The complex experience of child pornography survivors

Ateret Gewirtz-Meydan, Wendy Walsh, Janis Wolak, David Finkelhor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-248
Number of pages11
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful for the courage and candor of the survivors who participated in this research. The study was funded by the Office of Victims of Crime, Department of Justice , under a grant awarded to the National Center for Victims of Crime, which subcontracted with the Crimes against Children Research Center to conduct the data collection. The National Children’s Alliance and an advisory board of experts assisted.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018


  • Child pornography
  • Sexual abuse images
  • Survivors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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