*Note: This transcript was written by Nigel Lackland*
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 that needs to be said. Topics include the biology of pedophilia, risk, need and responsivity principles related to contact and non-contact sex offenders, researchers in the field of sex offender treatment, and more.
Join us bi-weekly, and let’s talk about it.
Hi, this is Candice Christiansen, your host of the prevention podcast. A lot of people have been wondering, why are we doing the prevention podcast, and what does it actually entail? Lot of curiosity over the last several months, and what I want to do on this first podcast, is give you a little bit of a background and history. So, I do not like to share often about my history, but I have a history of being a sexual abuse survivor, as a child, by different perpetrators, and I have had my own trials and tribulations as a result. A lot of consequences, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and sexually have come from that, and I’ve done a lot of my own work in healing, in order to be able to provide support and treatment for other victims and survivors.
Along the way, I became a therapist, and now I have a couple programs where I’m treating people that have trauma but also decided that we need to treat people who have gone into riskier sexual behavior. My thought process is, Why wait until someone has committed a sex crime, to treat them? You know, I have a background in not just working with victims and survivors, but also working with sex offenders. And at this phase of my career, I am passionate about treating people who have riskier thoughts, fantasies, and behaviors before they commit a crime.
I believe in “no more victims”. You know, as someone that can stand up and say “me too”, sadly, with the #metoo movement, I believe it’s crucial that we start to acknowledge the need for prevention services, and provide them more and more across the globe. Policy makers will say there’s not enough to fund prevention efforts, but then they’re going to spend millions and millions of dollars after sexual abuse has occured. And to me, that does not make sense. We need to prevent more harm, no more victims.
That is why I am passionate about doing the prevention podcast. This is going to be a podcast where we do focus on the side of prevention that is dicier, so you know we will talk to people and researchers who are about prevention, we will talk to people who have attractions, but have no desire to offend. If you think about the term “non-offending” pedophile, have you ever heard those words put together in the same sentence (non-offending pedophile)? Chances are, you haven’t. We will be interviewing people who are anti-contact pedophiles, and non-offending pedophiles. Again, the reason why I want to do that, is so that we can educate the world that there are actually people out there who have attractions to children, who have no desire to harm a child, and that is a difference that is very very important to understand. We know in the sex offender treatment in research community, that we are clear on that distinction. However, in the media, and in our communities, it is not clear.
People automatically hear pedophilia and equate it with child molester. We will be talking to researchers in the field of sexual violence prevention, we will be interviewing individuals who are working in the field of prevention, have prevention efforts and initiatives across the globe, in an effort to educate the public and to educate our global community on the importance of prevention. My motto is “prevention is the intervention”. It IS the intervention. We have to step up and we have to do prevention. So, I hope you will join us bi-weekly, because this is going to be a very very controversial yet important global conversation. So, let’s talk about it.
This is our very first podcast, I’m actually very excited, because we’re starting out with a dicey topic, we’re talking about anti-contact, non-offending pedophiles, and it really is new to hear those words go together, I think people automatically hear the word “pedophile” and assume “child molester”, “rapist”, “sex offender”, while there are people in our world that exist, who have this sexual age orientation, as we call it, and no desire to harm a child ever in their life, in fact they’ve never done that. We are going to be interviewing, for our first podcast, a woman by the name of Emma, which is her alias, who was so scared of having her voice be on the podcast, for fear that someone would recognize her, that we actually did a voiceover on her behalf. So, her voice is going to sound a little bit different, but I hope that doesn’t distract you from her message. She is very passionate about being a safe member of society. And she’s also very committed to never hurting a child. So, I hope you enjoy this and can listen with an open mind. Thanks for listening!
You can call me Emma, and thank you so much for having me on the show, I appreciate it! Okay, so non-offending and anti-contact, they actually don’t mean the same thing. Non-offending, is indicative of behavior. So, a non-offending pedophile is a person with a primary or exclusive sexual attraction toward prepubescent children but we don’t act on that attraction in any way, so that means obviously no sexual contact with children, but also extends to not possessing or consuming child pornography or doing anything to feed into that whole online child exploitation industry. Anti-contact is actually more a philosophy, and that means that we believe, we feel that sexual contact between an adult and a child carries an immense amount of risk, just of causing the child serious psychological harm. So, we feel it’s wrong to engage in it. If you read just, studies and also based on the word of people who have survived child sexual abuse, there’s just so much overwhelming evidence that it causes harm.
So, that’s why I personally, I feel it would extremely selfish for me to act on the attractions that I have. So, that’s why I am both anti-contact and non-offending. I am attracted to young children but I’ve never acted on that attraction in any way, and I’m not going to. Alright so, as much as I really like to say otherwise, my attractions are pretty exclusive. I am specifically attracted to girls, between the ages of 4 and 12, but mostly between 6 and 10, that’s when the attraction is strongest. I’ve always sort of wished that I could be more fluid, that I could have a fluid sexuality. It’s something I’ve read, that on average, women are supposed to have more fluid sexualities than men, and it’s something I always wish I had. I’ve actively tried to expand my sexuality, and make it more fluid.
So, I have had sex with both men and women. I found it to be more of a difficult than enjoyable experience. The way I see it is, if it happens, it happens. If my sexuality does eventually, kind of become more fluid, I’m open to that, I welcome that, that would be cool. You know, every once in a while I’m walking down the street and I will actually notice a woman who’s maybe in her late teens or early twenties and I’ll pat myself on the back and say “Good job Emma, you noticed a girl up today!”. Well, if anything is, I’ve been noticing little girls ever since I was one myself, even when I was very young, like 7 or 8. I was always enrolled in dance classes and gymnastics classes, and there was always a girl, either my age or maybe a little younger than me who caught my eye and I didn’t understand why that might be at the time. It’s the classic story that so many pedophiles tell. I got older but the girls I was attracted to did not get older with me.
So yeah, I’ve been noticing younger girls ever since I was quite young. But yeah, I didn’t really take note of it or think anything of it until I was about 14, and that’s when it popped into my head, that “Hmm, the girls I’m drawn to are consistently younger than me, that’s interesting”. I still didn’t really think anything of it, and I don’t think I really heard the word pedophile until I was 15, and then I looked up the word, and I sort of like “Uh, Ooooh…”. So, I was aware of who I was attracted to before I knew there was a word for it or that it was a sexuality with a name that existed and, also before I knew that everybody pretty much despised people who had this attraction. I’d kinda figured by that time I was a lesbian, and I was already feeling stress about that. Because I knew that being gay wasn’t a bad thing, my parents had friends who were gay but other kids still called each other “gay” as an insult, so I kind of had that association that, you know, that’s not the easiest life, it’s not necessarily something I want to be.
So then, the additional slow realization that my sexuality was going this other, different, not exactly thrilling direction, you know, it was hard, it’s a very weird coming-of-age. Yes, having this sexuality had a tremendous impact on my life. It’s not just having attractions that I know I can never act on, I’m still at a point in my life where I did feel a certain amount of guilt just for my thoughts, logically I know that I shouldn’t feel guilty for that, but beyond that, the stigma surrounding pedophilia is just so heavy, and it’s really hard to not have your self-esteem and overall self image, reflect that stigma. You know, we grow up hearing the message, consistently, that having these attractions, and having these thoughts dooms us to eventually act on them. And that we’re monsters, without having done anything monstrous.
I mean, you hear that from everywhere, from every direction, you hear it from the media, you hear it from the news, I hear it from my friends on social media, I come across posts and memes, by people I think of as friends, saying that pedophiles should be shot, or put down like rabid animals. And you know, it’s impossible not to internalize that, and it’s impossible not to be hurt by that. It’s also just incredibly alienating. There’s been chunks of myself that I just don’t feel safe talking about. No, whenever I’m with friends and they’re talking about sex or relationships and, something you come to realize is; people talk about those things a lot.
It comes up whenever people drink, whenever you’re at a party, these conversations always come up, so I have to do this whole act of skirting around the subject of my sexuality, and it can get exhausting. I feel like I’m trying to maintain this lie of omission basically, for my own safety. And uhm… It’s scary. If this interview were to be traced back to me, I honestly don’t know what would happen or what I’d lose, or how it would affect my life. Would I get fired? I have no idea, but it’s a really scary thought. It’s also very alienating in the sense that, I have a lot of friends who are LGBT, in that community, during gay pride or any kind of celebration that’s an LGBT pride celebration, all my friends, they’re posting all this stuff about sexual diversity, and I get really really depressed, during that time. I feel like my particular sort of sexual diversity is not something that can be celebrated, or that it necessarily should be celebrated. You know, the slogan “love is love” doesn’t apply to all sexual orientations.
So, during Pride, I’m just looking at my friends’ social media and I’m thinking, like “Yeah, good for you! I’m really sad, I’m gonna go hide until next week”. So, there’s so much that this affects. I constantly kind of have to tell myself that I am not lower than other people, that I don’t exist, like on a lower rung, or a lower plane than everybody else, which is just kind of a pretty way to have to think. In regards to being a female pedophile in particular, that just adds a whole other layer of alienation to it, because you learn that pedophiles aren’t supposed to be women, so for me it was very hard to come to terms with just the idea that I was part of a population that was apparently so tiny that researchers who study sexual psychology, they don’t really address that we even exist. When I was a teenager, I typed “female pedophiles” into Google. Most of what popped up was people asking the question “Are there such things as female pedophiles?”, so I don’t think there’s ever actually been an official scientific study on minor attracted women.
All the research you read, it’s always on men. I do think that there are more of us that people think, but yeah, even researchers, like on the Prevention Project Dunkelfeld website, it’s a German program, it provides mental health services to pedophiles who don’t want to offend, on their website, it used to say that female pedophiles were irrelevantly rare. So, when I read that, I was kind of like “Wow”… That’s a phrase that hit me pretty hard. It’s like the loneliest little phrase to hear, that people like you are so rare, you’re not really even worth mentioning, or studying.
And they actually did change the language on their page, so either more women joined their program since then, or I don’t know, maybe somebody like me complained. I’m not sure, but I’m actually very glad that they did change that phrase. Because there are teenage girls and young women who are just realizing they have this sexuality, and it’s a difficult message to receive, on top of all the other negative messages surrounding pedophilia, the idea that you are irrelevantly rare, that you’re not supposed to exist, pretty much. Even back when I first joined VirPed, the Virtuous Pedophiles forum/website, in the Frequently Asked Questions section, under the question of why people in general should care about the particular struggles that minor attracted people go through, it originally said “Well, it could be your son”.
Since then, they’ve actually changed it, now it says “It could be your son or your daughter”, which is good because, even though we are very much in the minority, there are female pedophiles on the forum. Maybe there are 2000 members registered, maybe 300 are active on the site at any given time, and maybe out of those 300, 5, maybe 10 are women. But even with that little number, when I first joined and I did see that there were testimonials and stories from other women who had grown up with the same experience as me, I actually started crying, because, I mean my therapist did tell me that she has worked with female pedophiles in the past but still, hearing it from a therapist and actually seeing other people going through the same thing as me…
But even so, those of us who are women on the forum, we are very aware of being a minority, and several of us do express that it feels like being a freak among freaks, so I feel that not only having these attractions, but being a woman with these attractions, it’s just made me feel, growing up, that there must be something doubling wrong with my brain, that it’s like, one thing on top of another. That’s actually why I wrote my article on medium. It was part of a larger project called “Pedophiles about Pedophilia”, just a collection of testimonials, and I noticed none of the testimonials were from women, so that’s why I kinda felt compelled to write my own story. You can read that on medium. It’s called “A strange and terrible Unicorn: the musings of a non-offending female pedophile” and it’s under the name Emma Artless. So if you want to check it out, please do.
It’s definitely not a choice, you’re absolutely right about that. I think I would literally choose any other sexuality and I actually mentioned before, that I’ve tried. I’ve chosen to have sex with men and women. I could not choose to enjoy it. Pedophilia absolutely functions like a sexual orientation would, it’s got all the hallmarks of it, I mean typically, a person notices it in puberty, it remains fixated most of the time, it doesn’t change once you reach adulthood, and it’s impacting very clearly who you are attracted to, both in a sexual and romantic sense. You know, many pedophiles fall in love with children, which would work in tandem as a sexual orientation would, so I agree with you there. In my article, I actually say that I personally see it as a disordered sexual orientation, which I do also feel, and I understand those who come at it from the approach that it works like a disorder as well, just because it’s basically a dead-end sexuality. It cannot lead to consensually satisfying relationships, and therefore it’s not a preferable sexual orientation to have. That also makes it stand apart from heterosexuality, homosexuality, etc. So, it works as a sexual orientation but it does have that clear distinction from the other, I’d say, healthier sexualities.
In regards to the whole nature/nurture question, I think it’s really tough to say. Like, I personally was never abused in any way as a child, I actually had quite a nice childhood. The only really specific thing that comes to mind, and timewise, it corresponds to some of the issues I developed during my childhood, is that I did have a really strict teacher when I was 8, 9 years old. It sounds so trivial really, he assigned detentions for every tiny little thing, but I was a good kid, and I wasn’t used to being punished, so I was really anxious about every little misstep that might get me in trouble. I was already having some issues, just with anxiety, bouts of obsessive compulsive behavior, but I think it was during that year that it really started to become problematic. I was anxious all the time, and that’s when I started doing this like I would wash my hands until they bled, I would just start pacing back and forth when other kids were playing at recess, I would be like the lone kid in a corner just pacing. I was pretty weird, haha.
But, the thing is that, this sort of problem, those kind of mental issues also just run in my family, so the fact that I was stressed out at that time in my life may have just helped trigger some of what was already there. And honestly, I actually think pedophilia might work a little like that as well. There’s definitely something about it that has to be inborn, and that’s what more and more researchers are saying, that it has to do with the wiring of the brain. I think that the idea that maybe something in your brain that’s already there is triggered or woken up by traumatic events, like that is definitely plausible, that’s possible.
The significant thing to remember, is that the vast majority of children who go through major trauma do not grow up to be pedophiles, so there has to be something there to begin with, I think.
Well the first thing I’d want to let the world know is, the number one thing is that pedophilia and child sexual abuse are not the same thing. One’s an unchosen mental state, and the other’s a serious crime, so please don’t get them confused. A lot of pedophiles never abuse children, and many child sex offenders are actually not pedophiles because they don’t have a primary or exclusive attraction to prepubescent children, they’re just targeting children because they’re easy to manipulate or they’re available, and that makes them situational offenders rather than preferential offenders, who are both pedophiles and child sexual abusers. So, there’s a distinction.
That’s definitely the big thing I want people to understand, that we’re just human beings who happen to have maybe a few wires crossed in our brain, and most of us are just trying to do the best we can with the cards we’ve been given. I think the subject of pedophilia is one that people should be able to talk about, it’s something that’s very much shoved into the dark these days. I think that’s very unhealthy for someone who has these thoughts, to have nobody to talk to about it. It’s not a fun sexuality to deal with. It can be really problematic for some people. Everyone’s different, every pedophile’s different, we come with different degrees of self-control, different degrees of morality, and pushing us into isolation and making us feel like monsters before we’ve done anything monstrous or criminal, and just the messages we receive that we’re terrible people from the get-go, that can make people less likely to reach out for help if they actually need it. And, that can lead to kids getting abused.
So, that’s another reason I’m doing this, and a lot of other non-offending pedophiles are speaking out. We think that lessening the stigma is beneficial to everybody and without that stigma, more pedophiles would feel safe telling a family member or telling a therapist. Those who feel at-risk of offending can actually get help before that happens. So that’s something that’s definitely important for people to understand. Again, with female pedophiles in particular, mostly, I just want people to know that we exist. It’s important to understand just who pedophiles can be, expand on that image, because we come in all shapes and sizes, and we come in different genders.
I think knowing that women can be pedophiles is also, again, going back to the other issue I was discussing, it’s important when it comes to trying to prevent child abuse. Like, in the past when I have spoken to my parents about my attractions, or confessed to a friend, I feel like I wasn’t really taken seriously, and I have a suspicion if I were a guy, if I were male, then it’s more likely that people would have automatically assumed I was dangerous, first of all, which also isn’t fair. Sort of the double-standard between how men and women are perceived when it comes to sexuality and the concept of predatory sexuality, women are assumed to be victims, men are assumed to be perpetrators. That’s not a fair image either.
I don’t think that the way people responded to my confession was positive because they sort of went with the idea that, “Okay… this isn’t really a problem.” While I personally was never at-risk for offending, that’s not true of everybody. So, if a woman comes out and says that she has attractions to young children, and says that she’s concerned about them, she should be taken seriously, because not taking her seriously could potentially run the risk of letting someone slip through the cracks who may end up abusing kids, and that’s not fair to potential victims. I think it’s important that we’re able to speak about it and get help if we need it.
So, for researchers out there who are interested in this topic, I… please, study me. I am so interested in being studied, I phrase it in my article as, “I will pimp my brain for science.” I will do that. It is very hard to find subjects to study and to conduct research upon in this area because people are so paranoid, but especially when it comes to female pedophiles, because we are a smaller population within a minority population. I think that it’s necessary, even if you find ten people to conduct a study with, even if it’s a micro-study, I think it’s important because it expands upon what you know about the psychology of this mental state, a sexual orientation, mental condition, whatever you want to call it, you can’t really fully understand it if you’re only getting the experience of one gender.
I also think, I know some people do actual MRI studies and more studying the actual brain structure of pedophiles, and I think it would be worthwhile to conduct some of that research on female subjects as well as male subjects because then you might be able to take away a couple variables, add some more variables, I don’t know, I’m not a scientist. But, it might be helpful in learning more about this sexuality and how it works, and what in the brain, if something particular in the brain is causing it, what it is, and in terms of psychological approach, I think it’s important to understand where female pedophiles are coming from just to help them. There may be certain things unique to women with this sexuality that aren’t typically found in men, so you need that information for mental healthcare.
Thank you so much again for having me on, thank you again, buh-bye.
I’m so happy that Emma decided to be interviewed for our first podcast. As she said, it is really rare to hear a female pedophiles, let alone female anti-contact pedophiles. A lot of research that’s done, in fact most of the research that’s out there, is on male pedophiles. So, I think it’s really, really important that research is done on female pedophilia, including the anti-contact female pedophiles.
Our society: Media, laypeople, so on and so forth, have this assumption that a pedophile is a man, and a dirty old man, and a child molester, and a sex offender, and a rapist. So, I’m really happy that Emma came on our podcast, because I want people to know that there are female pedophiles out there who exist. It may be your teenage daughter, believe that or not. It may be a millennial, it may be an older female, and they need the support too, just like she said.
If someone comes to you and says, “I have this attraction and I’m concerned about it,” listen to them. We want to offer that support to keep our community safe. I also want to acknowledge that, just like there are males out there, there are females out there. And, I don’t want to say that so we have a bunch of trolls and people that are going after an anti-contact pedophile, I really want you to hear the word anti-contact. Anti-contact means, “No contact.” It is not an excuse, like a recent article explained, it’s not a lie… These are people that are committed to the prevention initiatives and global prevention efforts to ensure no harm against a child.
And so, again, thank you for listening, and I hope you’ll stay tuned, because we have several other people we’re interviewing about this very topic. Talk to you soon listeners!