Monday, January 11, 2016

Dolls, Manga, And Fictional Imagery

I recently found an article (and here and here, too) about child sex dolls for pedophiles. Yes, you read that correctly. I was very uncomfortable with the idea- and I am a pedophile. The idea is that the dolls can be used to avoid abusing a child. Both articles were on my Google News feed under 'sex abuse prevention'. I had a very strong reaction to this. The point of this is to analyze that reaction, and why this is not sex abuse prevention per se, and why these cathartic-type tools will not work well for most pedophiles.

Fictional Imagery

There is a dividing line between child sexual exploitation material, which involves real children who are sexually abused on camera or film, and fictional imagery involving children in sexual situations. One involves real children, and the other does not. Experts have told the public that the fictional imagery can lead to using real imagery, or shift to sexually abusing children due to the beliefs that could be formed. Nonetheless, this fictional imagery exists, and while one should be aware of the legal situation involving such imagery, the difference between this fictional material and the real exploitative material has to be understood. I have touched on the idea of fantasy involving this fictional imagery here.

Perspective

First of all, I would like to share my perspective- raw and unadulterated. I wish this could work. I want it to be true, that by using fantasies and tools involving sex dolls, child-sex oriented manga, or other ideas that a pedophile can improve their mental health. I wish it could be true. But it is not true for me, or for all pedophiles. I know this because I have viewed fictional imagery of children, I have viewed child sexual exploitation material, and I have abused a child (both of which make me an offender, not a pedophile, which is the attraction). Prior to that, I did view sexual manga images involving children. In the vast majority of cases of pedophilia, these outlets would all too easily become frustrating. It can easily lead to thinking, "Well, it is too bad I can never act on this," or otherwise pitying one's self for a condition they have no control over. It depends upon the person, but more on this later.

Timeline

What I learned from viewing innocent, clothed images of children, is that it is not enough to satisfy my inclination towards children. I wanted more. I wanted to see them naked. So I looked up the manga images. That did not satisfy me either, I wanted real children. So I looked up child sexual exploitation material. And that was enough, for years, until it got boring because it was always the same scenes, the same children, and the same empty feeling. The real children became objects. The fake children were already objects.

I still did not want to touch a child, but when I ran into a situation where I saw some children naked in a bathroom, I started arguing with myself. I convinced myself that it would be okay in the right circumstances. Eventually, I was in a situation where I saw what was to be my victim naked. Then I was in the same situation, alone with him. Then I was in the same situation without the nudity, and I fooled myself into thinking that I would be doing the right thing if I helped him understand hygiene. From point A, the innocent pictures, to point H, the abuse. That was the timeline, and that timeline was a process, and that process took place over nine years. Nine, almost a decade.

The beliefs that fueled my thinking and decision-making during this nine-year process were already well-formed by then. I have touched on this before- believing that other people's needs were more important than mine, ignoring how I felt, feeling that no one understood me, believing I was a monster/pervert/freak... all of those beliefs were already well in place by the time I looked at child sexual exploitation material.

A Slippery Slope

Child sexual abuse does not happen because a pedophile wakes up and decides today is the day they are going to satisfy their desire for real. It is always, always a process with pedophiles and non-pedophiles. It involves fooling themselves with their beliefs and thoughts, it involves innocent things at first and that moves on to needing bigger things to excite and arouse be it in sexual exploitation material or just ordinary pornography in the midst of difficulties. I abhor using logical fallacies as arguments. I refuse to even attack another person on the internet. Sure, I will rip apart their arguments, but never them. That is how much I hate logical fallacies. The only thing they communicate to others is that the person making the fallacy is too lazy to come up with a good response.

So how else do you describe what I just illustrated, except a slippery slope? That is exactly what it is. That is exactly what addiction is, a slippery slope that goes from something seemingly innocent enough to something that is by no means innocent and has a large impact on others. That is how alcoholism works. That is how drug addiction works. And that is how child sexual abuse works. Criticize that point if you must, but I know my own experiences. Obviously what works for me will not work for everyone. However, when the line between fantasy and reality gets blurred, it can become an addictive, dangerous situation. My main point here is that this is not something someone can objectively look at themselves and decide that these dolls are a good idea. They need some kind of a support system to help them with those kinds of decisions, or risk them becoming secretive, addictive, and unhealthy.

Experts

My process through treatment has shown me, again and again, that fantasies involving children are not healthy for me. I fully understand and comprehend that a fantasy is not the same as acting out. I realize that having a fantasy of tying someone up and fondling them is just fiction, and is not something I would ever do. I understand the difference between fantasy and reality, and why it is important to make that difference. But when it comes to children, it is unacceptable. To me, that is where a path to abusing another child starts. Even if someone has never abused a child, but has pedophilia, too much time (or money) spent on sexual releases can lead to wanting more and more.

I have had a difficult time understanding, identifying, and meeting my sexual needs. Currently, I use adult-oriented romantic manga (non-pornographic, but sex is implied, and it involves adults), erotic novels, and sex toys. That is how I currently meet my sexual needs. My therapists have supported these decisions and even encouraged them.

My therapist, and the entire team of therapists that is involved in making treatment decisions, want me and others in treatment to avoid anything that would reinforce sexualizing children. Part of this is due to the uncontrolled beliefs that could be formed by viewing these images. Part of this is due to the idea that sexual imagery can objectify children. 

But the fact that my therapist- someone who has worked both with victims, with juvenile abusers, and with adult abusers- the fact that she believes these 'outlets' are not healthy speaks volumes to me. She is one of the best therapists in the twin cities area, period. She has been asked to speak at churches handling abuse allegations, is a part of an international organization dedicated to the treatment of abusers, and has more credentials than any therapist I have ever known. She has treated hundreds of people. So when she says 'this is not a good idea', I listen.

I have a non-exclusive attraction to children. I know there are some pedophiles who do have an exclusive attraction to children, and I know that for them, manga, fictional imagery, and these dolls could be extremely helpful in lessening the impact those attractions have on everyday life. But it is my view that only an individual and a therapist that is an expert in this area, together, that can make the call on whether those are beneficial or not (no, I am not proposing some new law). 

It is not something that would be helpful to even the majority of pedophiles, as most non-exclusive pedophiles can cultivate attractions that do not involve children. Trying to use these fictional materials without some sort of objective decision-making raises too many red flags for me with what I know about abuse and how sexual abuse happens- not just from my own experience, but on the subject as a whole. That is why I say there should be an expert involved in deciding whether viewing these fictional imagery options would be beneficial.

Conclusion

I also listen to my feelings, and my feelings on the matter, despite how much satisfaction it could bring, despite how no one would be the wiser, despite the fact that I could in fact get away with owning a doll or reading manga, despite how badly I want it to be a solution... It is no solution. It is a path back to hell, and I have been there, and I refuse to go back.

I encourage other pedophiles to not even start down that path. Find an expert who can help you decide what is best for you. Cognitive behavior therapy works, if you are motivated to being a healthy person. It is true that treatment will not cure the attractions to children, but they can be managed, and the longer you manage it properly, the easier it becomes. For most, these dolls are not needed to manage an attraction to children.



6 comments:

  1. Hi, I replied to you on The Atlantic as Innes Mizner, maybe you never noticed my question so I'll ask again here.

    Do you think your sexual interest in children is a regression to, or lack of progression from, a normal childish interest in sexuality?

    In my whole life I have only known two men I'd class as paedophiles, and they never used that word to describe themselves. They excused their own behaviour instead.

    One of them was an guy who after one bad affair with an adult woman self-isolated and due to that isolation began to suffer from is attration to young girls. The last time I spoke to him he claimed to be in love with the 8 year old daughter of clients of his, but he expressed contempt for rapists and claimed he would leave her alone until she was 16, when he intended to propose to her. He cut all contact with me when I asked if he'd mind if I told her parents how he felt about their daughter. He had other mental problems and because he had genuinely expressed how he'd troubled with his feelings and had already reached a legal, if slightly distasteful solution, well, I took no further action after we stopped interacting.

    The second guy I was far more concerned with and after I broke contact with him and I knew he was actively recruiting new parents of young girls, I warned those parents about him. He had me charged by the police for slander, but they didn't prosecute me when they heard my evidence against him. Including his former fiancee speaking on the phone about he'd lick her 8 year old daughter and she dumped him for being a paedo.

    He is now free to offend, unrepentant, in denial publicly and free to reoffend. However I have no proof he has actually molested a child. You said on The Atlantic that you have abused a child, and so presumably you know that you have ruined a life to no gain to yourself. You must have some self-hate there, but do you hate other paedos too? How would you advise that I deal with this guy?

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  2. Your questions are many, so I will start with a few points I would like you to keep in mind as I answer. First, my experience is having been a pedophile and abuser. I am not a professional therapist, a lawyer, or law enforcement, so it is by no means expert opinion. Second, the knowledge that I give you is not knowledge you had at the time these situations presented themselves, and while it does give you ideas on how to respond next time, please refrain from thinking you should have known better. Your questions are on a variety of topics, so I wanted to take the time to address all of them and do them justice.

    To start by your questions regarding my attractions, realistically, I knew something was abnormal with my sexual attractions from about age five. Retrospectively, it was that I liked peeping on boys in the restroom- boys my age where others liked girls- and had an abnormal curiosity about sex and anatomy, and that curiosity I believe was partly because of other mental health things- like being on the autism spectrum, partly from having been abused, partly from the lack of boundaries being modeled to me at home, and partly because something different developed in my brain where others did not have that development. I had no words to describe what I was feeling at the time I was feeling it- the labels came much, much later.

    Around 14, I noticed that my attractions to boys and girls were not remaining with my peer grade in school, I found other, younger students attractive. I would have said that I liked looking at them, which of course means nothing to anyone not specifically trained to spot signs like that. I do not know why, when, how, or where my attractions developed, or if indeed the attractions just stopped aging with me as I feel may be the case. It is not a question I have really sought to answer.

    My difficulty with developing and maintaining relationships is not because of shock or horror- I have not even gotten to that point. It is due to having an autism spectrum disorder, which affects my ability to socialize. I can only handle meeting so many new people at a given time- one or two I can handle, but an entire group is very difficult for me. So my difficulty in forming relationships comes from the difficulty with socializing, which is specific to autism, not with pedophilia.

    That brings me to another important point: The process that leads to abusing a child usually has nothing to do with pedophilia, but with other mental health issues going on in conjunction. It is especially common for pedophiles to deal with low self-esteem, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Several people in my treatment group dealt with anger, anxiety, and other issues. It is these factors not being handled or cared for, in addition to pedophilia, that often leads to child sexual abuse. By no means am I trying to blame my decisions on mental health, only explain the answer to your question about relationships.

    As for the two situations, I see them differently than you do. In my opinion, it is the first man- the man who was lovestruck- who is more of a danger. Sex abuse thrives in secrecy, and the main way it is set up is with grooming not only the child, but the caregivers and the community as well. I would venture to say that most abusers engage in this grooming process without even being aware of it. I have discussed in other posts how the lack of transparency in one’s thinking and how one is feeling can lead to twisted thinking, secrecy, and decisions that would not ordinarily be made if one is discussing the same things with a group of support people.

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  3. So, absolutely, you and others did exactly the right thing with the second fellow- the one with obvious boundary issues. You exposed him for what he was, and you and others refused to brush the issue under the rug. That alone will have a serious impact on his ability to keep those secrets in the future. While it does push him further away from seeking help, it is very obvious to me that he did not want help. In his position, he had to be aware of resources available to him, and he had ample opportunity to discuss whatever was fueling his behavior with the proper people. He dug his own grave. He will remain a risk, sure, but less of one because of the manner in which he was exposed, and exposed himself to that situation by contacting the police.

    The other man, on the other hand, is a much bigger danger because not only does no one in his circle know about his infatuation (that we know of), he is convinced he is in love with a very young child. The likelihood of him being able to keep some sort of love confession to himself for eight years is nil. Unrequited love between adults is difficult enough. And I very much doubt he just suddenly developed attractions to children, that is not often how that works to my knowledge. The isolation certainly would not help things, but the very fact that he is/was obsessed with a particular girl communicates to me that he was very much at risk for acting out.

    How I personally would handle the situation is by saying upfront that I care about him, and want the best for him, and that nothing he ever tells me will change that. Then, in the same conversation, I would tell him that he seems to be sexually attracted to children, and if that is the case, I want to help. I would not ever mention him being a danger to children unless he brings it up, or unless it is obvious that he is considering acting out his attractions. Stop It Now discusses this far better than I can, but the bottom line is that they need to hear that you care no matter what the subject is. Period, end of sentence.

    Here is why: They will not consider themselves a risk to children until they have already acted, or come to that conclusion on their own. Being told that will upset them, will make them more desperate, and make them more likely to engage in risky behaviors- think drugs, drinking, pornography, child pornography- that can lead to abusing a child. How to handle the situation is almost the same as a drug intervention. I would also get in contact with a sex-specific therapist who has expertise in the area of pedophilia- The Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute link (Treatment in Your Area, under Where do I get help?) has a great list of questions to ask therapists, and a good starting point for identifying sex-specific therapists. I forget where they are based out of.

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  4. As for how society should best deal with pedophiles, I partly defer to the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers in their wisdom. However, my own thoughts are along the lines of resources being available. I think you live somewhere in the UK? In the US, there is no sexual education standard, it is up to local schools and communities to determine curriculum. I think every single child, in the context of that sex education, must hear that there is help for any sexual issue they might face, be that abuse, pedophilia, disturbing fantasies, whatever the case may be. They must hear and believe they are not alone, and they can be helped. Society must come to the same point. Mental health issues must be okay to talk about and discuss, and the stigma against the disorder because of people who act it out and abuse children must end.

    The stigma against pedophiles, by itself, is a huge reason child sexual abuse exists in the first place. It pushes pedophiles away from help by isolating them from potential support people- not only do they believe others will not understand them and will shun or reject them, there are people who readily make it clear that they find it disgusting. So pedophiles isolate themselves for fear of the reactions from others, and others isolate pedophiles by making careless statements about abusers, abuse, and actual pedophiles. I think some of the reactions in the Atlantic discussion are prime examples- they should die, be locked up for life, etc. These are reactions born out of emotion, lack of knowledge about the facts of the issue, and an inability to show empathy for others.

    If you have any other questions, by all means, ask. Some of the important points are in the posts linked at the top, in more detail.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your candor and your informative point of view. I am, I was going to say by nature but I'll hold on that, very cold or hostile to paedophiles or anyone even remotely interested. Mainly because I regard my solid childhood as one thing that gives me strength in dealing with abusive adults who had damaging upbringings.

      You advise me to tell the guy I know who wanted to marry an 8 year old that I care for him, but that isn't an option. I don't care for him, I never did, and he knows that. However I do know a gay Christian guy that does care for him, although maybe isn't aware of his sexual interest or at least I never raised the subject with him. I'll talk to him instead and then give him your advice to me.

      I have nothing against sexual deviancy, I'm pro-sex but I've been sexually abstinent for a decade due to my distaste for previous girlfriends who I trusted too much wrongly. I find it very easy to control my sexual desires, and find anyone who can't do that slightly abhorrent, but then I realise that is mostly because I've never had much problems getting laid by very attractive well-suited partners when I choose to.

      I realise though that is not the same for everyone, and my rather blinkered tastes do not even come close to the full spectrum of lust. You seem like an intellgent person so I find it hard to understand why you can't just 'subliminate' your attentions into other non-sexual interests like I find it easy to do, but I appreciate you maybe weren't blessed with my upbringing and you are doing your best. I sort of worry that while you may be doing some good to others by self-identifying as a paedophile online then that reinforces that label in your own mind.

      I don't even play music or watch films when I know the artist had sex with someone underage, and when I said yesterday to a close relative that I'd had my first conversation with a self-identifying paedophile they were horrified on my behalf, worried that our police and security services would use this conversation to smear me. But I'm glad to have talked with you.

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    2. Thank you for reading, and for your concern. I do work at other interests, like advocacy, and other things, and I always use pedophile in the literal sense of the word- that I have attractions to children. I am aware of the stigma other people hear when that word is used, and the other definitions people misuse the word to mean. And I do not think anyone can look at my blog and smear anyone who visits it without making themselves look like a fool- just the topics should be enough to indicate my positions on these subjects.

      It is a very difficult topic without having some sort of reaction to it, all we can do is understand that reaction, and try hard to look at the facts. It is one issue that no one can afford to be ignoring the facts.

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