Prevention Podcast Transcript: Beth

Note: This podcast was transcribed by someone who goes by “Zero”.

Original audio.

Candice:
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 related to non-contact and contact sex offenders, researchers in the field of sex offender treatment, and more. Join us biweekly and let’s talk about it.

Candice:
Welcome to The Prevention Podcast. I’m your host Candice Christiansen. This has been such a phenomenal experience being able to interview as many people, men and women, researchers, so on and so forth, who either have pedophilia or are interested in studying and researching and advocating for pedophiles. Today I am really excited because we had started out with a female anti-contact, non-offending pedophile by the alias “Emma” when we first launched our podcast back in January. And today we have Beth on the call who is another anti-contact, non-offending female pedophile. So I want to welcome you to our podcast, Beth.

Beth:
Thank you. Hello.

Candice:
Thank you so much for being willing to speak about your experience being an anti-contact, non-offending pedophile.

Beth:
You’re welcome.

Candice:
We’ll just go ahead and jump right in. I’m guessing that this may be new, having you on a podcast speaking out to the entire world. I mean, we’re now downloaded in 38 countries so you will be global. So my guess, is this new for you to be sharing your story with the world?

Beth:
I mean not really. Honestly I’ve been blogging for years. I don’t do it as much any more, but yeah, I mean I’ve talked about my experience a lot and talking about it has been very helpful in terms of my own mental health and all that.

Candice:
Say more about that because that is definitely something that we are advocates for at The Prevention Project. You know, wanting to give that mental health support to folks with pedophilia, especially those who say, “You know what, I have this attraction. I don’t want to hurt anybody, but I am suicidal at times, I’m lonely, I feel depressed.” So maybe you could share that too, like how it has been beneficial for you being able to blog and talk about it?

Beth:
So blogging publicly allows you to sort of like find a community and you can get resources from those people that have sort of figured it out how to deal with certain things and cope. And you can hold each other accountable because sometimes it’s hard to figure out like what you believe as you start you know dealing with this.

Candice:
Yeah I appreciate you saying that because we are really active on our Prevention Twitter and we are so thankful that VirPed is out there. VirPed is I would say is the largest peer forum across the entire globe that offers support to anticontact pedophiles and they have really come under fire lately by trolls that just make these assumptions that you know when there’s this peer support that what’s being discussed is how to harm a child or so on and so forth. And I know that that’s not what happens and it sounds like you know that that’s not what happens. So I just wanted to plug VirPed, but I’d also love your thoughts on that, when people are coming out and saying these forums are harming children and so on and so forth. What would you say to that?

Beth:
It doesn’t make any sense to me. I’ve explained to people before that when you’re silencing the group that’s trying to help other pedophiles in not offending, then you’re just pushing them into the shadows. And I want to explain that I hear people saying like “That sounds like a threat. That sounds like you’re saying that if we don’t tolerate this then you’re going to like offend and it’s not a threat, it’s a plea. I’m pleading that you allow this space to exist so that when young people realize what they are they have a space to go to and learn and get resources to not offend.

Candice:
Well yeah and I love that you say it’s a plea, really. On our website we talk about that. Our motto says everyone deserves support. Everyone is safer when everyone has support. And I think about it this way: we have a society that doesn’t want to admit that teenagers can have attractions to children, right?

Beth:
Yeah and you know within sort of like a community in talking to a lot of people and we’ve done polls and people realize it as early as 12, 13 and usually it’s around 15 or 16.

Candice:
I just appreciate you saying that because we have heard I believe it’s every single individual who has been on our podcast has said that. That it’s started out in adolescence. But again I think we have just this assumption from a large part of society that thinks that it’s this dirty old man in a van that is waiting to snatch up children and harm them. And so with that I would love to have you share your story about when you knew that you had an attraction. And just share whatever you feel comfortable sharing. Does that sound okay?

Beth:
Yeah. That’s totally fine. So in high school I started to sort of develop a “type,” I think (I’m a lesbian), to a point where my friend actually said to me, my best friend said to me “You know, all of the girls that you like look like they haven’t hit puberty yet. What’s up with that?” And I was like, “What are you talking about?” So that just sort of went on until senior year and around that time I had made some sort of blog post. I’ve always been interested in mental health and criminology and things like that. And I made a post that was like, I don’t really understand why we treat pedophiles this way, you know, it’s a mental illness, it should be treated, blah blah blah. And someone named Max, who is one of my best friends to this day, sent me a direct message and he was like, “You know it’s not really a mental illness.” And he sort of explained to me how it’s a sexuality and that there’s plenty of people that don’t want to offend. And really humanized that sort of person for me and I could, at that point, begin to associate it with myself. It stopped being this monster.

Candice:
You know I agree that it’s not about mental illness. It’s not about (one) being a monster, which again is what we see so often on Twitter. The trolls threatening people, telling them that they should kill themselves. “They’re monsters. Stay away from our kids.” This is about an age orientation. This is a sexual attraction to an age. It’s like a sexual, age orientation as Michael Seto calls it. So that’s what I hear you saying, is that you realized “Wow! You know I have an attraction to this age in particular. It doesn’t mean that I have a mental illness. Some people might think that.”

Beth:
Yeah. And it seemed impossible that that’s what I could be because it was so, you know. I saw myself as a good person and it had been so ingrained in me that if you’re a pedophile you’re not a good person. So as soon as I met someone who I could see as a good person and who identified as a pedophile, it was just like, it hit me.

Candice:
Yeah. When I think back historically to different groups of people that have been put into a minority position by society, this is another one of the groups of people, and I’m trying to say it slowly and be very sensitive to language because we know … in the LGBT community, this is something that, I’m not saying “this,” being pedophilia, I’m saying — judgment, and othering, and hatred, and so on and so forth. And in the LGBTQ community, for instance, has been something that’s been around for a very long time. Same when we look at racial discrimination, and so I want to be sensitive when I say this and I also want our world to know that this label “pedophilia,” has been used just as this automatic assumption when someone ends up in the media or there’s a news story about someone who has sexually offended against a child or sexually abused a child … the automatic words that you see or I read: “This is a pedophile.” Even if it is against a teenager, which is an ephebophile, not a pedophile.

Beth:
Right. And even if that person’s primary victim base isn’t all children people don’t talk about the fact that a lot of child molesters, if not possibly most, aren’t attracted to children.

Candice:
Yes and there’s been research that supports that. And I know that people will argue this and that is okay. My hope is the more that we can talk about it we can create some understanding that a child molester or someone who sexually assaults anyone is not automatically a pedophile. That that is a label that fits with what we’re calling an attraction. It’s an attraction. Just because someone has an attraction does not automatically mean they are destined or absolutely going to harm a child. So I know we just spent some time on that, but it’s something that I see it daily with the folks on our Twitter account, on our Twitter page. And they are arguing with people that are just making these assumptions, and don’t get it, even when we post and say “anti-contact non-offending,” before the word pedophile. People can’t even grasp that.

Beth:
Yeah and that’s a matter of changing our language. It’s important that when we have these discussions we’re using words with their correct definition. And it’s especially dangerous for you know as we talked about before, when people begin to realize that they’re pedophiles, when they’re this young and that gets so ingrained in their head, like, “Well I guess I’m just going to be a child molester one day. I guess I don’t have a choice because that’s the only way in which this word is used.”

Candice:
Well I can hear, I could hear, you know, people that want to argue that, say “Well that’s just an excuse and now you’re sounding like a victim.” What I’m hearing is you’re not saying, “So that means I’m not going to harm someone.” You’re saying, there still is this belief that’s almost implanted into your brain that “Well I’m a monster who’s destined to harm kids.” And so it doesn’t mean that you’re going to (when you read that), but it definitely effects your mental health.

Beth:
Oh absolutely and there’s you know one of two consequences to it. One of it being that they develop really awful depression and might end up killing themselves, and you’ve essentially ended up killing an innocent teenager and the other is that they have to sort of justify this idea that “Well, if I’m destined I have to still be a good person, though. I have to have like an excuse for that.” And they, you know I don’t know how many pro-contacts that you’ve talked to, but they just sort of do these logical backflips to justify the idea that they’re not a bad person instead of just telling themselves that they’re not a bad person whether they’re attracted to kids or not.

Candice:
We actually have not spoken with pro-contact pedophiles. We’ve had people reach out to us that are pro-contact and my response, and I’ll say this for those that are pro-contact listening is that there’s a method and a reason for why I’m doing this, and why specifically I want to talk to and interview anti-contact pedophiles. At some point, I might change my mind. I am a trauma survivor. I’ve been clear about that. As someone that is very passionate about prevention and providing mental health support to those individuals who say “I have this attraction. I don’t want to harm anybody.” That’s really right now where I want to continue my focus, especially with our MAPs program at the Prevention Project.

I want to educate the globe and the world that there are individuals who have an attraction to children, who have no desire to sexually harm a child ever at all. They really, just like you, want support in being able to live and again, “normal” is a relative term, but in quotes even, “a relatively normal life,” right? With this label and this stigma and so, yeah, that is definitely why I am passionate about interviewing those that are anti-contact pedophiles and at some point I might say okay let’s interview pro-contact to create, and a lot of people on Twitter will say everyone deserves a voice and here are all the sides. I’m open to that. Right now this is my focus. I do also want to say, and I know it can be nerve-wracking being interviewed on the podcast, and so I appreciate you being here. When you were talking about teenagers, the risk of potential suicide based on attraction, you kind of giggled and I want our listeners to know, and I’m going to speak for you on this so you definitely add in, but I know that you’re not making light of that.

Beth:
Oh God no! Absolutely not. I’m sorry. It’s a nervous giggle. I’m sorry.

Candice:
And that’s what I thought. I mean, I just … there’s so much that people can take from these interviews and I really want people to hear both you and I say … you know teens are at risk. We have young people who have this attraction that don’t have the support yet. That don’t have access to the peer forums and the communities and the therapy, and are terrified to come forward, and who sadly some do end up taking their lives because they have an attraction and feel like a monster and feel hopeless, and so one of the reasons again why we’re doing this is in hopes that if there’s one teenager that can hear us that has an attraction. That can hear us say you’re not alone, and you know that you have an attraction, you don’t want to harm anyone. Reach out to us. There is hope and there’s help. That’s the goal. I feel like we’ve reached one person, then if that one person can be that teenager. So I just wanted to add that in.

Beth:
Yeah it’s definitely serious. I’ve certainly been suicidal at one point or another, and there’s even someone that I knew online for a little bit that killed himself.

Candice:
Yeah I think that’s definitely something that we want to get across to the global community that again, people have different attractions and teenagers are coming forward. This is not just the man (adult male in his sixties in the alleyway waiting to snatch up children). That is a myth. There are young men and young women who have this attraction and so we need to take that into consideration. You know, one of the things, Beth, I have a dear friend and colleague whose an expert in trauma therapy and DID especially, which is dissociative identity disorder, and we were talking about minor attracted persons and pedophilia, and she recently said to me, “Have you seen the article that talks about individuals who end up having minor attractions having a history of trauma?” And I said I haven’t seen that article, however we have definitely treated many individuals, men and women (millennials), who have minor attractions, pedophilia especially or specifically, who can go back into their history and point out these periods of time at certain ages where they experienced shame, where they experienced trauma, where they experienced a devastating event that led to arrested development at that age and then as they grew older they found themselves attracted to that same age. And so, Beth, what are your thoughts on that?

Beth:
I haven’t experienced that sort of significant sexual trauma. I’ve met people that have and attribute that to their sexuality and I’ve met people that have and don’t attribute it at all — they don’t think it’s anything to do with it, but sometimes I think about that sort of phase in my life where I began to realize I liked girls my age and the girl that made me realize that has sort of remained a type throughout my life. I don’t know if that wasn’t just sort of, like a telling of the future or if it was actually a cause. I really don’t think that it’s a cause.

Candice:
There has been some preliminary research that has shown some biological underpinnings for individuals with pedophilia and so, there’s also, I remember reading this research article about a man who developed a tumor in his brain and because of where it was at in the brain he actually developed pedophilic interest, and so when they removed the tumor his pedophilic interest went away. And so I think there definitely it’s not black and white. I think there are the biological underpinnings. I do think for some they can go back and pinpoint that arrested development. We see that quite a bit. And we also want to acknowledge that for someone who says “I have an emotional attraction to a child and/or a physical attraction,” our job isn’t to say, to shame that person. If someone’s coming to our program for help we are not going to shame that person. Our job is to support them in what they’re coming to get support in, whether it’s “I need to get tools so that I don’t kill myself. I need to learn how to have a relationship with my partner. I want to be able to manage my fantasies. And so have you sought help in any of these stages in your process where you went to a therapist, and if so what was that experience like?

Beth:
Well I’ve been through a lot of therapists, but the first one that I had I didn’t have it managed by myself very well and I decided that I did probably need to come out to her and she’s the only one I’ve come out to. So when I did I essentially came in like the second session ’cause I just wanted to get it over with and said … I either said “I’m attracted to children or I’m a pedophile” … I don’t remember. And I said, “Are you still comfortable working with me?” And she just kind of stared at me and she was like “No,” and I was like, “Okay,” and like (I) tried to rush out of the room, and she was like, “Wait, wait, wait. I don’t understand. Have you hurt a child?” “No, no I don’t want to do that. I never want to do that.” And she’s like, “Oh well that’s a completely different story.” So yeah I kept working with her. At the time I was living with children, not like every day, like they were over on the weekend and that was very, very difficult. I was developing some really severe anxiety around them, even things like intrusive thoughts and intrusive arousal, and went to her with those problems and she essentially just taught me mindfulness and it helped significantly … so I definitely want to put that out as something if you’re struggling with your attraction practice some mindfulness. You’d be surprised how much it helps.

Candice:
When you say mindfulness say more about that. I know what that is; I want our global community to hear from you what that is.

Beth:
Sure, yeah, so it’s sort of just reevaluating where you are and accepting it … not judging it, letting it come in and out. If you’re feeling something in your mind or in your body don’t try to push it away. Just say “It is what it is,” and go about your day.

Candice:
I’ll add to that because I think that’s a great way to explain it: presencing — being present to the moment and to the experience. And so noticing “Wow. I’m here right now. I’m driving my car. I’m having this thought and okay, I’m aware that I’m having this thought and you know what? I don’t have to do anything with the thought. I can acknowledge it. Now I’m going to continue driving and go to the destination that I am going to.” And we definitely teach regulation tools for self-regulating (that anxiety when it comes up). So what I mean by that is how can you calm your nervous system down when you become hyper-aroused or in a fight-or-flight, anxious state because for so many people such as yourself, and you can correct me if I’m off base here, what we hear often is it’s actually very anxiety-provoking and very troubling and worrisome when an individual with pedophilia has fantasies and thoughts, more so than, and if I’m off base here let me know, more so than “I’m excited to have this fantasy.”

Beth:
Yes, yeah, I mean when I was first sort of like realizing my attraction and everything, I would have dreams. I would have really vivid dreams and I would wake up horrified with myself, and I’ve heard that experience from other people too and when you are around a kid that you think is cute and you’re not really even thinking about anything and just knowing how you feel and sort of being disgusted by it is a pretty common experience.

Candice:
We have heard folks also say, “A fantasy is a fantasy. A fantasy isn’t acting on and so I want to acknowledge that too that I understand as well that a fantasy is one thing. It’s different from an action. And so for those individuals who are listening to our podcast who say, “Well wait a minute, Candice,” or “Wait a minute, Beth, what’s wrong with having a fantasy?” I’m not judging the fantasy, what I’m talking about is we actually talk to quite a bit of folks who have pedophilia who say, “It’s not fun for me. It actually causes me to stress when I’m having these thoughts and fantasies.” And there’s a lot of reasons for why there is a cause of distress and the experience of those who share it with us is that it’s not necessarily enjoyable; it is causing distress, and so that’s why I wanted us to talk about that and I really appreciate that you bringing up the mindfulness piece. We offer a psychoeducational call-in support group globally and we offer tools. We don’t do process therapy because we’re global. We do have people that come to our program for individual therapy and couple’s therapy where we do process therapy. On our call-in group (we) provide tools to offer folks support that are more psychoeducational in nature. And so one of those that you shared, here are some tools when you are struggling that you can use, and that’s a really basic one, that mindfulness, but it is beneficial and there’s a lot of research out there to back that as well. So as a female anti-contact non-offending pedophile, if there are other females that are listening to this podcast who can say “Yes, I believe I’m a pedophile,” what would your advice be to them to support them in this process?

Beth:
I would definitely seek out other female pedophiles. I think the way that women and men see their own sexuality, I think they’ve been taught to see it very differently, so I think that experience of realizing and acknowledging sort of like a paraphilia or some sort of unusual sexual interest is going to be a very different experience, and sharing that with people that have also experienced it can be really therapeutic. I guess I just want people to understand that it’s not something that we exactly picked. It’s not an attraction to predatory behavior. It is what it is. It’s just an attraction like any other and I just want to thank you for your effort to both educate yourself and other people, because that education, that change in language it’s going to make a big difference for innocent people that deserve for something that they didn’t choose to effect their life so much and their health and they just deserve to be healthy.

Candice:
I agree and you are so welcome and thank you for having the courage to be on our podcast today. It definitely takes courage to speak up and this is one of my passions, giving voices to the voiceless. I hope our paths cross again, Beth, and I really appreciate you being on our podcast today. I know I said that before, but thank you again.

Beth:
Thank you. No problem.

ADDENDUM
The Prevention Podcast is looking to interview individuals who are anti-contact non-offending pedophiles on the autism spectrum. We are also looking to interview anti-contact non-offending pedophiles who are married or in a committed relationship. We would love to interview you and your spouse. Go to thepreventionproject.org and e-mail me if you’re interested and these apply to you. Thanks.

Thank you for listening to this week’s podcast. Please visit www.thepreventionproject.org to learn more about our project and programs. Please remember to subscribe to our podcast at www.thepreventionpodcast.com or iTunes. See you next time!

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