Note: This podcast was transcribed by Robert West.
Welcome to The Prevention Podcast. I’m your host, Candice Christiansen. Our goal at The Prevention Podcast is to talk about dicey, controversial issues related to preventing sexual abuse. Why? Because it needs to be said. Topics include: the biology of pedophilia; risk, need, and responsivity principles relating to non-contact and contact sex offenders; researchers in the field of sex-offender treatment; and more. Join us bi-weekly, and let’s talk about it.
Meg: Welcome everyone to The Prevention Podcast. This is Meg Martinez-Dettamanti, and I am here with one of our fellow listeners, Robert. Hi Robert!
Meg: Hi. Robert actually reached out to us after listening to several of our podcast interviews and wanted to share his story about what it’s like to be an asexual pedophile. Now, we’ve talked in the past about anti-contact pedophiles and non-offending pedophiles, and I think a lot of people don’t feel like those words exist together. This podcast’s main goal is to work on the stigmatization that people that are minor-attracted face every day. And so, I think that talking to somebody who identifies as an asexual pedophile, you know, fits right in and is something that I think a lot of our viewers and listeners will be interested in, as many people don’t realize that this exists. So Robert, why don’t you share your story about what it’s like to be an asexual pedophile, and how you knew that this was your sexuality.
Robert: Okay, so when I was in my mid teens, I started to realize that my attractions weren’t growing up with me, and I was in denial about it for a little while. But then I came to accept that my primary, almost exclusive, attraction is to young girls, uh, ten and under. It took me quite some time to realize that my attractions, at least to real people, weren’t actually all that sexual. I went with a family in another country to an outdoor bath, along with their seven-year-old daughter, and I was already attracted to this girl. But when we went out into the outdoor bath naked, I realized that I didn’t have any sort of reaction at all to her, uh, in that situation. And looking back at a few relationships I’ve had with adults that didn’t actually get sexual, I realized that I don’t have sexual attraction to anyone.
Meg: So that’s interesting. So first you described feeling like a pedophile, feeling like “I have a minor attraction.” So a lot of our previous guests and people that we work with at The Prevention Project will say, I just knew at a really young age that I was attracted to other kids, and as I grew up, I continued to stay attracted to the same kids I was always attracted to. And so, that’s something I think a lot of people can relate to. Robert, describe what asexual means to you, and then talk to us a little bit more about how you started to realize “whoa, well, I have this attraction, but it’s not sexual in nature at all.”
Robert: So, asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to other people. And, uh, it took me a while to realize that my attraction was strongly aesthetic and potentially romantic, but not actually sexual. I feel sexual attraction to fictional characters, mostly, but not to actual people.
Meg: What is that like for you? Tell us more about how that plays out in your sexuality or in your world, whatever you’re comfortable with.
Robert: Okay. Well, I still experience strong attractions; they’re just not actually sexual. And it helped me a lot to learn about different kinds of attraction, like romantic and aesthetic attraction, and emotional attraction.
Meg: So, so what I’m hearing, is you’re saying “I find, you know, young girls attractive physically, and I perhaps have fantasized more romanticly about them, not necessarily sexually.” Where the sexual attraction comes is mostly with fictional characters, and that remains in fantasy for you?
Robert: That’s correct.
Meg: A lot of minor-attracted persons that we work with and that we are exposed to discuss a lot about how fantasy is a huge part of their sexuality. And so, I think that this makes a lot of sense. And for a lot of people out there, fantasy plays a huge role, um, in a way that actually helps them to have a sex life, especially people who feel exclusively attracted to children. Or, in your case, not attracted to people at all. When you are attracted to children in the real world, or attracted to real people that are children, how does that manifest, Robert? Is it more of an appreciation, do you have relationships with children that are non-sexual, such as volunteering with them, are you a parent?
Robert: So, I’ve had friends and relatives who were children. Um, I’ve done some volunteer work looking after children, and um, I seem to kind of naturally get along with most children pretty easily.
Meg: And again, I think that this is a common thing among minor-attracted individuals. When we talk about minor attraction, we talk about it on a bio-psycho-social plane, where there’s obvious biological underpinnings for some people, there’s psychological issues, or arrested development, traumas, things like that, that can play into an attraction or somebody’s expressed sexuality. But there’s also this social component, and I have worked with a lot of individuals who say that. They say they feel more comfortable, more safe with children, they connect more to children. So they prefer to be around children. Um, I wonder if that’s what you were trying to say is, is there’s just more of a connection there, and it’s actually not sexual at all, even though you would call yourself a pedophile.
Robert: Yeah, that’s correct, I would agree with that. There are certain adults I get along with really well, but on the average, sometimes I have trouble, at least at first, socializing with adults, and it’s a lot easier with children.
Meg: Would you say that most of your relationships are with kids? Or do you have some ongoing adult relationships as well?
Robert: Um, I have, uh, actually I have more adult friends than, um, child friends at the moment. Though several of my friends who are adults I’ve known since they were children.
Meg: Have you ever had a romantic relationship with an adult?
Robert: Um, yes. I had two somewhat long-term relationships with adult women. You know, got as far as kissing. But uh, that’s about it.
Meg: Tell me about how those felt for you, and when you realized that, you know, “maybe I want to keep this as more of a friendship and not pursue it romantically.” As you were discovering your asexuality.
Robert: So, asexuals can have romantic relationships. But uh, one of them kind of seemed to be going pretty well to me, when she broke it off, and the other one was long distance, and uh, she wasn’t sexually active at all. That one just kind of fizzled out after a few years.
Meg: Thank you for that clarification, Robert, because I think that a lot of people might assume that folks that are asexual, and let me remind everyone that this is not necessarily by choice, can also still have those really close, connected, intimate and romantic relationships. I think that it’s a great reminder. Although if you are in a relationship with somebody who wants to be sexual, I feel like there’s obvious reasons why that may not work out. And so, I really appreciate that clarification. Is a romantic relationship something you’re looking for?
Robert: Not really any more. I thought it was something that I wanted in my life, but I’m realizing I’m fine without it, and maybe it’s not even actually something I want. But I’m still thinking that over. But I also wanted to say, among asexuals, there are those who identify as romantic asexuals, and aromantic asexuals. There’s that too.
Meg: Wow, that’s really interesting. I think that’s a population that a lot of people don’t much about. And when you couple it with the minor attraction too, definitely a voiceless population, I’m sure. So as you’re navigating that, I mean, it seems like it’s a lot, because first you’re determining, “do I want to have a romantic relationship at all? And if I do, then it’s going to be with an adult.” Do you believe you can have a romantic relationship with a child?
Robert: I think it might be possible to have a “romantic” relationship with a child, but I don’t think it would be a positive thing for the child in the long run, so it’s not the kind of thing I would want to pursue.
Meg: Good clarification, cause I would agree. I think that we do get hung up on, is there sexual interaction going on, when you do have to realize the emotional damage or harm that could be done if a child engages in a romantic relationship with an adult. I know many people might not agree with me, but I do think you’re putting that child in a role that they’re not necessarily ready or equipped for. And so I agree with you in that.
Meg: Robert, do you want to talk about your age at all? And about when did you realize the asexual part?
Robert: I can give you a range. I’m 45–50 years old. So I’ve known for over 30 years that I’m a pedophile. That was only about ten years ago that I started to realize that.
Meg: So you, you told me initially when we were chatting before the show, that you have an adopted son. Can you tell us about how you came to decide to be a parent, and your relationship with your child?
Robert: So I met him when he was eleven, and uh, I was definitely attracted to him. Uh, I knew his sister, his older sister, who was closer to my age, and uh, basically started hanging out initially and because nobody else was really raising him, he was shuffling between two alcoholic parents who were neglecting him at best. And before I knew it, he was coming to me for emotional suppport, and sometimes food and shelter and whatnot. So I didn’t set out to raise him, but looking back on it, we realized that I was the person he would most call a parent, or someone who had raised him. So later, when he was an adult, in his mid 20s, I legally adopted him.
Meg: That’s beautiful that you were able to be there for him. I wonder if, through your awareness of being attracted to him, you know, emotionally, and maybe aesthetically, you didn’t mention that, but being attracted to him, if you also felt like a parent to him.
Robert: Um, I didn’t think about it that much at the time. I was just, you know, I want to be around this person, and I want to be, want to be there for him in whatever capacity he needs. But looking back on it later, it does seem like I was thinking of things in a parental kind of way.
Meg: So just to clarify further, it didn’t feel like you were trying to be romantically involved or date this person. You were just showing up for him, the way you would show up for any other child, and it turned out that you were a father figure for him. It turned out that you were able to show up in that way that he needed, and develop this relationship over time.
Robert: I think when, the first few times we hung out, I may have been thinking at the time, oh, this would be cool to, you know, date a person like this. But of course, that wasn’t uh, that wasn’t to be.
Meg: Do you mind sharing how old you were when you met him? You said he was eleven.
Robert: I was in my mid 20s.
Meg: And you knew his, was his sister your age?
Robert: Uh, close to my age, a little younger.
Meg: So an adult?
Meg: So you were friends with his adult sister, and he just kind of hung around, and there was that connection there?
Robert: I didn’t really hang around with the adult sister at the same time very much.
Meg: You guys were introduced through her though?
Meg: And then he ended up, I’m just clarifying, he ended up just coming to you for that support.
Meg: I know that some of our listeners might say, that sounds really interesting. Like it starts out where you’re kind of feeling that you’re in a relationship with this person, but because of your belief that children can’t be in romantic relationships, it sounds like you decided to step in as a father figure, as a, you know, care giver role, instead of continue to pursue something that may look more romantic. And it ended up being so that, as an adult, that boy, wanted you to be his father, wanted you to legally adopt him.
Robert: Yeah, I would agree with that.
Meg: What’s your relationship like with him now?
Robert: He’s married, and we live in the same city, and we see each other pretty often. We just had dinner for Father’s Day last night.
Meg: That’s awesome. I was gonna ask how your Father’s Day was.
Robert: It was quite good. My son and daugher in law both cooked for me. They often do something for Mother’s Day too.
Meg: That’s really beautiful. You were, you were his all-around caregiver. Do they know about aspects of your asexuality, and your minor attraction?
Robert: Yes, they do. I think he kind of always knew on some level, and in the last few years we’ve actually spoken about it openly. I think he may have said something that kind of hinted at something, but his wife figured out on her own that uh, that I’m a pedophile also.
Meg: Did they come to you then and ask about it, or is it something you felt ready to share with them, when they became adults, or at least when he became an adult?
Robert: Um, I felt ready to share with them, in the last few years. Uh, some time after he became an adult. And they’re uh, and they’re both supportive.
Meg: Yeah, you said that he knew on some level. Um, did he ever talk about how that felt as a kid to perhaps wonder if the person that was caring for him was attracted to him?
Robert: No, we haven’t really talked about that.
Meg: And is he aware of your asexuality?
Meg: How was that conversation?
Robert: I came out pretty publicly as asexual, haven’t really talked about it that much with him, but uh, he was understanding.
Meg: So are you, are you publicly out as an asexual person, not necessarily as an asexual pedophile though?
Robert: That’s correct.
Meg: So what was it like to come out as asexual, and what what do you define as public? Is it online? Is it just to your community?
Robert: It’s to people in person, and online. Most people have been very supportive. Uh, some people had questions, or confused asexuality with celebacy, which is a related thing but uh, celebacy is a choice, and asexuality is an orientation.
Meg: I can see how people would have a lot of questions about that. I can see how our listeners might wonder about it as well, as we’re just discovering all the nuances. And I think that adding this possibility to the mix is going to be quite interesting to folks. And so, you’re saying that “I have no choice to be a pedophile, and I also have no choice to be asexual, and kind of how I manifest it is through, just, focusing on my relationships, and there is some fantasy,” is that right?
Robert: That’s correct.
Meg: Right? But mostly there’s a focus on your relationships with people, and an awareness. It sounds like a really in-depth awareness of your relationships and what they mean and how you’re showing up in them.
Robert: Right, I have been aware for quite some time, and I’m pretty used to the ideas.
Meg: So, I, from, from where you’re sitting, I think it would be interesting for you to share, not every listener we have that’s minor-attracted may be able to relate with being asexual, but I do know that a lot of our listeners that are minor-attracted may also be interested in being parents as well. What advice do you have for them?
Robert: I would say parenting is, you know, basically about giving and supporting another life. And if you focus on what’s best for your child, then uh, things should work out. If you have, uh, your own biological children, there’s also the Westermarck Effect, which helps because, uh, generally you’re not attracted to your own children, though that’s not always the case.
Meg: Yeah, that, that seems like a whole other topic for a whole other show. But you’re saying that, advice for minor-attracted individuals that may want to become parents, first there’s that biological mechanism, for lack of a better word, that may be in place, where you may be attracted to other children, but not your own. And I’ve certainly seen that before in clients that I have that are both minor-attracted individuals and parents. Adoption, you’re saying, is looking at parenting as a way that you give and support another person, and there’s not this reciprocal relationship taking place like it would be with a romantic relationship, or even a platonic relationship.
Robert: That’s right. I mean, what you get back isn’t like a normal reciprocal relationship. You get satisfaction and a good feeling from giving life and support to someone else, but it’s not like you’re giving it, expecting to get back anything equal in return.
Meg: Right, I think that’s a really good awareness to have. Because there, there can be this perception even if you are a minor-attracted person who is anti-contact or non-offending, that you’re going to get this reciprocal relationship with the kids that you surround yourself with, whether, like you described, “I was hanging out with this kid, and I had this idea of, this would be interesting or fun to date someone like this,” but then there was this immediate, “no, this isn’t possible, this isn’t healthy for him, this isn’t a good thing for this child,” and so, assuming that other role, I think that that’s a very good clarification, and actually good advice for any parent.
Robert: Right, I would, I would agree with that.
Meg: Sometimes individuals have reached out to us and said, are you ever going to interview pro-contact individuals, are you ever going to interview somebody that doesn’t necessarily ascribe to being anti-contact and non-offending, and at this time we’re just not interested in that, because on top of, you know, challenging the stigmatization that occurs with minor-attracted individuals, our, our main goal at The Prevention Project is to prevent harm, is to prevent the abuse of children, emotionally, sexually, physically, and in anyway you can think of. And so, that is why we’ve primarily chosen to interview folks that are anti-contact and choose to be non-offending. Even though they don’t choose to have their minor attraction. And so, tell me what that means to you.
Robert: Well, anti-contact to me, means: I don’t have sexual contact with children, I don’t pursue “romantic” relations with them, I don’t act creepy around them, and I don’t view child abuse materials, or as some people would call it, child pornography. When I’ve said “anti-contact pedophile” on Twitter before, arguing with people who disagree with me on Twitter, they often try to pick that apart and say well, sure, maybe you don’t have sexual contact with children, but they assume that I try to be romantic or creepy with them, or that I view child porn, and no, I don’t do any of those things. I don’t think that’s part of being an anti-contact pedophile.
Meg: Right, and, and I think that that’s a really good clarification. We work with a lot of people who believe that as well. They don’t believe in the consumption of child pornography or even some of the legal forms of pornography that include drawings or cartoons. And so, I do think that’s a bit of a different conversation, and there’s a lot of viewpoints there, but I do agree with you, that anti-contact, non-offending, includes child pornography, includes trying to have romantic relationships. Because as we’ve discussed, that could definitely be harmful for the child. Robert, I so appreciate you reaching out to us and being on our show and sharing with our listeners your perspective and your story and introducing us to the term “asexual pedophile.” I think it’s been a really wonderful show. I think that you’ll have a lot of listeners out there that will identify with you, and that’s a goal of this podcast as well, is to help people relate and to feel connected, and to feel like they’re being heard. So again, I appreciate you being on our show.
Robert: Thanks for talking with me.
Meg: And, to all you listeners out there, thank you for listening. This has been another awesome podcast on The Prevention Podcast, and we will see you in two weeks.
Thank you for listening to this week’s podcast. Please visit http://thepreventionproject.org to learn more about our project and programs. Please remember to subscribe to our podcast at https://thepreventionpodcast.com or iTunes. See you next time!