He told you he is a pedophile. Now what?
One of the biggest issues for people who are pedophiles is the fear of being outed. The fear about how people will react about finding out about them is one of the reasons that lead them to keep that a secret. Telling this secret to people is a combination of anguish, anxiety, vulnerability, joy, hope among other things. However it’s also not easy news to take for someone who is just finding out about this. In this situation how should someone handle it?
Pedophilia is a topic that is very poorly understood nowadays. Most people believe that pedophilia is a synonym for child sexual abuse when in fact that is far from the truth. For this reason, and also due to how media reports child sexual abuse cases, it is extremely complicated for pedophiles to share about their sexual attractions to anyone in their lives. I’ve written about how life as a pedophile is complicated, specially when they are teenagers. Despite that I’ve known many pedophiles who shared to someone, family and/or friends, about themselves and that experience was positive. Surely enough I’ve also known many pedophiles whose coming out experiences to loved ones were far from stellar.
Please keep in mind that there isn’t a set script on how to react to these sort of situations, each experience will be different as each person is different. Considering that I’ve previously shared some tips on how pedophiles can tell their family I thought I should write a few suggestions on how to deal with that experience, but for the people on the receiving end of the news. With patience and understanding it’s possible to avoid, or at least minimize, any tensions and stress.
Listen to what the person has to say. I can understand how hard it must be to hear this revelation, and I also understand the amount of things that must go through someone’s mind when they are hearing the words “pedophilia” and “pedophile”. However the person who is sharing his/her secret is keeping that to themselves for a long time. Not only that but there was a huge, and long, internal conflict about telling their secret. Respect that person’s decision and allow them to speak freely. Give them the opportunity to finally tell you something (the secret) that has bothered them for a long time.
Don’t assume things and don’t try to “fill in the blanks” in your own way. Chances are that the person who is telling you about being a pedophile knows a lot more about pedophilia then you do. Despite many people naturally believing that pedophilia is a lot of bad things they are usually wrong on all counts. Let the person who is doing the sharing tell you in their own way and try to comprehend what is being said with an open mind. Even if that person is struggling to share their secret, and that they take a long while to do so, don’t interrupt them and/or try to ‘simplify’ or ‘summarize’ what is being said.
Don’t be afraid to display doubt and ask more about what you didn’t understand. There isn’t any problems whatsoever about not understanding what is being conveyed to you. Usually people already have some preconceived notions about pedophilia which is often incorrect or incomplete. Hearing for the first time a different explanation about something you believe to know all about is complicated. If you are in doubt about something then ask that person for clarifications. As I’ve said in How to open up to people (when you are a pedophile)? it’s you who sets the tone of the conversation, and the amount of details that will be shared. So don’t be afraid to ask more questions about certain topics which you wish to know more about. Or not asking for further details on certain topics. You can always go back to those topics at a later talk.
Please, also keep in mind the nature of the relationship you have with the person who is doing the sharing. Maybe some questions that would be pertinent for a family member, or close friend, to ask isn’t appropriate for regular friends, or coworkers, to ask. Consider the history of your relationship with that person when asking questions to them.
Be mindful of the words/terms/language you use when addressing that person. A pedophile is not the same as a child sexual abuser or a child rapist. Nor is that person perverted, evil or doomed to Hell. For as much discomfort you are experiencing with what is being said to you please remember to show respect to whomever is sharing their secret with you. There are people that don’t mind being called pedophiles while others might prefer to be addressed as MAP (Minor Attracted Person) or even just “someone who is attracted to children”. As much as possible try to remember this and use the appropriate terminology when addressing them.
Don’t say “I’ve always suspected something” or “You always seemed weird to me”. As much as that is true, and you really did suspect this person was different, don’t say that in such an abrupt manner. If the person asks you if you ever suspected something then be honest and answer the question. But don’t make it seem like it was obvious that person was different and that anyone, and everyone, could tell. Pedophiles spend much of their lives worrying about if someone can tell they are attracted to kids. They are afraid of being confronted about their secret, of being rejected due to their attraction, of being hated for how they are and even physically assaulted due to that. By stating “I’ve always knew there was something wrong” you are only feeding into their anxiety, fear and paranoia.
The secret was entrusted to you and you alone. This is very important. I’ve stressed a number of times on how keeping their attractions a secret is important for the person who is telling you. They had to summon a lot of strength and courage to tell you. By doing that they entrusted you with a lot of trust. Don’t betray that trust. It’s perfectly natural that you are feeling shocked about what you just heard, and that you would like to talk to someone about it all. However, before you do that, you need to talk to person who trusted you and explain that you need to share this with someone, and why is that so, and get their permission in order to do that. Even if it is to your therapist or someone you absolutely trusts. The secret is not yours and it doesn’t fall to you the decision of sharing it.
Having said that I understand how it is natural to wanting to vent about this with someone and even ask for advice on how to handle the situation. I recommend that you join the Virtuous Pedophiles support forum. It’s a place where both pedophiles and non-pedophiles can discuss about being a pedophile and getting support when required. I’ve seen many non-pedophile people, usually family or friends, getting in touch in the forum in order to figure out how to handle the news and support the person who has told them about being a pedophile.
Offer support but don’t force “help”. Many pedophiles don’t need help in order to manage their sexual attraction. Many are able to do that just fine. If they decided to tell you about their secret then it may mean that they need support, caring, affection and understanding from someone they love. Don’t force that person to seek help from a therapist or psychiatrist. There is quite a few pedophiles who deal with issues of anxiety, depression and paranoia and many times that is derived from the hatred from society and from having to keep a secret all their lives. In case the person indicates they are struggling with their attractions, or issues derived from it, or that they need professional help then it’s valid to encourage them to seek that. There is also the option of online support forums, like Virtuous Pedophiles, that I mentioned before. Above all try and talk to that person about what they believe they need and assist them with that, without forcing anything on them.
Treat that person the same way you’ve always had. The person that just told you about their secret hasn’t changed from whom they were before this conversation. They are still the same person you’ve always known and know to this point. They are not automatically different just because you know about them. You could say that you now know the totality of whom they are as a person. As much as the fact that they are pedophiles is quite a huge thing right now it doesn’t change one bit who they are, what you knew about them and how you felt about them.
To summarize all that I’ve said I would like to quote one question and answer from my Interview With a Teenage Pedophile. Have in mind that this was said by a 17-year-old young man, and that his feelings match those of many pedophiles.
Lucas: What type of reaction, or action, you would like to see from an adult when you finally them tell about you?
Ted: Acceptance. I would like for them to say that they cared about me, and I would like to get a hug. I would like for them to ask me about this, so I could clear up any doubts they might have while also giving me a chance to explain about pedophilia.
I wish they would ask me before simply assuming things about myself or pedophilia. More than that, I wish they could keep a secret about this. Telling them would be hard enough, as well as traumatizing, and I hope they could respect my wishes for privacy and not share about this with anyone else. It would also be great if they didn’t, automatically, send me to a therapist of psychiatrist. I really don’t think that would be a good demonstration of support because I would assume they don’t trust me. Even if going to a therapist would be about my depression, and low self-confidence and self-esteem, I wouldn’t want to go to therapy. I don’t think those professionals can help me unless I’m 100% honest about myself, and I could never tell about my pedophilia to them. I’ve had already one bad experience with a therapist and I don’t fully trust them. My opinion is that it’s very hard finding a professional equipped to dealing with pedophilia.
I don’t think that I need help to deal with my attractions, even though I feel like I could use help with my depression, low self-confidence and low self-esteem which derive from my pedophilia. Like I said, I don’t want to go to a therapist that isn’t equipped with dealing with pedophilia; being forced to go to therapy is something I don’t want to happen.
Originally published at pensamentosfolle.blogspot.com on December 15, 2016.