VirPed Panel: 26 May 2024

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  • VirPed Panel: 26 May 2024


The below are answers given by selected members of the VirPed forum who are all pedophiles. They are speaking for themselves and not for the organization.

“Mira” asks:

Do you believe that forums that are pro-contact normalize paedophilia in a way that could make someone more likely to act on their attraction? Or is acting on fantasies something that most MAP would never consider, regardless of normalization?

Firstly, I understand that the question is trying to draw a distinction between two kind of outcomes in a discourse, but I don’t like the term “normalize pedophilia.” It is actively used against us for just trying to talk about our experiences, to silence us from self-identifying or from trying to get help.

As to the effects of pro-contact forums, I believe they are a bit of a mixed-bag. I confess I haven’t seen them firsthand, and so I can’t say this with certainty, but I know people who started out on them before finding their way here. I think that all pedophiles deserve support. I believe that pro-c forums may provide support that helps certain MAPs to remain law-abiding, even if the only reason they do is because of the law. I believe that a MAP who is not lonely, isolated or desperate is at decreased risk of offending. All of that, I believe is good. However, I think that their ideas about childrens’ ability to consent are dangerous and may drive other kinds of MAPs to seek or engage in harmful behaviors founded on the erroneous belief that kids can consent and may desire sexual contact with adults. (I don’t know how they can reach this conclusion as even we pedophiles find contact with adults generally undesirable). I think they are self-delusional, and they preach delusion to those vulnerable to believe it.

I’ll put it this way: Before Virped, which means before anti-contact forums existed, I sought support in pro-contact communities. I don’t claim that this is the case for everyone, but in my case, most of the people I ended up befriending eventually confessed to me that they do act on it, present-tense. I think that the pro-contact philosophy is a good way to reduce cognitive dissonance in regards to this.

Given these experiences, I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I do think that the pro-contact philosophy makes people more likely to act on their attractions. I’ve not met one person at Virped that secretly confessed to me that they did this. I do have a lot of compassion for people that have acted on it that want to be better though, as I believe everyone deserves another chance.

At the same time, I really did need help at those times in my life, and I am grateful for the support I got from those spaces. It likely saved my life. I just wish I could have had that support without all of the pro-contact propaganda included along with that.

I think responses to this question will vary quite a bit. That may be due to the use of the term “normalization”. That word has been so overused to render it meaningless, in my opinion. Society often claims that all discussion of pedophilia that doesn’t focus on a cure or punishment, is in fact normalization. Personally, I’m not comfortable with the term itself. It’s barely even definable.

So I’ll interpret the question to be asking whether forums often described as pro contact serve to encourage law breaking behaviour.

I have joined many discussion groups, some of which people label as pro contact. Is that what they are? It’s debatable. Sometimes people want to discuss or debate the effectiveness and logic of laws. And yes, often views can be Utopian and delusional. But people tend to be able to express their views openly. Can a non contact MAP be seemingly shouted down by someone with a vociferous opposing view? Sure. Do the forums tend to breed or validate those who break laws because they’re sure consent is genuine? No, I don’t think so. In the hypothetical circumstance that adult/child sexual contact were legalized, would “pro contacts” be more likely to engage in those relationships than “non-contacts”? In that hypothetical, I’m sure they would. But who actually believes that hypothetical will come true? Not many, so it isn’t terribly relevant.

My understanding of pro-contact ideology as a former one myself is that pro-contact pedophiles would seek out child sexual partners much like teleiophiles seek out adult sexual partners if and only if both it was both legal and socially acceptable. That’s an incredibly high bar for acting on our attractions as both criminal penalties and anti-pedophile hysteria are more severe today than ever before. For this reason, I don’t see pro-contacts as inherently more at risk of committing a hands-on offense than anti-contacts. Their reasons for being law-abiding are simply different.

I think our community and role models make a big difference to the opinions we form. We all live in society, so we all understand what society thinks about sexual contact between adults and children. However, we’re also shaped by those like ourselves. So yes, I would say that pro-contact spaces do shift people’s views.

This is why I am so frustrated that even anti-contact stances about pedophiles are censored from social media or other forums. As a result, some people will stumble into pro-contact spaces, other people will stumble into anti-contact spaces, and then they’ll be shaped by those views. Being in a pro-contact space doesn’t guarantee you’ll turn out pro-contact; everyone makes their own decisions. However, it certainly shapes the information and opinions you get. I think society shoots itself in the foot by preventing people from seeing reasonable stances on pedophilia.

Now, do pro-contact spaces make people more likely to offend? Probably a bit, but not that much. Not everyone will share the viewpoint of those spaces (for some, they’re just the only pedophiles they could find). Most also won’t want to risk their livelihoods, even if they do think that adult/child sex is “ok."

I also don’t think we should close down pro-contact spaces. I think it’s critical that we can debate issues openly; shutting down the spaces entirely, for expressing a viewpoint, goes against my perspective on free speech. It also might cause people to think that views are being suppressed rather than honestly debated. I believe that we should give voice to the best anti-contact arguments and ensure they’re what people find if they search online. That way, the child who’s just figuring themselves out has their early self-perceptions formed in a responsible way.

Question has a few assumptions in it.

Normalising pedophilia (the attraction) isn’t really something that can much affect people who already accepted they are pedophiles. Pedophile attraction was already a normal everyday part of my life for years before I even considered reaching out to talk to other pedophiles.

Accepting the fact of the attraction is a necessary part of figuring out your reaction to it and how you intend to behave.

I personally have always avoided pro-contact environments. I was somewhat worried that I might experience peer pressure to offend (more with images than with physical abuse). Now I’m older and more sure of myself, I am less worried this could happen.

I think that pedophiles who want a strong peer support that discourages offending are probably bettter off in anti-contact forums, because in pro-contact places they will be offered reasons why offending isn’t really bad. If they are tempted, this could encourage them.

You ask if most maps “would never consider…regardless”. This is impossible to measure at the moment. We know that some pedophiles consider acting on their attractions; some do; some think about it then don’t; some never even consider it beyond scenarios they know to be pure fantasy. There isn’t a single answer here.

I don’t think that talking to pro-contacters is enough by itself to make someone offend if they already are sure they don’t want to. I also don’t think that talking to anti-contacters is enough to stop someone who has other strong risk factors (but it could help). It’s a complicated picture.

What I do know is that until there was the option to talk to other pedophiles in an anti-contact forum, I stayed away from pedophile communities and didn’t have anyone to talk to. This loneliness nearly ended my life, so I’m glad that anti-contact communities exist now for me and people like me who are very clear we would never consider offending.

I don’t think pro-c forums are particularly useful for activism, I don’t think they should be banned either. I see pro-c more like a mindset and a belief rather than something that effects action, and tbh lines between pro and anti-c get so blurred sometimes.

I think there are spaces on the internet that can and do drive people (including MAPs) to offend. However, I don’t believe these typically include what most people label “pro-c forums.” Most MAP forums (whether pro-c or anti-c) focus on peer support. Research is clear that support can play a major role in preventing offenses, so I think it’s plausible that most of these forums help prevent abuse, regardless of their stance. I understand the concerns about the spread of pro-c views potentially leading to more abuse, but I have yet to see strong evidence of a correlation between contact stance and offending behavior. This is likely because most pro-cs, despite holding deeply flawed ideas about the impacts of abuse on children, recognize that breaking the law is not in their best interest. Sure, some pro-cs advocate for laws to be changed, and there’s an argument for that being harmful in itself, but I doubt that they’ll make any progress, as society’s stance on abuse seems to be moving in the opposite direction of what they want.

The spaces that really scare me in terms of encouraging people to offend are communities of active abusers. I think “normalizing” is more of a buzzword than anything, so I generally try not to use it, but to mirror the wording in your question, these would be spaces that normalize abuse (a harmful action) rather than pedophilia (an attraction that cannot cause harm unless acted on in a harmful manner). I’ve talked to people who have firsthand experience with these spaces, and by my understanding, they essentially serve to encourage vulnerable and impressionable people (ranging from isolated MAPs to sexual abuse survivors and even curious teenagers) to become abusers. They lure lonely and hurting people in with coercion or promises of support, then push them to view abusive content or even sexually abuse children offline. They also promise acceptance to people who have already done abusive things and then push them to continue and even escalate the abuse. These are the communities that I believe pose the most significant threat in terms of encouraging and enabling abuse, and any effective approach to preventing abuse needs to include efforts to disrupt and shut down their operations.

I strongly value free speech and open discourse. Lots of controversial ideas are discussed on the web. Groups attract people who could be emboldened by the ideas in the group to do harmful things. Consider as a set of mundane examples all the ethnic groups that want independence from the nations that rule them. People arguing for the idea that some kinds of adult-child sexual activity should be legalized do not pose any sort of special danger within the context of such groups.

MAPs cover the same range as ordinary people on just about any issue of temptation, self-control, rationalization, and so forth. We have no good answers as to which MAPs might yield to temptation in various circumstances.

Most of us focus on the alarming pro-contacter idea that adult-child sex might be OK, and we put them in the category of “bad guys”. When they talk with each other, danger to children probably increases sometimes. Maybe it does on balance.

But there are aspects to consider that I think people rarely do. A great many of those who are pro-legalization understand that under current circumstances, if an adult-child relationship is discovered, the child can suffer from the publicity and rough treatment by law enforcement as a forced witness. They may think this is all society’s fault, but wise ones also realize that the world is not changing any time soon and they have the last clear chance to prevent such harm by refraining from any such relationships. In their groups are also those who have served time for child sex abuse, a reminder that they have strong selfish reasons for abstaining. My hunch is that discussing one’s temptations with a sympathetic group will often help them to keep obeying the law.

I’m not saying it’s on average beneficial to children – I don’t think anyone knows the net effect – but there is that aspect to consider.

Some people note with disgust that some of the pro-contacters are abusing children. But the causality isn’t clear. It is possible that potential abusers meeting online sometimes abuse children, but that those who don’t meet online abuse at an even higher rate. No one knows.

I share most anti-contacters’ strong dislike of pro-contact ideas. At some level we hope that if they stop talking to each other, they will vanish – which is just as illusory as the idea that pedophiles as a whole will vanish if we keep quiet.

I worry about pro-contact ideology. I’ve never been to a pro-contact forum myself, but I’ve heard stories. It sounds sketchy. I’ve heard that some of them do get busted for CSA. I doubt it’s the majority of them, but I just don’t like the idea of that ideology being propagated.

I wish pro-contact MAPs would stop being pro-contact. However, their only alternative is being anti-contact. Being anti-contact is equally shunned by society, and you can’t just stop being attracted to children. There’s no winning! Thanks to society’s intolerance towards all MAPs, being pro-C seems like an even easier trap to fall into than it otherwise would.

I don’t think pro-contact forums are the cause of the problem when it comes to encouraging contact. I think the problem is stigma. I think the problem is people feeling like they don’t have any other choice. I think some MAPs only act out because they feel like they don’t have any other choice.

I’ll assume that the first question is asking if pro-contact forums normalize acting on our attractions to the point where it makes someone more likely to act out. The answer is that it really depends on the individual. Some people have bad experiences in pro-contact forums, reporting that pro-contact MAPs have indeed encouraged others to offend, while others have reported that pro-contact MAPs are still determined to stay law-abiding, even if they don’t agree with the law. I have never been too active on pro-contact forums, but from what I’ve heard, there are pro-contact forums on the clearnet that don’t permit anything illegal, and there are forums on the darknet that actively share CSAM. The latter are clearly dangerous sites that need to be shut down. Should the former be shut down? I suppose that depends on how committed you are to free speech. Pro-contact forums that don’t break the law technically aren’t doing anything wrong, and to be fair some of them have provided a lot of support for MAPs. But I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable participating in such forums.

I did end up talking to a few pro-contact MAPs a few years ago, and it ended in a long and awful argument about the contact issue. I think for a lot of vulnerable MAPs, pro-contact ideology really is dangerous and could give them an excuse to act on their attractions. Other MAPs may not be so vulnerable to the arguments, but many of us (me, for example) simply don’t want to deal with pro-contact arguments. Free speech and all that is great, but it doesn’t mean I have to listen to horrible and offensive ideas if I don’t want to.

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