Meg: So, hello everyone, this is Meg Martinez, I’m the co-host of the prevention podcast, here with Bruce. Welcome Bruce!
Meg: We’re so grateful to have you here on our podcast today. So, first, let’s just talk about what brings you to our podcast. Why do you want to be here today?
Well, it has been a very interesting week, this last week. There’s a lot of activity with the white supremacy movements in the East Coast, and I realize that there’s a lot of ignorance out there. There’s a lot of people who had no idea that there were these people who existed who had these feelings about their race, and racism. And I feel that a lot of the violence and a lot of the problems is reactionary. The violence and the ignorance only builds off of each other, and if America was willing to talk to each other and learn from each other, we’d have a lot less problems.
These people still exist, but you don’t solve problems by reacting and fighting them, you discuss with them, you learn and figure things out together. And I think, if there’s anywhere where there’s a lot of ignorance in the world, it’s around pedophilia. So it’s my goal to help answers the questions, improve knowledge and understanding and hopefully, we can all come together and actually solve problems instead of just fighting each other.
Yeah, and it’s our goal to talk about it, so we’re happy to have you here to do that. So yeah, let’s start with… Tell us about this world you’ve fallen into. So, it seems like there’s a variety of people who identify as pedophiles or at least as minor attracted. Some people prefer the term “virtuous”, other people prefer the term “anti-contact pedophile”, I’ve even heard the term “conservative pedophile” recently. While there are other people that don’t like the term “pedophile” at all and want to be called “a minor attracted person”, a MAP. Where do you fall into all this?
So, it is a very difficult orientation, if you can even call it an “orientation”. There’s debate whether it is an orientation or not. I, personally, am okay using the word pedophile, as long as we’re very clear about what that means, and what it doesn’t mean. There’s a lot of people who assume that if you’re a pedophile, then you have made an offense. There’s a lot of news articles, and as soon as you read a news article about someone who had been looking at child pornography or something, and was arrested, they automatically call them a “child molester” when technically, he hasn’t molested a single child.
He has committed an offense, a legal offense, in looking at the child pornography, but he hasn’t physically molested a child. People always assume if you’re a child molester, you’re a pedophile and if you’re a pedophile, you’re a child molester, they’re not the same at all. A very clear distinction is that a pedophile is someone who is attracted to children, and may or may not have committed an offense. A child molester has actually committed an offense. And curiously enough, not all child molesters actually are attracted to children.
They acted out of circumstance, or stress, or who knows why they committed an offense, but they were actually not attracted to children in the first place. So there should be no shame in the term “pedophile”, and there should be no assumptions behind actions that may or may not exist behind it. The second term I that want to talk a little bit about is the anti-contact part, which is our intention.
You can be attracted to children and have no intention of doing anything to satisfy that urge or that desire, and that is the anti-contact part. Someone who wants to stay virtuous, someone who doesn’t want to offend against the law, doesn’t want to harm a child. I feel like that’s a very very important designation for most pedophiles. Most pedophiles that I have met and talk to don’t want to hurt anybody. They want to fight this urge. And that is a camp that I fit in, that I care very deeply about children, and I care very much about not hurting them sexually.
And it’s important that people see that part of me, just as strongly as the one that’s attracted to children. It is a conflict that I have to live with, where part of me wants sexual experiences and has the desires that it does, and the other part of me wants to stay away and protect them. But I feel like everybody has those internal battles. I think, for me personally, it goes beyond being anti-contact when it comes to sexual attraction to children.
I grew up very religious, and my teachings and my belief around sexuality, is that we should not be having any sexual relationships outside of marriage, and that in marriage, you only have sexual relationships with your spouse. So, that is the framework that I’ve grown up with, regarding sexuality. The decision to be anti-contact is the exact same decision to not have sex before marriage, if that makes sense.
Yeah, connecting to your value system, right, not just being fearful of the law, not just trying to protect children but also being congruent with your own value system.
Correct. Laws change, cultures change and we can see, if we base our decisions of what our behavior should be based off of what society accepts, or what the laws are, then 10 years, 30 years, 50 years from now, if pedophilia is normalized, then people would have more willingness to be pro-contact which is a terrifying idea for me.
We shouldn’t base our decisions on what society or the laws say, we should base our decisions on our internal ethics, and internal belief systems. And for me, because it’s based on that religious perspective, and set of ethics, I will always be anti-contact, I will always be pro-marriage, and sexual relationships in marriage.
So Bruce, tell me how long have you known that you’re attracted to children?
I’ve known I’ve been attracted to children about 3 or 4 years. I’ve had quite a tumultuous dating life in my late twenties, and I had three relationships in a row where I had dated the woman for a certain amount of time and the relationship wasn’t turning into what I had expected. It was very platonic, meaning that I cared about them like a brother would care about a sister. We enjoyed each other’s company, we liked spending time and hanging out but we never felt any… At least I never felt any desire to be intimate or physical with them and there were no sparks or romance at all in the relationship.
And I had only been in three relationships and when all three were like that, I started to get very contemplative and introspective and even depressed, that something was wrong with me, that I wasn’t experiencing the normal relationships that most people did. And in that despair and depression, and wondering what was wrong with me, I started to realize that my sexual attractions were not actually for women.
I had downplayed my sexuality my whole life, from my youth, I would control my thoughts and try not to objectify anybody and I would try to look the other way whenever movies showed sexual scenes or even kissing scenes. Sexuality was an emotion, it was a desire that I didn’t understand and so, I just put it away, so to speak, suppressed it. It wasn’t until after these relationships that I started to look at it and actually think about what I was feeling, what I wasn’t feeling, what I desired and what I didn’t desire.
And I really realized that I did not have that physical sexual attraction to women. When I was allowing myself to be sexual, through masturbating or fantasy, it was always of myself wishing that I could be sexual. It was kind of that religious fight between what I knew was right, versus what my body wanted to do. And, instead of shutting down and exploring, I realized that I was thinking of myself being younger, having sexual experiences at a younger age.
And it was evolving into sexual experiences with boys around the age of puberty. And when I started to like, get past the denial of “I’m just not a sexual person” to like “Okay, I am a sexual person, but my sexual identity is completely around myself and what I feel”. And getting past that, to realize that I was being turned on by fantasies of young boys, it horrified me.
It was a very scary time in my life, because I didn’t know what that meant for my future, whether I was stuck with those attractions, whether I could develop attractions to adult women, and what that really meant for me in the future. So, all of that happened about three or four years ago. I became very depressed, I started to separate myself from friends and family. I even cut myself off from everybody, changing my phone number, deleting my Facebook and deleting all my other social media presences.
Basically, trying to run away from life, because I didn’t understand who I was, and what I was feeling and what it meant for me. And it wasn’t until a year ago, September 2016, that I finally, through some close friends who I had opened up to, I was convinced to seek help, and have enough courage to seek help, at which point I started therapy, and opened up to how I was feeling, and had some very good people who cared about me didn’t judge me and helped me get to it. I feel like I understand, now, my attractions, where they fit in my life, and I have a good idea of what the future holds for me.
So, that’s quite a story. How else has your attraction to children impacted your life?
So, the impact of my attraction and isolation, I can honestly say that it only affected my relationships, and my failed relationships, and my not understanding how to actually date adult women, and connect with them sexually, emotionally and mentally. The sexual attraction to children indirectly affected me in a lot of ways, but I don’t blame the sexual attraction to children. Instead, I attribute it to the way society looks at pedophilia. If pedophilia was recognized as simply an attraction to children and something that we have to understand and overcome, and find out how to overcome it, then I wouldn’t have had any problems.
In isolation, my attraction to children only affected my relationships, and my inability to emotionally, mentally and sexually develop the relationship with an adult woman. And in isolation, I’ve been able to figure that out through introspection, therapy, and simply educating myself about sexuality, and navigating sexuality. Pedophilia, indirectly, has affected me in a lot of ways, but I really attribute it to not the attraction to children, I attribute it to the way that pedophiles are treated in society.
When you realize that you’re attracted to children, and you read news articles where everybody tells you that you’re a monster, that you deserve A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and they’re describing the most horrific things in the world, where they are spewing hate and violence and despair, and they’re saying that you’re uncurable, you’ll never change, you deserve to be shot.
All of these messages online, that comes from this ignorance that I talked about earlier, they’re never met someone attracted to children in their life, or if they have, they have no idea that they have. They might have a family member, a close friend or neighbor, but they have no idea. It’s that hate that I internalized. I attribute my depression and my despair and my desire to run away and suicidal thoughts, not to my being attracted to children, I attribute it to the way society looks at us.
And so, if there’s any goal that I have of this podcast, it’s to help remove that belief around pedophilia, and remove that hate around these individuals who really are just like you and me, they simply have an attraction to children that they need to understand, and I care just as much about them controlling it as you do, as anybody does. I care about children being protected, and not being sexually assaulted. But we don’t solve that by hating them and banishing them and killing them, driving them deeper and deeper into the shadows.
We solve it through loving them, and giving them the support that they need, and helping them navigate those feelings. So, pedophilia, being attracted to children, I hope, never affects people the way that it does now. All I hope is that pedophilia becomes just a sexual issue to figure out, instead of being a social damning influence, something that hurts them mentally, like it did for me.
So, with a lot of other things that are controversial, helping people understand the distinction between a behavior that you can hate and condemn, and a person, right?
Yeah. People hated or hate a behavior, which in this situation is any sort of sexual exploitation or assault towards a child. And unfortunately, because of the ignorance, or because of people’s stories, they put that hate onto these other people that are brave enough in lots of cases to say “I have this attraction”.
Because as you’re mentioning, most people that struggle with pedophilia or relate to pedophilia or have discovered that they have these fantasies like you did, are afraid to talk to anybody about it. So the ones that are being condemned online are actually the bravest people in this population that are saying “I am willing to talk about it because I want to stop the ignorance”.
And even those who aren’t coming out, they’re thousands of individuals. Teenagers, people my age or even elderly people who have these attractions, they’re seeing the comments. Even if they’re not veiling themselves as attracted to children, they’re seeing the language, they’re seeing the rhetoric, they’re seeing the hate.
And it’s impossible to read all those messages of hate and anger, and things will never change, and you deserve A, you deserve B. It’s impossible not to internalize that, at least a little bit, and feel hated, personally, and feel like there’s no hope. And if someone doesn’t have hope, if they don’t think that there’s a way out, if they don’t think that life can be fulfilling, just because they have these attractions, then what’s to stop them from throwing in the towel, and saying “well, if it’s never going to get better, I might as well offend and actually have fun”.
That’s like the worst… The people who are trying to prevent sexual assaults against children are actually contributing to it by contributing to the rhetoric and the messaging, because that’s that messaging which will only make things worse for those are close to despair.
Yeah, I agree. I can only imagine that it stokes that internal fire of conflict between trying to understand yourself and believe that you’re a good person, and the self-hate that comes from the desires or the fantasies. I’ve worked with a lot of people who have identified themselves as minor-attracted or as pedophiles, and some of them even find themselves contributing to the hate, because there’s a part of them that doesn’t want to accept the other part of them that has the attractions.
And then they feel like extreme hypocrites. Or they contribute to the hate because they think that that keeps them safe. If I contribute to the hate, then nobody is going to even think for one second that I have these tendencies to. Really analogous to homophobia, right? And that can only cause internal confusion, internal shame, because now, not only am I having these attractions that I don’t know what to do with and are unaccepted by society, but I’m also betraying myself inside.
Exactly. I believe everyone, in life, has to deal with internal conflict. Personally for me, there was a lot of internal conflict around sexuality and religion, just in general. I mean, being religious and having very conservative views on what sexuality meant and how it’s supposed to be used, versus what I was feeling, I navigated that differently than other people will. I see some people forego their own standards or religious beliefs in order to satisfy their sexual impulses and desires. I feel like that’s just as bad as what I did, where I suppressed my sexuality, in a desire to conform to religious beliefs and standards.
And I believe, both of those are just as damaging. We have to learn how to balance the conflict, and find the balance between what we desire and what we should do. I had to figure that out with sexuality in general, and I have to figure that out with my attraction to children. Can I be OK with myself and accept myself, at the same time, hating the attraction and hating the fantasies, and hating what it leads people to want to do.
It’s a very difficult internal conflict that I have to deal with, but I don’t feel like I’m alone in being a pedophile and having to deal with that. Everybody who has attractions that they have to regulate deal with that conflict. I have a close affinity for a lot of homosexual people who’ve helped me through my own attractions to children. I’ve opened up to them and received a lot of support from them, and love from them.
One of my best friends is homosexual and is trying to navigate his own journey through understanding that attraction, and understanding his own religious convictions and decisions. And so, I care very deeply about those people who have the similar struggles I do. I really hope that these individuals don’t feel like being authentic to themselves as more important than doing what’s right by their moral code, and they don’t abandon their moral code just for the sake of being authentic to themselves.
And I can imagine one of the key components to this journey of understanding is starting to explore and understand some of the why behind pedophilia, which I don’t think can become crystal clear but you can definitely start to explore that. What we see in recent research is that there is some biological underpinnings to pedophilia.
An example is, there was a BBC news story in 2012, about a 42-year-old man who had a brain tumor that produced pedophilic obsessions and even actions. He was convicted in court of molesting several children, sentenced to both sexual addiction treatment, because of the obsessions, as well as sex offender treatment. And what they found was really interesting, is that all of the behaviors and obsessions stopped as soon as the tumor was removed. And so we’re at a very interesting point in the early stages of research that suggests that pedophilia may be a sexual orientation, may have biological underpinnings and we are paying attention to this. We are paying attention to this nature side of the argument.
However, we’re also seeing many individuals who share with us that there is something experiential, something in their past that happened that caused what we call, a sort of “arrested development”, where they find that they’re attracted to children of the same age at which that traumatic event happened. So, an example of that is having a parent pass away, which is a hugely traumatic event for a prepubescent child, and then noticing that that is the same age range that they’re attracted to or being sexually abused at a stage in their life whether it was prepubescent or post-pubescent, and then continuing to be let’s say “stuck” in that age range, as far as sexuality is concerned. What has been your experience with this nature vs nurture or nature and nurture argument?
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that sexuality is very very very complicated. And I’m excited that there are people willing and interested in learning more about the underpinnings of what causes pedophilia and attraction to children. I’m afraid that there’s not enough pedophiles willing to come out and reveal that they’re attracted to children, that there’s not going to be enough of us to actually study, and come up with solid results or understandings, but I do feel like you can study individual people who do come out in a more of a case study style of research, and try to understand them as an individual.
And I feel like there’s a lot of things that helped contribute to my attraction to children. For myself specifically, I don’t know if any of these are the actual reason why I’m attracted to children, but I feel like they all contribute. I believe that your sexual fantasies are actually a reflection of your emotional fantasies or your mental fantasies. If you look at what you want sexually, it reveals aspects about yourself and your personality that are in need or in conflict.
So for me, personally, being attracted to the age that I am, reveals unmet needs that I have, that I felt like my own youth was unfulfilled in certain ways. And because I have that fantasy of re-living the past, and having those needs met that I didn’t get met, I’m already conditioned to my fantasies think of myself as a kid. I’m already conditioned to think of children in fantasies. And so, sexual fantasies involving children reflects that emotional desire and my emotional fantasy of re-living my childhood, and righting wrongs, and meeting needs that I didn’t have met.
Add to that to my own idolization of youth, I grew up in a large family and had a lot of cousins and a lot of nieces and nephews and so, I was constantly surrounded by children. And there’s something about the innocence of youth, the playfulness of youth, the lack of judgments, the lack of ulterior motives and agendas, there’s a lot that I admire and respect about childhood that also goes into my fantasies, that also feeds why I idolize youth and innocence, and playfulness. And so, that idolization also has helped contribute to my fantasies.
Another thing is transference I don’t completely understand yet, but is basically where an emotion or feeling is given more power than it normally should or would have based off the circumstances and we subconsciously give it more power than it should and I feel like that has also played a piece. Another thing that I feel contributes to my attraction to children, directly relates to my internal conflict that I had with sexuality.
I discovered the physical pleasures of sexuality and self-stimulation very late in my adolescence. And when I discovered it, the two dominant emotions was “this is the most amazing experience of my life, that I’ve ever felt, and why has this been hidden from me my whole life?”, and the other dominant emotion was “I’m not supposed to be feeling this, I’m not supposed to be doing this, I need to suppress this”.
It was very difficult for me to navigate, like I said, and I probably didn’t navigate it the right way or the most healthy way, but I’m glad that I’ve finally figured it out, in my late twenties, but at the moment, my dominant emotion was “How come this has been hidden from me, like, I could’ve been experiencing this so much earlier in my life”. And that desire, or fantasy of wishing that I discovered it earlier than I had, I feel was a huge contributing factor to why I’m attracted to children.
I imagined myself being younger and having sexual experiences and I was reminiscing, and I was wishing, and it was a very powerful emotion, because there’s a lot of regret in there as well. Because that was my dominant fantasy, I feel like as I got older, it became so ingrained that it turned into my sexual attraction to children. Because as I got older, it’s harder to imagine yourself as a young kid, because you’re getting older and older, and so I imagined watching other young kids experience what I wish I could’ve experienced.
I know that might be hard for some people to listen to, but that’s what it was for me. It was very real, it was very powerful for me. And whether I have biological underpinnings or not, I don’t know. Whether it will stay with me the rest of life or not, I don’t know. But I feel like this may have been a strong contributing factor.
You know Bruce, I’m really glad that you brought up this emotional attraction and this emotional connection and that power as well, because I think when most people think about pedophilia, they think about it as “it’s about sex only. This person is sexually attracted to children, they want to use and abuse children sexually”, and sometimes that happens, right? There are pedophiles who go on to offend, and sometimes that happens.
And I think that a lot of pedophiles, and a lot of pedophiles that I’ve worked with, share that it’s so much more than just finding a child sexually attractive or being sexually interested, there is an emotional connection to the child. And I think that you are tapping into something very interesting and special in yourself by sharing that emotional connection and how it connects back to your childhood, and unmet needs that you’re realizing.
It’s a very interesting way that those unmet needs are now manifesting themselves if this indeed is the why, right? But I do think that it’s a good point to bring up as far as that nurture side of the coin is considered, is that it doesn’t always have to be an outright trauma like a sexual abuse, like I described earlier. It could be “I felt like I actually neglected, sexually, or neglected emotionally, and so I feel connected to this person because of that”.
Exactly. If there’s one thing that I’ve realized, over the last years, it’s that our sexual selves, and our emotional selves, our mental selves are both very connected, and very malleable. I’ve learned to focus on my mental and emotional connections with adults, and work on reducing my reliance and sexual attraction to children, to navigate my life, learning to communicate and understand my needs and feelings I’ve been able to start a relationship with an adult woman.
We talk to each other about everything, she knows about my attraction to children and she understands it and she loves me, and I’ve learned to love her and connect with her in very strong mental and emotional ways. And that has actually facilitated me to be sexually attracted to her as well. We’re actually engaged to be married, which is very exciting for me!
Very exciting, congratulations!
Thank you. Listeners might be very surprised I did that, that I’m willing to navigate that with another person and that she would be willing to navigate that with me, but we do connect in a lot of ways. And, back to that point of sexuality being malleable, I have felt a lot of things change in my life, sexually, in my attractions. I still am very attracted to children, but I have become very sexually attracted to her as well, and we’re willing to figure it out together and continue to grow.
And Bruce, even though your journey has not ended in your self-discovery around what pedophilia means to you and navigating your sexuality, I think you’ve reached such a beautiful point, to be able to bring somebody else into that journey with you. I really appreciate you coming on the Prevention Podcast today, and sharing that story, and sharing your thoughts and your ideas around pedophilia, and the way that society views it.
We very much appreciate your willingness to do that, and I’m sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you’ve been able to inspire people out there who are self-identified pedophiles, who are open pedophiles, who are anti-contact pedophiles, who are conservative pedophiles, who are minor-attracted people, and those who are maybe anti pedophiles in general, to just listen and try to understand.
Bruce: Thank you.