"'Pedophilia' refers to the sexual interest in children, whereas 'child molestation' refers to the actual behavior. Despite the common notion that all pedophiles are child molesters in waiting, very many--perhaps even most--pedophiles know they cannot express their sexual interests and work to be celibate, for their lifetimes, with no support from anyone. These are the Virtuous Pedophiles, and they deserve every credit and support we can provide them. All our current science indicates that men don’t ask to be attracted to children any more than anybody else asks to be attracted to whatever they’re attracted to. The media are rife with broadcasters and editorialists who capitalize on the anger and hate that can puff up ratings. Rarely discussed are the crimes that don't happen and the people who are in a position that most of us could hardly imagine. With all of my science and all of my research, I have not been able to find a way to turn pedophiles into non-pedophiles. But I do believe that, until there is such an option, it is the Virtuous Pedophiles who are doing what is ethical and what only few of us can envision. I congratulate them, their sense of right and wrong, and their humanity. I suspect that only few people could pass the test we demand of them."
"A growing body of research suggests that a large proportion of pedophilic men—-perhaps a majority—-have never touched children sexually. I have for years felt sympathy for pedophiles and thought that society should do better by them. No one chooses their sexual preferences, and pedophiles have a burden that most of us do not have. They should be helped more and demonized less. Many can resist their urges, and we ought to make it easier for them to do the right thing. Making pedophiles feel that they are worthless and despised can only make it more difficult for them. Virtuous Pedophiles performs a vital role by providing a community for pedophiles who are committed not to sexually abuse children. Older, more experienced members provide examples to younger members, as well as offering practical advice on how to live law-abiding, satisfying, and meaningful lives."
"From clinical experience through the German Prevention Project Dunkelfeld (PPD), running since 2005, it is known that there are pedophilic and hebephilic men willing to take on the responsibility for their sexual preference in such manner that they are prepared to go to great lengths in order to prevent child sexual victimization through sexual contacts or the use of child abuse images. According to these experiences it is time to establish this approach in other countries providing therapy for these men to deal with their sexual preference in a way that enables them to develop strategies for the prevention for sexual assault-—hands on and on the internet. Pedophilia is not synonymous with child sexual abuse. Some pedophiles never abuse children. I support Virtuous Pedophiles in its efforts to reduce child sexual abuse by helping pedophiles to never molest children."
"Pedophilia is not synonymous with child sexual abuse. It is so important for people to understand that not every person who is sexually interested in children will cause harm to a child. Many people who are sexually interested in children are committed to ensuring they never abuse a child and as a society we should do what we can to provide them support. Virtuous Pedophiles is one of the few resources available to people who are committed to not acting on their sexual interests. I support Virtuous Pedophiles in its efforts to provide a safe place for those in need and prevent child sexual abuse."
"Pedophilia is not synonymous with child sexual abuse. Some pedophiles never abuse children. I support Virtuous Pedophiles in its efforts to reduce child sexual abuse by helping pedophiles to never molest children."
"StopSO is delighted to support the achievements of VirPed. I helped to found StopSO, with some colleagues, back in 2012 because we were so concerned about the lack of support for people troubled by their sexual thoughts and urges. As a group of sex and relationship therapists, we understand that many people have difficult sexual feelings--feelings that society finds it hard to be honest about. We all need to work towards a society which is able to provide help and support to people before they offend, so that lives are no longer ruined. As we know, no one chooses their sexual attraction. Many people who are sexually attracted to children successfully resist offending behaviour. As a society we need to arrange things so that more people who are sexually attracted to children can successfully resist acting on that attraction. Both StopSO and VirPed are part of a new wave of thoughtful and compassionate responses towards the challenge of reducing sexual offending and supporting adults sexually attracted to children."
"Our Helpline hears from adults and the occasional youth, who are both committed to keeping children safe and are struggling with sexual feelings and thoughts towards children. We hear anguish, fear and often a sense of hopelessness from these folks. They’re scared about what their lives might look like, and how they’ll ever be able to have a happy and 'normal' life. We frequently hear, 'I’ll kill myself before I ever hurt a child'. Our 25 years of listening to these individuals has taught and shown us that those with these feelings are not destined to harm a child, and are desperate to find help to live fully and safely. To help them and in addition to emphasizing the importance of specialized help, we refer them to Virtuous Pedophiles for support in staying safe and refraining from sexually abusing a child."
"People do not choose to be attracted to children or adults any more than they choose to be attracted to males or females. Not all pedophiles are child molesters (or vice versa). Child molesters are defined by their acts; pedophiles are defined by their desires. There are pedophiles and hebephiles who never act on their sexual attraction towards children. They cannot be blamed for what they feel, and they should be supported for the constant self-restraint they must exercise in order to behave ethically. I support Virtuous Pedophiles in its efforts to reduce child sexual abuse by helping pedophiles to never molest children."
"For some, pedophilia is a condition with devastating personal and interpersonal effects. But, it doesn’t have to be. Many thousands of minor attracted persons around the world struggle daily to remain safe and to respect the sexual boundaries of modern society. As an organization, Virtuous Pedophiles offers support, guidance and, most of all, hopeful encouragement that those struggles are not in vain."
"Persons do not choose to be sexually attracted to children. In growing up, some individuals discover themselves to be expressing such attractions. The organization known as “Virtuous Pedophiles” is comprised of individuals who, out of a sense of concern for the well-being of children, are committed to not acting upon them. I fully support their goals and their efforts, and I commend them for their integrity and decency."
“I believe that science and society can learn a great deal from people with sexual attractions to children who are trying to learn how to best avoid acting on those impulses. The organization Virtuous Pedophiles can be of substantial help in this."
"Pedophilia is not synonymous with child sexual abuse. Some pedophilic individuals have never abused children, and many sex offenders with child victims do not have pedophilia, offending instead for other reasons. I think it's critical that we do more to help prevent child sexual abuse by offering help to pedophilic individuals who do not want to act on their sexual interest in children, in addition to our efforts to protect children and to prevent further child sexual abuse by treating identified offenders. Though I dislike the organization's name--I think the word "virtuous" puts off some people as smug, or self-righteous--I support Virtuous Pedophiles in its efforts to prevent child sexual abuse by offering compassion and help to people with pedophilia."
"Pedophilia is defined by a persistent sexual interest in children. It is different from genetics, gender, orientation and drive. All sex acts are voluntary and all people with pedophilic interests can choose to be lawful. Fortunately, they can also do more since sexual interest is far from immutable and new sexual interests, including non-pedophilic interests, can be discovered and enhanced. There is no scientific evidence pedophilia is incurable. I applaud Virtuous Pedophiles for its efforts to assist people with pedophilic interests to obtain treatment and to lead productive, meaningful and law-abiding lives.”
"VirPed is a beacon of optimism and encouragement. The members of VirPed are changing the discourse on paedophilia at a profound level. Many adults who are sexually attracted to children choose not to act on that sexual attraction. For some, it is because they understand that adult sexual contact with children is abusive, not because it is illegal or because it is culturally disapproved of, but because, as we learn more about how the developing brain of the child is physically structured according to her or his psychological environment, we understand better how a physical 're-wiring' of the brain can take place when the child is in a situation of intrusive intimacy. What may be traumatic to the child may seem loving and gentle to the adult. There are still scientists who would like to argue that adult sexual contact with children is no more than mere 'inter-generational intimacy'. It took decades for some scientists to concede that tobacco smoke causes lung cancer, and we still see climate-change deniers even now, so perhaps it should not surprise anyone that the harm of child sexual abuse remains contested."
"In my clinical career, I’ve worked with child sex abusers who were not pedophiles, and also with pedophiles who had never abused a child. People who struggle with attraction to children do so in silence and shame--sadly, it is clear those are two conditions for tragedy. Like so many people, people with pedophilia live in fear of their sexual arousal and response, worried that their desires, or the porn they watch, will ruin their lives. Groups such as VirPed offer these individuals support to examine and understand themselves, their desires, and through this, to exert greater choice and control over their behaviors. Ultimately, it is only through such dialogue, support and accountability, that we may move towards a healthier society."
"Pedophilia is not synonymous with child sexual abuse. Some pedophiles never abuse children. I support Virtuous Pedophiles in its efforts to reduce child sexual abuse by helping pedophiles to never molest children."
"While most people use pedophilia as a stand-in word for child molester, this is a mistake and is part of the stigma associated with being sexually interested in children. Pedophile and child molester are not the same. Many people who offend against a child are not pedophiles; many pedophiles do not act on their sexual interest in children. In a society where pedophiles are vilified and ostracized, Virtuous Pedophiles provides the essential service of supporting men and women with pedophilia to not act on their sexual interest. The value of Virtuous Pedophiles is immense. The rest of us need to work toward being less cruel and stigmatizing towards people who have a sexual interest they did not ask for and to work toward creating more supports and therapy options for people with pedophilia."
“The most up-to-date neuroscientific research shows that pedophilia--the sexual interest in children--is not a choice, but is hard-wired in the brain and cannot be changed. Pedophilia is, however, different from child sexual abuse. There are pedophiles who never act on their desires, never abuse children, and do not view child porn. Virtuous Pedophiles offers a community for pedophiles to seek support so that they never abuse children, in a society where they otherwise have very few places to turn for help."
“If individuals 'report an absence of feelings of guilt, shame, or anxiety about these impulses and are not functionally limited by their paraphilic impulses (according to self-report, objective assessment, or both), and their self-reported and legally recorded histories indicate that they have never acted on their impulses, then these individuals have a pedophilic sexual interest but not pedophilic disorder.'"
The Inbox for Virtuous Pedophiles gets messages from many kinds of people. Lots of pedophiles, of course, but also journalists, therapists, and people who want to share their ideas on the problem. One particularly interesting group of people who write are sexual abuse survivors. A few are hostile, but most are not. Below are the lightly edited words of 8 women, 2 lengthy accounts and 6 shorter ones. All except Margaux are identified by pseudonyms.
I am a sexual abuse survivor and author of Tiger, Tiger, a bestselling memoir which has been translated into 19 languages.
My abuse began when I was 7 years old, after I met Peter Curran, who was a retiree and collector of exotic animals. Though Peter abused me, he also gave me praise and emotional support that counterbalanced my horrific home life—a viciously critical father and mentally ill mother. Peter committed suicide in 2001, when I was 22, and it emotionally shattered me. I would say that suicide in general is so desperately painful for abuse victims that I’d plead with even known offenders not to take that route. I have read the scientific literature that pedophilia is an orientation, not a choice, and that as long as it is not acted upon, it remains “dormant” so to speak and thereby harms no child. Virtuous Pedophiles is committed to protecting children like the 7-year-old Margaux who could not protect herself and whose family did not protect her. I wish Peter had chosen a Lewis Carroll-type relationship with me that involved no acts of sexuality and then I would’ve been spared countless psychological problems and years of therapy. If an organization like this one had been available to Peter perhaps he would have never offended against me and my life would have been infinitely improved.
Virtuous Pedophiles is an extraordinary website where those struggling with feelings of attraction to children can find support and a community. It is here that they can form positive links with others and resist the impulses to offend against children. This website does a tremendous service to both children and parents by serving as a kind of Alcoholics Anonymous wherein everyone strives to “stay clean” and honorable. I believe that this website will do far more to lower child abuse rates than our current system of punishment, social ostracism, and threats of violent reprisal. I support VP wholeheartedly as an abuse survivor, as a worker with human trafficking victims, as a mother, and as an American citizen. We need more websites like this and so I hope they will thrive and flourish as it serves to protect the most vulnerable and precious members of our society—the children.
— Margaux Fragoso
Never before has a website led to such an outpouring of feeling in me. I guess this letter falls under the category of Abuse Survivor stories, but that's not my main reason for writing.
My story: I'm not sure why but if there is such a thing as a sexualized child, I must have been one because I've been a magnet since I was 5. The first perpetrators were my own female playmates. As their house guests, I wouldn't be allowed bedsheets without performing sexual acts on them -- where they learned this behavior at that age, I don't even want to contemplate. When I was 7 and 8, I was molested by multiple men, all neighbors, all living within a few hundred yards of one another. I can't believe men discuss this together -- I have to believe they all acted independently and arrived at the same conclusion. I remember my main molester keeping me silent by imploring me to not send him to jail, but my mom says now I also said he threatened to kill us all. She's probably more accurate, as for its own preservation, my mind has seemingly blessedly blocked out a lot. Around the age of 9 one of my mother's boyfriends figured out what was going on. When we were alone he confronted me and I admitted it. It would seem it took one to know one, I'll never forget it, because after being forced into the worst confession of my life, my forced confessor then made me grope him -- how weird is that?
Regardless, I'm grateful to him because my mom then knew and the abuse stopped, not because men stopped trying but because now I was informed, smarter and stronger.
All that wouldn't have compelled me to write to you. This is what does: 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. I feel for you all -- born into something you can't control with no recourse except the admirable one you've chosen in joining Virtuous Pedophiles.
I have my own issues. I struggle with alcoholism. I could easily play the victim and blame it on my past, but I don't. It probably would have come about in any case for the same undefined reasons as pedophilia does to you. Maybe it's a genetic predisposition. I'm pretty sure I was just brain-hardwired that way, and maybe I just like knocking out my self-hating prefrontal cortex for a few hours of lizard brain -- even though my self-hating brain will soon be back hating me more than ever.
Regardless, I thank you for this website for giving me greater insight. Almost immediately after I saw it, I saw another article with a lesbian saying she shouldn't be discriminated against because she can't help her sexual orientation, unlike pedophiles who should be accountable. She probably didn't think anything of it. A few hours earlier, I probably wouldn't have thought anything of it. Now I know. And you taught me: pedophile is not synonymous with child molester. Thank you for that.
Thank you Todd, Nick and Ethan -- what a treacherous ground you dare to tread! Bless your efforts to bring this to the light. Your 'First Words' tab had tears rolling down my cheeks. I'm better for having visiting here.
I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I was not the offender's first target. His daughter was. Then her friend. Then his next wife's two children. Then me. ... it was awful. It was horrible. I still have night terrors although I am almost 20 years old. ... But I do not blame those pedophiles who do not act. Instead, I wish to extend support to them. Because hearing it described, it is like being homosexual and afraid to come out. ... I applaud every single man and woman who recognizes their attraction but does not take it out on a child. Wanting a younger person doesn't make someone a bad person. Acknowledging the attraction and abstaining from abusing the power of being older and larger -- THAT is what makes a human golden.
Thank you from a former sexually abused child ... A big swollen and heart-filled THANK YOU. I never thought in my wildest dreams I would have the capacity to say those words to a pedophile, being a 32-year-old woman who has experienced painful sexual abuse as a child myself. It’s because you, and the other virtuous pedophiles of the world, haven’t done anything wrong for being in the world as you are but have only worked to try to figure out how to make things RIGHT in the world in dealing with this immensely charged and difficult issue. What’s more is I can see how you did this and persevered against all odds, in a very hostile world, risking everything…where people would rather seriously hurt you instead of HELP you and other people like you. Naturally, I was no different and used to feel the same hate and rage. But now I know such feelings do nothing to actually effectively deal with this problem in any fair or helpful way.
I was actually molested as a child ... It messed me up in a lot of ways, and caused some severe trust issues. I still deal with emotional flashbacks and panic attacks, and I always worry about other kids being put through similar. It gives me hope seeing a site like yours, and I thought it would be helpful for you and your members to hear from people like me who bear the scars of those who didn't have enough honor to control their desires/urges ... I think sometimes those who molest children reach a point that they lie to themselves that they aren't harming, they aren't hurting innocents... I lost so much of my glowing darling self at such an early age, something no child should have to deal with. Thank you for having this site, and I hope you give many pedophiles the strength they need to keep children safe.
I was molested by a pedophile in my own family: my grandfather. It put me in a unique position to see a pedophile beyond how normal people see them-- as more than "monsters"... I want the world to acknowledge that no one chooses this life! ... If anyone should have a right to be angry, it's me, right? But I'm not. I wish more people could put themselves in someone else's shoes and have an inkling of what pedophiles must go through, and how utterly alone they must feel... I just want those in this group to know that not EVERYONE hates them! There are some who feel for them, and want to help.
I am a woman who was sexually abused by several men as a child. Needless to say, I've wondered why men would want to have sex with children. I was very interested to read that for some this is a sexual orientation that a person is born with. I do think that some people abuse children to experience a sense of power, but that is a different issue. I want to tell you that in spite of having been abused (and knowing the suffering that many others who have been abused have experienced), I feel compassion for those of you who recognize you are pedophiles and are struggling to live with that orientation. I honor you for facing the truth and for fighting the urge to act in harmful ways. I do hope that those of you who seek help will be able to find it. I hope that you can find ways to accept who you are and to have satisfying, meaningful lives while refraining from abusing children. I hope that you will not live in despair and depression - you don't deserve to if you do nothing that harms another.
I heard about this group from Luke Malone's "Help Wanted" radio segment, and was hesitant to listen at first. I was abused at 5. However, after listening, I realized that I had an emotional reaction. I just want to say thank you for having such a group in the first place. I would not have believed that I could feel this way about this topic, but we are all human and dealing with our own individual problems, and sometimes we just need to talk with people who are like us, whatever way that may be. This might be a little weird, but if your organization needs help with things, I would like to assist if possible. We as humans should help those who need it, regardless of how we are different.
Sexual activity between an adult and a child is always wrong.
We oppose legalizing adult/child sexual activity or making it in
any way more accepted.
Some people cannot believe that pedophiles would hold these beliefs. We do. They are the foundation of everything we do.