It has been three weeks since I joined TherapyTribe. It is a supportive community with a variety of ways to interact with other members. There are also ways to connect with therapists for on-line or in-person therapy. I have grown used to being here and I visit at least every day. However, I am trying not to get too attached to this community as I worry that I will be banned just because I am a pedophile.
In my experience, society at large is judgmental and even hateful of people like me. It doesn’t seem to matter that I have never harmed a child and that I do not intend to. This hatred is pervasive, and it is even expressed in places that are supposed to offer help.
In the past month, I have felt the need for additional support because of worsening depression. I have searched on-line and joined a number of sites that offer support for people who are depressed or suicidal. As of today, I have been banned or had my account suspended from about 10 different sites, simply because I told them that pedophilia was the cause of my depression and suicidal thinking. TherapyTribe remains the only general support site that has not banned me.
Does this mean that TherapyTribe staff actually accept me here? Or is it that they just haven’t noticed my presence yet?
Because of the prejudice, hatred and even mass hysteria that exists surrounding pedophilia, the topic is full of misunderstandings that only serve to amplify the fear in people. Even the meaning of the word ‘pedophilia’ is largely misunderstood.
Many people think that pedophilia means the act. This is incorrect. When I say that I suffer from pedophilia, I mean that I experience sexual attraction to prepubescent children. It is all in my head. I do not act on it. And I suffer because the thoughts and feelings are unwanted. I know all too well how wrong it would be to act on these feelings and it causes enormous amounts of self-hatred. I just wish that I was an average man, who was attracted to adults. Instead I am living with crippling depression and daily suicidal thoughts.
I have supports in real life. I see two different psychiatrists. One is treating me for major depression, and the other is a specialist in pedophilia. I only get to see these doctors every few weeks, and in between visits, I still feel the need to talk about my depression, self-hatred and suicidal thoughts. I have chosen to seek out extra support from websites that are designed for exactly that. Why has it been so difficult for me?
One of the most common reasons that I’ve heard from site admins who chose to ban me is that there are minors on their website and they don’t want them at risk. Wait, let’s think about that for a second. If I was actually intending to harm a child on that site, what would be a good strategy? I know! I’ll march right in and say “Hi everyone, I’m a pedophile”. Yeah, that would totally work, right? Are you really that naive?
Well at least those admins bothered to use some form of absurd logic to justify banning me, probably because they knew deep down that they were being mean and unfair. The others didn’t even bother to hide their prejudice and said upfront that I was unwelcome there with no justification given.
Another reason that I’ve heard for banning me is that I might trigger others because I’m a pedophile. This is the opposite of the truth. In the short time I spent in some chat rooms for depression, users who had been abused as children were glad to hear that I never acted on my urges, and that I do not want to.
Further, I know what the rules are and I combine them with common sense. I don’t go around describing in graphic detail what things may go on in my mind. I am careful to only describe my problem in a general, non-obscene way. Besides, talking about my pedophilia really doesn’t help me feel any better. It is mainly my depression that I want to discuss. Talking with other depressed people offers some degree of relief. Oh, sorry – even if I’m talking about depression just like the others, I’m still not welcome – goodbye.
The one ban that hurt me the most was from a support website that differed by specifically catering to those who are suicidal. I don’t care how many reasons they gave me, the fact is that when you ban somebody from a suicide prevention site who is genuinely in need of help, you send a clear message to them.
Does this mean that support sites for depression or suicidal thoughts should never ban anyone? No. I know there are individuals out there who cause trouble and should be banned. The difference is, they don’t really want help.
Being in the uncommon position of suffering from pedophilia has given me perspective on the shortcomings of most support sites. I have seen many other people getting help in places which declined to help me. To them I seem different, I stand out from the crowd, I don’t fit into their model of support. But I know that I do.
So I made up a saying that I put into the blog picture (which I drew myself). It is “anyone who wants help, deserves help.” It is a saying that leads to a true model of inclusiveness that support sites should uphold. For site admins who think that pedophiles deserve to be banned, I would offer this saying to convince them to re-think that approach.
I’m not saying that all pedophiles should be allowed onto a support site. I’m saying that there are those who want help and those who don’t. A pedophile who doesn’t want help is the kind that you want to watch out for. They are the ones who might be out to harm a child. Of course, they’re not going to say that. And they probably won’t announce themselves either. But eventually they’ll be caught and then banned. I agree with banning them. Just don’t lump all pedophiles into that category.
There is one requirement to enacting this model of inclusiveness. Being accepting of a pedophile who wants help means that you have to cast aside your prejudice, misunderstandings and unfounded fears. That may be harder for some people than for others. But if you are an admin or staff of a site that offers support for issues like depression or suicidal thinking, it is a must. You cannot run such a site with prejudice and expect to have any integrity.
If you are reading this blog entry, it means that TherapyTribe admins and staff are truly accepting and nonjudgmental. It means that they were willing to understand my situation and my need for help. It means that they actually realize that, like many pedophiles out there, I am not a threat. It means that they were willing to get to know me before passing judgment. And so far, that sets them apart from the crowd. So if you’ve truly decided to let me stay, then thank you, TherapyTribe.