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CAUTION: Due to the nature of the subject being discussed, this article contains some graphic descriptions.
In our zeal to protect children from abuse, we have made it enormously difficult for their would-be abusers to get the help they need to not abuse. This is demonstrated most clearly in the counseling office. If you’re cheating on your wife, you can talk about that with your therapist and get help and empathy without the fear of being ratted on. But if you’re battling with a desire to molest your daughter, well, then there are laws which say you have to be reported to the authorities. Well, who is going to open up to a counselor under these conditions? Do you want to talk about your most shameful secrets while someone is thrusting a mic in your face? Of course not. If you can’t talk to anyone without the risk of getting publicly ostracized, then you’re not going to talk—that’s basic human nature. So now we’ve got a whole bunch of pedophiles slinking around in the shadows with no one they can talk to and plenty of them don’t even understand how they got the way that they are. Well, this is a mess. Pedophiles aren’t subhuman lifeforms, they are humans who are struggling with an issue that was thrust upon them through no choice of their own.
As a human, you do not get to choose what kinds of targets turn you on sexually. That body you’re walking around in—which we call your earthsuit—is a highly complex machine and sometimes it chooses its sexual targets as a response to early life experiences. In this post, we are not attempting to explain to all pedophiles everywhere how they got to be pedophiles. Humans are far too variable to be explained in one article. But what we do want to do is help some pedophiles get a better understanding of the psychological processes that may have happened to them. The important point we want you to get from all of this is that pedophilia can be a response to unprocessed childhood trauma. This is good news, because any set of behaviors, desires, or perspectives which are associated with trauma can be greatly helped by that trauma being processed. This means that you don’t have to accept the idea that “once a pedophile, always a pedophile.” You don’t have to toss up your hands and resign yourself to a life of mental torment. With God, there is always hope. We’re not talking about some miracle fix here. We’re talking about God using negative experiences from your past to help you change in positive ways.
Every human on the planet is loaded with depraved lusts and perverse desires. But many humans are quite able to have “normal” lives without their perverse desires being such an enormous distraction that they can’t think around them. When you find yourself unable to lay off that child porn or utterly consumed with fantasies of molesting kids, it doesn’t mean you’re some sicko. It means you’re dealing with some intense internal stress which has probably been building up for quite some time.
If you keep shaking a can of soda, what happens? The pressure inside of the can increases and the metal sides of the can start to expand. In the same way, when you have unprocessed traumas putting pressure on your brain and you keep getting rattled around by your daily life experiences, that internal pressure keeps growing stronger and stronger until you feel like you’re going to go insane if you don’t get some relief. For pedophiles, the natural ebb and flow of sexual desires is like someone shaking that can of soda. Sex is a traumatic issue for you, and every time your body wants a sexual release, it rakes up a bunch of dark impulses which are linked to the past. When you then sit there hating yourself for being a pervert, well, that’s like kicking a can that’s already expanded from pressure: merciless self-loathing isn’t the solution here. What is going to help ease the internal pressure is to do some mental backtracking to the event or events which caused sex to be such a negative issue for you. Once you can start seeing your pedophilia as the stress response that it is instead of just shaming yourself with the very unhelpful label of “sicko,” you can start to do the emotional and spiritual work that you need to do to process the past.
We want you to have hope, because there is hope. We want you to stop loathing yourself and start viewing yourself with the compassion that hurting people should have because you are a hurting person. You don’t just come up with a desire to degrade kids out of the air. Anytime we find ourselves needing to see others hurt before we can feel better, that’s a solid indicator that we’re hurting ourselves. If an athlete gets a sports injury, should we all cuss him out and throw things at him? Should he go hide in a corner and tell himself he’s a scumbag? How is any of this going to help our guy? It’s not like he wanted to get injured, and now that he is, it’s really stopping his life. What he needs is for a physical therapist to come over and teach him some steps he can take to help his body heal. Maybe his injury will never get completely better, but it can certainly stop being the focal point of his life.
In this post, we want to help you gain some understanding of how traumatic experiences as a child can result in overwhelming pedophiliac desires later on. Then we want to explain some principles for how you can cooperate with your therapist’s efforts to help you heal from the past. Who is your therapist going to be? God, not some limited human. God is the One who brings traumas into our lives in the first place, He’s the One determining how those traumas impact us, and He does these things to us for positive reasons. Take God out of the picture, and you just can’t get to where you need to be. Since most professional counselors aren’t going to bring God into the picture when dealing with their clients because they’ve bought into the moronic idea that we can fully resolve problems while utterly ignoring the true Source of those problems, professional counseling often leaves much to be desired. Don’t sell God short: He is not so small that He needs some human being to talk through before He can help you. God might choose to use humans at certain points of your personal healing process, but He doesn’t need to use them. God is quite capable of helping you entirely on His own, and this means that you are not without hope just because you can’t find any humans to talk about your issues with. You have God. God is with every soul at all times—both Christians and non-Christians. God wants to use this whole pedophile package to refine your character, strengthen your bond with Him, and prepare you to get the most joy out of all of His fabulous plans for you. You’re not some yuck, you’re a soul who God created for very positive purposes. The first step to finding hope in the midst of pedophilia is to start viewing your perverse desires as a key that can unlock the door to fabulous things, the greatest of which is rich communion with the One who made you. The second step is to gain a more balanced perspective of your situation.
HOW YOU GOT THIS WAY
As long as you’re viewing yourself as some loathsome worm, you’re not being reasonable. You’re being utterly unreasonable and unjustifiably harsh. It is ignorance that causes people to take such hostile attitudes towards themselves and others. When we don’t understand something, we often condemn it. And as long as we’re in condemnation mode, we’re obsessing over hate, and we’re not going to get anywhere productive. So to start down the road of healing, you need to get off your own back and lighten up. How do you get there? By gaining some insights which will help you get out of this ignorant place that you’re in.
God designed us to be frail little creatures. We become easily stressed and easily overwhelmed by both negative and positive experiences in life. When we say that someone has been traumatized, we mean that they’ve gone through an intensely negative experience which they have not been able to fully process. Unprocessed traumas result in the traumatized person getting psychologically stuck in the past. For example, when she was young, Amanda’s older brother locked her in a box and then told her he was burying her alive when all he was really doing was throwing handfuls of gravel onto the box to make it sound like she was being buried. The brother was just playing a mean prank, he wasn’t really trying to kill his sister. The brother found his game hilarious. Amanda found it utterly terrifying. She really believed she was being buried alive, she believed that she would die before anyone could save her, and while she was stuck in that box, she experienced an overwhelming sense of fear. As a child, she did not have the life experience or maturity she needed to put such an experience in perspective. To her, it was life altering and emotionally shattering.
Well, by the time Amanda was let out of her box prison, she was essentially wounded on deep psychological levels. If a caring adult had immediately intervened, sat down with Amanda, and talked with her about her experience, then the impact of that experience would have been greatly reduced. This is what is called debriefing—it’s when someone who has just been extremely upset by a life experience receives immediate help in putting that experience in a balanced perspective. But Amanda was not debriefed. Instead, when her brother jokingly admitted what he’d done, Amanda’s parents rolled their eyes in annoyance, told her brother to grow up, and went on with business as usual. At this point, the entire family system moved forward expect for Amanda. She has been traumatized: she’s gone through an intensely negative and stressful experience which her mind can’t find a way to put in perspective. Jump ahead twenty years and Amanda the adult is terrified of being in confined places, terrified of the dark, and she feels intense, general hatred towards humans. Why is Amanda messed up like this? Because even though she’s been physically doing her life, psychologically she is still stuck in the past.
Here’s a critical point to understand about traumatic experiences: they must be processed. If you can’t or don’t process them at the time that they occur, you will have to process them later. The longer you wait, the more difficult they will be to deal with. Traumatic experiences are like getting physically cut with a dirty knife. If you immediately clean the wound, it will heal rapidly and cease to be something you think about. Psychological debriefing is like immediately cleaning that wound. There is still damage done which your mind needs time to repair, but the damage is going to be a whole lot less because you didn’t let the wound fester. When there is no debriefing and the traumatic experience remains unaddressed, then it’s like having that dirty cut become infected. As time passes, what started out as a small cut grows into a much more serious issue. If you try to ignore it by putting bandages over it that will hide it from view, the wound will only grow worse. Your body simply can’t heal that infected cut until the cut gets properly cleaned, and debriding a wound is a very painful process. In the same way, once psychological wounds have been festering for years, trying to clear out the infected tissue is a very upsetting experience.
When she was locked in that box, Amanda experienced a range of intense emotions: fear of dying, the grief of being abandoned by her parents, the shock of having her own brother try to kill her. She felt deeply betrayed and utterly devalued as a person. Amanda can’t psychologically heal from her trauma until those emotions she experienced are faced, felt, and put into perspective. The longer Amanda goes without expressing those emotions, the more emotion she will need to express. If she’d dealt with the trauma right away, she might have been able to get out her grief with a good thirty minutes of hard crying. But after letting things fester for twenty years, Amanda is going to need to cry for a lot longer than thirty minutes. When we try to keep our emotions stuffed down, they intensify, and we end up with a lot more pain, anger, and fear to work through than we initially had.
Now as an adult, Amanda can’t step into a dark closet without having a panic attack. Why? Because small, dark spaces make Amanda feel like she’s back in that horrible box again. You see, when we’re traumatized, our minds become so fixated on the experience we had that they start looking for commonalities between the past and the present. Amanda’s traumatized brain is obsessed with her box experience. As Amanda goes through her daily activities, it’s like her brain is constantly asking, “What are the similarities between my current experience and that horrible box event that happened to me?” Amanda can be totally unaware that she is doing this, yet this is the question that her subconscious mind is obsessing over as it aggressively looks for any similarities between the present and the past. This is why Amanda finds herself terrified to open a closet door—because subconsciously her mind is saying, “This closet reminds me of that box—it’s a small, enclosed space that I could get trapped in.” Every time Amanda’s brain finds any remote similarities between her current experience and that awful box event, it flips an alarm and Amanda’s whole earthsuit goes on red alert. Amanda becomes overwhelmed with feelings that are similar to the feelings she had in that box: she feels certain that she is in horrible danger and she’s terrified. When Amanda is watching a movie in which a brother is pulling some mean prank on his sister, her brain says, “This reminds me of that horrible box experience!” and suddenly Amanda flies into a furious rage. She might not be able to consciously explain why she’s flipping out, she just knows that she is extremely upset and unable to calm down. Well, the fact that Amanda can’t consciously see the logic behind her emotions doesn’t mean the logic isn’t there. But before we can explain more about how your mind works, we need to first talk about the difference between your body and your soul.
SOUL VS. EARTHSUIT
As a human, you are a spiritual being or soul who is traveling about in a very complex physical machine which we call your earthsuit. Your earthsuit is an incredibly complex and brilliantly designed thing which God specifically put together for you. Your earthsuit is an earth thing—when you die, God will take your soul on to eternity and leave your earthsuit here to decompose. Just as an astronaut no longer needs his spacesuit once he returns home from his space mission, you will no longer need your earthsuit once you leave this physical dimension. But while you’re here, your earthsuit is of critical importance to you. Just as a man can’t survive on the moon without his special suit, your soul needs its earthsuit to get around in this physical world.
Now because your soul feels dependent on your earthsuit, your soul feels extremely distressed by your earthsuit being in trouble.
Just as a man is not the car he drives, your soul is not your earthsuit. Your soul and your suit have separate wills, priorities, and agendas. Your earthsuit’s top priorities are feeling good and being safe. Once you understand what your earthsuit’s priorities are, you can begin to see your behavior in a much more logical light.
Your earthsuit is very logical. When a mugger points a gun at you in an alley, that intense fear that comes over you is a result of your earthsuit sizing up the situation and recognizing that it is in great physical danger. Your earthsuit is extremely smart and a very fast learner. Once it realizes that bullets can do epic damage to its delicate organs and it understands that bullets come out of guns, then it quite logically panics when a gun gets pointed at it. To fear things that can harm you is not a sign of cowardice, it’s a sign that you’re a very rational being.
All earthsuits care about feeling good and being safe. Not all earthsuits put the same importance on these things. When you see people intentionally putting their lives at risk in order to get some rush of adrenaline, that’s telling you that those particular earthsuits are putting a higher value on feeling good than on being safe. These are your big wave surfers, your skydivers, your rock climbers, and all other extreme sports fans. But even earthsuits that are obsessed with pleasure care about being safe. The extreme snowboarder who gets caught in an avalanche experiences terror because his earthsuit realizes it is in great physical danger. Many earthsuits don’t mind flirting with danger in order to spike the adrenaline rush, but all earthsuits have their lines.
Now some earthsuits go the other way: they put safety far above feeling good. These are your folks who never want to try anything new if that new thing is remotely unsafe. These are your super cautious, risk avoiders who spend so much time trying to safeguard against possible harm that they miss out on a lot of fun. So not every earthsuit is the same, but all earthsuits care about feeling good and being safe. What about you? How do you think your own earthsuit balances these two priorities? Do you think your earthsuit puts a stronger emphasis on feeling good or being safe? Or do you think it puts a pretty equal value on these two goals? The better you understand yourself, the better you’ll be able to deal with stress in life.
Now when it comes to spiritual matters, your earthsuit couldn’t care less. Your earthsuit doesn’t give a flip about God. Spirituality is a soul thing. You relate to God with your soul, not your earthsuit. When you feel horribly guilty for looking at child porn—that’s a soul thing. Your earthsuit doesn’t have any use for a moral code. Your earthsuit enjoys looking at porn because your earthsuit enjoys feeling sexually aroused. Well, God says that looking at porn is wrong. Your earthsuit doesn’t care about what God says. Your earthsuit cares about feeling good and being safe. Well, maybe you live in a society where there are harsh legal consequences for being caught with porn. Now your earthsuit starts to care—not because of morality, but because it doesn’t want to be harmed. Because your earthsuit doesn’t want to be stuck in a jail cell or beat up by humans, it can feel conflicted about looking at porn. On the one hand, it wants the pleasure. On the other hand, it is nervous about getting caught and being harmed. So what do you end up doing? It depends what your sex drive is doing.
Your earthsuit’s sex drive cycles through natural phases of intensity. The more riled up your sex drive is, the stronger the need for sexual release feels. And just as a desperately hungry man is going to risk getting caught to steal food, when your need for sexual release becomes intense, the risk of getting caught becomes less of a deterrent and your earthsuit becomes quite willing to put itself in danger in order to get its immediate needs met. While your earthsuit is an extremely impressive machine, it does have a problem with being too shortsighted. It cares immensely about immediate gratification and often won’t even bother to think about the long-term consequences of its decisions. But then again, your earthsuit was designed to only last for the length of your life, so what do you want from it? It’s not an eternal thing like your soul.
Your soul is the only part of you that will exist forever, and God has given your soul the ability to take the eternal view of things. When your soul decides to submit to God today in order to stay out of Hell later, that’s taking the eternal view. That’s putting long-term happiness above immediate gratification. That’s the wise approach to life, but it’s not reasonable to expect your earthsuit to think like this because your earthsuit is a totally different thing than your soul.
The better you understand yourself, the better you’ll do with processing the past, forming reasonable expectations, and understanding certain key truths about God. This is why we’re explaining the difference between your soul and your earthsuit. You need to understand that mind, body, and soul are not just one entity. Your soul (or spirit) is entirely separate from your earthsuit, and you need to get a firm grip on this if you’re going to have any hope of gaining confidence in your relationship with God, because God is judging you by your soul, not your earthsuit. Now we need to talk about how brain works.
THE CONSCIOUS VS. THE SUBCONSCIOUS
Your earthsuit has three main components: physical, mental, and emotional. Your brain is the central processing computer which runs your earthsuit’s system. Your brain’s goal is to keep your earthsuit functioning as well as possible, and this is quite the challenging task because your earthsuit is such a sensitive machine. In life, your earthsuit is constantly being bombarded with threats which your brain scrambles to deal with. When bad bacteria is detected in your bloodstream, your brain sends orders for your immune system to launch a defensive attack. A foreign object just cut into your soft tissues and now blood is leaking out. Quick, start the clotting, build a temporary scab to patch the hole, then start mending the tear. Is your energy running low? Trigger the hunger signal, and get the digestive system revved up to process the incoming calories and nutrients. The whole system is extremely high maintenance and your brain never gets a break. It’s working 24/7, but having you up and around all the time really increases its workload and it also limits the kinds of functions it can perform. On a regular basis, your brain needs to shut the whole system down for a reboot which you call sleep. Sleeping is vital to the health of your earthsuit. When you’re sleeping, your brain is freed up to run some maintenance programs that it doesn’t have the resources to run during the day. Sleeping is also the time when your brain sorts through all of the information it collected during the waking hours and sorts that information into two separate categories: the conscious and the unconscious.
Get a flash drive with a memory capacity of a few gigabytes. That’s your conscious. Your conscious is convenient and readily accessible, but it also has limited storage capacity.
Now get a supercomputer. That’s your subconscious. Your subconscious is massive and extremely complex. Most of your earthsuit’s activities are managed entirely by your subconscious, which means you have no conscious awareness of what’s happening. For example, when you go to eat lunch, your conscious gets involved in deliberating about what kind of sandwich you want and some of the mechanics of eating it. But after that, your conscious moves on to other things while your subconscious carries out the highly complex process of digesting. Your conscious thinks about your sandwich only during the ten minutes it takes you to wolf the thing down, but your subconscious is thinking about your sandwich for the next four hours as it supervises the stages of digestion.
When you’re first learning to type, or ride a bike or walk, those are very conscious activities. But once these skills become learned, they are transferred to your subconscious. As you whip out that text message, your conscious brain isn’t saying, “I now need to press my finger down on the A key…where is A?” Your subconscious is the one firing off the orders to your fingers, and it’s quite impressive how efficient your subconscious can be.
As you go through life, your brain is constantly transferring data between your conscious and your subconscious. When you sleep, it’s like you’re plugging that flash drive into that supercomputer. Some files get moved off of the flash drive and onto the computer. Some files get copied so that they exist in both places. Some files which only exist on the supercomputer get copied onto the flash drive. When you wake up, your flash drive has been adjusted, and it is then bombarded with a bunch of new information as you go throughout the day. Emergency transfers of data from the supercomputer’s files are frequently needed—“What’s my address again? What’s my mother’s maiden name? What’s my password for this website?” Your brain pulls off these feats and countless others with impressive skill before it shuts down the machine again for a much needed reorganization of all that information that has been thrown back and forth.
Now bear in mind that your brain’s goal is to keep your fragile earthsuit running as smoothly as possible. If it allows your limited conscious to get overloaded with stressful information, then your ability to function is going to become impaired. Think about how hard it is to focus on your job if you know your best friend is mad at you or you’re worried about getting caught for something wrong that you did. That limited flash drive that is your conscious can’t deal with a bunch of high stress files. It needs room to store the new information that flies at you every day. Have you ever been so worried about something that you didn’t hear what someone said to you? Spacing out like that is what happens when your little flash drive has too many stressful files bogging it down. This is why your brain will work hard to keep high stress files buried in the archives of your subconscious. That amazing supercomputer can handle a lot more stress than that little flash drive.
Your subconscious can compress stress like a garbage compactor: jamming it down into tight little bundles so that it will take up minimal space on the hard drive and not interfere too much with other programs. The problem is that compacted stress doesn’t stay compacted—it expands. Your priest gropes you. That results in one mother of a high stress file. Your priest says that you wanted him to fondle your privates, and if you don’t confess your sins to him right then and there, then God will throw you into Hell. That stress file just got three times bigger. Your mother thinks Father John walks on water and there’s no way she’ll believe you if you try and tell her what happened. Then she invites Father John over for dinner and you sit there the whole time with your conscious mind exploding with stress. You can’t keep functioning like this. You’re starting to throw up whenever you eat. You’re getting behind in school. Your coach is chewing you out for your poor performance at practice. And it feels like every time you turn around, mom wants to go to Mass again.
As your ability to function becomes severely impaired, your brain decides that emergency measures need to be taken. Those troublesome files have to get moved off of that flash drive because they are jamming up the whole system. So your brain starts splitting the contents of the file down and transferring one bit at a time to your subconscious. Soon you can get through the day without thinking about what Father John did to you. When you do think about it, your recall gets patchier and patchier. This is called suppression: it’s a mental process in which the brain attempts to keep stressful information confined to an area of your mind where it will have a minimal impact on your ability to function normally.
Imagine yourself holding a stick of dynamite. The wick is burning down, and you’ve got about thirty seconds until the thing blows your face off. But then someone suddenly runs into the room, snatches the dynamite away from you, and cuts off that burning wick. How do you feel? Immensely relieved because it seems that you are now out of immediate danger. You look around you, and everything looks normal. Only it’s not normal, for the same person who saved you from that dynamite has replaced that single stick with a whole pack of explosives which is stashed away in a nearby cupboard. That pack of explosives is attached to a timer that is set to go off in 20 hours. So yeah, you were saved from the dynamite. But you’re going to have a much bigger mess on your hands in 20 hours. This is how suppression works: it postpones the crisis at the cost of amplifying the intensity of that crisis. In cases of trauma, often your brain feels like suppression is it’s only option. There’s no one you can talk to about Father John. You feel totally stuck and yet you have to keep functioning, so you suppress what you can and go on.
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR PEDOPHILIA
So now that we understand some basics about how your mind handles stress, let’s talk about the specific issue of pedophilia. What causes a child to grow into an adult who wants to sexually interact with kids instead of adults? As we said at the beginning of this post, we’re not trying to provide a “one size fits all” answer here. But we do want to expand your understanding of how many ways pedophilia can happen so you can stop feeling like such a freak of nature. You’re not a freak. The desire to molest kids, rape kids, and even torture kids can all be very logical defense responses on the part of your mind. Does it make it right? Of course not, but we’re not talking about right here, we’re talking about earthsuit mechanics. Simply railing on and on about the immorality of pedophilia isn’t going to help solve the problem. If you want to get out from under this brickload, you need to understand mechanics.
Now the range of experiences you can go through which can result in pedophilia is surprisingly broad. The key factor is this: before you are even aware of your sex drive, it needs to become associated with kids. The most common way this happens is if you yourself are sexually assaulted when you are a child. After you personally experience being sexually manhandled by adults, it is quite natural for you to find it therapeutic to relieve your distress over that event by turning around and playing the role of the molester.
This is a principle that is wired into human beings: we give what we get. If someone insults you, it feels far more gratifying to insult them back than it does to be gracious and hold your tongue. It is immediately gratifying to your earthsuit to return pain for pain. When someone hurts you in any way, your natural response is to want to hurt back in that same way. It’s a form of revenge, and revenge can feel intensely therapeutic in the moment. It makes us feel a lot worse farther down the line, but remember what we said about your earthsuit being shortsighted. When your earthsuit is upset, it wants to vent that stress as quickly as possible.
When Ben’s dad hits him, Ben is so angry that he wants to hit back. He doesn’t dare to because his father is such a hulk. But when Ben goes to school still boiling with pain and anger over the abuse he gets at home, suddenly there are kids who he can easily beat up. Getting physically beaten makes Ben want to physically beat on someone else: this is the human way. So Ben corners wimpy little Ralph and lets him have it. While Ben is throwing the punches, he feels an intense emotional release that temporarily helps to alleviate his immense stress. The relief is very temporary. As soon as Ben goes home and gets pounded on again, he once again feels desperately helpless and scared, and thus needs to go another round with wimpy Ralph in order to try and feel psychologically back in control.
Before you reach puberty, your sex drive is like a program that came with your laptop: it’s ready to go, but you haven’t activated it yet. When you finally get around to activating the program for the first time, you’re given options to choose what kinds of settings you want. Trauma driven pedophilia is like having someone activate your earthsuit’s sex drive program before your earthsuit is ready for that program to run. They don’t fully run the program, they just get it started enough to set its preference a certain way, then they leave it in this half-activated state. When you finally hit puberty and your earthsuit fully activates your sex drive, the “recommended” preferences have already been overridden. Instead of being a man who is attracted to women, you find yourself being a man who is attracted to little boys and girls. Instead of being a woman who is attracted to a man, you find yourself being a woman who is attracted to kids. So how is this fair? It’s not fair at all. Life is not fair, and God has intentionally set things up so that we humans can have devastating effects on each other. But now let’s talk more about how these effects happen.
INTENTIONS VERSUS INTERPRETATIONS
Here’s a key point to understand: you define what you consider to be a traumatic experience. Other people’s intentions are not the key factor here—it is how you interpret what is done to you that defines how you will then react to it. What this means is that you can end up feeling severely sexually traumatized even when no one on the planet ever lifted a finger to hurt you in that way. To understand how this works, let’s talk about Jack.
As a young boy, Jack developed a strange rash on his genitals. Jack had a very loving family and a safe home. Naturally his mother was quite concerned when she noticed the rash, so she took Jack to a pediatrician. Dr. Blake was a very nice man who also cared about Jack’s welfare. After examining Jack’s condition, Dr. Blake referred Jack to a dermatologist. Dr. Anton was another nice man who had no ill intentions towards Jack. By the time Jack got to Dr. Anton, his rash was really hurting, and he was feeling very upset by so many people handling his privates. As a child, Jack never gave his privates much thought. But suddenly there are adults in his life who keep touching his penis and Jack is experiencing sensations that he’s never experienced before.
With Dr. Anton comes more groping. Whenever Jack fusses, his mother tells him to lie still. His mother and a nurse also stand there watching while a stranger keeps toying with Jack’s private parts. Jack feels like a lab rat in an experiment. He feels helpless and powerless. He feels betrayed by his mother who is doing nothing to protect him, and he is scared of these adults who are all hovering over him taking such a fascination with things that he doesn’t want to show them. After multiple trips to Dr. Anton’s Jack is feeling deeply traumatized. His physical experience of Dr. Anton’s methods result in intense neural stimulation that is both sexual and painful. Now Dr. Anton is not doing anything inappropriate, nor does he have any desire to upset Jack. In fact, Dr. Anton wishes he could make the treatments easier than they are, but the sores have to be closely monitored to avoid infection and that requires a lot of scrutinizing and swabbing. This is a no win situation for Jack’s mother. While she is giving her son medical care that he really needs, her son is internally interpreting the whole situation as a case of molestation. By the time Jack’s skin issue is resolved, sexual stimulation has become intimately associated with themes of torture, degradation, and adults lording their power over kids.
Now Jack is never debriefed at the time the traumatic experiences are occurring. As a young boy, he can’t articulate how upset he is, and his mother honestly doesn’t realize what kind of damage is being done. No one tried to harm Jack—in fact, everyone tried to help him. But even though Jack was surrounded by love and goodwill, he came away with the interpretation that he’d been cruelly assaulted. When Jack hits puberty, he finds himself intensely fascinated with torture—especially torture involving sexual organs. He finds himself feeling sexually aroused whenever he’s around scenes of torture. Then he finds himself fantasizing about torturing kids. He knows he should be having crushes on girls his own age, but in his head all he sees are scenes of himself sadistically experimenting on young boys. What is going on here? Well, Jack has not processed the traumas that he has gone through. In an effort to protect his ability to function, Jack’s mind has suppressed intense feelings of hatred, fear, pain, betrayal, and shame into his subconscious. But because all of these things are intimately associated with sexual stimulation, every time Jack’s earthsuit cycles through its natural ebb and flow of sexual desire, he finds himself feeling an intense desire to recreate his initial trauma, only this time, Jack will be the one in power. He wants to be the molester, not the victim. By flipping roles like this, Jack accomplishes what Ben accomplishes by beating up wimpy Ralph: both men are desperately trying to combat intense fears and feelings of helplessness.
Remember how we said that one of your earthsuit’s top priorities was to remain safe? Well, when your earthsuit is put in a situation where it feels at risk of being permanently damaged, it does not get over that kind of terror quickly. When Amanda’s mean brother locked her in that box, Amanda’s earthsuit thought it was going to suffocate to death. When Ben was getting beat up by his father, his earthsuit was terrified that his father would end up permanently crippling him. When Jack was lying on that table feeling horrible pain in his genitals, his earthsuit was terrified that permanent damage was being done to him as well. These kinds of earthsuit traumas have an epic impact on your psychological well-being. You can’t just pick up and go on with life like everything’s fine. Everything is not fine. Your earthsuit feels like it came within inches of permanent damage, and it now has epic fears of being put in that same situation again.
When we respond to trauma by recreating the circumstances of our traumas in a way which allows us to take the dominant role, we are trying to establish evidence for ourselves that we are safe. As long as Ben is doing the beating, he won’t be the one getting beat up. As long as Jack is the one doing the molesting and experimenting, he won’t be the one subjected to it. For Jack, choosing child victims is attractive for two reasons. First, it closely recreates his own trauma, which then makes his ability to control the situation feel more reassuring. Second, being victimized as a child is so welded to sexual arousal in Jack’s mind that he doesn’t want to be with adults. Adults don’t turn Jack on. He couldn’t have sex with a woman if he tried, because women don’t turn him on. As soon as he feels sexually aroused, he wants a child to interact with. So is there hope for Jack? Of course there is.
To start, Jack needs to understand that the marriage in his mind between degrading kids and sexual arousal was a learned association. He formed this mental association when his own sexual organs were stimulated against his will when he was a child. Second, Jack needs to finally process the traumas he went through. That means he will need to identify, face, and feel the many emotions that he couldn’t face or feel at the time he was being hurt. He needs to deal with the rage he feels towards his parents for abandoning him. He needs God’s help to see his situation from another perspective than his own and realize that there was no true intent to harm.
Jack’s parents really didn’t hand him over into the hands of torturers—that’s what he feels like they did, but he has misinterpreted their intentions. Now Jack’s interpretations feel logical and valid to him, but there is comfort to be had in realizing that people weren’t really out to get him. Jack also needs to face the fear he felt at being so powerless, because as an adult, he still feels powerless, which is why he’s feeling so driven to physically degrade kids. On the inside, Jack feels like a helpless boy who other people can suddenly strap down on a table whenever they want to. But the reality is that Jack is now a grown man who has many options at his disposal. If someone tries to mess with Jack, he can punch that person in the face. If he doesn’t like a situation, he can leave. Jack has choices today that he didn’t have when he was a child, and realizing this is a critical part of trauma recovery.
Jack’s situation illustrates how powerful interpretations are. What you think people’s intentions are is what you respond to in life, and it takes time to learn how to let someone else’s explanation of their own intentions outweigh your own interpretation of them. Well, Jack’s situation is just one of many possible scenarios. To get a different perspective of how traumas can lead to pedophilia, let’s now talk about Bill.
There are two basic ways to respond to the domination of others. One way is to fight back and try to flip the balance of power in your favor. This is what Jack did. He went from feeling like a helpless victim to seizing the role of dominating assaulter. When Jack molests kids, it’s a one way thing: he gropes them, but he doesn’t want them touching him. Well, that’s not the case for Bill. Bill is another active child molester, but he takes a totally different approach by coaxing his victims to touch him. Bill wants boys to stroke his privates, undress him, and have sex with him. So what happened to Bill? Well, for him, the trouble started with his father.
Bill’s father Greg molested Bill frequently, only he would make Bill do most of the touching. Bill lived alone with his father in a neighborhood where people kept to themselves. They didn’t know their neighbors, and Bill had no one he could go to for help. Bill’s father would get Bill in bed and then tell Bill where he wanted to be touched. Bill felt horribly wrong about all of it, but he was afraid of what his father would do to him if he resisted. After years of being forced to be sexually intimate with his father, Bill’s traumatic experiences have resulted in a learned association. In Bill’s mind, sexual arousal is married to the concept of boys groping men and when Bill moves into his twenties, he is horrified to find a desire to be groped by boys welling up inside of him.
When Bill finally gets away from his father geographically, he tries to tell himself that he can be normal. He dates women, but he just can’t get into it. Every time he’s around boys he finds himself fantasizing about them touching him. When Bill’s father dies unexpectedly in a car crash, suddenly Bill is hit with a wall of unprocessed emotion. Instead of feeling relieved that his tormentor is gone, he feels intensely upset. Because Bill’s father was so intimate with him, the psychological bond between them was very intense. On the one hand, Bill hated the way his father treated him, but on the other hand, he found the experience very arousing. Now that his father is suddenly gone, Bill feels an intense need to replace the void in his life. This is when Bill starts going after his favorite piano student Evan. Evan has no father, and he really admires Bill. Evan is very confused by Bill’s first advances, but by imitating his father’s coercion tactics, Bill soon gets Evan to do what he wants. Like Jack, Bill is trying to live in the past by recreating the circumstances of his initial trauma. Like Jack, Bill is taking on the role of his past abuser, only because Bill’s abuser expressed his power by making Bill touch him, that is what Bill now does with Evan. This satisfies Bill on three counts. First, he gets an intense sexual release out of the encounters. Second, he experiences power and control that he never had before. Third, he is compensating for the intense loss he feels now that his father is dead.
Well, Evan finally tells his mother what’s going on, his mother calls the cops, Bill gets arrested, and now he’s in jail. He’s getting beat up by the other inmates and he’s feeling tormented with sexual desires which are now impossible for him to satisfy since he has no access to kids. So is there hope for Bill? Of course there is.
So far we’ve talked about how pedophilia can result as a psychological response to past traumas. As a father, Ben beats on his own son, but it never crosses his mind to molest the boy. Why not? Well, sexual assault wasn’t an element in Ben’s personal trauma history, and he doesn’t feel the need to bring that element into his relationship with his son. But he does feel an intense need to constantly affirm his physical supremacy over the boy, just as his father did with him. It’s Jack and Bill who are molesting kids, and they’re feeling driven to do so because sexual molestation was such a strong theme in their own traumas. What Ben, Jack and Bill need to do is deal with their own past baggage. They need to identify, face, and feel the many complex emotions that they experienced as victims of abuse. In Jack’s case, that abuse was only a perception, because Jack’s people weren’t trying to harm him. But all three of our guys are in a mess, and so is poor Amanda, who has to hang her clothes in her living space because she’s afraid to use her closets.
THE PEDOPHILE STIGMA
So why do pedophiles get labeled as extra bad? One justification is that they target victims who can’t defend themselves: kids. Well, so do a lot of abusers. Sexual abuse is just one of many ways that you can trash someone. Emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, and physical abuse can be just as devastating. Instead of playing these rating games, we need to realize that abuse among humans comes down to one very simple principle: hurting people hurt people. Often people pass on the same kind of pain that they received, sometimes they deviate. The bottom line is that once abuse is happening, there are two people who need help: the victim and the abuser. It doesn’t take long to notice that victims get the most sympathy in this world while abusers get quickly written off as unredeemable. Well, this is total rot. Abusers are just as redeemable as victims and once we get in alignment with God’s view of people, we find that pedophiles and molesters are just as lovable as everyone else. But since abusers are so often kicked aside, we make a point to give them extra attention in our material (see Why We Help the People You Hate). It is those who are always being told that they are beyond hope who most need to hear messages of hope, so now let’s talk about specific hope for pedophiles.
YOU & GOD
To find hope in life, you must look to God. It is from your own Creator that you’re going to find the kind of love, acceptance, peace, and healing that your soul craves. But it is particularly hard for pedophiles to reach out to God, because when they think of God, they think of some scowling Judge, and that’s usually all it takes to make them give up on praying.
Now sin is a very vast subject, and it is rarely discussed in full. Usually we only hear about one little aspect of sin—the part where God says it’s bad and that we shouldn’t do it. What we rarely hear about is the part where God then goes on to say that He knows He’s put us in an impossible spot by sticking our souls in earthsuits which are full of depraved lusts. Pedophilia is just one of a billion ways that we can express sexual perversity, and according to God’s very broad definition of that term, everyone is a pervert. So then what? Does God say to the pedophile, “Yuck, what’s wrong with you?” No, God says, “I know exactly how you got this way because I’m the One that got you here. I know how miserable it is, I know how frustrated you are, and I know what a hard thing I’m asking for when I ask you to trust that I didn’t do this to you to just to make you suffer pointlessly. I love you and I really do have a positive plan for your life, which this is a necessary part of. If you fully submit to Me as the Supreme Authority of your life, I will finish the good work I’ve started in you and eventually you’ll be able to appreciate My reasons for taking you down this road.”
God is the origin of all trauma. It was God who gave Amanda the brother she had, and it was God who made sure that devastating box prank went off uninterrupted. It was God who stuck Bill in a home with a father who wouldn’t leave him alone. It was God who gave Jack that troublesome rash and it was God who had Ben get beat up for most of his childhood. Once we realize that God’s control over this world is absolute and not partial, then we realize what a copout it is to try and pretend He had nothing to do with our trauma. God has everything to do with everything. He has been intimately involved in every aspect of your life since the beginning. He’s the One who set you up to go down the pedophile track. Pain abounds in this world. Sexual traumas abound, yet not all victims of such traumas end up turning into sexual abusers or pedophiles. Did God have options with you? Of course He did. Could He have arranged things so that your sex drive could have gone a different way? Yes. This business of God weighing you down with a bunch of psychological strain was entirely voluntary on His part. He didn’t have to take you here, but He did. Why? He says He has a good purpose. Well, trusting the God who trashed you to begin with—that is an epic challenge. Look around in this world, and you’ll discover that God isn’t choosing to put everyone in this kind of jam. Plenty of folks are skipping along under the happy delusion that God has nothing to do with evil or pain. The delusion works for them, and because they’re not dealing with the implications of God’s sovereignty, those prayers and praise songs just roll off their tongues, while you’re standing there feeling sick with anger.
Here’s a reality about God: He doesn’t treat us all the same. Now you might say, “No kidding. He spits on me while He blesses other people.” Sure, that’s how it feels right now. But what you’re not grasping is that this epic challenge to trust has major implications for how close God is inviting you to come to Him.
THE PEDOPHILE ADVANTAGE
At some point in your human existence, you’re going to realize that you were created to revolve around your Creator. This means that you can never find true satisfaction, peace, and joy apart from Him. This also means that the closer you get to Him, the more content you will be.
Now there are many factors which determine the level of intimacy between you and God. One very important factor is how well you know Him. Knowing God means understanding some basic facts about who He is and how He operates. God is the Creator of both good and evil. This is an essential thing to understand about Him, yet most people either do not understand it or they are not willing to accept it. Well, if you try to know God while denying His absolute sovereignty, you’re not going to get very far. And if you as an individual pedophile had any idea of how many Christians are rejecting the sovereignty of God, then you’d realize what an enormous advantage He’s giving you by forcing you into a situation where you have to acknowledge His sovereignty. Because you see, submitting to God as some sweet, loving Shepherd who was conveniently absent in your hour of need is quite different than submitting to God as the One who brings both joy and pain into your life. Submitting to a God who only blesses you is quite different than submitting to a God who both blesses and breaks you.
One Christian non-pedophile says, “God has never done anything but help me in life. I’m quite sure that He’s good.” But then a Christian pedophile says, “God has completely trashed me in life. And yet I’ve reached the point where I really am sure that He is good.” Do you think these two individuals have the same understanding of God’s goodness? Not at all. The pedophile understands the goodness of God on levels that the non-pedophile can’t even grasp, because the non-pedophile hasn’t even begun to face how involved God is in his life. The point is this: by saddling you with the immense burden of pedophilia, God is extending you an offer to commune with Him on a level that He just doesn’t hand out to most people. You see, the world is wrong about you. You’re not some screwed up piece of trash. Instead, you’ve been chosen out for a very special opportunity by the One everything revolves around. You simply can’t get to certain places with God until you deal with certain tough realities about how He operates, and getting saddled with pedophilia is like getting thrown onto the fast track of spiritual development. Is your path harder? Oh, yes. This climb is a lot steeper and a lot tougher. There’s nothing simple about saying to God, “Though You are the One who totally shafted me in life and messed me up on core levels, I’m still going to submit myself into Your hands and ask You to have Your way with me.” The far more tempting option is to say, “I hate You and I want nothing to do with You. I can’t wait to go to Hell just to get away from You.” This is what a lot of souls are saying to God today. This is how many people react to the realization that God is the true Source of their misery in life. If this is how you react, then you’re never going to experience the flipside of the pedophilia struggle. Right now you’re focusing on the dark side: all the pain, shame, and torment that comes with craving what is wrong. But there is a whole other side to this burden: one which gives you rarely attained insights into just how deep God’s love for you is, how trustworthy He is, how empathetic He is, and how easy He is to succeed with.
When you’re used to rooting through garbage to find your dinner, then cheap fast food tastes like fine dining. But once you experience real fine dining, suddenly what you thought was fine dining just seems like cheap fast food. In the same way, Christians who don’t view themselves as having done anything really bad in life think they know what God’s love is. But they’ll never understand it the way you can unless God throws them down into some pit hole of perversity that they can’t just pray their way out of. You see, it is a gift when God brings hardships into our lives, because those hardships function like keys which can unlock doors to whole new levels of intimacy with God. At some point—either now or in eternity—you will realize that having a close bond with your Creator is the only thing that is worth anything at all. So you see, the more keys God hands you, the more invitations He’s giving you to know Him in a way that most never will.
As a human, you can’t create these kinds of keys for yourself. It is impossible for you to mature yourself and it is impossible for you to arrange trials for yourself that will bring you the kinds of opportunities we’re talking about. Only God can bring the right mix of trials into your life. Only He can get the timing and severity of trials just right. You’re not getting anywhere with Him unless He invites you closer to Him, and when God puts this kind of trust challenge in front of you, that is a major invitation. He wouldn’t ask you to make this kind of leap unless He knew you were able. God hasn’t set you up to fail, He’s set you up to thrive. Instead of slinking off into some pit hole of shame, you need to realize that God has brought all of this misery into your life to lay the groundwork for you and Him to have something very special. He doesn’t hate you, He wants you. He isn’t shunning you, He’s reaching out to you.
God loves pedophiles. Just because you’re feeling tormented today doesn’t mean you’ll always be stuck here. God can heal anyone from anything, but when He sees that we’re willing to trust Him, He is going to help us get the most mileage out of our struggles. Suppose God waved some wand and instantly cured you. Wouldn’t you suddenly find it a lot easier to relate to Him? Sure, but why? Because you’d find it a lot easier to accept His love for you now that you are “fixed.” You’d find it a lot easier to trust Him now that He is doing what you want. Well, such mindsets would be a miserable place to end up when God wanted so much more for you. He wants to get you to the point where you understand that He cherishes you regardless of how messed up you are in your head, because that is real confidence. He wants you to learn to trust Him even when He seems to be doing things wrong, because that is what is going to bring you real peace of soul. God doesn’t want shallow things for you, He wants deep things. He doesn’t want you to have fragile joy, confidence, and peace, He wants you to have rock solid, unshakable forms of these things. In your case, He knows that a season of battling with pedophilia is the most expedient way to get you to His best, and that is why you are here. You aren’t here because you drew the short straw at some point. You aren’t here because you’re one of His rejects. You’re here because this is the place that will be best for your soul in the long term.
GLEANING THE LESSONS
In this post we’ve talked a lot about how childhood traumas can result in pedophiliac desires later on in life. Our purpose in spending so much time on mechanics is to help you see that your issue is complex. It is not just something that landed on you out of the blue. It’s like a tapestry that has been formed by the weaving together of many different threads. With something like this, there are many positive lessons to be gleaned, and the way God usually goes about resolving these issues is to slowly unweave the tapestry one thread at a time, and to use each individual thread to teach us some valuable insight. Ask God to help you learn everything He wants to teach you as He talks with you about the individual threads that are making pedophilia a reality in your life. Whether you got here through a medical trauma, being a victim of molestation, an over-suppressed sex drive, or some other channel, there is a very logical stream of thought behind why you do what you do and why you want what you want. God understands the details of your unique situation, and He knows how to help you process the past and face present challenges. The critical point that you need to keep coming back to is that God loves you and He is for you. He is with you in this, and He’s not blaming you for things that are beyond your control.
We can’t control what turns us on sexually. We can’t control what kinds of fantasies our earthsuits want to dwell on. We can’t control the surges of our sex drives, nor can we help the fact that surges in sexual desire rake up all the muck that has become associated with sex in our minds. God loves you and He is for you. He has a positive purpose in all of this. He’s not asking you to fix yourself, He’s asking you to leave yourself in His hands and try to trust Him as you wait for Him to carry out His positive purposes for you. Some pedophiles never become molesters. Others can’t stop molesting. Wherever you are at today, ask God to help you gain confidence in the fact that He loves you and is for you. Pedophiles are not without hope. They are standing on the edge of great spiritual gains which God will surely carry them into when they ask Him to have His way with them.
Understanding Your Reaction to Sexual Assault: Triggers & Pleasure
Understanding Your Passive Response to Assault: A Lack of Resistance Does Not Indicate Cowardice or Enjoyment
Voluntary Castration: The Solution that Makes Everything Worse (Help for Sexually Frustrated Men)
The Purpose of Dysfunction: Understanding Why God Messed You Up
Emerging From Darkness: Guidance & Hope for Malicious Torturers
Dealing with Trauma: Protecting Yourself from Bad Counselors