Thank you so much for inviting me to speak to you today. It is a true honor. Although I do not qualify as young anymore, I am thrilled to be able to tell a hall full of young pedophiles how one can have a meaningful and fulfilling life.
The discovery of being a pedophile
My discovery of being a pedophile at the age of 16 was followed by years of confusion, shame and profound loneliness. Despite a wonderful friendship with a boy I struggled for years with the knowledge of having an impractical sexual preference. I lacked role models, information and a perspective on a good and meaningful life. In that period I begged God many times on my bare knees and with tears streaming down my face to take this away from me. “I will do anything. Anything!” I assured Him. I don’t think he believed me. Nothing happened. I then stopped believing in Him.
As soon as you discover that you are a pedophile, a curse is cast upon you. The rest of your life you will hear that you have a dysfunctional brain due to faulty wiring and that you don’t have a clear perspective on things. With every step you take and with every insight into your feelings, victims with lifelong pains -real pains- will be staged as evidence that you are flawed. You will receive the most horrific stigmas and will need a magnifying glass to find nuance. Basically you will hear over and over again that you are not normal. But since when is the way a brain is wired a reason to divide people into good or bad? The world has an unhealthy obsession with “normality”.
Young pedophiles….an inconvenient reality for some
Victims of child sexual abuse were taught it is better to keep your mouth shut. The pastor, the teacher, the uncle, the father…their status was more important than the grief of abuse. “You better not say anything. We can’t know the truth.” In the past decades the bottled up pain, sadness and anger flowed like lava from a volcano of shame. What a shocking and wrong choice it was to for decades ignore the stories of abuse. What could have been prevented if it would have been possible to speak freely about what was really happening?
How painful and bitter it is that today again we look away from painful truths. After all, we pretend that young pedophiles do not exist. The existence of young pedophiles of at the age of 15, 16, 17 may be an inconvenient reality to most, but a reality nonetheless. Secondary education (in the Netherlands) has somewhere between 4.700 and 14.000 pedophile youths enrolled. What are we doing for them? Nothing! The pedophile orientation does not exist in a single educational book nor on websites aimed at youth. Too many youth are feeling depressed because they learn about their sexual orientation through the criminal acts of others. 14.000 adolescents cringe every time a popular appeal for ISIS-worthy punishments is being made.
We, as a society, need to give young pedophiles information on achieving a healthy and rich life, on risk factors and on how to deal with these risk factors.
Pedophilia and the false context of abuse
Without giving it a second thought, Dutch quality newspapers like De Volkskrant, Trouw and NRC equate pedophilia with sexual abuse. Pedophiles seem to exist only within the context of sexual abuse. That pedophiles can have a gift in itself is taboo. As if it is not a gift to be able to know children in their core, matching their life experience without belittling them. As if it is not a gift to be able to create a kinship where children know they are valued and relevant.
Only when you take pedophilia out of the context all together does it become possible to talk of a gift. Here are a few examples: “You are so good with children!” “Jack is always so at ease with you” “I am very glad you spoke with her. She is really doing much better.” “Look at him! He’s cheered up now that you’re here.” “She doesn’t sit on anyone’s lap, only on yours.” These are real life quotes spoken to pedophiles. These talents can only be mentioned as long as we do not link these talents to a pedophile. However these talents by pedophiles have enriched many a school and association. I am telling you: these talents do exists.
Thinking of pedophilia outside the context of sexual abuse is one thing, thinking of pedophilia outside the context of sexuality is quite another. In the end a pedophile is defined by his or her sexual interest in (some) children. When pedophiles and children meet, people are soon to speak of issues like trust, cats and bacon.
Towards a meaningful and fulfilling life as a pedophile
People seem to believe that a pedophile, if given the opportunity, will at all times have sex with a child. This is a gross misconception. As if being a pedophile means that general human values are inapplicable. To me, making love seems to be a beautiful experience where the words coercion and compulsion do not fit. When these words do apply, the issue is not the sexual orientation of the person, but his or her norms and values.
Children usually know quite well what they want but they are, as all parents know, easily manipulated in their attitudes and behavior. There are children that want sex and there are children that can be persuaded to have sex. But sex at a young age can be like a time bomb. The hurt can reveal itself years later even if there was consent. Beforehand you cannot see who will be hurt in the years to come. And for this principal reason I think sex with children is inadvisable.
So yes, there are temptations stemming from the talent with children and the sexual interest. In this arena of tension lies the challenge of a pedophile. That challenge is to be shaped by you. With the help of many friends and family I created some thoughts on ways to a rich and meaningful life for pedophiles. I hope some of them can serve you as groundrules or open up new perspectives in your life as a pedophile. My toughts are:
Be truthful. The challenge begins with sincerity towards yourself and the children with you. Show your love to them as a friend, a teacher or a counselor. Use your talents and be honest about your intentions to yourself, to the child and the people around you. No sex. Find people with whom you can speak freely about your feelings. This can either be a professional, friends or family.
Do not fear your imagination, it is yours only. Come out of the closet to people you trust. Remember that having pedophile feelings is not a crime but is merely being different than most. Your feelings are not the same as your actions. Not even if people tell you that they are. And although being different is not easy, it is not the difference that defines you. Your values, your attitude and your behavior is what distinguishes you.
It is very important to realize that you are so much more than your sexual preference. Find satisfaction and challenge in work, hobbies, friends, family and everything else. The most profound advice I can give to you young pedophiles on your way to a meaningful and fulfilling life is:
Be a friend!
My speech has been written. All I need now is an occassion.