I have gotten emails from other pedophiles, most of them quite young, asking for advice on how to keep themselves and the children in their lives safe, so instead of continuing to write the same things over and over again, I am just going to make a post here that I can link to whenever someone asks. Understand that all of these go hand-in-hand, so you can’t pick and choose. Anyway, here goes . . .
1) Always remain aware of your sexuality on some level – Many people have this belief that if they just mentally suppress their attractions, then those attractions do not exist. Well, that’s absurd. The closest I ever came to offending was during a period in my life when I was doing my damnedest to deny my orientation to myself. I even threw myself in the opposite direction as a teen, modeling my identity on Andrew Vachss. I read everything Vachss wrote and had plans to write fierce anti-sexual abuse literature too, figuring that if I pushed back hard enough, I would be “normal”; meanwhile, when I had to deal with a child who was far too precocious for her years, I was nearly blindsided by it because my guard had been dropped entirely. After I escaped that situation by the skin of my teeth, I vowed I would never let that happen again, and I didn’t.
What you need to understand is that this attraction is likely fundamental to your identity; that’s what makes it a sexual orientation. And just pretending like it doesn’t exist isn’t going to make it go away. Sure, there are people who probably flirt with pedophilic fantasies but aren’t really pedophiles (some of these people wind up becoming situational offenders), just as there are people who flirt with homosexuality but aren’t really gay. I’m not talking to those people. I’m talking to those of you who are solidly and permanently sexually oriented towards children. I know it can be frightening and disturbing, but don’t deny who you are. That’s how you get into trouble. Accept it and deal with it.
2) Understand that you are not doomed to offend – It is a myth perpetuated by media and society that if you are attracted to children, then you are an uncontrollable monster who is bound to molest at some point. This is ridiculous. There are pedophiles who have difficulty controlling their impulses, but such people exist across the entire human spectrum, and it isn’t inherently connected to pedophilia. Most of us, however, can control ourselves without any problems once we learn to understand ourselves, our desires and our limitations.
You would think that society would embrace this point wholeheartedly, but I’m convinced that many people actually dislike us more if we don’t offend than if we do. Why? A couple of reasons. One, because if we offend, then we can be shuffled off to prison and forgotten about, and society no longer has to deal with us. And two, because, in their simplistic belief system, they have a need to believe pedophiles equal harmful to children and non-pedophiles equal okay for children. Of course, this is obviously false on both counts, but to believe otherwise causes such people cognitive dissonance. They can’t deal with pedophiles who are good people, so if there are no overt reasons for them to hate and fear us, then they will make up reasons in their own minds.
So, while some people believe you are either an offender or destined to become one, this has nothing whatsoever to do with you. It’s their hangup, not yours. Only you know your own heart and mind, but I’m here to tell you that you can live your whole life offense-free. It is possible. Many of us have done it, and you can do it too. I have faith in you!
3) Have a plan in place for risky situations – Unless you are a total recluse living away from civilization and have no access to the internet (in which case you wouldn’t be reading this right now), then you are ultimately going to face a situation where there is temptation. Maybe you will find yourself babysitting some child who you find attractive, or you work with kids in some capacity, and so on. First off, if you do work with kids and they are in any way a temptation, then you really need to find a new line of work. I know you love to be around kids even when you aren’t attracted to them; it seems to come with the territory. We are wired to enjoy the company of children. But if there is any chance that you will offend, then you must do the right thing and remove yourself from temptation. That is part of having a plan.
But what if you are asked to babysit a relative or friend’s child and they are counting on you because no one else is available? It’s happened to me. Of course, this was well past my crisis point and I knew what to do if I found myself tempted. I had a plan in place. You need one too. Part of that entails understanding children’s motivations. A child who seems to “come on” to you does not have the same motivations as an adult. They aren’t horny or trying to seduce you. Most likely they are just curious, and they feel completely at ease with you. And too, we MAPs tend to be pushovers when it comes to kids; we let them get away with a lot, and as a result, they will test their limits with us, which may include things like trying to grab your genitals, running through the house naked, or trying to kiss you the way they see adults on TV kiss. Unless the child has already been sexually abused, it is highly unlikely that they are genuinely after some kind of sexual contact from you, and even if they are, it doesn’t mean they fully understand what they’re getting into.
Remember: whether the child wants to experiment with you sexually or not, and even if they initiate such behaviors, it is still always wrong for you to give in, because you are the adult, the one who should know better. In fact, if the child is doing such things, you should probably alert the child’s parent(s) or some other adult in the child’s life. The child needs to understand that this is inappropriate behavior, and there is the possibility that they are being abused by someone else. By alerting a parent or other adult, you may be saving that child from further abuse. Don’t add to the child’s pain; be their hero instead!
4) Know your limitations – Run through various scenarios in your head and figure out which ones might be a temptation for you. It is best to avoid those situations altogether if you can, but if you can’t, make sure you are at least avoiding the points of highest concern. For example, if holding a child in her swimsuit is going to turn you on, then its probably best that you not physically interact with a child in a pool or other setting where the child will be in a swimsuit. If just being alone with a child is going to provide temptation, then you need to make sure there is always another adult in the room, and so on.
If you do happen to be alone with a child and you’re unsure about how to interact with him or her, we have a rule at VirPed that I think is a good one. We call it the Present Parent Test, and what it means is, if you wouldn’t do it in front of a parent, then don’t do it when you are alone with the child. For example, it may seem like a good idea at the time when a child asks you to rub her belly underneath her shirt, but would you do that if her father or mother was sitting right in front of you? Probably not, so don’t do it when they aren’t around.
5) Find a safe way to channel your desires – This one is a bit controversial at VirPed, because some people believe that any time you masturbate to fantasies of children, you are reinforcing bad thought patterns that can lead to abuse. But I have found that masturbation actually reduces my desires as well as my stress, and for me, having a rich fantasy life assures that I have no need to actually offend in real life. For the most part I am sexually fulfilled, so there is zero temptation to act out. It is never going to be a perfect substitute for the real thing, but it is as close as we are going to come without causing harm, so I say embrace it.
Of course, once again you know yourself better than anyone else does, and if you find that giving in to your fantasies just adds fuel to the fire of temptation, then by all means, do not engage in it. Some of us also deal with guilt over our fantasies, but remember, fantasies are not reality. You can’t cause harm to anyone through fantasies alone; it’s only harmful if you act on it with real children. As long as it isn’t adding to your temptation, I see no reason why we can’t enjoy our sexual fantasies. Indeed, as I said, for many of us it actually decreases sexual tension, so I think we have a duty to channel our desires toward fantasies and away from real children. One trick is to keep your fantasies vague. Try not to fantasize about children you know; make them about children who don’t really exist. Make up stories in your head about them even. It’s a lot of fun, helps to develop your creativity and imagination, and keeps a sharp divide between fantasy and reality.
6) Develop a support network – Last but not least, if you are able, develop a support network. It is best to have someone in real life you trust who you can divulge your secrets to, though I realize that isn’t always possible. So that’s what Virtuous Pedophiles is all about. We are there to provide support and friendship to each other, and you don’t even have to reveal your real-life identity if you don’t want to. Most virpeds don’t. Nevertheless, we are like a big family; we care about and look out for each other. Sometimes that means being a little harsher than we’d prefer to be, but that’s what family does. In this environment we have few friends and advocates but each other. We try not to judge or be overly critical because we know that none of us is perfect, but if we are concerned that you might be heading towards offending, then we must intervene in whatever way we reasonably can, even if it comes across as severe at the time.
But that’s rare. Most virpeds never get to that point, and so we just hang out, offer friendship and camaraderie, and talk about the issues that affect us. In the end, it helps tremendously to just be able to communicate with people who share your sexuality and know where you’re coming from. We all need to have people in our life who get us, who are there for us in times of pain or crisis and who care about us enough to help us reach our full potential as non-offending MAPs.