Welcome to the Prevention Podcast. I’m your host, Candice Christiansen. Today we have a wonderful individual who identifies as a non-offending – meaning he’s never offended – minor attracted person who is also anti-contact. He goes by the pseudonym of Bly Rede and his answers will be read by an advocate of NOMAPs whose name is Rusty, so Rusty, I want to welcome you and just tell you how much I appreciate you for reading Bly’s answers today. How are you?
RUSTY: I’m awesome. And I thank you for letting me be here.
Well, I just think it’s so important and I already told you, Rusty, that, you know, I’m going to want to interview you separately as an advocate, so we definitely will schedule that podcast interview because it’s so important that we do have advocates for this population out in our community, not just therapists who are compassionate or researchers who are compassionate but also advocates who are citizens so thank you again
I do want to say before we get started that because Rusty will be reading the answers for Bly, I will be chiming in to give feedback, share my thoughts about Bly’s answers. However, Rusty’s going to continue reading just based off of what Bly had answered before, so it may sound choppy to those of you that are listening. Please just know that it’s not a reciprocal conversation because we have an advocate who’s reading for Bly.
Shall we get started? All right, so the first question that we asked Bly: ‘Are you an anti-contact pedophile? What does that term mean to you? And what do you think is the difference between pro-contact and anti-contact pedophiles?’ so it’s kind of a long double question.
BLY (read by Rusty):
I am an anti-contact pedophile (and hebephile and ephebophile). What that means to me is that I have, since a young age, experienced an attraction for boys younger than me and that it’s not something I’ve acted on, either in seeking out child sexual exploitation materials, or in trying to act on that attraction.
In terms of the difference between a pro-contact and anti-contact pedophile, this is something I view through the lens of having been both, even though I never offended.
For a while in my late teens and very early twenties I was pro-contact for two reasons. Firstly, it was because I hadn’t really considered all the factors I needed to to understand how harmful sex is between minors and adults. I think I just assumed that, because I was well-intentioned and felt this very strong emotional affection toward young boys, that no harm could possibly come of it.
As far as I was concerned, a child abuser was some ill-intentioned person who had no tender feelings, and who literally got off on the misery they inflicted, and that seemed so at odds with my self image as someone who was gentle and not coercive or bullying. I had been the victim of bullying so I just couldn’t imagine doing something that would make a kid cry, even.
So I’ll just stop you right there really quickly because I want to say I think a lot of individuals who we talk to — we hear so often how many NOMAPs or MAPs in general know they have an attraction by the time they’re teenagers. They know they have an attraction to children and I think there is a lot of confusion during that time about their intentions and, you know, what’s harmful and what’s not.
For those of you that are listening who are MAPs who are questioning — who are in your coming out process — that can be a normal part of the process and it’s also why we have folks like Bly who come on to educate about ‘this was my coming out process which was filled with confusion’. I really appreciate that. Thanks for sharing that.
It took me a while to understand how much more subtle this is compared to what you read in the news. I came to understand that while there are abusers who are extremely cruel in that sense, there are also abusers who are more manipulative, and then there are those who just don’t see outside of themselves enough to anticipate the harm they could do, ones who are deeply misguided that the relationship they have with a kid is a supportive or equal one when really it’s very one-sided. Maybe it’s easy to assume a kid is your equal when you still feel disempowered like a kid yourself.
Well, exactly and I think again that is a really key point too. You know, a lot of folks who have minor attractions are closeted and afraid for their life because of the stigma and hate, especially when we talk about pedophilia.
Hebephilia and ephebophilia are newer terms for the global community but everybody knows the term pedophile and so, yeah, I think a lot of times what can happen is there can be definite missguidedness in regards to ‘oh, I can have this equal relationship with a child’ when in reality (and I can speak as a survivor but also a trauma expert who treats a lot of adults who had childhood sexual abuse) children do not have the capacity to consent on all levels, emotionally, mentally, physically or sexually. Their nervous system cannot tolerate it; they mentally are not able to consent and so again I appreciate your views on this.
Because I was gay, and not ashamed of it, I was used to the idea that society had been proven profoundly wrong about gay relationships. I assumed for a while that pedophilia was on the same track.
It took me a while to see why the social change that happened around gay relationships just wasn’t going to happen for pedophilia, and for very good reasons – and it took the help of a very smart, very open-minded non-pedophile friend for me to hear and understand and believe that. As soon as I figured that out, though, I became anti-contact in all circumstances, not just most. I had never been in favour of what in those days we called child porn, so thankfully I never had that issue to deal with as so many do now.
Having made that transition into someone who was attracted but would never act, I then found myself profoundly alone. It was such a strong isolation. It wasn’t until Virpeds started, I think – which was years and years later – that I was even certain there were other people out there like me.
Well, and I think that’s such a huge support for so many people out there.
Virped, which has come under fire recently by trolls who are just absolutely uneducated and ignorant — so many folks who are MAPs, including NOMAPs are isolated, feel alone; that’s one of the reasons why we do a podcast; that’s one of the reasons why we have a global programme; that’s one of the reasons we collaborate with other programs to offer support to pedophiles all across the globe.
It’s so important that there is support. I think there’s this misnomer if you will or this belief that if a pedophile reaches out into a community of other pedophiles for support then they’re all going to be at even higher risk to offend and that’s making the ridiculous assumption that attraction automatically equals action and so Virped – it is absolutely a positive support to folks who have minor attractions
I figured that other anti-contact pedophiles must exist, but it was just too dangerous for one person to acknowledge it to another unless you were sure. And I was never sure. Even if I had a strong hunch that some other adult I knew was MAP (and sometimes I did), I had no way of finding out if they were anti-contact, and I didn’t want pro-contact people in my life, so why even risk starting that terrifying conversation?
You asked what is the difference between anti-contact and pro-contact. To me the difference is that a pro-contact hasn’t woken up from their daydreams of the world they wish was possible. They haven’t yet fully compared it to the world that we all actually live in.
And they’re not so different in that from anyone who follows an ideology too closely, but of course there are huge dangers to others if they act on those beliefs.
Now they would say, of course, no it’s everyone else who’s asleep and we all just need to read the Rind studies to understand this that and the other and that in such and such a circumstance under xyz conditions and when Jupiter is in Virgo (or whatever) contact is OK.
And I just say, no, not in the real world. In the real world, we avoid doing things we know have potential to cause profound harm, even if we believe that in our special case things would be different. We have to be suspicious of our own cognitive bias as pedophiles. Everyone does, but especially us.
Well, now I really just want to say I appreciate that because we are absolutely 100% anti contact and so we have many individuals all across the globe who come to us, call into our global support group, who say ‘I’m anti contact :I don’t ever want to offend against a child.’
Some come to us because they’re suicidal, they’re depressed; they need help understanding the stigma; they want to have a healthy relationship with an adult.
Others are coming to us because they have viewed child sexual abuse images and are scared and all of them say ‘we don’t want to harm a child’ and I agree that there are those individuals who are pro-contact who do live in a daydream world believing that is us who are asleep, that we just need to wake up and we’ll get on board that it’s OK to have contact with children and we will always hold to our stance that it’s not OK. It’s never OK.
We’re also not supportive of contact-neutral meaning that ‘in some instances it’s OK to have sexual contact with children.’ We do not believe that, clinically or otherwise, so I really appreciate you sharing this, Bly, because this is so necessary.
I think there is a lot of confusion in the global community about anti-contact and pro-contact pedophilia. A lot of people just say that all pedophiles, all minor attracted persons are all the same and they’re not, they’re absolutely not, so I appreciate you making the distinction.
The next questions are: how long have you known you were attracted to children and how has your attraction to children impacted your life?
Profoundly impacted my life. Profoundly. I think I have made all kinds of decisions because of it. The biggest one was opting to avoid a life situation where I had to care for kids or where I might pass on pedophile DNA, if there is such a thing, which there may not be. I think I figured early on that I would not be a parent or a sperm donor. It surprised me when I learned that some MAPs are parents and it doesn’t lead to bad places. But that was never a comfortable place for me to be.
It kind of helps here to explain my history in more detail, because I think it’s probably a bit unusual, even among pedophiles. When I first became aware of these attractions, around age fourteen or fifteen, they were almost a sort of a background thing because there were so many other things going on with my sexual identity at the time.
Even before I really had sexual thoughts, when I was aged 4 through 10, I had a lot of fantasies and daydreams about being cared for like an infant or a little kid – diapers and cribs and the whole caboodle, you know? I don’t know what caused this obsession, but it was there early and it was strong and while it’s changed somewhat over the years, it has never gone away. Most people know this as ABDL or sometimes autopedophilia and sometimes ageplay; there are different aspects that those words refer to and there isn’t time to fully explain it today. Most ABDL people are NOT pedophiles. That needs to be clear.
Well, and I think that first thing you describe can be a fetish behavior as well. You know, people will grow up and have fetishes that are pedophiles and so I appreciate you saying that. And most ABDL people are not pedophiles but for you this is something that you identify with.
So from a very early age I was trying to keep from the people closest to me what felt like both a very dangerous and also potentially very humiliating secret – not always successfully. But then it got worse: my feelings about wanting to be babyish or childlike started overlapping with my sexuality as it kicked in and developed around the age of 11, and which happened to be gay instead of straight.
So at that point, a somewhat physically and emotionally immature 11 year old boy, I realised I was no longer just an eccentric, I knew I was a pervert. This was in the 1980s, by the way, when that was pretty much the only word most people knew for this kind of thing. It made me very self-conscious, but also very conscious of society’s hypocrisy about sex, where we make so many assumptions about what’s normal but are too embarrassed to check in case it’s not.
So, after a few years, partly out of annoyance about this hypocrisy (but not willing to go the full way) I owned up to the least unacceptable aspect of my sexuality and I came out at school as gay, and that leads to a lot of bullying, on top of the bullying I’d already had for just being a slightly odd kid. And in the midst of that I was becoming aware I was a pedophile too, so a lot of despair set in very early on for me. Some anger too, which I turned inward.
I didn’t even know anybody gay at this stage, still less anyone into all the other stuff, so the prospect of sexual experience at this stage seemed fairly unrealistic. Everything was just fantasy, whether it was fantasy about boys my age, older men or younger boys, so again it didn’t seem to matter which impossible, unfulfilled fantasy I focused on.
I tried to find out more from the library, which I discovered had two kinds of book on pedophilia. One I borrowed was a series of essays on child sexual abuse edited by Finkhelor and the other was the book I mentioned earlier called Paedophilia: The Radical Case by Tom O’Carroll, who had been a member of the Pedophile Information Exchange in the UK in the late 70s and early 80s.
And this book was a pro-contact book. Pretty much the only pro-contact book I ever read. It made the various arguments – which I now recognise as false, but naively accepted then – for why sex with boys wasn’t so bad. I already explained how it took a long time for me to see through all that.
So this is another reason why we have a podcast; why we do a lot of educating; why we provide consulting to other clinicians across the world; why other programs are now coming forward; why research is out there…
Because if people are misinformed or given information that’s limited, a lot of people end up reading books like you for instance: a book about pro contact pedophilia. Now those of you that are listening that are pro-contact probably hate me – that is OK!
I do want to say we want to be educating the world that there are a lot of people like you, Bly, that are anti-contact in that have never offended and so, sure, here you are in the 80s: there is not a lot of information out there and so you are getting information that’s very confusing, especially for someone who decides ‘I don’t want to do this; I don’t want to be pro-contact; I don’t want to harm a child.’
Just to add a problem, I couldn’t recognise myself in the academic books about sexual abuse because they were described – rightly – from the point of view of victims, and in very dry language that didn’t really try to get inside the head of the pedophile or the abuser, because that (again rightly) wasn’t the focus of the research in those days. However, the Finkelhor book was very helpful in that it made me aware of abuse, what it was and what sort of thing happened. It was important to me that serious academics were taking it seriously and measuring it objectively. I think it confirmed to me that sexual abuse was a real, widespread phenomenon that I couldn’t factor out or set aside in trying to figure out this question, not if I was going to be an honest person about this.
Well, I will say that I’m really thankful that you did have the Finkelhor book and there were other books out there as well. I know Bessel van der Kolk has been around forever talking about survivors of sexual abuse and how much they endure on so many levels. And so that is a plus that you did read that, that you could see the reality for children who are sexual abuse survivors and so I’m grateful for that.
Later on, I discovered there were consenting adults communities around ageplay and ABDL and that community provided me with a space where I could have ethical sexual satisfaction. I am very lucky that I am what they call non-exclusive, and am attracted to adult men as well as boys. There’s a lot of ways within ageplay that you can experience some of the same emotions and ideas that are tied up with minor attraction. That was a very important outlet for me.
Well, and I will say with that, too, there a lot of folks out there who do all kinds of things sexually that are not pedophiles and so I know that there are going to be some people listening that are going to be judging your choice to engage in ABDL behavior with other consenting adults but I want the world to know we have a lot of people in our global community who engage in BDSM (who aren’t pedophiles), who are into kink and so on and so forth.
Sexuality is really on a spectrum and so are sexual practices and there are a lot of people out there that are that are not pedophiles who indulge in ABDL.
So for those of you that are judging Bly on this I want you just to be aware of that. [Next question:] What do you want the world to know about pedophilia and/or minor attraction?
I want the world to know everything about it, eventually, but we won’t get that until there are more studies and more science about it, and that won’t happen until people decide it’s more important to destigmatise highly unconventional desires so that non-offenders come forward to be part of these studies. I probably wouldn’t right now, without a huge load of assurance about confidentiality.
Scientific studies will provide the kinds of information we need to really assess the risk – or otherwise – of people like me. It looks like there’s evidence already that not everyone who abuses kids sexually is a pedophile and I know just from myself that not every pedophile abuses. I’d really like it to be possible that we could get a true overall picture of that.
What I will say is that there is research out there. I just think the global community needs to get on board with the research that’s actually out there we know in the research that 70% of all offenders who have child victims are non-MAP, so they’re not pedophiles.
There’s this assumption, though, that there’s a high number, or that everybody who sexually offends is a pedophile. or if you’re a pedophile you’re automatically going to sexually offend. That’s just not true; that’s why we say attraction does not equal action, you know, otherwise it would be, like, OK, a man who has a sexual attraction to women — adult women — is automatically going to be a rapist and it’s just not true.
So there is actually research out there. Does there need to be more? Absolutely, and we really need the global community in the media especially to get on board with the reality of this population
What I’d like people to understand now, that I know, is this. I have never abused a child nor have I ever tried to create the opportunity to do so. While I don’t expect a medal or even a pat on the head for that, I am conscious that at times in my life, I might have gone that way, and so it is really important that people who are in my situation today are reached and orientated and given whatever help and guidance they need to really make sure they never offend or get inappropriate with a kid.
This is easier than it might seem at first, because the second thing I’d like people to understand is that it’s an attraction, which is not the same as obsession or compulsion or some terrible urge that cannot be contained. It’s attraction – like when you see a cute person on the street but you’re in a relationship, so you just put it from your mind. If you know you can’t have something it is usually that easy to deal with. It’s not some huge daily crisis.
Well, that’s the biggest thing, and the difference – right? – is knowing that in our Society that’s the reality which for so many individuals who are MAPs, including pedophiles, it can be really lonely. And so in therapy we work through that: the depression and loneliness surrounding ‘I have this attraction that will never be acted upon. What do I do and can I have fulfilling relationships with adults that meet my needs knowing that I have this attraction it will never be fulfilled?’
Again, that needs taboos to be lifted. I see no reason why the possibility of minor attraction should not be referred to in sex ed classes, so that some kid like me gets the message that it is not too dangerous for them to tell someone, in fact it’s more dangerous if they don’t.
It’s not enough to just shame and condemn people for something they never chose. Most of us find out we’re pedophiles aged 14. We don’t have a switch or a method that just turns that off, even though it’s such a shameful thing to discover about yourself. A lot of us spend years wishing there was a magic switch, and not actually dealing with the issue.
My hope is that for teenagers that are listening who know you have an attraction to children, even parents who are listening and you notice that your teenager does — that you know there are people and resources. You can reach out.
I think something in the global community of researchers and clinicians that we are trying to figure out is ‘how can we offer an and outreach teenagers?’ because we know that is when the attraction is realised.
And I think a lot of times [for] parents… the stigma around it and the fear can create a block; create a wall where teenagers don’t want to reach out.
So yeah, I really hope that our global community can change in the way that we’re viewing the attraction and when it starts, so that teenagers can get help, because we are seeing too many teenagers that are dying by suicide as the result of having this attraction and the fear of coming forward to get the support they need.
I would like people to learn, above all, that the attraction by itself, if not acted on, is not a blameworthy thing. None of us chose it. And when I say that I’m not trying to make a parallel with LGB people. Pedophilia is different. But that still doesn’t make it a choice.
Unless we resort to totalitarian solutions like selective exterminations or precautionary castration, which are inhumane and medieval, we have to accept that people like me are going to live in the world alongside all the other human beings and it’s better if we have support.
I agree, and I will say for the global community, there are so many more people that are MAPs that are surrounding each and everyone of you, then you realize we need a wake up; that this is a real thing and we actually need to open our minds to understanding it better.
I think most reasonable people agree with this when they think about this issue, but people are scared to voice it because it sounds like condoning abuse. Well, it isn’t condoning abuse if you’re suggesting a solution that could avoid it.
What a strong statement, Bly. I appreciate you saying that because it’s it’s absolutely not condoning abuse we’re talking about attraction were not talking about action.
We believe that people being able to come forward to get the support they need will be a long-term preventive measure. It’s not going to help anybody to stay underground.
I think there’s a lot of controversy with pedophilia being a sexual orientation: I definitely know those discussions among researchers and professionals who treat this population that it indeed is a sexual orientation. I know that the community at large might want to argue that. I think the reality is, it’s something that we need to look at and consider.
With that being said, I also know and our clinical team here know that folks will come into our program, MAPs specifically, and a lot of them have trauma: traumatic experiences that have caused a sort of arrested development, if you will, [so they] really find that they’re attracted to children the same age as their abuse occurred and so I want to find out from you; know what your experience has been, related to that, if any.
My age of attraction as it’s known has varied during my life. When I was in my teens and twenties it would go as low as about 5, but nowadays it’s seldom any lower than 7 or 8. In addition, I’m non-exclusive, which means that I have been attracted to people my own age, or even somewhat older, since I had attractions. And the attraction is to every age in between too, so, you know, I could see a man of 36 or 25 or 19 or a boy of 13 or 10 etc. down to about 7 – and potentially experience attraction. So there isn’t one particular age I am particularly focused on.
That said, there are certain ages where I had certain experiences, such as getting badly bullied or my parents divorcing or my first suicide attempt that seem to line up with slightly stronger attraction to boys of a particular age, so yes, there might be some connection there.
One of the ages that seems quite powerful for me in fantasy is fourteen, and I think that it was around that age, maybe just into fifteen, that I first discovered I was a pedophile, so perhaps that’s a factor. Another age is eleven, which is the age I first started experiencing sexual thoughts.
But when I start thinking about it there are other ages too that have strong attractions and emotions around them, so I don’t think that theory is a complete explanation, really.
It may just be that pedophiles are born with the pattern of attraction already defined and that maybe it’s the act of returning to traumatic events in memory through repetitive acts of fantasy that wears a path in the brain that really strengthens the idea of a particular age being especially attractive. Maybe.
Well, I definitely appreciate you saying that, and that’s one of two things that we’ve seen: that individuals who are MAPs will, say, some believe it’s sexual orientation; some believe it’s sexual orientation and they’ve had traumatic experiences — and it sounds like Bly has had that happen, when he was bullied, and he’s saying that he feels like it could be for him sexual orientation. [Next question:] What are your thoughts on sites that have recently been trying to ban NOMAPs from posting or joining and thoughts on the trolls and the ignorance that’s out there? Because I know we’ve experienced a ton of that.
This is now the topic of the moment. My first point about this is that I would never have known there was a community of anti-contact pedophiles out there until there was Virpeds. And even then that wasn’t enough to get me to connect. I was terrified of any discussion online or of reaching out for help.
At that time, I also absolutely did not trust the idea of telling a therapist. This was partly because I didn’t understand the mandatory reporting laws as well as I do now, but also because I just had no idea how to find someone suitable. Therapists are only human and some will have certain prejudices that are going to make it hard to help someone like me. I know that’s not supposed to be true about prejudices, but pedophilia is an exceptional thing at the moment, and there’s very few people who will have read the studies, some of which are very controversial in their findings. And aside from all of that, there’s the question of money and affordability of talking therapy
So I felt stuck but also very depressed throughout my adulthood. I didn’t feel able to go to Virpeds because I was paranoid that my browsing history or some technical thing was going to get me outed, and I didn’t want to see a therapist, even though I was getting really very seriously suicidal and acquiring the methods I would need to die. It was when I had finally reached the idea that I was going to die soon that I decided I hadn’t got much left to lose and that coincided, very luckily, with the period when Ender had his twitter account and was deliberately making some serious noise on behalf of anti-contact pedophiles.
So I set up my own twitter, as a locked account, and just went on to talk about my plans to die and how unhappy I felt. And that was when I got messaged by other anti-contact MAPs, including Ender, and the help they were offering was practical, and most importantly, unlike therapy, it was possible to do online without having to feel like I was crossing some Rubicon that was going to change my life irrevocably.
It wasn’t long after that that The Sun ran its front page attacking twitter for having these pedophile accounts and Ender started going through this series of bans on his account. I was incensed by that, how unfair it was. And it galvanised me.
I’ve always hated The Sun for its homophobia and deliberate ignorance. So while Ender was absent I made my account public and started talking, because we need sane voices on twitter representing us. I really try hard to be a sane voice and to make sure people are reached, and moved toward help.
We’re attacked from all sides, of course, and in all kinds of ways from dumb to sophisticated (or sophistic), but the argument that I hear used all the time is that having anti-contact NOMAPs on twitter is “normalising” sex abuse, which I totally disagree with. It is just a sophisticated-sounding way of saying ‘please be quiet and stop being here, proving this subject is more complicated than I thought it was.’
They want us to just go back to skulking in the shadows where they can believe whatever they like about what they think we get up to, as opposed to what we actually do and believe and say.
That’s why it’s important we’re on twitter, not so we can all take a party line or say ‘pedophilia is great’, because it’s not great. It’s not something I’m proud of at all. We need to be there on twitter so we can say the unexpected, so that people can – as far as possible – hear how things seem to us unmediated by the medical professionals.
And I want exactly the same thing for victims of sexual abuse, and I think it’s totally incumbent on MAPs that they don’t do anything to silence or intimidate those voices either. We should stay focused on reaching other MAPs.
I really appreciate everything that Bly has said here, and first I want to say that it saddens me that, Bly, you felt like you wanted to kill yourself.
I think that’s what trolls will say: ‘well just die or go kill yourself the fact that you’re attracted to children you should be in all of the horrible things that come after that.’
The reality is, just as Bly said, this isn’t a choice; this is[n’t] something that pedophiles are proud of. They do not feel like it’s something that they’re excited about: ‘ooh I’m so excited to grow up and be attracted to kids’. And so the reality is, just like anyone coming into our office — saying ‘I need help; I’m depressed; I’m suicidal’ — my argument is: why would I not help someone who has an attraction to a minor? They’re coming to me for help.
I also want to say that I’m on Twitter as well, as the Global Prevention Project, and know by talking about minor attracted persons and outreach and advocacy we are absolutely not promoting sexual abuse. In fact we’re doing the complete opposite.
So when trolls do their threatening and their badgering and their trolling and their harassment that actually does more harm to prevention efforts than what we’re doing, which is trying to educate the global community that attraction is not action.
I also want to say that I love how Bly said it is important that pedophiles, hebephiles, ephebephiles, MAPs are on Twitter; that the voices of men and women who are attracted are the ones that are educating and communicating to the global community.
We cannot just have medical professionals and clinicians doing the communicating, because we don’t understand it at the [deepest] level.
And so that’s our whole reason for doing this podcast so I’m just really, really appreciative that Bly answered that question for us. Thank you. So lastly, in your opinion, what are some things that therapists can do better to support no maps and pedophiles in general?
I think that it needs to be made possible for therapists to intervene earlier. The ironic thing for me is that just around the time I was discovering my attractions, in my teenaged years, I had access to a therapist, but this thing of pedophilia and also of autopedophilia, they were both so taboo and seemed so terrible to me that I just never brought them up and the sessions ended without these fundamental things ever being mentioned.
I think that therapists and supervisors need publications and guidance about the facts of this, so they have something to refer to. Unlike a lot of people, I do see the logic of mandatory reporting in some cases, but I am really interested to hear when there are reports of how Project Dunkelfeld in Germany has gone.
I also think that there is a forgotten group here and that is the parents of children who realise they’re MAP. So if you’re the parent of a fourteen year old who turns round and one day says, ‘I love little kids in the wrong way and I’m not coping any more,’ that there is a book you can get out of the library or on Kindle that gives you some sort of clue what you can do to help. It must be a terribly frightening thing to hear, just as frightening as it is to say.
I would like to see there be a better network of therapists who will advertise clearly that they deal with this condition, not just euphemisms about ‘unwanted sexual thoughts’. I have gone through the websites of therapists that describe themselves as kink-aware, who maybe have a background in alternative sexualities. But my experience is that kink communities themselves really loathe pedophiles and make a lot of effort to cast us out and dissociate themselves from us, because of very important taboos about consent (and misunderstandings about our attitude to consent).
Some people in those communities are very enlightened on this, but for other people their marginalisation and the suspicion and misunderstanding that society has for kinksters makes them hate us all the more because they just can’t afford the toxic association with pedophiles. I wonder how much that rubs off on therapists who specialise in that area. I don’t know, and it’s probably not possible to generalise.
One of the difficulties with all this is that we’re in an era where paradigms about sexuality and gender identity are shifting very very rapidly, much faster than science can come up with relevant information for professionals. If you started practising therapy in 1990 when we were in the early stages of awareness of child sexual abuse and only halfway through a change in attitude to homosexuality, you would be forgiven for feeling all at sea now. It’s even the same for me. When I started learning about this, the all important newly discovered distinction was between gays, transvestites and transsexuals. That sounds totally quaint now.
I think that things move on when there is a public conversation. This is going to messy and ugly and it’s going to take a very long time and will probably always be controversial. I guess definitions in the DSM are going to be the main battleground, but public opinion and media representation will affect the debate too. Maybe there’ll be a non-offending MAP drama character sometime soon, or more likely an appearance in a novel or theatre piece. There is less censorship in those areas.
As for therapists, I think there will always be a need for them. I hope we get more of them who are trained in these issues. I hope they’re availabile with that training in schools and via referral. I hope that help for this becomes routine. And obviously I hope that they are helped in providing that help by a society that starts to realise that if you didn’t choose a mental condition, you don’t need to be shamed and blamed for it.
I really think that will help MAPs and help ensure there are fewer victims of child sexual abuse, and fewer consumers of child exploitation material. It’s what I hope for. We’re in kind of a dark time right now for the world, but on this topic there’s never been a time in my life when there was more hope.
I appreciate what you said about what therapists can do, Bly, because there’s a large population of therapists all over the world that listen to these podcasts and the beautiful thing about it is they’re listening to hear directly from MAPs to understand how best to support them in treatment.
I do want to say that mandatory reporting… is it is necessary when there is an identifiable victim and there’s imminent harm, and here’s the difference: when someone says ‘I have an attraction’ it does not automatically mean action. It does not automatically mean abuse. It does not automatically mean sex offender.
And so that’s what I want the global community to hear. I know when I first started our project and first was doing my advocacy for non-offending pedophiles I got a lot of blowback from other clinicians who said, you know, ‘How can you do this without reporting? What about reporting laws?’
And so the question I have to ask and I want all of you clinicians listening and even community members… What exactly am I reporting when someone says I have an attraction to a 12-year-old? What do you think the police are going to do if I call them? What about child protective services? I’ve no identifying information and there’s no imminent danger of a victim that’s being harmed. It’s literally an attraction.
I hope those that are listening to this podcast can really hear that we are talking about providing accurate treatment to individuals who are minor attracted, who have no desire to sexually harm a child. They need support in therapy in order to deal with their depressive symptoms; their isolation; feeling disconnected from the world… and they have a desire to stay safe in the community, and just like anyone else I will continue to help that population.
I’m also really excited to hear that there are more researchers out there that continue to do research on the MAP community and there [are] also other programs all across the world who are starting MAP programs [and] MAP groups because there is such a need.
People that are listening to us: let me say this last thing. Someone you know is a MAP. Go ahead and challenge me on that. Someone you know is a MAP. There are more minor attracted persons around us than we realize.
I think this is a beautiful time. I’m happy that there is hope out there, Bly, for you and other MAPs listening.
I want to thank Rusty for reading this; taking the time out of your day and every day. I see you on Twitter being such an incredible advocate for MAPs and NOMAPs especially, and so I really want to acknowledge you for that and I would love to bring you on and interview you sometime about what has gotten you into your advocacy.
So with that I want to say thank you so much, Rusty. Thank you, Bly for having the courage to share who you are with the global community and thank you to all of you that have listened to our podcast…. Until next time…