Grammy award winning singer Billie Eilish has opened up about her addiction to pornography, which started when she was just 11 years old, saying that the abusive content gave her nightmares and warped her ideas of sex and body image.

The 19-year-old singer — who has 97.8 million followers on Instagram — made the revelations on The Howard Stern Show in the US this week.

“As a woman, I think porn is a disgrace, and I used to watch a lot of porn, to be honest,” confessed Eilish.

 “I started watching porn when I was like 11. I was an advocate and I thought I was one of the guys and would talk about it and think I was really cool for not having a problem with it and not seeing why it was ‘bad’, you know?”

In the interview, Eilish talks about the harmful impact watching so much porn had on her:

“I think it really destroyed my brain, and I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much porn. I think that I had sleep paralysis and almost night terrors and nightmares because of it. I think that’s how they started because I would watch abusive BDSM and that’s what I thought was attractive. It got to a point where I couldn’t watch anything else—unless it was violent, I didn’t think it was attractive.”

She spoke about how porn had influenced her ideas of sex and first sexual experiences and about the resulting pressure she felt to perform in a certain way.

“I was a virgin, I had never done anything, and so it led to problems where the first few times I had sex, I was not saying no to things that were not good. It’s because I thought that was what I was supposed to be attracted to,” she said. 

She also called out the unrealistic portrayal of women and sex in porn: “women’s bodies don’t look like that, we don’t [orgasm] like that, and we don’t f—ing enjoy things that are what it looks like people are enjoying.”

“I am so angry that porn is so loved and I’m so angry at myself for thinking it was okay.”

It is great to see someone in Eilish’s position speaking out about the devastating effects of pornography, because the sad reality is that her harmful experiences of porn have been felt by countless others. So much so, that there is already an abundance of research validating the statements she made in the interview.

In particular, we know that porn normalises sexual violence, with as many as 9 in 10 porn videos depicting sexual violence, where woman are almost always the targets – around 97% of the time. One study has found that 95% of the targets of violence in porn either appeared neutral or as if they were responding with pleasure, further reinforcing that sexual violence is a normal part of sexual encounters. 

We hope that Eilish sharing her personal experience and perspective on pornography will help other young people who are struggling with porn addictions and open up a wider conversation about the devastating impact of porn in our public discourse.

For more information on the damaging impacts of porn, visit Fight the New Drug, a not-for-profit “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”. Their free docu-series on the harmful effects of pornography is a must watch.

This article appeared first on Women’s Forum Australia and has been republished with permission.

Rachael Wong is the CEO of Women's Forum Australia and an Adjunct Lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Notre Dame Australia. She has a particular interest in the crossover between law, ethics,...