Our mission is to improve the lives of pedophiles, but never at the expense of the welfare of children.
Pedophiles are human beings and deserve all the associated rights and responsibilities, including an obligation to protect children from harm. Virtuous Pedophiles is fundamentally opposed to any form of sexual activity between adults and children.
Virtuous Pedophiles, the organization:
"Founders" has the bios of the site's co-founders Ethan Edwards and Nick Devin.
"First words" are the messages of 71 pedophiles who wrote to us in our first year of existence.
"Letters to self" are letters two of our members wrote that they would want their younger selves to read when they first realized their attraction to children.
"Reflections" are thoughtful pieces from three of our members.
Nick Devin (September, 2012)
I'm in my mid-60s and married, with four adult children. I have advanced degrees from prestigious universities, a very good job, a lot of friends and am well respected in my community.
I am also a pedophile. I am sexually attracted to boys in the early stages of puberty (typically ages 12-14).
I've never touched a child in any way that could be considered remotely sexual, and am confident I never will. I've resisted my sex drive for more than fifty years, and I'm long past the age where acting on it is even a remote possibility. I know that many children have been harmed by pedophiles, and I refuse to do anything that could harm a child.
On various occasions, I've suffered from low self-esteem and even self-hatred as a result of my pedophilia, feeling that I was somehow immoral as a result of being attracted to kids, even though I never acted on that attraction. With the help of a supportive psychologist, I came to understand that there's nothing morally wrong with being attracted to children as long as I don't have sexual contact with them. I did not choose my sexual orientation, and there is nothing I can do to change it. I cannot be evil simply because I have sexual feelings that I didn’t choose and can’t change, so long as I don’t act on those feelings. In hindsight this strikes me as obvious, but it wasn't at all obvious at the time, and the realization that I am not evil was enormously helpful.
In addition to my sexual attraction to boys, I am also sexually attracted to adult women, though my attraction to boys is stronger. I feel that being married to a woman whom I love deeply has helped me deal with my pedophilia.
I consider pedophilia to be similar in certain respects to diabetes. It's a serious chronic condition, but a manageable one. Another helpful comparison is the Cullens in the Twilight saga: vampires who are able to resist their thirst for human blood and live morally upstanding lives.
I've often wondered what caused me to become a pedophile. I was sexually molested as a child. There were four incidents over a four week period with a camp counselor when I was twelve—mainly rubbing of stomachs and chests. I wasn’t traumatized or upset; I didn’t know anything about sex at the time (hey, this was fifty years ago). It was shortly after that that I began having sexual fantasies about boys, and I wonder whether the molestation played any role. Very few scientists believe that past abuse plays any role in the development of pedophilia, but sometimes I wonder.
Together with Ethan, I formed Virtuous Pedophiles in order to help people like us: people who are sexually attracted to children but are committed to resisting their sexual feelings. Our hope is to reduce the incidence of child sexual abuse by providing peer support and information about helpful resources, and to help our members lead productive, worthwhile and law-abiding lives. We also hope to educate the general public a bit about pedophilia, to reduce the stigma by letting people that there are lots of us out there, good people who are afflicted with pedophilia but successfully resist their attraction.
To those of you who are reading this, I realize that the concept of someone being sexually attracted to children is extremely distasteful to you, but I'll leave you with this. If you had a child who was unfortunate enough to be sexually attracted to children, would you want him to be alone, to feel dirty and evil, to suffer from depression and self-hatred, to possibly even become suicidal? Or would you instead want him to have access to a place like Virtuous Pedophiles, a place where he could receive support in his efforts to resist his pedophilia, where he could have the example of decent, well-adjusted men who have successfully done so?
Ethan Edwards (June, 2012)
I'm in my mid 50s, live in Pennsylvania, and have worked as a software engineer for most of my adult life. I like browsing the web, reading, hiking, and music. I was married for many years and raised three daughters.
I'm also a pedophile. My strongest attraction is to girls as young as 4. I'm also attracted to older females, though the attraction drops off sharply above age 30. I'm very fortunate in this regard, because I've been able to form loving relationships with adult women. This wider range of attraction also let me deny the reality of my pedophilia until I was about 50.
In retrospect, there were many signs that the heart of my attraction was to the very young. I always had an especially soft spot in my heart for young girls, though I didn't have much to do with them. After I became a parent, I of course had a special parental bond with my daughters. I never have felt any romantic or sexual attraction to them. I believe this is an anti-incest mechanism that is common among men. There was no need to control sexual feelings; the feelings just were not there.
I felt an interest in the other girls that was different in kind from what I felt towards my own daughters. It was vaguely romantic. I explained away the attraction in various ways. I told myself that it was just an especially strong dose of the natural adult affection for children. I told myself that my lack of similar affection for boys was because they're usually loud, competitive, and not 'relational'. I told myself it was just a curiosity and wasn't important. I was unaware that there was a sexual component to the attraction --while strong it was just romantic. I think I suppressed sexual feelings for young girls because I know that sexual activity between children and adults is wrong, and society disapproves so strongly. My sexual energies focused on the young women I tried to build relationships with.
Then I realized that if someone waved a magic wand and made it so a young girl would truly want to be sexual with me, and if her parents and the rest of the world agreed, and if it would not hurt her in the future -- in that case, it was a prospect that aroused me more than adult women ever could. I understand that this is all hypothetical, that many children are harmed as a result of having sexual contact with adults and that such conduct is wrong. Since that realization, however, my pedophilic identity has become more and more important to me. I understand that I can't actualize that attraction with real girls for a variety of reasons, most importantly that I could never be sure the relationship wouldn't end up seriously hurting the girl.
I'm fortunate to have a therapist I can discuss my pedophilia with. But not one other person in my life knows of my attraction. Although I've never had sexual contact with a child and never will, I could lose all my friends and social supports if anyone found out. The need for secrecy weighs on me. My heart goes out to other pedophiles who have it much worse: those who feel that their thoughts alone make them evil, and those who are not attracted to anyone they can form a real relationship with. I'm hoping that in creating Virtuous Pedophiles, Nick and I can make life easier for other celibate pedophiles. I hope we can provide a place where we can share our stories and support each other. And I hope we can let the world know that many pedophiles are harmless and deserve compassion instead of hatred.
(My Reddit account name is EthanE72.)
When people contact Virtuous Pedophiles, the message they write comes to us. The people we hear from most are other virtuous pedophiles. Below are some of the initial messages we have received, lightly copy edited and sometimes abbreviated. Reading them will give a flavor of our diversity, the themes that come up over and over again, and the barest hint at how many of us there are. Note that we do not allow anyone under 18 to join the group, but we do receive email from younger people, and some are included below. (These were all received in the first year after the site went live in June of 2012. Similar emails continue to arrive every day.)
" When I was in my late teens I found myself attracted to young teens. I went searching the web for help for those with pedophilia. I only found websites that promoted adult-child sex or that treated all pedophiles as criminals. This very much bothered me. Because of that I was very ashamed of my attraction and at times would become depressed overs the years and almost suicidal. "
" I am in my late 20s and have been dealing with unwanted attraction to young boys since I was a teenager. Though I have never acted on these attractions with anyone, this is my primary sexual attraction, and it bothers me greatly. I have considered suicide many times... "
" I am a 27yo male attracted to boys only, ages 3 to teens. I am also attracted to men too. I live as a gay man and never have acted on my pedophilia and never will. "
" I'm a 21 year old pedophile ... and was very happy to hear that there was finally an organization out there to support pedophiles that is completely against sex with children. "
" I am completely against child abuse in any form and would like to add to your numbers. "
" Hello, I'm a 26yo male pedophile. I'm attracted to preteen boys. I'm also a bit gay. I agree with what you stand for. I do NOT support child molestation or abuse. I want pedophiles to be able to easily get help for their paraphilias and depression. "
" I'm a law-abiding pedophile interested in joining your listserv. It's great to see a website like this up, I hope I can support it and its mission in any way possible. "
" My therapist gave me this link. I consider myself a pedophile and, like yourselves, have not and would never act on it. What you are doing here I believe to be very important. Looking forward to corresponding and learning! "
" It's not often you find a site with your views, it's a shame because I agree with you completely and there should be more sites like this. As you can imagine I am a pedophile, I'm 17 years old and although I've only lived with this 4 years it's been a hard journey already. Being this young with this issue has kind of forced me to grow up quick I guess, I try to have my fun when I can but being what I am, I can't let my guard down or behave recklessly, which is kind of what being a teenager is all about. "
" I'm a lifelong British paedophile who has always tried to be 'virtuous' and agree with you that for any number of reasons, any adult/child sexual contact is impossible without at least a very great risk of damage (for a whole variety of reasons) and can and should never be considered as 'appropriate'. "
" I came across your website and I personally believe in your views on pedophilia (I am one myself). "
" Hello. Like many of the people whom I'd imagine frequent this site, I am a pedophile. I have been struggling with this for 2 years ... I really can't seem to think of anywhere I could find help and I was considering suicide for a while, and then I found an article about this site. Just to know that there are others makes me feel a little less alone ... I guess what I haven't said is that I'm thirteen. "
" Hi. I am a pedophile who never practiced any abuse. I would like to please join your listserv, out of curiosity, if that is OK. "
" I'm considered a pedophile. I have dreams and thoughts of preteens sexually. Never acted upon the urges. Too scared to download porn online and I can never meet anyone with the same interest. I wouldn't dare physically try to act out my thoughts but I need help finding people with the same interest before I get myself in trouble. "
" I am 21, almost 22, and "this" has been something that I have struggled with for as long as I can remember. I've done everything I can to try and understand it, but I don't know why I have these affections. I've spent a lot of time working on accepting myself as a human and not just by my struggle, but sometimes it's hard. A lot of the time it's hard. At present, I feel confident in my ability to control things, but especially with everything that's come out about Sandusky and Penn State, I worry what trying to do it on my own will do for me in the long run. "
" Thanks for at least acknowledging that some of us aren't bad guys. Not all good guys wear white right? I am attracted to girls from about 6-7 on up. While I am married and have a blissful relationship with my wife, there is always that element of attraction to girls. When we're at the mall or out and about, I look... However, like you, I have never acted upon those feelings. SO I fantasize, I chat online sometimes, but I do know the clear line between reality and fantasy. "
" I identify as a pedophile who has never offended, and feel that I have nowhere to turn. I am solely attracted to prepubescent girls, and have never been in a successful sexual relationship with a same-age partner, due to a lack of sexual attraction. This is obviously devastating, as I am a young person who should be diving into that aspect of life. "
"I self-diagnosed myself as a non-contact pedophile in 1979 when I was 23 years old. I had been struggling with my feelings since I was 11 ... I do have a moral compass, and would not dream of touching children in real life."
" I heard about your group from a Christian site. I have identified as pedosexual (I prefer that word to paedophile because of the connotations of the latter) for many years, but have never molested a child nor do I wish to. However, I do wish to help anyone else who might be in a situation that could lead to some inappropriate or illegal act, or people who are having difficulty coming to terms with their feelings. "
" I'm experiencing some confusion about my sexual identity and attraction to minors, and I'm interested in hearing more from people dealing with similar issues. "
" I'm a girl lover since very very young. I'm 22 years old and I never harm a girl and I never will... I have a little fear of being near [young girls]. I'm good at university, respected by my classmates and even teachers. I'm Christian and I'm finding help through Christ and this page too. This problem is my nemesis, I cannot be happy for this problem. "
" I am a non-offender just looking for advice on how to cope with everything. "
" Hello, I'm 34 years old. I like young girls and boys. I don't have experiences and I think I will never have them. But I think on them all the time and use my imagination. "
" I read about some of the pedophile advocacy groups. "Man, what some of them think?" Abolishing age of consent laws and legalizing child sex? These advocacy groups only added insult to injury. I may be a pedophile, but I don't want to act it out. I love kids so much, I don't want to do something that would hurt them. "
" I'm 24 years old and live in South America. I am also a pedophile since my 10th birthday (that I remember). I ended up finding some international community to support pedophiles (boylovers) in the internet ... but unfortunately these communities encourage the pedophile and not to seek appropriate treatment, they contend that being a pedophile is right and we do nothing wrong. But my heart always told me to the contrary ... The day the world stops seeing us as criminals and starts seeing us as human beings in need of help without judgment is the day we have freedom, and certainly the rate of violence against children will decrease. "
" I'm solely attracted to very young children. The younger the better in fact. I have not and will not ever act on my desires but it consumes a large part of my life ... I was thinking that I was alone and it's really hard to cope without like-minded men to openly discuss our thoughts. "
" I'm a pedophile. When I visited this I really didn't think I would have sent anything, I mean, I'm already able to manage myself quite well and I don't really NEED support. Still this is the 1st site of the kind I agree with completely, reading your FAQs was like reading my own opinion on the subject, and this was kinda reassuring. "
" I've been living with a sexual attraction to young boys anywhere from 8yo - 15yo, and while the desire to have something you can't is painful and often very lonely I have never touched a boy and I honestly never will. I have complete control over my actions that is not my problem. Nothing I do can stop how I feel, not church or religion. I've tried dating both women and men and it never lasts. I don't feel the way for them that I do for boys. I'm 26 and I have felt this way since I was 14, and I now know that there is no one for me and no hope to ever be anything but lonely. I'm having a hard time finding reasons to go on living honestly. The only thing keeping me from suicide is knowing my family and friends would be devastated. Living a loveless and lonely life hardly seems worth it, even if it means causing the ones you love pain by leaving them. Then I also wonder how many would still care if they knew how I felt about boys. I want to join to talk to people like me and see how they do it. It also helps to know you're not alone. "
" I'm a 29 year old pedophile who's attracted to 10-15 year old girls. Never acted though. Have no crime record. My family doesn't know about it. I only have four friends, and they know about it, and have accepted it. This has led to isolation though as my friends live far from me. Can you offer any kind of help? I'm not feeling very well, though I have no economical problems. I just wish people could accept innocent pedophiles the same way they accept homosexuals. "
" I'm a 16 year old pedophile attracted to boys, I don't know yet if I'm attracted to women but I'm quite happy with what I am, I've come to terms with it and I know I would never hurt a child. I came across you site and appreciated it and thought you might appreciate another member. "
" I am a 27 year old man living in the US and ... I have been sexually attracted to adolescent boys from an early age... I enjoyed a small respite from my torment during the time I spent as a Missionary from age 19-21. Yes, I grew up Mormon, and in addition to these other things I also dealt with serious spiritual guilt. The only safe place I could think to go with someone who would know of resources that could help was a defense lawyer. I found one and he came back with some names of competent therapists, but with the caveat that he wouldn't send his worst enemy to them with this issue ... virped.org was an answer to my prayers. I have been seeking out something like this for so long and here you are. I feel it is important to emphasize that apart from my attractions, I love children for honest reasons as does anyone else... Fortunately, and remarkably, it seems that once I come to know a child personally, have interactions with their families etc. the desires lessen. They do not go away, but this contributes to the many reasons I believe that I never could, nor ever will offend in the real world. "
" Your organization rings true to me as a hebephile. I'd like to learn more. I'm 38 and never acted on my attraction to boys 13-17. "
" I am one of those rare female pedophiles ... I'm very interested in spreading the idea that pedophiles are not evil and I firmly believe that society has wrongly demonized a group of people based on the actions of a minority within them. However, this is difficult because I do not wish to reveal that I am a pedophile. I just want to help stop discrimination. "
" I am a 27yo guy and I am attracted mostly to preteen boys (8-13). I understand that any kind of sexual contact with young kids can be potentially hurtful, plus I am terrified of jail and social hatred and therefore have never hurt or done anything illegal with an underage person. Actually I am a 27yo virgin. Lately I have been feeling depressed, more often questioning what is the point in life, it just seems almost impossible for someone like me to ever have a happy fulfilling life... and even though I have a paralyzing fear of being outed as a pedophile (even though I haven't done anything illegal, the social stigma would destroy what little social and family life I have.) I have been taking small steps towards reaching out to others, I just feel so alone. "
" I am a young adult who has struggled with an attraction to young girls since I hit puberty. I was and still am quite socially awkward and have a lot of anxiety and still have never had a romantic or sexual relationship..I would never even consider pursuing a romantic or sexual relationship with an underage girl, even though I admit that it's hard to come to terms with the fact that I'll never be able to experience that... I have gone through phases of depression and am in a particularly down mood right now and could use someone to talk to. "
" I am 17 years old and I am a pedophile. My attraction is for young girls 11-14. I've never done anything illegal with a young girl and have taken counseling sessions. I know that I might be too young to label myself, but I know this attraction to this age group will not change ... I have no intention of ever breaking the law but I can't help who I'm attracted to. "
" I'm a celibate pedophile. Thank you so much for starting this group! You are the only organization that's out there that I would feel comfortable seeking support from when times get hard, due to your hard-line stance that adult-child sex is wrong and will ALWAYS be wrong. Anything aside from this hard-line stance is far too dangerous to everyone involved. "
" I'm a 16 year old girl who's interested in little girls, from 3 to around 8. I would like to know if women are also welcome. [The answer is yes!] "
" I am a pedophile, I have a sexual attraction to girls of all ages as well as adult women, though my preference is for early-pubescent girls. I have never molested a child. I am 25 years old, straight, and I have been married for over 2 years. I am fortunate to have never been ashamed of this attraction and even more fortunate to be capable of normal, adult relationships. "
" I am 22 years old and I am scared. I have never harmed a child but have constant thoughts about young boys. I am openly gay in my community and I want to know if I will be able to lead a normal life. Please help. "
" I'm amazed to find something like this. It's really painful for me to admit my attraction to prepubescent girls, but I've spent a long time trying to find answers to my problem; I haven't found a thing in that regard. I'm only 21, but every damn day now these thoughts fill my head, and I'm ashamed of myself every waking moment. If there was a way to change, I would leap at the chance; alas, no medicine will cure this itch of mine. When I started reading the materials on your site, I was filled with a sense of euphoria. Finally, somebody else understands what it's like feeling like a monster all the time! Up until that time, I always thought I was alone. I felt my thoughts were inhuman, that I was inhuman. I've contemplated suicide a staggering amount of times, and while I can't say I feel happy or content with myself, I can take comfort knowing others have succeeded in fighting off their urges. "
" For so many years I had just accepted that there was no way I would ever be able to share this with anyone. My wife knows, sort of, but this secret has been eating away at me for 40 years now. I have never hurt a child and it would be wonderful to join a group of similar-minded men. "
" I have worked successfully with my pedophile tendency for decades and also never abused a child. I was incredibly moved (to tears in fact) while reading the site -- one knows that there are other "virtuous pedophiles" around but as you say one can feel extremely alone (despite wonderful support over the years from my partners, friends and family). "
" I'm one of these types of people you mentioned. I've had this desire since I was 17 and still have these desires for both young boys and girls. I never acted on my desires. "
" I'm a teenager and am attracted to kids as young as 7 and as old as 13 depending on their looks. Both sexes but preferably male. I don't think I can ever tell anybody in my family, as I'm too worried that if people know it will prevent me from growing up to have a successful job or do well in my final years of high school. It's such a sensitive topic, and so many people think that pedophilia is one of the worst crimes in the world, even above murder. But I have not offended, and I wish not to. "
" Hi. I am a female grad student, well-educated, personable, highly ethical. I have been attracted to girls (pre-teen) since I was one. "
" I'm looking for ways to help me cope with my illness. I'm a pedophile. I've never hurt a child. I'd like to state this first. But after close to 15 years of fighting my sickness I'm tired. I'm looking for a way to purchase drugs that kill desire anonymously over the net, since I don't know any psychiatrist I can trust with my secret (I'm not living in the USA). "
" Hi, I am a pedophile. That was so hard to type it's unbelievable. I've known since I was around 12 or 13. I've never talked to anyone about it. I am attracted to girls as young as 3. I've never harmed a child and it's the last thing in the world I want, ever. I'm now 20 years old. The attraction has ruined my life so far. ... I'm very good with children and love being with them. Everyone says so, I wanted to be a teacher growing up. But underneath it all there's always been that attraction that pops up unexpectedly. I try and bury it and that works for a few weeks but then it comes back with force and I feel worse than ever. So I quit [a childcare course] and I couldn't even tell anyone why. They still encourage me to get back into childcare and that is so hard. I've had depression since I was around 15 and started being interested in sexual things. I felt like I could never talk about it to anyone and I could talk about other things but never really the true problem. I've had suicidal thoughts for a long time. I just want to talk to someone who understands without fear, I don't know what else to do. One thing I noticed about this site is that it focuses on men. I'm a girl. "
" I am a pedophile. I have sought professional help numerous times and have been turned away. I live in a small community that makes it hard to get face-to-face help. "
" I'm a 24 year old woman living in South Africa and I am definitely a pedophile. I have never harmed or touched a child, and I never would, but I am battling to refrain from going back to reading erotic pedo stories online ... I don't want to break any laws, I am terrified of anyone finding out. I am disgusted that I'm turned on by this stuff. How do I get help? What do I do? There seems to be help in America, Canada and Germany, but I don't even live in or near a city. "
" I have been searching for a place which is genuinely looking to help people with my problem for a while now... I live in the United States and really need help understanding where, and how, to seek therapy for both my problem the depression it causes. "
" I'm definitely attracted by young girls and it's not like I ask for it. It's hard to find help for this because I assume they'll report me and look down on me. I never touched a young girl and never will. My resistance is pretty strong though I do have a bad habit of taking quick glances at them but I'll never get close to them... I wish I just liked women my age and could be normal. "
" I'm not really at a point where I'm even comfortable saying that I'm a pedophile, but I have no intention of ever acting sexually with or abusing a child, and I have never done so in the past. (...I am assuming fooling around with other boys of your own age when a child doesn't count.) I am definitely against children and adults engaging in any sort of sexual activity. "
" I am a pedo and only one of my friends knows the truth but I feel uncomfortable even with him. So I was looking online for support groups where I could stay anonymous. "
" Hello. I'm a pedophile and would like to join your listserv. I've been waiting for something like this to come along for a long time now. "
" I am a man in my mid-40s and I am a pedophile, in fact I am an exclusive pedophile and have no attraction to adults in any sort of way these days. I am attracted to children from babies up to around 12 years of age max. I just have no attraction to older people anymore... I have been single for the last 10+ years and that is all due to the fact that I am a pedophile. I have never acted out with a child and know that I never will because I just can't imagine doing so. ... I struggle every day but I always get through it. I just wanted to share myself with you folks and hope to help some other pedophiles by not acting out and to just provide support for anyone that needs it. "
" I am a 40 yr old celibate pedophile. I have spent my whole life denying what I am in order to save children from what I know is inherently wrong. Depression, thoughts of suicide, etc. Denying what would bring me happiness has been my constant struggle to maintain a 'normal' existence. Please put me on your list so that I might find solace in knowing I am not alone. I know I can never be fulfilled but that doesn't make it any easier. Finding you feels like a bit of redemption but not much. "
" I am a 22 year old college student and I am attracted to little girls. I would like to join your ListServ. Love your website already. Nice to know there are people out there struggling just as I am. "
" Please add me to your listserve. I am a pedophile as well who's never touched a child and never intends to. I hope I can learn more about this strange inclination that I didn't choose. "
" Hello. I'm a pretty virtuous pedophile. What's on the home page pretty much sums it up. Except I don't feel so depressed that I think about suicide too much. Though it does suck. But yeah, I am a real pedophile who would never do anything to hurt a child. I love little girls and I would feel horrible if I ever hurt them. And yet I'm attracted to them. Pretty unfortunate. "
" I'm a fan of the principles behind this community. Sometimes I feel that I am trapped between two kinds of crazy: the black-and-white splitting in the criminal justice community, and the tragically misguided rationalizations on "girl-lover" forums about child abuse. So finding people with a more rational outlook is uplifting. As for me, after many years I've come to be in a good place, so I am probably more interested in reaching out to other people. More than anything else, I would like to see compassionate and evidence-based approaches to reducing the incidence of child abuse, especially from within pedophile communities. "
" For too long I've struggled with being attracted to girls that are too young. I am also attracted to grown women, and have never acted on my secret fantasy, and I wish to develop my healthy side and not the other. "
" I'm a 25-year old self-identified law-abiding MAP from a Muslim-majority country in the Asia-Pacific but not a Muslim myself ... I have no idea how people in my country would react if I ever came out. "
" I am a pedophile. I knew since I was 16 and I am 20 now. I am attracted to girls from about 7 to 11. It has made life kinda hard, but now I am so glad to have found a group, you, that wants to improve the name of non-molesting pedophiles. I want to stay such a pedophile too, I never want to harm a child in any way. "
" Hi, I am glad I found this site, I am a virtuous pedophile and I have been thinking about it lately, that there must be others like me... I feel that more organizations like this can really make a difference at preventing these horrible crimes, keep up the good work! "
" I am a 19yo guy and I have been dealing with pedophilic thoughts for some time now, I have never hurt or touched a child in a sexual way and even though I don't think I am capable of such an act, and I am aware of the damage that would do to a child, I am still afraid I might have it in me to do such a thing. I am scared and full of guilt and anxiety, I have considered suicide ... I am asking to join your listserv, for help and guidance. I feel confused and like I don't know myself or what I am capable of, I do know for certain that I don't want to be a pedophile and would not wish such a burden on anyone, I just want to live a normal life and be accepted but I am afraid that's not possible. "
" Logic told me there were others out there like me. I never believed I was alone in the sense of being unique. However, not knowing anyone like me -- someone who is physically attracted to children, but rejects the notion that it's okay -- caused me to feel quite alone. And this, I'm sure you can relate, is a horrible feeling. I so desperately want to connect with others who live their lives bearing this cross without falling under its weight. My cross is becoming heavy...I could use some friends for support. "
" Hi, I am an 18 year old pedophile who has been resisting the urge to engage with children for as long as I can remember. I am interested in learning about more ways I can help spread the word and help cope with my attraction. "
" Hello. I am a 15 year old Pedophile who has just been wondering why is the term "Pedophile" synonymous with "child molester"? I see it all the time even in articles written by professionals. I see other people just like me who try to get advice online only to get ostracized and treated like a monster. It just makes it less likely for them to seek treatment. People act like every single Pedophile has molested somebody which is clearly not the case. Why is this ingrained in their minds? Is it a panic defense or what? "
" Hey, I'm a distressed pedophile looking for some support and was interested in joining your listserv. I have never touched a child sexually before but the fact that I am exclusively attracted to children causes me a great burden every day. I come in hope that there is another solution to my problem other than putting a bullet through my head. "
" I am in my 60s, been married twice, and yet I find I am almost exclusively excited by young girls. If I had to explain why, I would say it was just obviously a fact -- that young girls are the most beautiful and alluring creatures in our world... I fully understand the need not to make sexual advances to young girls, of course, and I have never done that... I can't help the attraction, and it isn't evil. "
As we note on our home page, teen pedophiles are typically anguished and depressed, if not suicidal. A few of our members who are over 30 thought about what they would tell their younger selves if they could send a letter back in time. (October, 2013)
Letter from 32-year-old Sam to himself at age 15:
I know things have been hard for you lately, and you've just begun to realize that the attraction that you have to little girls is also sexual, not just emotional. Yes, you are a pedophile. No, this doesn't mean you're a bad person. Let me repeat, this does not in any way make you a bad person. You already know that you're never going to act on this, so let's not focus on that. The most important thing for you to know is that you're not alone. You are not the only person in the world that feels the way you do, even though it feels like no other person could possibly understand how you feel. All that we see is that there are a lot of people that just want to have sex with kids. One thing you need to know is that there are also a lot of people that really love little girls like you do. The media doesn't know people like you exist. They don't know that you care about little girls as much as any adult. But there are a LOT of us. A lot more than you can imagine. It's just a lot easier for the media to sensationalize stories in order to get ratings, but you're a smart enough kid to understand that already in different contexts.
Pretty soon, you're going to find some websites with pedophiles that love little girls in the same way that you do. The relief you feel when you find these places is going to be indescribable. Some of these people do love children as much as you do, but they live in an internet fantasy world. Every one of them conforms to the idea that under certain circumstances, it's OK to act on your feelings. You are an extremely open-minded person, and are willing to entertain any viewpoint no matter how ridiculous, objectively analyze it, and either validate it or dismiss it. The problem is that your feelings are going to cloud your judgment. The need to be understood and accepted and loved for who you are is going to cloud your judgment. You'll come to believe that, if two people are in love, that such a thing conquers everything around it. The problem is that children don't live in the same world that we do. Children don't understand the adult world. Children need adults to guide them. They are equal, yes, but because of their lack of experience in life, they need extra special care and attention in learning how to acclimate to our society. Child/adult relations are never, ever going to be acceptable, and everyone that says otherwise is completely delusional. Sorry you have to hear that, but it is true. We need to make sure that when children grow up, they are able to navigate the adult world as easily as possible. Extreme deviations from society's norms are going to really hurt them at the expense of your pleasure. I know you'll still never act on your attractions even when you begin to believe that true love can never be wrong, because you know that you could never take that risk because you know that you could never be sure that the child loves you as much as you love her, but please remember my words.
It's going to get better though. Some day you will find a group of pedophiles where you will finally feel truly at home. These people will really help you to use your attraction to do everything you can to help make the world a better place. I believe we are the way we are for a reason. When you are at your lowest, desperately wishing for something that you'll never allow yourself to have, just know that the struggles that you face you face for a reason. In your life, you will help so many people to overcome their own struggles. You will save lives. You will develop a great amount of empathy for all of society's rejects. You will appreciate beauty the likes of which many people will never understand, and I'm not just talking about the beauty of little girls. I'm talking about appreciating a certain fragility of the human condition.
Right now, you're weak and scared. I don't say this to hurt, but to let you know I understand. You don't know if you'll ever get 'over the hump'. You're worried that you may have an empty and meaningless life. But you won't. Over time, and with experience, you will become a far stronger and more confident person. This attraction will never go away, but NEVER let it affect your self-esteem. I know it's hard, believe me, it's something that is an ongoing battle, but you will get better at fighting the dark undertow that is always tugging at your feet.
Think about everything I've said and give it some time, OK?
And by the way, in your life, you are going to become good friends with little girls that will love to be around you and spend time with you. Please enjoy the little things, playing with them, talking to them, watching movies with them. These are some of the great simple pleasures of life. But don't let these experiences feed the monstrous black hole of desire. Accept these experiences for what they are, a way to reward you for staying on the right path.
You may not love yourself yet, but I love you.
Letter from 41-year-old Craig to himself at age 16:
Hi. It's me, yourself at 41 years old. Hard to believe, huh?
Right now, I know you're wondering lots of things. You wonder what this long life will hold. I won't tell you everything, but there are some things you need to know. Yes, you'll do just fine in college, even some graduate school. You'll have a good job, though it won't be as exciting as you're imagining now. It will pay the bills, though, and take you to some interesting places, sometimes. You'll have some nice things, but you'll also find that the more you have, the more you worry.
Speaking of worry, I know that right now, the biggest thing you're worried about is whether you'll eventually find a girl that likes you. Go on a date. Have a girlfriend. Get married. Eventually have sex some day. Listen -- don't worry about it. It will happen. I know right now it seems like you're waiting forever, but it won't be long, really, before girls start liking you, and you start dating. Yes, you will get married to a wonderful woman. Marriage won't always be easy, but it will be good overall. Yes, you will have sex. But be patient. Try to enjoy your life now, and not be too bogged down with worry over whether it will ever happen. It will. Some day, you'll look back and wish you hadn't spent so much time worrying about when that would come, and just enjoyed this part of your life more.
Right now you can't wait to have sex, and are just worried if it will ever happen. But there's something else in your life that's going to complicate things for you sexually. Don't panic -- you're going to handle it well -- but you should be prepared.
Of all the girls you like right now, one is not like all the others. She's quite a bit younger, and I think that, deep down, you realize that she's really too young for you to like the way you like her. Yes, I'm talking about the little girl across the street. You know who I mean. It's OK. It's not your fault that you feel the way you do about her, and there's nothing wrong with having those feelings, as long as you don't actually DO anything about them, beyond having some fantasies. So relax.
But while you shouldn't feel bad about liking her, you also need to take this more seriously than you realize right now. This isn't just about one little girl. Before long, you'll notice other little girls that you'll start to like in the same way. Right now, you tend to like girls a little younger than you. And you've never really liked grown-up women, like your friends all seem to be so crazy about, right? The thing is, as you get older, that's not going to change. You're not going to just start liking adult women, at least not much, and not much beyond young adult, college-age women. Not even when you're an adult yourself. Yes, that might make things a little bit difficult when you're married. But you're always going to like little girls -- girls just as young as you-know-who, and even younger than her some day, and even as you get older, and older, and older. In fact, as you get older, you won't even think much about adult women at all. You'll be almost exclusively attracted to little girls -- emotionally, and romantically, and yes, sexually too.
This shouldn't surprise you too much. Think about how much you like kids, especially girls. Think about how they warm your heart, how you seem to have this connection with them, more than most guys your age do. That's no fluke. It's a gift. Don't take it for granted. It's something special about you -- something that makes you unique. But for you, there's more to it than just warm feelings. You're starting to notice that it's sexual as well. Well Craig, I'm sorry, but it's not going away.
There's a word for people like you, that you've probably heard, but haven't thought about much. That word is "pedophile." It just means that you are sexually attracted to children who haven't hit puberty yet (in your case, just girls). There are lots of pedophiles who are like you, and are attracted to kids, and love them, but would never actually try to have sex with them because it's wrong, and they know that kids aren't ready for that. But some pedophiles aren't such good people, and actually molest children. A lot of people think that all pedophiles molest kids, so it's sort of treated as a dirty word. You like to think of yourself as a good person (and you are). So as you realize these things about yourself, and try to wrap your mind around it all, being lumped in with these other people who hurt kids is going to seem strange. I know that right now, you just want to be "normal," to think of yourself as a normal kid, to grow up to have a normal life. Trust me, though, normal is overrated. You're kind of strange, and you're stuck with it. But it doesn't have to be a bad thing. You're part of a very misunderstood group of people. That won't always be easy. You'll have to hold on tight to what you know about yourself to make it through. You've been raised to be a good person, and not want to hurt people, and at heart you know that you ARE that person. Hold on tight to those values and follow them. You'll need them. They'll keep you safe.
By the way, kids are gonna love you. You'll have lots of opportunities to volunteer, especially at church, and work with kids. You'll be a good leader, and teacher, and kids will look up to you. All these emotional feelings you have for kids, the good kind -- they'll pay off. You'll be a great influence.
For a while, the hardest part will be the loneliness of being the only pedophile that you know of. But just wait. Eventually, you'll meet other pedophiles like you, who don't abuse kids. They'll be from all over the world, and you'll talk "online," by computer (just wait a few years -- the world's about to get a lot more connected. It'll change everything.) Just knowing there are others like you, and getting to talk to them, and hear their stories, will be a big source of strength for you. And you'll share your experiences with them, and hopefully it will be a help, in some small way, to some other pedophiles when they need it. You'll be a small part of a sort of movement, a group of good pedophiles coming together to help each other, and trying to show the world that not all of us are bad.
Hang in there, Craig. You're all right, even if you don't always feel like it. Remember to believe in yourself and keep doing what's right. It's not exactly what you've been imagining so far, but trust me: you're gonna have a life worth living.
A young member of the VP peer support board wrote this letter to his mother. He's not sure when if ever he'll show it to her.
I’m here to tell you how I feel
Tell you how I’ve been
Tell you that I’ve lied
Tell you the truth
And to tell you that I love you
Tell you I worry if you’ll love me after this
When you’ve asked how I’ve been
I’ve said I was fine
In truth, I’ve been far from fine
I’ve been horrible, cried, bit myself, cut myself,
thought about killing myself
All because I am… depressed.
I’m here to tell you what I think
Tell you how my opinions have been trapped in my head
Tell you how our beliefs are far from the same
Yes, those beliefs
I know you’ve tried to get me to go to church
You probably see past my shitty excuses
But at church I feel judged, I feel like I can’t be myself
At church I have so many objections
Please, I still want you to love me after this next line
All because I am… an atheist.
I’m here to tell what I am
Tell you who my “girlfriend” is
Tell you that I’m talking to guys
No, I’m not gay, it’s worse
I’ve been this way ever since I was a child
About 13, and you know the fucked images I saw
I still remember the time we were sitting on the sofa
Watching a movie, when you said that you were afraid
That you were afraid that I would turn into one of “those” men
But, you were wrong.
Well, partially wrong.
I will never do the things “those” men do
I will however… think, imagine, fantasize about what “those” men do
Please, I don’t want you to hate me
Remember when we were at the children psychratric
We were gonna have a meeting about what she reported
When I asked you to go, so I could talk to her alone You said,
“No matter what, I will still love you”
I, really hope that you will
Because I am… a pedophile.
I’m scared now
Tell me what you think, please
Tell me as soon as possible
Tell me that you still love me
Know that wanting to do something is not the same as doing something
Doing what “those” men do is horrible
But, I can’t change myself
I can’t change myself to not like… children
Please Still love me
Coming out to my family
Over the past few years I have been slowly coming out to all my family and some friends. It has been a bit of a journey and I thought I would share what I have learnt from these experiences to help others with their decision of whether or not to let others know, and how to approach it.
Why did I come out?
Coming out was initially very difficult and for the first few years of being aware of my pedophilia I did my best to hide it. I eventually went to seek some counselling as I was drowning with guilt and that spun me into a suicidal state. This led to me coming out to my parents as I was planning to commit suicide and felt I should at least let them know the reasons behind my potential suicide.
A couple of years after that I got myself to a good place, deciding then to start telling my siblings and friends because I wanted to be open and honest about who I am. I hate living with secrets and I have found it very freeing to let those I care about know more about who I am. I would say it has helped me accept myself even more knowing that others accept me as well.
Thankfully, the responses were mostly positive with a couple neutral and nothing negative. My parents were the ones who took it the worst, but still pretty well. They are very religious and believed that this is not what God would want, and that I should pray for it to go away. They still love me and accept me, and our relationship is fine, but they don’t like discussing the topic. The other responses varied from a bit of disbelief to complete understanding and support.
The first time coming out was very difficult with tears involved, but I felt much better afterwards and was able to start my journey to self-acceptance. Telling others after that first time was much easier, especially for the last 5 or so people. My state of mind may have also had some play in that as I was struggling a lot when I first told my parents, but I was in a good place by the time I got to telling others (there was a year or so gap).
I found that age has quite an impact with younger siblings responding much better, being more willing to ask questions and understand more about pedophilia. This came as no surprise to me and I generally planned how I was going to approach it based on how old the sibling was that I was talking to. If I was to give an age to split up the different reactions, I would say everyone under 40 took it really well and were willing to discuss it further, and those older were a bit more of a mixed bag. The really interesting part is that the older siblings, and my parents, thought that the younger ones wouldn’t be able to handle knowing about my pedophilia.
One response that really surprised me was two of my siblings had suspected my attraction to young girls based on some of the events earlier in my life (nothing I had done wrong), but said they didn’t want to risk mentioning it in case I reacted badly. In some ways though I feel more surprised that more people didn’t pick up on it.
I also told most family members about having been suicidal back when I was really struggling with this and found that people were more upset with that idea than the pedophilia.
I am glad that I have come out to all my family as I like having a more honest open life and to let others understand some of the struggles I have been through. I will say though that after having told them I do feel more judged or aware of my interactions with children, even though it is quite likely all in my head and they aren’t doing it at all. I have found that this feeling does fade with time.
Why were the responses so positive?
There are a few factors that I think contributed to having a generally positive response. The first would be strength of the relationship between family members. The second is that my family doesn’t find any topic off limits to talk about. We have a very open dialogue about any and all issues relating to life, society, bodies, no matter how taboo or disgusting they may be. The one exception to this is that my parents will never talk about anything sexual though.
The third would be who I am as a person. My family have all had a lifetime of seeing the friendly, helpful and honest character traits that I build my life on, leaving no doubts in their mind about my safety around children.
Finally, I think the society I live in (New Zealand, Generation Y) helps as well. People in New Zealand were pretty closed off talking about taboo topics, such as mental health, but over the past 10 years there has been the start of a big cultural change where people are becoming more open to talking about things. This is evident in the differing reactions of the older siblings compared to the younger ones.
How I approached telling them
The first step to telling someone is deciding who to tell. I decided the order of coming out to my siblings based on how open I thought they were to the idea. I went for the easier ones first, so that if any reacted negatively later on I would have other siblings to fall back on for additional support.
I was able to identify the easier ones simply enough by knowing who had talked about pedophilia in the past. A couple sisters in particular had mentioned feeling pity for those attracted to children during random conversations, so I knew they would have no issue with the topic. The other factor was how close I was to each sibling. There are some I have spent much less time with, so I decided to leave them until later and work with the closest family members first.
Once the decision had been made the most common method was to send them a text with a message something along the lines of: “Hey, would you have some time over the next week or so for a private chat? I’m happy to do it at my place or yours, let me know what works”.
This seemed to work pretty well, with everyone giving a time usually within a day or two. By saying it was private they knew to keep others away and could prepare themselves for a serious topic, and it allowed them to give a time and place that best suits them.
When it came time to actually talk to them the approach changed a bit, but as I reached the last siblings I had a pretty structured intro, which went something along the lines of:
“I’ve been getting around the family letting you all know a bit more about what I have been through in the past, and about some of the stuff that may be coming up in the future. I am bringing this up now because I’d rather you hear it from me, than from some gossip or whatever from others. The topic is a tough one for some to handle, so at any point you want to stop just let me know and we’ll end it there. There’s never an easy way to say this, but to put it bluntly, I am attracted to young girls.”
I generally follow up with a couple more specifics, such as rough age range, usually bringing up the word pedophile, and then saying that of course I have never done anything illegal (otherwise I wouldn’t be telling them about it). I then give them a moment to react or ask any questions. I will often say that I am happy for them to ask any questions, and if they have none I may state some facts about pedophilia. The conversation generally goes from there and will came to a natural end.
I have now told a good number of my friends as well, and the response from them has generally been even better than my family members. Once again, the better (and/or longer) the friend has known me, the better the response. People tend to judge you more on who they know you to be than just the pedophilia. If you have shown to people that you are a stand-up member of society the fact you are attracted to children generally does not matter much.
If you’re thinking about coming out to anyone I think it’s important to know how open the person is to alternative ideas and how well they know you. These two factors will be key to having a positive experience for both of you.
Remember that there is always a risk that you will receive a negative response from someone. Just because it has all gone well for me does not guarantee the same for others.
Comfortably NumbA journey through realization, despair, lethargy, awakening and acceptance This is my most personal post to date. I feel very comfortable analyzing things from a rational, logical, factual point of view and then putting them down into written word. Writing about my feelings, however, is a completely different topic. I hope this post gives a different perspective of what it’s like growing up and living one’s life as a pedophile.
My life took a dramatic turning point a little over two years ago. Even before that, I was never in denial about my attractions. I have memories of finding other boys attractive since as early as when I was eight years old. As you can imagine, at the time I didn’t know much about sex — in spite of having discovered pornography (by accident) and with it masturbation two years earlier — or the notion of sexual attraction, let alone homosexuality or pedophilia. But even prepubertal children often know they feel something special that they don’t quite understand or know how to describe for some people, typically children their own age. In most cases, a boy will feel that something especial for a girl — they have a crush. In my case, I felt it for other boys my age. Of course I didn’t know any better at that age, so I never even questioned whether it was normal or not. It just was.
As I kept growing up, the boys I found attractive didn’t quite grow up with me. Up until I was about fourteen I would still find enough boys my age attractive to not think too much of it. At that age I was more aware of sexuality and started really worrying about being gay. Having been brought up in a Catholic household, it was a very scary thought. In addition, homosexuality wasn’t nearly as discussed in the open as it is today, let alone accepted by society in general. However, I always knew that I found a lot of younger boys attractive. This would typically be the younger brothers of my age peers who I knew from my neighborhood or from school, or simply boys I would see in movies and TV shows. This went on for the next couple of years. I don’t even know where or when I ever heard the term pedophile for the first time, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t until much later that the notion of there being adults interested in sex with children even crept into my consciousness.
Up until I was about sixteen I just kept hoping that I was just a ‘normal’ gay boy, and that this would be some kind of phase that would eventually pass. Even if I didn’t consciously know about pedophiles I already knew that something was really off. Now it wasn’t just my friends’ younger brothers that were perhaps two or three years younger than me. It couldn’t possibly be normal for me to develop intense crushes on boys eight years younger than me, and to have sexual fantasies about boys so young. I was so confused. Was I just gay? What the heck was wrong with me? Why me? I still on occasion thought that I would eventually have to come out to my family as gay, and the thought terrified me. When you’re brought up in an environment where your parents have never talked to you about sexuality, and where you are afraid that they will not understand and they could stop loving you, how does one deal with that pain? Who does one talk to? What is one supposed to do?
The pain is so unbearable that there is only one way out. You numb your feelings enough to survive, to go through your life weathering the storm as best as you can. You put on a mask and learn to pretend that you’re OK when you’re anything but. You daydream about running away but can’t quite figure out where you’d go. You build a wall around your very soul and you don’t let anyone penetrate it, because you are certain that they will be so disgusted by what they see inside that you just can’t bear the thought. So you never talk about anything substantial with your friends, your siblings or your parents. You become a stranger to everyone in your life. You wear the mask. You become the mask. You become comfortably numb.
There’s a beautiful Oscar-nominated Irish animated movie called Song of the Sea, in which a boy named Ben discovers that the fantastic world of legendary mythical creatures from the stories his disappeared mother used to tell him when he was little are true, including the fact that his sister Saoirse is a selkie — a mythical creature with a woman’s body on land that turns into a seal in the sea — just like his mother was. There is an Owl Witch named Macha who helps you escape your pain by taking away your negative feelings and bottling them up — literally — in jars. But there is a hefty price to pay. The more you bottle up your feelings, the more and more numb you become, until you turn into stone. In the movie, the giant Mac Lir’s heart was broken, and the pain was so intense that he cried an entire ocean. In order to save him from the pain, his mother Macha the Owl Witch took away his feelings, and turned him into stone. Thus, he became the island which can be seen from the lighthouse where Ben lives with his family. I became the stone giant. The pain was just too much to bear. I resigned myself to the idea that I would never know love. I would always be alone.
Thus I lived my life; the great pretender. I was social enough. I hung out with my friends from college, while my parents—or anyone else in my life, for that matter — never suspected there was anything wrong with me. I became so adept at wearing my mask and hiding my feelings.
Until one day someone you’ve known for a while does something unexpected and tells you she has feelings for you in a quite unconventional way. And you freak out. And you freeze. So you don’t react. You do nothing. It’s just too scary and you’re too afraid to move.
You’ve already given up on being normal, or even a ‘normal gay guy’. But you wonder, and you ask yourself. If I was normal. If only. Sure, you have some girl friends (not girlfriends) and you like them enough—as friends. In that kind of awkward friendship you can build with someone when you’re constantly wearing a mask and checking that the fortified walls around your soul are properly manned to protect you from assault. You’ve never been attracted to them. Not that way. Not the way a guy your age is supposed to be attracted to a girl. Not the way your friends talk about the girls they’re attracted to. But you do like them. And you realize there’s someone you like a little differently, a little more. She’s the one that you think about when you think “if I was normal”. Because she’s an amazing human being, the kindest heart you’ve ever known. And she happens to be the one that shakes your entire world by telling you about her feelings for you. What do you do? How do you react? You try to pretend like nothing happened and you do nothing. You’re literally too scared.
Until something happens and you just can’t hide anymore. You can’t hide from her. You can’t hide from yourself. So you have to meet up with her. You tell her you like her, but you’re unsure if you’re even capable of loving someone. You tell her that you hate yourself, even if you can’t say why, and that you find it hard to believe that anyone would want to be with you. But she tells you that she sees something in you, even though you’re largely a mystery to her — as you are to everyone in your life. She can sense the pain, though she doesn’t know exactly what it is, and has no idea where it comes from.
You don’t want to lie to her. You really don’t. You don’t want to hurt her. She says she wants to know you, but you know you can’t let anyone know you. Not the real you. You can’t let them penetrate that wall. It would be… no — you just can’t. You never even think about it at a conscious level. You just know it’s impossible. You don’t even make a decision. It’s not even an option. But you try. You really want to be normal, so you try to be normal. And it hurts. Being in a relationship with someone is scary when you have never let anyone come close to you before. When — in addition — you have a secret as terrible as this one, it’s even harder. When you have numbed your feelings so much that you don’t even know what you feel, how do you express them?
And she helps you, and you learn to open up, little by little. But you keep that secret hidden, because you don’t know otherwise. Because that’s just what you do. Who in their right mind would do any different? And you start to build something. A family. And they’re all that you’ve ever done that is good, or so it feels to you. But you’re still comfortably numb, it’s too scary and painful to feel. You’re not in denial — you know well what you are. What you’re attracted to. You just haven’t named it. It’s just there in the back of your mind, and you ignore it, even though you notice it every day. And time goes by. The months turn into years; the years into a decade. I lived my life in lethargy. In an emotional auto-pilot.
It happened unexpectedly, the awakening. I was traveling for work when, back in my hotel in the evening, I came across a YouTube video by James Cantor talking about pedophilia. How? Why? I don’t even remember what led me to it. The Pedophile’s Brain. Yeah, of course I’ve heard that word before. So why had I never thought of myself as… that? It hit me like a truckload of bricks. My memory is hazy afterwards. I don’t know how that led me to an article, and then another article. And one of those articles led me to the Virtuous Pedophiles website.
I sat there in my hotel room, reading the stories of other people like me featured on the main page. People struggling with the same pain. And suddenly tears are rolling down my face. I fill in the contact form to access the peer support forum, but it takes some time to get a reply. My mind is racing. The next morning I catch a flight home. I spend the entire flight crying. I think about getting back to a wife who doesn’t know her husband; children whose father will never be able to let them know him. How could I do that to them? It’s not fair. She doesn’t deserve this. They don’t deserve this. But what can I do? This is what I am. This is who I am.
I get home, and I have to keep wearing my mask. Thank God I can do this so well. So many years of practice. I can’t let her see the turmoil inside, lest she asks. I finally get access to the VirPed support group, and I introduce myself. I refer to myself as a pedophile for the first time in my life. I cringe. The welcome is soothing. They get it. They understand. I get involved, receiving support and at the same time giving it to other members, new and old. Giving is more healing than taking. And quite soon it happens. You hear people telling stories of how they came out — or were outed — to their loved ones, and how they were accepted, forgiven — if necessary — and supported. Wait, what? Is this really possible? Can one say this about oneself, and not be rejected automatically? I also hear some horror stories about just that; unfortunately not everyone can be so understanding and accepting. Unconditional love exists, but there is no guarantee.
Thus the urge starts to grow. Should I tell her? I want to tell her. How will she react? Will she be able to forgive me? Will I lose her? Will I lose my children? The numbness is gone. Everything hurts now. I cry easily. Way too easily. Hiding that something is really wrong with me becomes harder than it’s ever been. The burden is so heavy now. It weighs me down. I wouldn’t know until later that these are symptoms of clinical depression. But I somehow keep battling it out of sheer willpower for several months, while I struggle with the decision of whether I should or should not tell her. I have many reasons to, but are they the right ones? Is it just because I want my conscience to be clean? Because I want to feel better? Because I can’t bear the pain of carrying this burden by myself any longer? I have many reasons not to. Good reasons. I don’t want to lose them. I don’t want to place my burden on her. I convince myself, several times, that the risks outweigh the benefits.
I keep involved in the VirPed community and I start building friendships. These are strangers from the internet and somehow they know me better than anyone ever knew my in real life, including my parents, siblings or wife. There are no barriers with these people; no masks. They understand, and they’re there for you when you need them. You’re there for them when they need you. You take great solace from being able to help them, and they accompany you through this difficult time. They help you put things into perspective and ultimately become instrumental in you making the toughest decision you’ve ever had to make in your entire life.
It started as a therapeutic exercise. A letter. I didn’t plan on giving it to her. It took months to write, and many tears were poured over it. Many late night conversations with my friends on the forum. Many sleepless hours at night lying by my wife’s side in bed, wondering what would happen. Praying. Dreading.
One night, after yet another business trip, I knew it was the time, and I gave her the letter after the kids were asleep. Instead of having a nervous breakdown while she read it as I had imagined countless times, I felt an inexplicable calm. And cold. I was waiting somewhere else in the house, and when I heard her footsteps coming towards me, that’s when I crumbled and started to cry. We hugged, very tightly. She was crying too. I’m sorry. It’s all I can say. I’m sorry. The mask was off. For the first time in my life, someone knew me. All of me.
There’s a lot of tears. Some tough questions. And a lot of love. Unconditional love. There’s forgiveness, and acceptance. Acceptance feels like such a balm. It’s hard to describe. Like after-sun lotion on skin burned by a summer sun.I really am a different person now. It hasn’t been easy. She’s been incredibly understanding, sympathetic and supportive. I definitely do not deserve her — and yet here I am. It’s hard to cope with this knowledge, for both of us. For me, knowing that someone knows this part of me that has remained a secret for so long. For her, well, it’s kind of obvious.
She encouraged me to seek some form of in-real-life support, and I started seeing a therapist, which has been incredibly helpful. No, she wasn’t expecting to cure me, and neither was I. But being able to process of all those repressed feelings from so many years back has been incredibly liberating. My therapist has been amazing. I’ve also been taking medication, which has helped with the depression, and I’m doing much better.I never needed therapy to know I couldn’t act on my attractions. It was never even an option for me. No one had to ever tell me it was wrong, it just felt wrong. Even growing up when I was still a teenager, it was just something that never even crossed my mind. I don’t need therapy to not be a danger to children. I never have. And I don’t need therapy to ‘cure’ me, because it just can’t.
Therapy has helped me accept myself. Accept that I am what I am, and that I am a worthy human being. In fact, I’m probably a better human being because of it. Because if I wasn’t like I am, perhaps I’d be more intolerant towards others. Being part of a hated minority does give you some perspective on things. Before all of this, though, I don’t think I had accepted it. I had resigned myself to it, if anything. But that’s not the same thing.
As a practicing Catholic, I also sought support from a priest I knew. I came out to him shortly after, and he has been incredibly supportive and understanding. His acceptance has meant a lot to me at a personal level. He also helped me understand that if I am the way I am it’s because God has wanted me to be this way. I can’t fathom why, but it does bring me comfort. God has not only made me this way, but he loves me and accepts me just as I am. And He will never turn His back on me. Many people of faith will say that I ought to pray every day to be rid of this condition, to be ‘healed’. Pray the pedo away. And if I don’t succeed, it’s because my faith wasn’t strong enough. Perhaps it isn’t, but I just don’t believe things work that way. My priest has helped me realize that the real miracle here is what’s happened in the last two years. That I am able to accept myself fully. That my wife was able to accept me and forgive me. And that we can continue to be together, building our family, building our future and that of our children.
That is all I ever needed. All I ever wanted. To be known. To be accepted. To be loved. For real. Not the me with the mask, but the me behind the mask. The hurting me. The vulnerable me.
It is a safe guess that pedophiles commit suicide at a far higher rate than the general population. If you are a pedophile who is feeling suicidal, contact one of the organizations listed under Giving/Getting Help.
Getting an accurate count of pedophile suicide would be very difficult. Most pedophiles remain hidden, and there's no reason a pedophile would reveal his attraction in a suicide note. If he does, it might well never be publicized.
Many risk factors come with being a pedophile: isolation from others, inability to safely seek psychological help, no prospect of a satisfying love or sexual relationship, the need to keep a big secret, a knowledge that you would be despised and shunned if your secret got out, and self-hatred -- you too were taught that pedophiles are evil.
We have heard from relatives of pedophile suicide victims. Here are excerpts from their emails:
My husband was a Virtuous Pedophile but I did not know it while he was living. I wish he would have shared with me as we were married for 21 years and have two children. Sadly, we lost him to suicide. I can't express how saddened I am knowing now that my husband suffered so much and I wasn't able to help him.
My husband (of 19 years) DID commit suicide, and I only found out 9 months afterward that he had been attracted to very young boys.
A friend lost a brother to suicide and then learned that this was the reason. Almost no one knows, including most of the family.
I have a fantastic set of old 45s from original artists like the Beatles and Steppenwolf, and vague memories of the cool, great guy who gave them to me and our friendship with him. It was long after I got the records and I was old enough to understand that my mom told me the story that follows. My mom had a way about her so that people always confided in her. She felt incredible guilt that when our friend gave me the records and also offered us a bike and stereo, my mom didn't see the signs that he was giving away his belongings because he wasn't going to need them anymore. He'd talked many times with my mom of suicide as a result of his pedophilia, and that he'd rather die than hurt a child. She did her best to talk him out of it, but he hanged himself. This was a good person who maybe, if he'd lived in the internet age and had a forum like this with other people to relate to, could have come to terms with himself and not felt so alone, so helpless. It hurts my heart still.
People accused of child porn possession are at an elevated risk of suicide (search the web for "child porn" and "suicide").
The US Senate aid Jesse Loskarn was one notable case.
Noted dancer and choreographer Paul Christiano killed himself because he found restrictions on his life from being on the sex offender registry to be unlivable. He had bought one set of pictures over ten years earlier.
We can offer remedies for some of the factors that could make a pedophile suicidal. You are not doomed to molest children. You can join a community of others who will understand what you are going through -- many of whom have lived for decades without molesting children and have achieved some measure of peace or happiness. We may be able to help you find a therapist you can talk to safely.