Prevention Podcast Transcript: Todd Nickerson

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 bi-weekly, and let’s talk about it.

Meg:

Welcome to the prevention podcast, I’m your co-host Meg Martinez. I’d like to introduce our guest for today’s podcast, Todd Nickerson, who is a non-offending minor-attracted individual and a Virped, Virtuous Pedophiles activist. So, unlike many of our previous minor-attracted guests, Todd, you’re not using an alias. Can you tell us a bit about why you’ve chosen to use your real name and you publicly campaign for non-offending pedophiles?

Todd:

Sure. So, first of all, I just want to say, I’m really happy to be here, so thank you for the invite. This all started, essentially, back around 2005–2006 when I first joined the online pedophile community, and at the time, there really wasn’t a lot out there. Virped did not yet exist. There was one for girls, and there was one for boys, and they were predominantly pro-contact communities. Like I said, at the time, that was really all there was.

So, I joined those, I was extremely depressed at the time, and I have to say, I was very close to suicide when I joined those communities. I was on there probably less than a year when I outed myself on those boards. Basically, my outing process has been a series of steps up from that since then.

Meg:

Yeah, I like that you call it steps up, because a lot of people might say, “Okay, talking online about your attractions and being pro-contact, is that really a healthy thing, is that really appropriate?” So, I do appreciate you saying, “Hey, my outing process involved me learning myself too, and creating a step up process,” and so, explain that.

Todd:

Exactly, and so when I joined that community, I was extremely depressed, I was verging on suicide, so I really didn’t see any reason not to out myself, and part of the reason, part of it was, I wanted my parents and family to know, if I did commit suicide, why I did. Because, in a way, it was me outing myself to my family as much as anything else.

I was heavily influenced by the pro-contact’s viewpoint at the time, and like I said, I didn’t see it as mattering much anyway, because it wasn’t like I was really going to get to do anything with it. A lot of those ideas are very… when you’re depressed and when you have those sorts of turmoil, not really relating to society, a lot of that just really resonates with you.

That’s one of the problems that I have with people just disparaging the whole pro-contact community outright. Because, I feel like a lot of those people are probably in the same place that I was back then. They’re in a lot of pain, they’re in a place where they don’t really relate to society anymore because society has just rejected them outright, and I think those people, a lot of those people are reachable.

If I was reachable, I think a lot of those people are reachable too.

Meg:

I just want to say, I appreciate you saying that, because we do see a lot of people joining these communities for the sake of community, and not necessarily because they maybe fully agree with all that is entailed in the pro-contact label, and so it is a really dicey topic. On the one hand, you can say, “Is this really something that’s healthy for children, productive,” most people would say, “No, why would pro-contact ever be okay,” but I do think looking at it from this other point of view that, this could be very well the first time someone’s been able to share their sexuality and being open and accepted by a group of people without feeling that shame, that drive into depression, that drive into suicidality.

So, I think that’s a good point to bring up, although I’m in no way, shape, or form advocating for pro-contact. I think it speaks to why you started there.

Todd:

Basically what happened was, right around the time that I outed myself, this group perverted justice showed up, and started a harassment campaign against anyone and everyone they could out. Me, I was already out, having outed myself, so I was one of the first they targeted. Their campaign basically consisted of, they had this site called wikisposure, where they had quotes from us, taken out of context, or just whatever that made us look as bad as possible, and sometimes they would just outright lie, if they couldn’t find something that incriminated you or made you look bad, they would just lie about it.

They had no scruples at all about what they did. I should point out too, they got me fired from my job, I was working at Lowe’s at the time, I had a pretty good position, I had just been promoted to full time, and got a raise, I was just about to get my health insurance… and what they did is they basically had a bunch of their people call Lowe’s headquarters and say, “This guy’s a pedophile, blah, blah, blah,” and so what ended up happening is, Lowe’s fired me as a liability is what they said. Even though I wasn’t working with kids, it’s not like there were kids coming to the store, but you know, it’s a retail setting, it’s not like you can do anything, even if I was inclined to, it would have been stupid. So, they got me fired, and you know, they contacted people in my community, they had flyers distributed, it was a terror campaign, really, against me.

Meg:

It’s obvious that you are using your full name in these forums. Were you the only person in these forums that this group was targeting?

Todd:

No, they were targeting… there were only a handful of us that were actually out, there was me, this other guy had a website of his own, and another guy who had outed himself in the same manner that I did. But, basically, they would infiltrate our community, get people to reveal identifying information, and out them that way. So, they outed a lot of people and then did the same sorts of things that they were doing to me.

In a way, those people had it worse. Those people didn’t out themselves, they were outed forcefully by this group. So, they had a whole campaign of harassment they were engaging in against our whole community.

Meg:

Did this outing, and this public display by this group, cause you to move into writing your Salon article, which I know added a whole other layer of your exposure publicly?

Todd:

Before I even joined Virped, several years before I joined Virped, I had already renounced the pro-contact position, I was one of the few people at that board who had gone anti-contact. I got a lot of flak for it, and it was kind of miserable and I didn’t really want to leave the community because it was the only community there was. I kind of needed it.

But at the same time, it was miserable because being anti-contact basically, I was the enemy of all the pro-contacters there, they basically insulted me, whatever they could do to try to drive me away from that community. So, it was not a good place to be. Finally, Ethan came and started posting on our board, and once I realized there was this other community out there, I left that and went to Virped. About that time, I started to realize, I need to do this for myself.

I kind of felt like I was in a sort of limbo, where there was all this information out there about me, a lot of it was distortions, and I wanted to set the record straight. That was part of my motivation for writing the article. Also, a part of it was to advertise our community. A big part of it was to demonstrate to younger MAPs who are out there, who are struggling with these feelings, and didn’t really know what to do with them, and are starting to internalize the message that society was sending them about, “You’re a ticking time bomb,” and all of that stuff.

So yeah, I basically just wanted to reach out to people and say, “Look, I’m 43 years old, I’ve never offended in my life, you can live a offense-free life, you can do it. It’s not an impossibility, in fact, really, once you start to realize that there are ways to deal with this sexuality in healthy ways, it’s really not that hard to not offend.” That’s the message I wanted to send, that’s the reason I wrote those articles.

Meg:

So, Todd, we kind of talked about how you started in that pro-contact world, and you described it because it’s a community you finally felt you could belong to. Somewhere along the lines while you were also being harassed by this group, and you lost your job, you decided you didn’t feel pro-contact anymore. Tell me about that, tell me about that switch and what drove you to actually be attracted to Virped and this campaign you’re now a part of.

Todd:

Yeah, even when I was a pro-contacter, even though I was parroting a lot of the things they were saying, to be honest, it never completely set well with me. There was always a part of me that kind of said, this isn’t really right, this doesn’t feel right to me. I think it was actually, I had just finished reading Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, and there was something, I don’t remember specifically, but there was something that kind of triggered me and realizing, “I need to give this up.”

It’s a great book by the way, everyone should read it. But there’s something about that book, and just made me realize… this is wrong, I need to renounce this. So, the funny thing was, I had just became a moderator in that community, I had probably been a moderator for three months when I announced this, and I also renounced my moderatorship at the same time. I felt like I couldn’t do that job fairly. So, that was kind of what led to that.

There was some, over the few years, there was some back-and-forth, I kind of struggled with some of the pro-contact stuff, but by and large, I had renounced it a year and a half into that community, so my objections just got stronger and stronger as I’ve gotten older and started to see through the delusional ideas that they were presenting to me. Anyway, that’s what happened.

Meg:

And so now you call yourself a political activist for Virtuous Pedophiles, for Virped, and so since that transition for you, which, I know the article came out in 2016, what’s your life been like since then?

Todd:

It’s been really interesting. You know, in some ways it hasn’t really changed that much. I mean, I’m basically a recluse, I have been pretty much all my life. I don’t really interact with the public a whole lot. I pretty much live the same life I have been. I work from home and all of that stuff. But, it’s also been really interesting because, I’ve got a lot of support from people privately. Publicly, there was a lot of backlash, as you would expect. But privately, it’s been really different. Hundreds and hundreds of emails from people offering their support, and a lot of them were survivors of abuse, which kind of surprised me initially, but then I thought about it and I realized, if anybody gets it, it’s probably them because they know what we’re doing, they realize what we’re doing, and I can understand why they would be supportive of that.

And also, I’ve talked with a couple of celebrities, I won’t name any names, but a couple of actresses who contacted me, were kind of interested in learning about me. I’ve talked to… I’ve done over 20 interviews, radio, podcasts, different things like that, I was even briefly on Dr. Drew. So yeah, it’s been really interesting, there have been people who have threatened me. And of course, I did the documentary for Barcroft, that’s on YouTube. So, yeah, I’ve done some interesting things, and my message has gotten out there, and it’s been a very interesting experience, and I think I’ve done a lot of good.

I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people who are also struggling with this, and they told me my story really resonated with them, I actually helped some people… I think I’ve helped some people think twice about offending. I’ve even had… I had a 12-year-old kid and he was struggling with this attraction, and it was a very… really odd situation to be in, because on the one hand I wanted to get him some really professional help, I’m not in any sense a professional, but by the same token, I think I helped him avoid a crisis, and so I’m really proud of that.

So, it’s been a really fascinating experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Meg:

I love that, that’s really beautiful. I get this sense of, “Okay, I’ve been outed, whether I’ve chosen to do it or not, whether I’ve chosen to have my name drug out there or not, but now that I am out, I’m going to use that exposure to help people, to educate people and then now provide the support and the sense of community for individuals that are in the space I once was, the shame, the depression, the suicidality, even this urge of offending and the fact that these people are reaching out for help before they do that.”

Todd:

Absolutely, you know, I realized after I wrote the articles and after all the things that happened that this is really what I’m meant for, this is really why I’m on this planet, and that’s an amazing thing to feel. To realize I’m in a very unique place that not a lot of other MAPs are in, and it’s a fascinating and really exciting place to be. And yes, there’s danger, but like I said, I think it’s well worth it, for me at least.

Meg:

Well, you’ve found your meaning and purpose, which is beautiful, which is something that a lot of people, whether you’re minor-attracted or not, can’t really say, so I think that that’s amazing that you’ve found that and connected to that, and continue to do the work you find is purposeful to you despite what comes at you.

Todd:

Yes, thank you. One thing I do want to say is that, yes I do have this history, I do have enemies, there’s a lot of people who want to tear me down and insist that I’m actually secretly a pro-contacter, that I’m just trying to get this agenda that they think I’m trying to do, and a lot of them throw my history at me, a lot of the things I’ve said when I was a pro-contacter. In a way, I’m thankful for that, because every time I see that, it just makes me want to work twice as hard to overcome that.

I had that past where I had some bad beliefs, but you know, I’m not that person anymore, and I want to do everything I can to show the world that I am committed to this, that I want to stop abuse, I want to do everything that’s within my power to help MAPs who need help, and that’s where I’m at now, and it’s a great place to be.

Meg:

So, I really love that you’ve talked about change, and I’ve started my journey here, and I’m not that person anymore. Because, that’s one of the things we’re passionate about to, is helping people realize that there can be some change, there can be some fluidity to sexuality, and the Prevention Project itself grew out of helping individuals who came to us with thoughts that they wanted to change, with behaviors that they wanted to change, and that’s why we’re called the Prevention Project.

And I mean, this is non-pedophilic populations as well, but we also found that we attracted the MAP community, because they wanted that treatment, they wanted that support, they wanted to be able to change some of the things that they were thinking, or certain fantasies they were having, or even manage them in a way. And, we’re really passionate about that prevention lens, but we’re also really passionate about MAP’s wellness in general, and it sounds like you’re speaking to the choir here.

So, I wonder your thoughts on that, because a lot of people, recently, MAPs, have come to us and said, “Why do you always have to have this prevention lens, why is it always about prevention, can’t it be about just wellness,” and you know, I just described a little bit of where we grew out of, and that our primary goal is always going to be prevention and no more victims, but coming from your viewpoint, what is your thought on that?

Todd:

Personally, I think the prevention lens, as you put it, I think that’s a fair and accessible way for the population at large, the non-pedophile population to understand and relate to what you guys are doing. So, personally, I have no problem with that.

I do understand a lot of MAPs are frustrated with that, because for them, for a lot of us, there really is no struggle. It’s very easy, not offending is the easy part of our sexuality. But that’s not always the case, so, I understand that, and I appreciate that you’re trying to expand on that and recognize that just dealing with our sexuality in healthy ways is really the end goal for us, because obviously, you can’t eliminate a sexuality, but you can manage it. There’s lots of healthy ways you can channel that, and that causes no harm to anyone. So, yeah, I’m all about that.

Meg:

Yeah, I think that the way I’m thinking about it as you talk too, is a lot of people start from that prevention lens, where they want to prevent any sort of any sort of offensive behavior, or any sort of acting out behavior, so they’re reaching out for help, they’re reaching out for support, and then as they learn to manage, and like in your case, even change some of their beliefs around that, they can move into a realm that’s more about healthy sexuality and healthy support for them. So, I really see these two worlds working in tandem.

Todd:

I agree with that. It’s a good way to look at it, and obviously this is a multi-dimensional issue, it’s not this or that, it’s not a black-and-white issue, there’s a lot of aspects. There’s the matter of dealing with the emotional issues, because like I said, for a lot of us, not acting is easy. One of the harder parts of it is dealing with falling in love with a child, and what do you do with that? Because that does happen.

Then there’s just the matter of, how do you manage, especially for the people who for them it’s a big secret, that’s a hard thing to live with. So, how do you manage that? There’s a lot of dimensions to this, and they’re all relevant and all important.

Meg:

Right, even though legally, this aspect of sexuality and sexual offense is really on the forefront, I think I agree with you, we see minor attracted individuals where that’s the least of their worries, and they are more worried about this way to manage emotional connection or an emotional response to children, I really appreciate you bringing that up.

Because it happens. It’s out there, and it’s something that gets dismissed often.

Todd:

Absolutely, because a lot of times, people will say, “Oh, you’re delusional, you don’t’ really love the child, you’re just manipulating them, and blah, blah, blah.” Well, no, there’s a lot of issues, and I’ve personally dealt with falling in love with a child and the depression that comes in the wake of that, because there’s no way you can really… nothing you can do with it.

Meg:

It certainly isn’t a black-and-white issue, there’s several shades of grey in there. And I appreciate you shedding some light on that and pointing out the different dimensions that people that are minor attracted, or people that consider themselves non-offending anti-contact pedophiles deal with on a daily basis, it’s so much more than fighting an urge, whether or not to act out sexually, or to offend against a child.

Todd, you mentioned that, for you, not offending is the easy part. What would you say to somebody who really is struggling with urges, and really is scared of acting on them?

Todd:

So, it’s not the same for everyone, obviously there are people who do struggle more, and especially young MAPs, because young MAPs are just like any other young person, they have raging hormones, and having pedophilia on top of that is a… can be a really difficult thing to deal with. So, I think there are ways that people can deal with this. For me, as a young MAP, channeling my energy into fantasies was a really good thing to do.

For some people, they may have moral issues with that, or they may feel like that is going to escalate. All the evidence I’ve seen on all of this is that it’s the opposite, you know, channeling your sexuality into legal outlets is a good way to deal with it, like opening a pressure valve. You channel it as it comes along.

For people who don’t want to go that route, I think probably just having a social network of people they can go to is just a really good thing, and that’s a part of what we do at Virped, if you’re struggling and need to talk to somebody, we’re there. We understand. We get it.

Meg:

And one of the things we like about Virped as well is that, if you do get somebody who’s in that situation, that connection that Virped has to therapists nationally and I’m assuming globally, to hook these people up with a clinician that could possibly help them. I know in past podcasts we’ve talked about some of the underlying issues that could lead to somebody that has a minor attraction, so I think that people can find some success in doing some therapeutic work around it.

Todd:

Absolutely, and depending on where you are in the world, there’s some really good resources, especially in Europe, Europe is kind of the model right now that everyone needs to look at, especially Germany with their Project Dunkelfeld, and in England is starting to come around… Canada, where Dr. Cantor is based, I think they have some pretty good things going on.

We have a network of counselors that have been vetted by our community, are safe to talk to, because there’s a lot of people who don’t want to talk to counselors. They fear that they might be reported to police just because they have their attractions. So, it’s a hard thing to overcome that misconception, but it’s out there. So, there are a lot of counselors we know who are going to protect their client’s confidentiality, and all of that thing, so, yeah, we’ve got resources, more resources now than we’ve ever had for our community, and it’s really starting to look like up for MAPs.

Meg:

And I love that, I would say so as well, Virped has been a very beautiful addition to the pool of resources for minor-attracted individuals, and I would say, pioneers in the field for minor-attracted individuals. You know what, Todd, I really agree. Things are looking up for minor-attracted individuals, and I think it’s really wonderful that we have so many resources out there for them, to help them get the help and support they need.

We at the Prevention Project truly believe that everybody deserves support. So, I do appreciate you coming on our podcast today, and not only sharing your story, but the ways in which you continue to advocate for the MAP community, we appreciate you.

Todd:

No problem, thank you for having me.

Meg: 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, www.thepreventionproject.org and email me if you’re interested and these apply to you.

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