Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Reporting Allegations to Law Enforcement


This is a far more complex area to deal with than reporting suspicions. An allegation is when a child comes to you and tells you about something uncomfortable that happened to them. Maybe they were approached for sex on the internet. Maybe a trusted friend or family member exploited them for sexual purposes. Maybe they were molested. Maybe an older child has been showing them things they are uncomfortable with. Maybe you saw an adult with a nude picture of a child and it struck you as strange. Regardless, your world just shattered into a million pieces and you have no idea what to do. Should you call the police? Should you really trust this child's statement, or what you saw? What if they are making it up? This could ruin the person's life. Those are some of the things that will be going through your mind, and then some.

Each allegation is unique, and each situation is different. There will be some cases where you are not inclined to talk to the police... and there will be some cases where that is your first go-to. But far more likely, your reaction is shock. How could this person that you trusted do something like that? You thought sex offenders were dirty men on the street, or that there was a registry for those kinds of people. You thought it could never happen, because you know the registered offenders in your area. If it involves molestation, you likely trust this person, you like them, and you care about them.

Regardless of what the allegation is, you need expert counsel and advice (click "get immediate help"). There are many child advocacy organizations you can talk with about your issue before you take the allegation to a law enforcement professional. Stop It Now is an organization that specializes in the prevention of child sexual abuse, and they know exactly what they are talking about and who they can direct you to.

Before you contact law enforcement...

You may need to understand in your own words what happened. You want to know what to say to police. However, you have to know that any questions you ask the child can affect not only the potential legal case against the accused, but also your child. You have to refrain from asking leading questions. Stick to open-ended questions, and let the child tell you what happened. Ask questions like, "What happened then? When did this happen? Who was involved?" Avoid questions that insult or belittle the accused. It is very likely that your child knows and trusts whomever abused them. Insulting them, or letting your child think that they might have done something wrong, even if they did, can lead your child to changing their story.

Asking the right questions can be incredibly difficult, and not leading your child into answering a certain way can also be incredibly difficult. You love your child, and you want to protect them. You may want an expert to be asking the questions, and in many cases that is a great idea. Not only can you avoid tainting what the child has to say, or provoking them into changing their story or clamming up, you can give yourself the peace of mind to know that your child is in the best possible care.

There are organizations that specialize in these areas called child advocacy centers. They can offer interviews, and serve as your advocate and guide. One resource in the state of Minnesota is Cornerstone. Another are individual state's CASA programs, CASA standing for the Coalition against Sexual Assault (click here, and input your state, or search "child advocacy center" and your area). Another way to find those resources is by calling your police non-emergency number and asking if they have any sexual assault resources, and if they have a partner program that does forensic interviews for them. In some cases, the police themselves can set you up with resources to help you through the process.

The need for accountability

I molested a child. It was not a decision I woke up one day and made, it was a long series of individual choices that corroded my thinking until I harmed a child. I am glad that I was arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced. While I think some parts of my consequences, like having to register as a sex offender, are overly harsh, I would not go back in time and change it if I had the opportunity. I would like to explain why that is.

It is difficult to explain to someone who has never been inside of a courtroom exactly how it feels. But suffice it to say, the crime dramas do not do it justice. There is the fear of what the outcome will be, there is the tremendous respect for the judge and prosecutor who hold part of your life in their hands, and there is the inability to control anything that is happening. Many people would see that as a negative thing. I see it as a positive, because it helped me come to terms with the gravity of what I had done. It was the first time that I looked at the seriousness of my actions.

Sexual offenses thrive on secrecy. I have touched on this in several previous posts. I did not tell anyone about what was happening, and I never even talked about my attraction to children. All of that was in my head, bouncing around. The week I spent in a mental hospital was, in a way, a relief from all of that because my secret was out. I could talk about what had been going on, and what I chose to do. I could talk about the attractions and how hellish it was to deal with them. Having that out in the open after trying to work with it myself was helpful for me.

So let me bring this back to you and make several strong statements for why you should get law enforcement involved- but carefully. First, you have no idea why this person committed these acts. You have no idea if your child is the first, or one of several. While it is a myth that most child molesters have multiple victims, there is no way for you or anyone else to know the truth unless they are forced to face it. Second, you have no idea how your child was affected. Getting experts involved to help them can aid your child in moving forward and staying a healthy person. Those are the biggest reasons to get the police involved.

Experts and their importance

While the police are generally there to protect and serve, there are bad cops out there. There are also law enforcement organizations that have no idea how to handle sexual trauma, how to properly question victims, how to properly question the accused, or they have strong bias towards sexual crimes and sexual trauma. It is quite possible that some law enforcement agencies can make the trauma that has already been done to your child worse by asking the wrong questions, pressuring your child into saying certain things, or making your child feel responsible for getting their abuser into trouble. The organizations I mentioned can put you in touch with the right people who will ask the right questions. They can help you through all of this.

Final word

Contacting law enforcement to report sexual assault can be a daunting process. But you have to keep in mind what is best for you, best for your child, and best for the community as a whole. Communities are not helped when these secrets are kept. There are many recent examples of men who went on to molest dozens of children because they were not stopped, and their communities were rocked because of it. The Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church have also had their share of scandals with not reporting sexual abuse. While you might care about the person who is being accused, the best thing that can help them is them facing their actions and getting the treatment they need.
Another resource you can use to report is this:

Monday, March 28, 2016

Reporting Suspicions to Law Enforcement

So, I am taking a little bit of flak for some things I tweeted:

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Pedophiles And Fantasy... And Child Molestation

So, following my recent feature of Ender Wiggin's story, I looked into some of his other writings. They really are thought provoking. One of them that really had me thinking was this one about fantasy and whether or not fantasy is a good thing. It is safe to say that this post is a follow-up to my other post about manga and dolls, as well as an analysis of Ender's thoughts on the subject. I will also touch a little bit on another article questioning the arguments against dolls.

Emotionally Charged Controversy

As he points out, this is a controversial subject. It is controversial for pedophiles, it is controversial for researchers, it is controversial for the general public, and for therapists. Everyone will have a differing opinion about it. Those opinions from the general public likely fall somewhere between "That's disgusting! Who could think of a kid that way? Just... no. No." to "Sure, if they're not acting it out, what's the harm?". Researchers and therapists have concerns that weigh into this issue, like if fantasy makes it easier for the person to act on the fantasy, what the pedophile thinks of the fantasy, whether they see fantasy as problematic, whether it desensitizes a pedophile to viewing children as sexual objects rather than people.

I cannot analyze this issue objectively. It is impossible, because I have not only been abused as a child, but I have abused a child. I viewed traditional pornography, then gay pornography, then slowly moved to child models, and then to child pornography. That is why I am short a desktop tower and several external hard drives. I know the topic of sexual fantasies of children because there was a point in my life where I actively sought out those fantasies. In the process of all of this, my thinking became distorted. I started believing things that were not helpful to me. I believed that sex with a child was okay if it was with the right child. I believed that child pornography was not harmful. I believed that having fantasies of children helped me stay safe from touching a child.

Cognitive Behavioral Theory

Ender points out that fantasy is the result of thought which is the result of feeling (and would likely say beliefs as well). The attraction that comes before the fantasy is classified as a feeling, so that part is uncontrollable. It is well worth noting that sexuality is a very varied topic. As I have discussed before, there are many people who are attracted only to one sex or another, and there are others who are attracted to a variety of different people, just as there are people attracted only to children and people attracted to adults and children, or different ages. The main point is that attraction is not controllable, but the thought in reaction to the attraction and the option to fantasize is a choice.

Ender points out that some religions have teachings about all of this. I will not address that much. His main point is that the feeling of finding someone attractive is universal, and the feeling is not controllable. He then points out that the thought response (wow, they're hot, that's sexy, I want that, etc) is controllable to an extent, but it is perfectly natural for a pedophile to have that response just as it is natural for someone of any other sexuality to have that response.

The point is that the progression is attraction, thought, fantasy, in that order. Sometimes, that progression just goes as far as attraction, sometimes thought, sometimes all three. It is at this point that Ender asks the question, what should pedophiles do with all that?

Fantasy and Morality

The topic of pedophiles having fantasies of children is partly ethical (ie, should they be encouraged if they can push people towards abusing a child rather than away from it), partly moral (ie, is this something that is acceptable for me to be doing, is there a moral rule for this that must be formed or followed), and partly sociological (ie, is it right to condemn a particular kind of fantasy just because it is deviant). I would like to avoid, if I can, forming a universal moral or ethical rule on this. Part of that is because I do not think such a rule would be helpful.

All three of these factors - ethical, moral, and sociological - are at play in answering Ender's question. And again, I do not think one universal rule would be helpful. I do not think you can tell all pedophiles that they should or should not have fantasies of children. Every pedophile will be different. There will be some pedophiles, just as there are anyone else, who find fantasy to be enjoyable and find no shame or guilt in it. There are some pedophiles, just as there are other religious people, who find fantasy to be a tricky subject that must be navigated with care. And there are some pedophiles, just as there are others, who think that fantasy of a particular kind is not a good idea for them.

I fall into the last two categories when it comes to fantasies of children. I recognize that my reasons are not objective and not fully logical. I realize that my reasons amount to a slippery slope in some places. However, I have had experience with where my thoughts have led me, and what beliefs formed as a result of my actions and thoughts. But I am getting slightly ahead of myself here, and jumping ahead in Ender's article.

Fantasy Has Ties To Action

Ender makes the excellent point that fantasy to a pedophile and fantasy to, well, anyone else, are essentially the same. He states that people generally know the difference between a fantasy and reality, and that most people, regardless of attraction, will be able to differentiate between the two and not automatically see their fantasies as things they should act out. Most people know that anything with children cannot happen with consent and therefore would cause harm. So he very thoroughly debunks the idea that simple fantasy will inevitably lead to child sexual abuse. He also points out that pedophilia is not often associated with other pathologies or issues, like aggression, inability to empathize, etc. Other than the object of sexual attraction being different from most people, pedophiles and minor attracted people are mentally healthy.

So essentially the point is that fantasy will not automatically make people act on said fantasy, whether it be sexual fantasy or other types of fantasy. Just because I enjoy blowing the heads off of zombies and terrorists in a video game does not mean I will go grab a gun and start doing the same thing in real life. Most people who watch a violent movie are not inclined to then go and be violent with others in real life. A fantasy is not inherently wrong, and a fantasy by itself will not lead to action.

My Conclusion

My conclusion is slightly different from Ender's conclusion. Ender makes the point that fictional imagery involving children in sexual situations (drawn or created images, not real children) harms no one. He also makes the point that conditioned guilt and shame around the objects of these fantasies being children is what causes many pedophiles to believe that their fantasies are wrong. In other words, they are wrong for no other reason than that people are telling a pedophile that they are. His idea is that a pedophile should apply whatever belief they have about sexual fantasy consistently to adults and children: If it is wrong or right to fantasize about adults, the same applies to children.

I think it is slightly more complicated than that. I do not think someone can really determine, objectively, if fantasies of children are good and healthy for them, just as I do not think that someone can determine if fictional imagery involving children is right for them, just as I do not think that someone can determine if child sex dolls are right. They are available means of relieving sexual tension and finding sexual pleasure. I think on this issue, because of the stigma involved, and because of the propensity humans have for rebelling against constraints put on them (and the stigma is definitely a constraint), it is impossible for a pedophile to make an objective analysis by themselves that they would be unaffected by engaging in fantasies involving children.

The issue that I ran into, the issue that eventually led to me abusing a child, was not fantasy. The issue was the cognitive distortions that I formed, the wrong beliefs I developed about myself, about children, and about morality. These distortions (ask Google, "what is a cognitive distortion" or simply click here for more information) were the issue. The problem is, I have no idea when I started forming them. My best guess is that I was already forming cognitive distortions when I was abused, and as a child watching how my parents responded to various events and watching how my teachers responded to me. I can say with certainty that over time, the combination of keeping my attractions a secret, feeling like I was a monster, the stigma and how it affected me, and the fantasies I was having formed the cognitive distortions that informed the decision to abuse a child.

My point here is that people are blind to their own cognitive distortions, and the reality is that for some, viewing fictional imagery can lead to these cognitive distortions. It is not something anyone can identify by themselves. I am very sure that most experts will tell you the same thing. Pedophilia, or attractions to minors, is not something that can be managed alone. That is why the group Virtuous Pedophiles is so popular among pedophiles: Because it gives people an opportunity to talk with others going through the same thing and get feedback. It is a support group of sorts. Lacking some kind of a support group of people to help us, we are alone, and it is when we are alone that we are at our most dangerous in making decisions. This is not because pedophiles need to be watched to control our fictitious urges to rape children (fictitious, as in, we do not have these urges). It is because we are human, and we need social support of some kind on any issue.

I have talked before about secrecy, and about keeping all of these issues in the dark, and how secrets enable child sexual abuse. The cognitive distortions are what lead people to keep issues a secret, and these and a number of other factors snowball into one huge mountain of desperation if we are not talking about them. That mountain has to go somewhere. The fantasy, by itself, is not what causes someone to no longer find the fantasy enough. It is the distortions and other factors, and no one is immune to them. Pedophiles need a support system of some kind to help them see through the darkness of the stigma, shame, and fear that having pedophilia can cause. That is why this blog has resources linked on the right to help.

What I Am Not Saying

I am not saying pedophiles need to be watched for our own good. I am not saying that all pedophiles will molest children if left unchecked. I am not even saying that pedophiles are, by themselves, dangerous because of their attractions. I am not saying fantasy will inevitably lead to child molestation. Pedophilia does not make someone a risk to children, the snowballed mountain does. So what I am saying is that any disorder, any issue that someone is struggling with or dealing with requires some kind of support system. Without that support system, a pedophile cannot accurately make the determination that fantasy or other outlets are healthy for them.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

What You Need To Know About MAP, Paraphiles, And Sexual Orientation


So, you are likely wondering what a MAP is. MAP is an acronym for minor attracted person (or people). Pedophile, as I have said many times on this blog, is someone attracted to children and find that the attraction is ongoing and interfering. Anyone with much social awareness would likely find it interfering because of the popular opinions towards pedophiles if nothing else, but having pedophilia can be utterly debilitating, particularly for those who are only attracted to children. Pedophilia is a form of paraphilia, so I often use 'paraphiles' to refer to those attracted to minors. MAPs would work also.

Popular usage

I am not up-to-speed on the usage of MAP. So, what I am about to say is a guess. I might get corrected as soon as I tweet this. But I have a guess that the use of MAP and MAPs (the "s" would be "minor attracted persons") is becoming popular because people attracted to children are sick and tired of people conflating pedophilia with child molestation (I have recently tweeted two articles that explain why this distinction is important, in addition to my previous posts). Obviously it is logical that at least some who molest children are not attracted to children, and it is logical that there are some who are attracted to children. Given that, it is logical that there are people who are attracted to children who have abused, and there are people who have not abused.


The problem, as many experts have said, is that there are not many large donors who are willing to help fund research on pedophilia and child molestation. You would think the opposite, given the enormity of the impact that child sexual abuse has on victims. But the issue is so stigmatizing that no one wants to touch it. We do not know with any amount of accuracy what the proportion of paraphiles who have not abused is to paraphiles who have abused. We can know with some accuracy the proportion of child molesters with and without pedophilia, but to my knowledge there are only a handful of studies on the subject. We know a little about how pedophilia develops, and that it has something to do with the connections between areas of the brain.
For now, however, we are left with several conclusions about pedophilia:
  1. Pedophilia is not a choice. MAPs are not choosing to be attracted to children. 
  2. Pedophilia is just as unchangeable as any other mainstream sexuality like homosexuality, heterosexuality, etc. 
  3. There are paraphiles who do not molest children. 
  4. Cognitive behavioral therapy, and in extreme cases, chemical castration, are effective treatment methods for child molesters. 
  5. Pedophilia is a mental disorder classified as a paraphilia by the DSM-V, the manual used by psychologists to diagnose mental illnesses. 
Not a choice?

The first one should be obvious, but is not to the vast majority of people. Most people, when it comes to children, believe that paraphiles have a drive to have sex with children, an innate desire to abuse and molest. As with any belief, it is partly true and partly false. Paraphiles are wired to find children sexually attractive. However, that does not automatically make them a risk for abusing children. That may be hard to hear, so think of it like this: Imagine someone saying that someone who is homosexual is liable to rape every person of the same sex that they see, that they are at risk for rape. Totally ridiculous! Right? Same idea. Most people recognize something about themselves, and decide how that something should or should not play a role in their life.

On sexuality, just because someone is sexually attracted to a particular group of people does not mean they have the same beliefs or opinions on how they will interact with people given that attraction. That is true even within traditional heterosexuality. There are people who choose to stay single, people who choose to get married, people who choose to have lots of girlfriends or boyfriends, people who choose to just have lots and lots of sex, and people who do many other things besides. I probably do not need to cite experts for making these statements, they are blatantly obvious.

Unchangeable orientation?

This one is probably less obvious to some groups, but essentially experts universally agree that there is no "cure" for pedophilia. Yes, I hate that word with a burning passion. But here, it makes sense. There is no way to change someone from being attracted to children to not being attracted to children. This is also true for heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality, and other sexualities recognized by sexperts (um... sexual experts just sounds too formal, so sexperts they are for simplicity's sake). That is why conversion therapy, attempting to change someone's sexuality, is viewed as harmful by psychologists. It is even banned in some places.

Not every paraphile is attracted only to children (again, this stands to reason when you think about it: There are people who are not only attracted to their own sex, or only attracted to the opposite sex. There are some people attracted to both. I, for example, am attracted mainly to boys, aged 5 and up. That includes adults. I also have a small amount of attraction for girls of similar age, but it is vastly outweighed by my attraction to boys. While much of my attraction is for those under 18, I do have some attraction for men my age (in fact, I recently began dating one!). What this means is that there is even less reason to think that paraphiles are always threats to children. Just because someone has an ongoing attraction to minors does not mean that it is their main attraction or that they are exclusively attracted to children.

In some cases, having pedophilia is a disorder. The DSM-V has this to say about it:

Some do not molest?

This also stands to reason, because not only are there people who say they are attracted but committed to not acting on it (I featured an article written by one such person recently), there are people who come forward to psychologists for help with the issue because they are afraid that they might abuse a child (one of those stories is a permanent link on this blog). The academic world has been particularly insistent on recognizing the distinction between a pedophile and a child molester.

Effective treatment?

Yes, effective treatment. This entire blog is written on the premise that help is not only available to pedophiles, but effective at helping them live a life that is just as meaningful and productive than anyone else's. I wrote about my own treatment, and there are organizations that make similar statements to mine, like ATSA, Stop It Now, and the Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute. Cognitive behavioral therapy works under the premise that our beliefs are what drive our thoughts, which are what drive our emotions, which all come together to drive our decisions and what we do (behavior). Essentially, the idea is that many people have beliefs that are not helpful and can cause distortions in thinking. One great example is the belief that you are alone in something. This belief can cause someone to think that no one can understand them, and that they are the only person dealing with whatever that is. That way of thinking can obviously lead someone to deciding never to tell other people, keeping secrets, and not getting support that might be readily available.

My point here is that we know there are treatments that work to correct these distortions, and it is these distortions that can lead to the decision to molest a child (meanwhile, law enforcement and those familiar with criminals will tell you that these distortions lead the the vast majority of crime in general). Some pedophiles, as I have said, are only or exclusively attracted to children. They have no sexual interest in adults. The impact that can have on a person is very traumatic, and for some of those people, chemical castration can help reduce the sex drive and make life more about jobs, friendships, and things other than sex, sex, sex. Those people do not choose their attraction or an overactive sex drive, but they can choose therapies that limit the effects of those things.

A mental illness?

The DSM-V has a number of different qualifications that must be met for someone to be given the diagnosis of pedophilia. One of the main issues is whether or not the attraction to children interferes with daily life (pedophilia is prepubescent children, hebephilia is pubescent children, and ephebophilia is older teenage into adult, but all are considered disorders, so I mean children broadly here). Other requirements are an age difference of several years and that the attraction be ongoing for at least six months.

The main reason that a disorder is almost always a disorder is because of the degree to which it interferes with daily life. There is no one mental illness that, by itself, drives people to hurt other people. The decisions, thoughts, and beliefs that hurt other people are just those: Decisions, thoughts, and beliefs. They may stem from a disorder, but they are directions people take with their disorder. Someone with obsessive compulsive disorder may be under the compulsion to wash their hands constantly and do so, while someone with the same compulsion may be able to ignore it and not wash their hands to a degree of interference.

Acceptance? Sexual orientation?

That leads me to my final points: Many say that pedophilia should be accepted. Many use the words "sexual orientation". What I think MAPs mean by saying that is that they should accept that they cannot change their attractions, and recognize that they have choices about what to do with those attractions. What I think most people unfamiliar with this subject hear when a MAP says that pedophilia is a sexual orientation that should be accepted is that sex with children should be seen as a good thing.

I do not hear very many credible thinking people making the statement that sex with children is a good thing. I have had a few interactions with two individuals who do make that statement, and they make it out of supporting free speech, supporting freedom, and other otherwise noble and admirable aspirations, but have self-serving arguments that ignores the harm that sexual abuse causes many children. Most of the MAPs I have spoken with may have some strange ideas, or express themselves unclearly, but are not claiming anything more noble than their own self-preservation. They accept their disorder, or their lot if you will, and they see it (accurately) as something they cannot change

So, when most people who are attracted to children says that you, the ordinary person, should accept their attraction and view it as an orientation, I very much doubt that they mean "sex with children is okay". I think what they mean is, "I have an attraction I cannot change, and all I can do is accept that this is my lot in life." It is more about the Serenity Prayer, and accepting the things you cannot change, than it is about 'sex with children is okay'.

Monday, March 21, 2016

"Help!" Life With Pedophilia: An Article By Ender Wiggin


I recently joined Twitter to grow my ability to advocate and share resources, and I have had several interactions with Ender Wiggin, who wrote an outstanding article about what it is like to grow up with pedophilia and why pedophiles do - and do not - need help. This article was originally found here. Ender Wiggin has also written other articles on the topic of pedophilia.

The only thing I would add to this story is that there are organizations that offer expert guidance and know exactly who to connect a pedophile in your area to the help that they need, and have sex-specific training to know when someone really is a risk to children and when they are not, regardless of mandatory reporting. If you live in Germany, they have a program for that also. There is also an online support system available as well that Ender also mentions.

I would add that I was treated by a therapist who is a member of the referral link, and I can personally vouch for them. While they may refer a pedophile to sex offender treatment regardless of whether they have had contact with a child, that treatment will be tailored to the individual's needs. Within this organization, their goal is to come up with an individual plan for someone to stay safe and address their ongoing mental health needs. Their goal is not to stigmatize, report, or abuse their position: It is to identify the risks, needs, and beliefs that Ender mentions so that one can know how to respond to them and manage them.

But enough of my introduction. Here is his story:


What help do pedophiles need?

One of the most common things us pedophiles get told by people online — other than kill yourself — is “get help!” Of course, by that they mean to imply that every pedophile needs psychiatric or psychological help or treatment to either a) be “cured” of our terrible “illness” or b) to help us “manage” our condition and resist our “urges” and not abuse a child.

The former comes from the misunderstood idea that pedophilia is a “disease” that can somehow be “cured”. While it is true that pedophilia is currently regarded as a mental disorder, there are many nuances and the same could be said not that long ago about homosexuality. In addition, even if considered a disorder, it is widely accepted by the people that research pedophilia and treat pedophiles that the condition of being sexually attracted to children is impossible to change or “cure”. It is not the purpose of this post to explore this though, I will do so shortly in a dedicated post.
The latter is simply based on biased and prejudiced views and a misunderstanding of pedophilia as a condition. The reality is that the only pedophiles people hear about are those that have made it to the news headlines for having molested children or been caught producing, distributing or downloading child pornography, so it is only natural for the public to believe that all pedophiles indulge in one or more of those things and only through a very close monitoring can they be persuaded or prevented from doing so. In their view, a pedophile has to be constantly supervised or otherwise they are a threat to every child they encounter, which is simply ridiculous.
Others believe all pedophiles should be chemically (if not physically) castrated — given testosterone-reducing or otherwise libido-reducing medication — which is apparently the only way they believe a pedophile is able to refrain from acting on our attraction. The reality is quite different though. I will address child pornography in other posts in the future, but when it comes to actually sexually molesting children, it is generally as simple as knowing that it is wrong and that there is a very high risk of causing the child severe harmfor a pedophile to refrain from ever doing so. We are not by definition monsters who wish to inflict pain and suffering onto others in order to achieve our own pleasure. We can be as empathetic as anyone and the desire to not cause harm is more than enough for the majority of us to abstain from acting on our attractions. Everyone is in control of their own actions at all times, and if anyone doubts their ability to refrain from acting on their attractions it is a self-inflicted doubt caused by internalizing the prevailing narrative that all pedophiles are bound to molest a child sooner or later, but not because pedophilia somehow impairs one’s self-restraint, because it just doesn’t. As I explained in my article about sexual fantasiespedophilia is not a compulsion or an irresistible urge, and the notion that it is so is a misguided one based on prejudice and stigma.

Do pedophiles need therapy?

If the attraction to children cannot be made to disappear through therapy, do pedophiles need therapy at all? Like I mentioned above, many pedophiles have self-inflicted doubts about their ability to refrain from acting on their attractions because they have internalized the message that they are destined to do so at some point in their lives. These deeply internalized beliefs are often accompanied by feelings of desperation and self-loathing, and often even suicidal feelings. Pedophiles have no inherent desire to harm children, and the thought that they will inevitably harm one is distressing to the core. In addition, there is a very real risk that these beliefs turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is not something I’m simply making up on the spot; it’s widely acknowledged by psychologists. In this article you can read about how your beliefs about yourself that you have internalized since childhood have a very important impact on your behavior. I’ll quote here just one sentence, which I think sums it up pretty nicely:
«Your beliefs about yourself are like an invisible, underlying script from which you unknowingly act out your life.»

Allowing pedophiles self-confidence is key in preventing child sexual abuse

If you insist on perpetuating the false narrative that pedophiles are nothing more than ticking time bombs waiting to explode, you are actually hindering pedophiles’ ability to refrain from acting out on their attractions. Of course some people are more susceptible to those external messages than others, and many are able to realize they are not true and overcome their self-inflicted doubt. But sometimes it takes time, and support. Peer support through online forums like Virtuous Pedophiles can be extremely important, and I read testimonies daily about how the support received there has helped improve a pedophile’s self-confidence in their commitment to never offend. That is not always enough, however, and some pedophiles would greatly benefit from professional mental health support from a good psychologist or psychiatrist, in order to overcome the deeply internalized belief that they will inevitably offend.
In addition, you have to understand what it is like to grow up and realize you are sexually attracted to children. The loneliness, the isolation, the fear that someone will discover this part about you, the knowledge that most people out there would hate you if they knew… these are things many people growing up with more mainstream but still unconventional sexual orientations know very well, and should at least be sympathetic to what it’s like. As I mentioned in one of my first articles, the suicide rates among LGBT teens are four to six times higher than among the general population of teenagers. The fear that the people that are supposed to love you unconditionally — such as your parents and your close friends — would reject you can be the most crippling for a young person. Furthermore, pedophiles face the messages they hear and read in the news and on the internet about how they are the scum of the earth, less than human and deserve to be slaughtered painfully and mercilessly, or physically castrated. Being exposed to these can be incredibly disheartening, and it can take a long time to grow the skin to be able to realize they’re only based on ignorance and prejudice, and that they can be dismissed as the product of blind hatred and little rational thought.

For all these reasons, many pedophiles develop severe depression, anxiety disorders, paranoia and live in a state of constant distress which is not conducive to remaining non-offending. Anyone who knows anything about the subject knows that pedophiles who offend often do so when they are at their lowest. Being in a healthy state of mind is also key in building that self-confidence I talked about earlier. That is not true just for child sexual abuse though, anyone that knows anything about crime prevention will tell you the same thing about any other crime.

Do pedophiles have access to therapy?

People often say that there’s nothing stopping pedophiles from going to a therapist, but the reality is not so simple. Many countries have bought into the incorrect assumption that all pedophiles eventually molest, and have enacted mandatory reporting laws. If someone admits to a licensed therapist that they are attracted to children, they could automatically be deemed a risk and be reported to the authorities, even if they have never done anything wrong in their entire lives. In theory, therapists should only report if the pedophile is admitting to be actively committing abuse or if there is a clear risk for a specific child. The latter, though, is subjective enough that it could spell disaster for any pedophile that has contact with children in their life in any capacity — whether has his own children (like many of us do) or works with children in any way, such as being a teacher, a youth coach, a camp counselor, etc. Additionally, imagine if someone disclosed their attractions to a therapist, the therapist decided not to report him and the individual ended up sexually abusing a child. The consequences for the therapist would be devastating, and therefore they’re much rather be trigger-happy when it comes to reporting than favor patient-doctor confidentiality. Last but not least, although that is thankfully not something too widespread, therapists are human beings often subject to the same prejudices as everyone else, and some genuinely believe the ticking time bomb theory, and that it is right to report a pedophile to the authorities even if they haven’t actually done anything wrong. Since they will face no legal consequences for violating confidentiality, they are free to report that filthy pedo without fear of losing their license.

I have read horror stories of what happened to pedophiles that had never committed a crime or harmed anyone and confided in a mental health professional, only to be reported and have their lives turned upside down, being outed to their friends and relatives, being removed from their homes and essentially affecting their lives in a very negative way. Thankfully, many other pedophiles have found non-judgmental and sympathetic therapists that have been able to help them overcome their depression and self-hatred, and build up their self-confidence. Knowing the risks involved in even admitting your attractions to a therapist, most pedophiles simply never go see one, and even more so those who have the highest levels of self-doubt about their ability to refrain from acting, since they would be the most likely to be reported. So far from helping to protect children, these mandatory reporting laws are deterring the pedophiles that feel like they need the support not to offend the most from getting it. It is as backwards and counterproductive as it could possibly be.
The only way out of this situation is for the public — and over time the legislators — to really understand pedophilia. Refusing to discuss the topic, shoving it under the rug, does nothing to prevent child sexual abuse. The only way forward is to destigmatize the condition of being attracted to children—but never the action of having sex with children — and allow pedophiles to freely, and without fear, seek the help that they so much desire us to get. And that’s why I’m here, doing what I do. In hopes that one day people will not equate pedophile with monster or ticking time bomb, and those of us who feel like we need access to mental health support, either to build that self-confidence in our ability to never harm a child or simply to learn to accept ourselves as decent human beings whose attractions don’t make us evil, can do so without fear. Perhaps that day we will also be able to confide in our closest relatives and friends, because knowing that people accept you for who you are, without you having to hide such an important part of yourself is also incredibly valuable and works wonders in improving you self-esteem and, with it, your self-confidence.

You can help

In summary, I would say that indeed yes, pedophiles need help, just probably not the kind of help you would assume, or for the reasons you may think. And the great thing is that you can actually help.

And you don’t have to be an expert to be able to help. Here are some very simple things you can do:
  • Care about your fellow human being who did not choose to feel what he feels and only wishes to live his life peacefully without causing anyone harm.
  • Consider that perhaps you don’t know all the facts about pedophilia and child sexual abuse. That maybe what you’ve been told to be true, what you’ve read in the media or heard in the news, isn’t exactly the way it is portrayed.
  • Realize that perhaps it is worth listening to the perspective of a pedophile who is committed to never harming a child, that we actually deserve to have our voices heard.
  • Understand that pedophile and child molester are not one and the same, and that the former doesn’t automatically lead to the latter.
  • Challenge yourself, your prejudices and those of the people you encounter perpetuating the stigma of pedophilia, and contributing to the status quothat is preventing those you so much desire to “get help” from doing so.
By doing these simple things you will be helping pedophiles live happier and more fulfilling lives, confident that they will never act on their attractions. And by doing that you will be helping to reduce child sexual abuse, and I can’t think of a more important reason for you to realize that it is in your hand to make a change. While it is true that pedophiles account for a minority of sexual offenders against children, a single child spared from abuse is already a victory. Wouldn’t you agree?