Paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children. It is also important that we understand that there are a certain percentage of paedophiles in the world today that have never acted on their sexual urges toward children and never intend to.
What do you think of when you hear the word “paedophile”? Do you think of a person?
I don’t. I don’t even think of a human being when I hear that word. The media’s portrayal of paedophiles as monsters generates and supports fear. This portrayal can prevent us from seeing them as actual human beings. We have labelled them, categorised them and no longer think of them as human. All we see is an unforgivable and heinous sexual act against an innocent child from a creature we feel doesn’t deserve to live.
We have identified the problem. We acknowledge it exists but we want to distance ourselves from having to deal with the issue any further. It is too upsetting for us. We have done exactly the same thing with people who use drugs, de-humanised them, label them as “scum” and again for our own protection we distance ourselves. It is a fear based reaction, cultivated by media and taken on as fact by the general populous. I am guilty of buying in to this thinking myself but I also recognise it serves no one.
There are not many issues that are easy to get a consensus on. Paedophiles however, evoke such deep feelings of anger, rage, hatred and intense disgust the world over. We don’t feel we should question or challenge anyone for voicing such feelings. The reason being, we all feel the acting out of their sexual urges with children is unforgiveable so when we hear of vengeance being exacted against a paedophile, most of us would find it difficult to judge the taking of revenge.
In contrast to all of that, we must consider that victims usually know their abuser and are often related to them. Part of the difficulty in dealing with this crime is that now we have to marry this “monster” that is portrayed culturally with this “person” we may or may not have felt love for at one time.
It’s definitely a head wrecker but demonstrates that paedophiles are indeed someone’s Son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or neighbour etc………… human beings.
Let me tell you a story.
Below is an excerpt from ‘Why Go Back? 7 Steps to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse.’ The purpose of sharing this excerpt is simply to encourage an open mind, an open heart and open dialogue around the very emotive issue of Paedophilia.
Imagine someone knocking at your door and informing you that your daughter or son has been raped.
Your heart is broken as you listen to the details of what they went through, and who it was that raped him/her. Imagine the range of emotions you are experiencing. How do you feel about the abuser? What would you like to see happen to them? How do you feel they should be treated? Would you like to see them physically harmed in any way?
Now imagine someone knocking on your door and informing you that your son or daughter has abused a child.
Your heart is broken as you listen to the details of what they put the child through. Imagine the range of emotions you are experiencing except wouldn’t you now want to know why? Why did my child behave in such a way? What is going on for my child? How can I help my child?”
Without considering anyone in particular…can you imagine the life you would have if you were a paedophile? I cannot imagine how I would feel to find out that one of my children had been raped. Having gone through it myself and knowing the pain and suffering ahead of them it would break my heart. But I would far rather hear they were raped than hear that they had raped someone.
Not Going Anywhere.
Unfortunately, this is one problem that is not going away on its own. Even the awareness of how one is viewed and treated if it is known that you are a pedophile doesn’t deter sexual predators. This should inform any right-minded person that this issue requires a higher level of education and understanding from us. No one would risk being vilified and gaining the label of sex offender if it was simply a matter of choice.
On Friday 29th of December 2017, The Guardian Newspaper reported that there are an “Estimated 20,000 British men interested in sexually abusing children. Within the article they quoted Police Chief Simon Bailey who said that “even thousands more detectives would not be enough to bring every offender to justice”.
Another probably more alarming aspect of abuse gaining momentum is the fact that women are also sexual predators. This is something that is even harder for us to comprehend but again quoting The Guardian Newspaper when covering the story of a nursery school worker Vanessa George who pled guilty to sexually abusing young children they reported alarming figures on women found to be sex offenders. In the article as far back as 4th October 2009, they reported that Up to 64,000 women in UK ‘are child-sex offenders’.
Although I am very happy with victims finding their voice and having the courage to tell their story. It is very important to recognise that every case is different with a unique back story which needs to be considered on an individual basis. I absolutely hold the view Matt Damon expressed during an interview with ABC News where he stated “There’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right. “Both of those behaviours need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?” Matt Damon received a lot of criticism for what he said because it was taken out of content.
I personally witnessed an entire family lives being destroyed because of one family members actions that were wrong and harmful to a child. In this case the person was young and sexually curious. He inappropriately touched someone a lot younger than himself and yes, his actions were wrong and yes, he should have to suffer the consequences of his actions. But I do not believe he should receive the same punishment as an adult sex offender or serial rapist. He cannot be seen in the same light as someone like my father for example.
Fear and lack of understanding ensures that someone like the young man above is automatically labelled as a sexual predator. The impact on the physical, mental and emotional health of the entire family when his actions came to light is still ongoing. When friends and family heard about his actions they distanced themselves from the entire family ostracising them and sending the message that they should all feel shame for what had occurred.
Everything is a process and to be horrified and filled with anger and rage because of the actions of a paedophile is a perfectly normal first response. I want to be clear that I am not for one second suggesting that these thoughts are in any way wrong or that you should deny them. I am suggesting that until we can manage to get past this stage of response we can never hope to create change.
Changing the Outcomes
It took me forever to arrive at my current belief that in order for real change to occur in this world we need to change how we currently view sexual predators and paedophiles. We need to be willing to provide help for sexual offenders. We need to recognise that they have a problem/sickness/addiction/compulsion? and find our own humanity and offer a helping hand. No one else is going to do it for us we each have a role to play.
If my sisters and I can arrive at this place after a lifetime of suffering the impacts of being victims of this crime, then I believe we all can do it. I thank god, I am no longer carrying all that hatred and anger that was only hurting me.
Thank God, more and more people are speaking out about their abuse which greatly decreases the chances of people going to the grave holding on to all of the guilt and shame that was never theirs. We have a unique opportunity for healing to occur on a global scale if we but have the will.
I am still afraid of paedophiles and the harm they can do. I still don’t understand how anyone could harm a child let alone sexually. I have managed to forgive my own Father but that doesn’t mean I would welcome him with open arms into my life. I forgave for me not for him. I can now see how desperately we all need to find a way to do the same. From forgiveness the next obvious step is to help find a way to eradicate this scourge from all our lives.
People fear what they do not understand but the good news is change is happening. Part of the reason we are so excited about our new book ‘Why Go Back? 7 Steps to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse.’ is our belief that the knowledge that is held within the pages provided such comfort for us and we regretted not finding it sooner. We are completely confident that it would have saved us years of self-hatred. We believe it will do the same for our readers.
*Within this blog, when I mention paedophiles I am talking about any sexual predators who has sexually abused children.
June – 3rd January 2018