is just normalizing it through, through memes, through humor, through television through so much. it’s just being normalized.

Emma (09:51):
I’m only 19, so I am a Gen Z, and I, I get, you know, I’ve had social media ever since I was super young and I’ve always like [00:10:00] gotten dms and like I get so many messages multiple times a week that, you know, are just from people that I don’t know and I don’t know where they’re coming from. And I have certain people, you know, like dating online is a really big thing with people that are my age. And I don’t trust it because, you know, you hear so many stories and I know so many people that, you know, have been either like assaulted or any, you know, have had really negative experiences because people are so trusting with people that they meet online and the dms that they [00:10:30] get. and so I can totally, I totally can testify to exactly what you’re saying. Like I’ve had, I’ve experienced that in my life too. So

Bri (10:38):
I’m consistently deleting dms. And I think something that is really important that I guess kind of goes back to a question you asked earlier was that when I was growing up, I did not know what grooming was. I had not been taught, I did not know how to recognize when it was happening to me, which is what led up to my experience with sexual assault. And so [00:11:00] I think it’s important to educate children, young adults, adults, about grooming what it looks like online and in person because it is very different when it’s online. but it still has the same results.

Fight The New Drug (11:15):
Thank you. We hear from a lot of schools that are dealing with issues of sexting where individuals, young people are distributing photos of themselves, but because they’re minors, it actually ends up legally being possession and [00:11:30] distribution of child pornography. So things like that that a lot of parents just aren’t aware of that are happening constantly and the pressures for young people to do those types of things. I think if there’s anything like that or through social media you can think of specifically I’d love if you could share,

Emma (11:44):
I totally think that there’s a pressure nowadays to sext, like if you’re like in a relationship or just if you’re talking to someone, like I think that’s something that maybe the older generations don’t understand is like how much pressure there is to do that kind of thing. and another, [00:12:00] a really, really big thing that I’ve seen with my friends is like revenge kind of porn where you get your heart broken or whatever, and then they use those pictures to as revenge and will like show them to people or just to like cyber bully them or to blackmail them. And I think that’s a huge issue that a lot of people don’t talk about is the blackmail. that comes from sexting.

Daniel (12:25):
I don’t know if parents are going to know because [00:12:30] kids, because of social media, you can delete stuff, but it’s going to be there forever. Same with texting. And so stuff gets hidden from parents, teachers, mentors, whatever person works with the youth all the time, and especially the younger generations are really great at hiding that stuff. I mean, most people under the age of 21 that I talk, that I have talked to as friends or whatever don’t talk to my kid, youth, kids like [00:13:00] that. But they all use Snapchat and Snapchat, a picture disappears once it’s open and it’s gone. And so it’s just, it’s so easy that I think it’s just so difficult for anyone who is in an authority, who is an authority figure for a youth to be able to see or or even recognize that that is happening. unless you pick up on very tiny hints. But those are, I think, incredibly difficult to even catch.

Emma (13:26):
Yeah. Especially if you are like the person who’s being victimized in this situation. [00:13:30] If you are the person who you know the picture, it’s the picture of you that’s being shown to everyone. Like obviously you’re not gonna wanna go forward to someone that you trust or to an adult and tell them about it because you feel so, so much shame for even having that like picture taken in the first place.

Jose (13:45):
I know of a lot of friends who are on Grindr or some people who’ve even said that on Tinder. there’s photos that are shared that are explicit and I even noticed a friend of mine scrolling through [00:14:00] his phone through his photos and I was like, oh my gosh, like, what are all those photos? And he was like, oh, you know, receipts. And I said, receipts. And he said, yeah, so that the second someone wrongs me, he goes, I have proof and I can show everyone his explicit photos. And I can tell you there were like hundreds of photos and I was like, oh my gosh. Like you think that far ahead into ruining someone, but there are tons of people out there who are willing to just destroy lives instantly.

Fight The New Drug (14:30):
[00:14:30] Well, let’s talk about dating a little bit. I think that’s something that you know, our generation in particular is uniquely in this space where we are meeting people online. I’m curious to know what your experiences are like with, with dating culture and what you see happening in your circles of friends or with the young people you work with because it does look different than it’s looked for previous generations. And I’m just curious to know what your experiences have been or what you’ve seen.

Emma (14:57):
I can definitely say that dating is hard. [00:15:00] . it’s super hard because I, like I said, I’m just super cautious because I’ve, you know, experienced certain things in my life and I have like lots of friends that have had all these negative things. But like, like I mentioned, like dating apps and stuff are super popular right now and it’s hard for me because I choose not to, you know, use those apps when I’m dating, but that’s literally the only way that you can like meet people nowadays. Like it’s, you know, no longer like meeting someone in person and then like asking them on a date and then going on a date. Like it’s, that’s the way it should [00:15:30] be, but like, that’s not how it is anymore. Like in my experience, guys don’t really like ask people out anymore. It’s all online.

and so it’s just really hard for me to like meet people that you know, like maybe are interested and will ask me out in person because I feel like everyone is like getting like dating online nowadays. And so no one’s really open to like getting to know people in person anymore, which is something that I’ve realized. And I talk with my friends all the time and we’re always like trying to figure out how to get people to like talk now, you know what I mean? Like how to get [00:16:00] people to ask people out on dates in person and like just have things in person and that are real and that are not just virtual.

Hannah (16:11):
I would 100% agree with that. I think it’s so hard for it to happen organically anymore. It’s just like you did say everything is online. And so what my friends and I do is we kind of have like systems that we set up in place where we let at least two to three people know where we’re going, the name of [00:16:30] the guy, like what he looks like, we have code words set up. It’s just like so many things that are put in place, like, okay, you know where I’m at, you know his name, you know how to contact us, you know what restaurant to call. Like, you know that if I text you this word that I am not safe. Like things like that just that are in place because you just, you don’t know. It’s like, ’cause anyone, and I think this kind of goes back to what you were saying Daniel, is that anyone can be anyone online, you don’t know who you’re interacting with really at the end of the day because everything can be faked if that’s what someone really wants. And it’s just kind [00:17:00] of putting yourself in this situation where it’s like, okay, I do like want to be in a relationship and start dating, but also it’s kind of scary ’cause it’s like you don’t know really what you’re getting yourself into.

Emma (17:09):
Yeah. I actually had an experience with that a couple days ago. One of my friends was like meeting up with some guy that she’s been talking to over an app and yeah, like we do the same thing. We do code words, like we do like the if if you get sent a blank text, then that means like something’s wrong and we need a, we call them and we’re like, we try to get them outta the situation. Mm-Hmm. . and we all have each other’s [00:17:30] locations. We all let each other know when like we’re going on dates and like, it’s just kind of sad that we have to be so like, cautious about everything because no one knows who they’re going out with anymore.

Fight The New Drug (17:41):
Something that we thought is how difficult dating is often because of the expectations by pornography. Is that something that any of you have experienced? Or for those of you who have struggled with a compulsive pornography habit, has that impacted your ability to date? Or for those of you who are assault [00:18:00] survivors or rape survivors or survivors in any capacity, has that impacted your ability to date if you feel comfortable sharing,

Bri (18:07):
Sharing? I would say for me one of the hardest parts about dating has been age is the culture of online dating. Of you’re not even really going on a date. You’re going to hook up. I’m not down for that. I think that’s so just not my style. So online dating was always hard. And also I live in a place that lacks diversity. [00:18:30] There’s this whole massive idea of a sexualized black woman with all of these physical features and behaviors and right. And it just is this whole fantasy world that has been created that is so unfair and so just, it shouldn’t be placed on anyone. And that’s kind of the expectation I found myself walking into through online dating and dating in general.

Emma (18:56):
Yeah. I I have to agree with her. it definitely is lacking diversity [00:19:00] where we live. And you know, I, I hear jokes. I’m obviously around lots of, you know, like teenage boys and young men, and I hear so many jokes and stories of boys saying like that they’re, they got their like, colored girl count in or something like that. Like they like make it a joke, like, oh, like every boy needs to kiss at least one, you know, like mixed girl or whatever. I, it’s like some game to them and like, I agree with her. It’s just really, really, really, [00:19:30] really hard to date when it’s hard to like know people’s intentions and it’s hard to trust people. especially like as a, an experie as a person who has experienced like sexual assault and rape, like it already makes it hard enough with that to trust people and to know their intentions. And then you add on that like just kind of being a minority. And it definitely, you never know anyone’s intentions and you just have to be really careful with that. So

Jose (19:59):
Just to kind of touch [00:20:00] base back to when I was looking for guidance and help, you know, my parents kicked me out when I was 16 years old. I, and when I spoke with Jason, the guy who trafficked me there was a specific type of person that he was looking for and that specific type of person was someone who looked really young, which I was, I was 16. but he also wanted someone who looked young but also was Latino. I know that that was [00:20:30] somewhat his like fetish type. That was something that he was into, but it was also something that could work for his business. And his business was a massage business in which he would find young, vulnerable teenagers who he could basically sell through his business sexually. but flash forward to today, now that I’ve been in a relationship for a while I’ve kind of had to do some soul searching [00:21:00] within myself and realize that because I had gone through so much sexual trauma, I began thinking that the trauma that I went through was normal and was okay.

And also I thought it was okay to bring it into my relationship. And so with that being said, there was a long time where I felt like, well, if he’s not treating me like Jason did the trafficker, then he doesn’t love me. and so I took a lot [00:21:30] of what I went through through my traumas and brought it into my relationship thinking that this was the example that he had to lead by. but now of course, now that I’ve realized how wrong it is, I’ve come to realize what quote unquote normal is for a relationship and what’s healthy.

Alex (21:54):
So I, oh, go ahead.

Daniel (21:56):
You go Alec . Okay.

Alex (21:58):
I my [00:22:00] wife and I have been married now for like a little over a year, but when we were dating, I think of someone who, who was a former compulsive user of pornography, that that made it really hard to get to know someone because of just the culture that pornography instills and, and I think all of us and just our oversexualized culture as a whole that it was hard to try to focus on like what is her character like, what is like all these other things, aspects of a relationship. it just makes it so much harder to get to know someone outside of the, [00:22:30] the sexual romantic side of things in a relationship. and even find that today, like just getting to know her in our marriage. it’s difficult still ’cause we’re, I still live in a oversexualized culture even though I’m not like dating her anymore. and we’re married, like, it’s still very difficult to fight past those expectations in a relationship where everything on TV and movies, like all this media stuff is sexualized. just working on those other components of relationship is, is difficult.

Daniel (22:58):
Thank you. Yeah, and going [00:23:00] off that, I think there’s just so much with like this body standard that everyone has to meet. I mean, I can only speak into living in LA in Orange County , which is known for that, you know? and it is just so difficult. I hear it. Well, I mean, I experience it myself and then I hear it so much from my friends. Like, I had a friend literally just the other day who said, it is so difficult being a woman in modern dating culture and not having the perfect [00:23:30] like body type. and she attributed that largely to pornography because pornography, you can get whatever you want whenever you want. and that’s just not how life works, . It’s really not. But people treat it as that they treat dating, they have to meet X, Y, and Z and they have to match all these ticks.

They have to be able to do this stuff. If they don’t, then sorry, it’s just not gonna work out. and I mean, I’ll attribute that not only to pornography, but media in [00:24:00] general and Hollywood especially just with who they portray how they portray different people, especially different people of, of different ethnicities and different backgrounds. Like it’s ridiculous. and that just gets put into modern dating, especially on dating apps. It makes it so easy. Swipe Lyft swipe or Right. And you don’t even look at who the person is. You just look at what they look like and that system is just so wrong.

Fight The New Drug (24:28):
Yeah. Something [00:24:30] that gets brought up a lot among our generation is sugar dating and sugaring. I don’t know if that’s something that any of you can speak to, even if it’s not your own experience, but if you can kind of share your perspective of what you’ve seen or what you’ve heard of from friends, we think that’s something that would be really helpful for other generations to hear about.

Alex (24:50):
This is crazy. Literally two nights ago now, I was hanging out with my cousin, my brother and my wife and my cousin lived in California for a couple years and she’s just a year older than me, so [00:25:00] she’s in her mid twenties and was sharing that. A lot of her friends in California actually had those experiences. and that was a way that they made money and it was pretty normalized specifically with yeah, older men. And it was just kind of something that I wanted to actually ask my cousin about previously and just kind of check in with her because I know that’s a big part of, kind of, I could tell that’s yeah, part of the culture that she was kind of a part of in California and just was hurting for her and just wanted to make sure if, [00:25:30] if she had experienced any pressures in that way, that I, as someone who’s very close to her, could check in on. But it was just interesting that that came up in our conversations. And even my brother who went to college in Kalamazoo shared that he knew friends of his that were girls that they, that was pretty normal for them. and was, I was kind of shocked by that because I didn’t, I didn’t have any personal connection to anyone who that’s been the case for them, but was just kind of like, wow. two out of four people at this table, like no people that this was their [00:26:00] experience.

Daniel (26:01):
Yeah. So speaking into California culture, that is true. that does exist. I remember two of my roommates actually it might’ve been three of my roommates were sitting on the, on like, on the floor laughing on their phones, like, what’s so funny? And they were looking into getting a sugar daddy or a sugar mama. And I’m like, what guys? , what are you doing? And like, well, you know, I get a ton of money and I just do this. I’m like, no, that’s not okay. and then I, [00:26:30] yeah, like it’s, it is a thing. there are websites that you can go to to find that pretty easily. and in California, from what I saw looking out there, ’cause I was curious is like how many people are actually out there that are willing to do this? And there was a, there was a good amount of both men and women who are willing to give people money to do X, y, and z.

and even I was just talking with a friend yesterday who [00:27:00] one of her roommates supposedly has one as well, and it’s like, it’s a side gig. It’s just a normal thing. I have had a lot of female friends tell me previously that they have had a guy slide into their dms or someone even had it on Twitter or even on dating apps where a typically it’s a man who is willing to give them hundreds or thousands of dollars for like, pictures of their feet or something like that. And like, that’s a legit thing that people are considering [00:27:30] once again, OnlyFans exists which is not the same, but also kind of the same where people can just do whatever they want to make money. And it’s so expensive in LA and Orange County that like, it’s, it’s a thing that people are willing to do because they gotta make rent. And I mean, that’s just not okay.

Emma (27:52):
Yeah. I live in a college town and you know, we’re in college, we’re all broke , and it’s like such a normal [00:28:00] conversation. It’s something that we all bring up all the time. Like I, I go to a school with mostly girls. I’m, I go to cosmetology school and so we’ll just be sitting there, you know, doing clients and stuff and girls will just casually say things like, oh, well, like, I don’t know how I’m gonna pay for rent. Maybe I just need to get a sugar daddy, like you said, just like, send pictures and make tons of money off of it. I’ve had like dms, I’ve seen it all over Twitter, just people just willing to pay me like ridiculous amounts of money for, you know, [00:28:30] just to even talk to them or just, you know, like there’s like escorting or, you know, it’s not supposed to be like a sexual thing because technically that’s like prostitution, but I know that it does lead to that so many times. And like it leads to rape and it leads to so many cases of like sexual assault. And I just don’t think that it’s okay that, that that’s even a thing that people talk about all the time, you know what I mean? So that’s actually how I ended up in Boston from Texas. I had a sugar daddy fly me from Texas to Boston. I got lucky with this relationship because we immediately realized that we didn’t click. and he offered me a place to stay rent free with food, which is so not common. but I will tell you from my past experiences is that it’s a simple conversation online about what’s expected, what’s not expected, and whether or not you are willing to do that for them. but the thing is, is again, you’re talking to these people behind a keyboard and you have no idea when they fly you out, one, if it’s gonna be the same, and two, if they are who they say they are. So I think it’s extremely risky, but my myself, I was in a position where I had no support. I had no family, no one was there to, you know, help me get through the things that I needed to get through, therefore I needed help from someone. It was after I had been trafficked. So I was like, what the heck? What do I have to lose? I’ve lost everything, you know, these guys have done whatever they wanted. I’m still alive, I survived it. What’s the worst that can happen? And that is the completely wrong way to think about it. but it’s definitely dangerous for sure.

Fight The New Drug (30:00):
[00:30:00] Are there, are there specific things that you can think of that [00:30:30] like things people have said to you that are clearly from porn culture? I don’t know if that’s something that all of you have a, a couple things right on the top of your head you could think of. But I think that’s something that it’s so normalized among young people that so many of us don’t even realize that it is what it is, I think a lot of the time. But I think that for older generations that maybe aren’t as aware of what porn culture really looks like right now, it would be interesting to be able to communicate [00:31:00] some of those, those things. if anyone can think of anything.

Jose (31:05):
so because I’m five two, I’m actually 29 years old. I’m probably the oldest, I’m assuming , but because I am five two and I’m really short and I have boy like features I’m approached by a lot of older men who mention things about daddy slash son relationship. and I do know that that does come from porn culture. but I am [00:31:30] constantly told that I must be into daddy’s because of the way that I look or that I’m probably looking for a sugar daddy. In other words saying that because I look so young that I probably don’t make good enough money or I can’t support myself, therefore I’m constantly looking for someone older. but I’m constantly placed in that category because of pornography.

Daniel (31:59):
There have been [00:32:00] so many memes that I have been catching on are just normalizing incest, and that is what’s also trending on porn sites. And you have kids who are joking about this stuff that is getting so normalized and you just, and I, I hear, hear stuff like that pretty frequently working with youth or even just looking at memes of people joking about it. And personally I just find it very interesting that they are targeting memes for a lot of these things when that [00:32:30] is what a lot of youths are looking at all the time. and very, I mean, youth are very impressionable. You know, their brains haven’t fully developed yet. and so up until the age of 25, and so if you’re constantly getting one thing, even if it’s a joke that’s gonna be what’s normalized by the time you’re done developing.

Emma (32:51):
Something that I hear pretty often with my peers is certain phrases like, oh, like she’s a milf or something like that. Like, and [00:33:00] I definitely think that comes from porn culture as well. I mean, I haven’t really experienced a ton of, I mean, I’m sure it’s more, I, I honestly feel like it’s probably around me a lot. I just am used to it now. So it’s kind of hard to like think of one particular experience, but like the use of words like that, like MILF or DVE or whatever, I don’t know all those different words, like I hear those so often and it’s like used as a joke or it’s like a meme or you know, like [00:33:30] but it’s like you were talking about like incest and just like family sexual relationships, like that kind of stuff is like a joke nowadays and it’s something that people just talk about casually. And I definitely think that comes from pornography.

Alex (33:45):
I was just gonna add for students, ’cause I also work with high school students that I think it’s less maybe phrases that I hear like around the lunchroom but it’s more just the openness. Like it’s no longer like, oh, I’m gonna secretly send this to somebody, like multiple guys sitting around like the same phone screen [00:34:00] and like noticing what they’re looking at is definitely like pornography or just ex sexual exploitate exploitated material in general. and just the openness there that I think that’s a part of like, youth culture today is just like, we don’t, you don’t even hide it anymore. Like for them it’s just, hey, this is something we watch and there’s no shame behind it. this is just a part of like being a guy, being a teen boy today which is very, very unfortunate [00:34:30] that, that it’s become normalized for them.

Fight The New Drug (34:32):
Yeah. How do you think shame fuels the issue of sexual exploitation? Just kind of across the board, if anyone can speak to that from a personal perspective or what you’ve seen with youth or, or with your friends.

Daniel (34:46):
Yeah, so shame, I, I love this quote that I heard. One of my many trainings that I’ve been through where shame, the difference between shame and guilt. Guilt is the thought that what I am doing is bad and shame is the thought that I am bad. and [00:35:00] if we take that idea of I am bad it’s kind of like a cage that that locks us inside. and it says you are different than everyone else because you do X, y, and z. No one else struggles with you. And so you opening up to someone is just going to affirm that you are bad. it’s just going to affirm this narrative that’s constantly being written in your head. and it makes you feel trapped because if you are bad and the thought is that you are bad, [00:35:30] then why are you ever going to do any good?

You know, let’s take the kid in your, in your classroom who’s constantly making disruptions, who’s constantly, you know being that kid that we have labeled. if you’re constantly telling him, Hey, you’re a bad kid ’cause you’re doing all this stuff, is he going to wanna do good? No, he’s gonna continue to do what he’s doing because that’s who he thinks he is. And so if we take that idea with pornography addiction [00:36:00] or sexual exploitation or anything like that, why would a kid ever come up and say, and go up to his parent or go up to a teacher or a mentor and say, Hey, I have a problem. this is really impacting my life. This is impacting everything I do. Why, why are they ever going to do that? If the thought is I am bad, no one else in the world has ever experienced this, which we know isn’t true. but no one in the world has experienced this and so I’m all alone so I need to figure it out myself or just continue doing it.

Hannah (36:30):
[00:36:30] And to kind of spin off of that a little bit, I think we’ve talked a lot about the differences in generation so far. And if you’ve got a whole bunch of kids who are all struggling with the same thing and they wanna get out of it, but they turn to an adult who maybe has never struggled with that or doesn’t know how to handle it, then they’re automatically gonna think that, oh, what the kid is doing is wrong and then that’s gonna feed further into the shame for the kid and they can’t turn to their friends as much ’cause they’re all going through the same thing. So it’s so normal in that younger generation. [00:37:00] And so it just kind of makes it really hard if there’s kind of these automatic barriers put up in place that aren’t intentionally there, but are there just because there’s so many differences in the generations and that just further feeds into the shame because they’re not gonna wanna talk about it. Just kind of going back to what you said, because they’re going to think that it’s bad because the reaction they’re gonna get from the adults around them or people they’re reaching out to for is that it is bad.

Jose (37:24):
Absolutely. I’m gonna add on to what both of Daniel and Hannah said [00:37:30] being gay again growing up it was really hard because everyone constantly told me, especially growing up down south, but everyone told me that, you know, you’re sinful, you’re bad. Look at what you’re doing, look at what you’re thinking. Or even before I came outta the closet, I always heard how awful it it is to be gay and to like someone of the same sex. So for a long time it put a lot of fear on me and thinking [00:38:00] that what I was doing or what I was interested in was horrible. So secretly I would turn to pornography to figure out what it was that I needed to know about my sexuality so that I could, I could know how to do it properly. And of course, some of the stuff that I probably bumped into probably wasn’t the best education or the healthiest way to figure that out. [00:38:30] But for me, growing up down south, there was no one there no adult to tell me, Hey, if this ever comes up, this is, this is what you do, this is how you do it safely. And so in a weird way, pornography helped me, but also at the same time, it probably gave me a, a wrong image of what healthy sexuality truly is.

Emma (38:56):
I’ve noticed in my life over the last decade that [00:39:00] shame has one of, I think my coping mechanisms, which I’m working on in that like multiple people can relate to, is when you find, I guess, a problem in yourself or when people will tell you that something’s bad about yourself, then something that you do is you like project that onto other people. and one of my things that I totally regret doing and that that happened and it’s good to learn from is you know, when I was struggling with pornography being told constantly, especially being a woman that like, it’s like perverted if you’re a girl [00:39:30] that has seen pornography or you know, all these different things I remember like projecting that onto other people. Sometimes if I found out if my friends were talking about some girl like watching pornography, then I would even be like, ew, like that’s gross. Like, I would feed into that and I would just pretend because of my own insecurities that it was this terrible thing. And I think that it just goes around and around. It’s just a cycle of you being insecure and people telling you that what you’re going through is some is your own [00:40:00] thing and that no one can relate to you. And so then you wanna pretend like you’re not that person and so you go extra hard to like shame people that are openly going through it.

Jose (40:10):
after being trafficked I had a lot of shame of what had happened to me. I also felt like if I came forward and spoke up about it, that people were going to tell me that it was something either that I wanted because of my sexuality or even something that [00:40:30] something that I had basically had like done to myself in a way. So for a long time I just felt very afraid to speak up about it because of the shame that I had for what was done to me. but of course you grow from that, you learn from that and then you’re able to speak up about it. And I can’t even tell you how liberating it is to be able to come forward and share my story and people are [00:41:00] just like, oh my goodness, like, I can’t believe that happened to you versus someone telling me, oh, well you kind of did that to yourself. So it’s been great being able to come forward and speak up about it.

Alex (41:13):
I think I’ll just add to that, that I, that I think all of us can attest to, like, as we are able to share stories more like that shame has less of a power in our stories. And like there’s a freedom to having no shame about saying obviously like, Hey, this, this was very harmful. [00:41:30] This thing either happened to me or I chose to step into this, but like as we’re able to share, like, this is where I’ve been and this is now where I’m going and that’s a different trajectory and like a sense of kind of a newness of life in a way. I think there’s a lot of power behind that and I I’m sure all of us could attest to that. I

Fight The New Drug (41:49):
Thank you. So for those of you, I think everyone here in some capacity could kind of speak to this, but what is something that you wish that parents [00:42:00] or educators or leaders in the anti exploitation movement what is something that you wish people who have a platform to educate about these topics and speak about these topics knew or understood better? in, in your experiences, what you’ve seen, things that you wish could have been handled differently, what do you wish people knew?

Jose (42:23):
I wish people knew a lot more about sexual exploitation that happens to men, males but also [00:42:30] people within the LGBTQ plus community, especially the trans community. I’m hearing and seeing a lot of sexual assault happening to victims of the trans community and I feel like no one’s really talking about it. also gay men and anyone from the L-G-B-T-Q community for that matter. but I do wish that people would speak a little bit more about it which is something that I’m trying to do myself [00:43:00] just to kind of help spread awareness because no one wants to talk about it, not even the survivors. And maybe it is because of that shame, which we just touched on. But I do find that no one is really speaking up about the injustice that’s done within the lgbtq plus community.

Daniel (43:19):
I, I think I would just say listen, listen to the voices of people who have gone through either a porn, porn diction or [00:43:30] who have been sexually exploited. and just listen. I think so much that happens is people just talk people just say what they think is true, what they think is right or they just don’t listen at all. I know for my friend that I mentioned that was trafficked, she tried talking about it with people because she needed community and it ended up that only me and one other person was willing to actually listen to her, hear [00:44:00] her story and just be with her through all of the trauma that she had experienced. but so many people just wanted to fix her. So many people just wanted, didn’t even wanna listen to it because they were uncomfortable.

Jose (44:12):
I will also add that because of the Black Lives Matter movement that is going on and has been going on I have seen a lot more people of color talk about the injustices that happen especially through sexual assault where they feel like [00:44:30] when it happens to them, they’re criticized because of it. or told basically almost as if like they’re like a second class citizen so they’re not taken as serious. So I also think that that’s an issue within the black community as well.

Hannah (44:46):
I think one of the biggest things for me is I just want people to be aware of what’s going on. I think speaking from the sex trafficking side, ’cause that’s more of what I’m well versed in, is that it’s not always what it looks like. And it [00:45:00] does happen state side a lot more often than you think. I think that most people see it as, oh, it’s just this problem that’s happening in other countries, especially with third world nations, but they’re not really realizing that it’s something that’s happening in our states and that is perpetuated from the idea of an over sexually is culture. And so I think I just, if I could say anything, I just want people to be aware. I want them to realize that they, I can look for the signs that they can. It’s as simple as educating themselves [00:45:30] even just a little, like, you don’t have to go too deep into it, it’s just diving into it a little bit so that you can learn to recognize it and then call it out for what it’s,

Alex (45:40):
I think I would agree with that. Yeah. Within the youth community something that I think I’m, I’m I would love to be a part of working on is like getting some education on pornography and how it’s connected to sexual exploitation, connected to trafficking into schools as a part of sexual education. and I know there’s some work in that in, in Greater Grand Rapids [00:46:00] area. but think that’s just a huge gap I guess in our educating youth on sexuality is just not realizing those things are connected. because I obviously that’s a huge part of healthy sexuality is, is not being a part of those things. and so I think like that would be in my mind maybe a little more obviously that, that all of this is so complex but it seems like a pretty a more simple way to some extent, at least in my knowledge and my area of like focus [00:46:30] to, to be able to work on to, to get that rolling in communities.

Emma (46:37):
I wish people would know that. you know, I so just as simple as that. There are so many women that struggle with it and it’s like this thing that is always talked about with men, but not women. And you know, I’ve had so many experiences in my life where people have said things to me [00:47:00] not knowing obviously that I struggled with it. And it definitely affected me for a long time and it still does affect me. like for example, I had a mentor talk to me or talked to a group of girls one time and basically just tell us all of us girls that she’s like, I know she prefaced this whole conversation with, I know that you guys don’t have a problem with this and I know it’s an uncomfortable topic, but we need to talk about this.

then she proceeded to [00:47:30] kind of just talk about pornography and how it’s like this huge thing with, with men these days and with boys and how we need to like almost just like stay away from guys that have struggled with pornography and that they’re not the people that we would want to be in relationships with. And that definitely affected me and it still affects me to this day. ’cause to be told, I think I was probably 13, but to be told that we should be staying away [00:48:00] from and not get in relationships with and that marry or whatever people that have struggled with pornography was such a huge thing for me as like a 13-year-old to hear basically that you’re like unwanted or you’re not wanted or you’re like unworthy of love and of finding love if you’ve struggled with this and it makes you some disgusting person. So you need to be more open to women who experience problems with pornography too [00:48:30] just so that they don’t feel so singled out. And I am so alone because that’s something that I definitely had a huge problem with for so long.

Fight The New Drug (48:38):
Yeah. Thank you. we wanna end on a hopeful note in just, you know we, we started a little bit this way talking about the power of social media to spread movements and spread information, but what things are you seeing among this generation that give you hope? that we are gonna address issues of sexual exploitation and and our generation [00:49:00] in particular, you know, might be able to provide a unique lens into trying to address these and, and solve some of these issues and decrease the demand for sexual exploitation?

Jose (49:09):
I think social media is so powerful. We’re even going through a time where cancel culture is super popular. I don’t really know how I feel about it 100%, but I mean, you say the wrong thing in the wrong moment and Gen Z’s ready to cancel you in a, in a second. and your whole career could be completely [00:49:30] over. I mean I’ve seen it done to so many popular stars where I’m just like, wow, I really liked them but now I can’t. So . but social media is powerful and I think that’s a great thing. I think people now feel a lot more comfortable coming forward and speaking up about injustices which is incredible as well.

Hannah (49:52):
I would have to agree with that. I think one of the coolest things that I’ve seen is when, because even in the last few years when I was studying social work, [00:50:00] it human trafficking wasn’t something that people were really comfortable discussing. ’cause it is so heavy and so intense that it just kind of made people kind of clam up and they’re like, it’s too much. I don’t wanna talk about it. I don’t wanna engage in it. But I think seeing platforms all over social media, kind of bringing it more to the light, people are more comfortable talking about it. Even just kind of letting my, one of my coworkers know why I needed to swap shifts with her today. I was kind of explaining why and she got so excited. She’s like, this needs to be talked about. I’m glad that there’s like [00:50:30] this whole conference that’s dealing with it and just kind of, that was not a reaction that I was have ever had ever. Social media played a big part in that of like, people are just more willing to talk about this because they realize it’s not something that’s happening sporadically, but it’s an actually really big deal that needs to be discussed.

Emma (50:49):
you know, you hear things all the time of people like, oh, gen Z or like millennials or, but like, honestly like I am a Gen Z and I like am proud to be one because [00:51:00] so many people are so inclusive in my generation I’ve noticed. and everyone just wants everyone to feel like they’re important and everyone is very like accepting. And that just makes me super hopeful because like I’m seeing it like younger and younger people start to speak up about such like big issues, you know, like I remember when I went to fight the new drug to talk about my video. They’re like, this is weird. We’ve never had like I think I was like, am I the youngest person to Yeah. They’re like, we’ve [00:51:30] never had like a 19-year-old girl like, come talk about this issue. And I, I just feel like it, it’s super cool ’cause it’s like, I just feel like our, our generation is definitely super accepting and I think that has a lot to do with social media, but we’re just more open to talk about things that are uncomfortable and it’s becoming just a normal thing to support everyone.

And you know, like all the different like communities like the L-G-B-T-Q community and you know, like the trans community, I know part of the LGB lgbtq, but like just all these [00:52:00] different communities are like coming together and that’s something that makes me so happy is just to see everyone support everyone. So

Bri (52:06):
I think the most hopeful thing that I see is this like fiery passion and fury of it’s time for change and we’re sick of how things have been have been and so we’re gonna change it and it’s kind of just a nothing is in our way and here we go and we don’t care what you say. It’s time for change. Yeah. And for me, I love [00:52:30] that and I’m on board with it and I think that is the most hopeful thing because that’s the energy and the attitudes that we need to start making serious change to serious issues that this world has.

Jose (52:42):
That’s why everyone’s like canceled

Emma (52:45):
, canceled ,

Jose (52:48):
That easy, canceled .

Alex (52:52):
So bouncing off of what Emma said, I working with youth, I have a lot of different people that I’m in contact with and this gives me hope that [00:53:00] are speaking into youth today and I hear them over and over again say like, you’re the generation that I truly believe are gonna change things and influence things. and obviously other generations can do that too, but just hearing so many people who are speaking into youth and really like putting words to that and saying, Hey, like you guys are gonna do something awesome. and not just in this like fluffy way, but in like tangible ways, this being one of them. I’m hopeful for women speaking out more for the L-G-B-T-Q community speaking out more. I see that happening, [00:53:30] so I’m hopefully that will continue to happen and shed a light on things that are in the darkness right now.

I’m hopeful that we’re more connected today, I think, than ever over things like texting and, and technology because I’m able to connect with different communities similar to maybe you guys or other people I met at different conferences or people that I went to school with that now are in other states or countries. Like, we’re still able to connect and hold each other accountable and continue sharing our stories. and I’m also, I think super hopeful [00:54:00] that studies like resources, stories are gonna continue to come out. And I think there’s a lot more like ammo, so to speak, on combating things like human trafficking and the harmful effects of pornography. like without fight the new drug, I would not know anything about like, how all these things are connected. and so I’m excited as like legit studies come out. It’s like, guys, I can like show you the facts about this stuff. Mm-Hmm, . it’s not just something that I experienced or believe in, like it’s that. And like, if you are a science [00:54:30] person, here’s the facts. So I’m hopeful in a lot of stuff. That was, that was the large list.

Fight The New Drug (54:34):
That’s great. Thank you Alec. We’re so grateful for, and we always see how much it is changing the conversation about this is just people who are willing to share their stories and, and share their voices. So I wanna thank all of you for helping us to share you know, a, a younger generation’s look into issues of sexual exploitation by sharing your lived experiences and perspectives. So thank [00:55:00] you all.

Promo (55:11):
Hey, parents. Navigating the digital world with your kids can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be. Introducing the Raises app, your free guide to Confident Parenting in the Digital Age Raises helps you manage screen time, tackle cyber bullying, and protect your kids from online predators with [00:55:30] expert advice, engaging family challenges. A handy goal tracking feature and more raises is here to help support you every step of the way. Download the Rays app today at f and start building a safer digital future for your family. That’s f Every July is our Stop the Demand campaign, where we raise awareness to help stop [00:56:00] the demand for pornography and sexual exploitation. You can help raise awareness during Stop the Demand this year by repping the movement in one of our conversations. Starting tees. All tees are $10 off in the store right now through the end of June. Get your gear for Stop the Demand today at That’s F-T-N-D.ORG/Shop.

Outro (56:27):
Thanks for joining us on this episode of Consider [00:56:30] Before Consuming. Consider Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug. Fight The New Drug is a non-Legislative, and non-religious organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects, using only science, facts and personal accounts. Check out the episode notes for resources mentioned in this episode. If you find this podcast helpful, consider subscribing and leaving a review. [00:57:00] Consider before Consuming is made possible by listeners like you. If you’d like to support, consider before Consuming, you can make a one-time or recurring donation of any amount at That’s F-T-N-D.O-R-G/support. Thanks again for listening. We invite you to increase your self-awareness, look both ways, check your blind spots and consider before consuming.

Fight the New Drug collaborates with a variety of qualified organizations and individuals with varying personal beliefs, affiliations, and political persuasions. As FTND is a non-religious and non-legislative organization, the personal beliefs, affiliations, and persuasions of any of our team members or of those we collaborate with do not reflect or impact the mission of Fight the New Drug.


A three-part documentary about porn’s impacts on consumers, relationships, and society.

Fifteen research-based articles detailing porns negatively impacts.

Tees to support the movement and change the conversation wherever you go.

Successfully navigate conversations about porn with your partner, child, or friend.

A database of the ever-growing body of research on the harmful effects of porn.

An interactive site with short videos highlighting porn’s proven negative effects.