It is hard to believe that I first joined TherapyTribe over a year ago. I am still alive, and that is a lucky thing, since I could have died during a suicide attempt last December.
I continue to experience great difficulty finding support on-line in depression and mental health communities. There aren’t many out there which I have not already tried to join. None of the new ones I found allowed me to stay. I only found one other site which was similar in richness of features to TherapyTribe since July 2017. By that I mean a site having a multifaceted approach to peer interaction compared to a solitary chat room or classic thread-style forum. That site banned me too, although it was less harsh than other communities I’ve been rejected from. They left a template message on my post-login screen saying that they are ‘unable to help me’ with my problems and that I need to find professional help.
When I look on-line for peer support, I’m not expecting anyone to cure me, nor should I. Everyone has struggles in such a community and demanding to be cured or saved only puts undue stress or burden on another member. And further, anybody claiming that they can cure people without any medical license or certification should not be trusted. So telling me that you can’t help me is a pointless statement, just a sugar-coated way of telling me you don’t want me around. Oh, I do have access to professional help, but it is not a daily arrangement and so there are days or weeks between appointments. I don’t have many options on weekends, or those moments at three in the morning when I just feel awful.
I am thankful that there are people out there who understand, and I’ve met quite a few of them over the year here at TherapyTribe. There are actually people who don’t judge me for being a pedophile and who even agreed to friendship status on the site. It’s a token show of support but I value it. Any instance where somebody is able to understand what it’s like to be in my shoes instead of insulting me, becomes a memory that could affect my future decision-making process when I am in a dark place. I didn’t expect very many people would be supportive, but I was wrong.
Another thing that I seem to be mistaken about is the demographics of people who have shown support, versus others who didn’t want to talk to me (or worse). But it was only a vague recollection, so I decided to go through and actually do some number crunching. This confirmed that the numbers are in fact rather interesting. Start with the first basic statistic: the ratio of males to females. There is an imbalance on my friends list.
(TherapyTribe blog blocks hyperlinks, if you don’t see the pie chart, it can also be found here: https://support.therapytribe.com/members/condemned/media/2238/)
Now this might not really be an imbalance because of me. It could simply reflect a larger problem with society. I have read a few articles, and the basic idea is that men feel discouraged from revealing that they suffer from mental illness such as depression. It has been called “toxic masculinity” by news media and some believe it explains why suicide rates of men are much higher than those of women (i.e. statistics for Ontario, Canada show a 4:1 ratio)
So I don’t really think I can draw conclusions about my friends list or the users of TherapyTribe based on the male-female ratio. It is more acceptable in society for women to be truthful about their mental health problems. Men are simply less likely to join a site for mental health and related issues as long as the stigma makes them uncomfortable doing so.
Ok, but even if TherapyTribe has a larger percentage of females because of the aforementioned stigma, the numbers still don’t make sense to me. Specifically, I have found that the distribution of members by age is also imbalanced. A large portion of the members who I have interacted with on TherapyTribe who are now in my friend’s list are females aged 16 or younger.
(TherapyTribe blog blocks hyperlinks, if you don’t see the bar graph, it can also be found here: https://support.therapytribe.com/members/condemned/media/2237/)
So what’s going on here? I’ve been telling people that I suffer from pedophilia, that I am attracted to young girls, and I hate myself for it. The bulk of members who expressed sympathy, and further requested friendship status, are female minors. Now at this point I will tell you that I have not been the sender of the vast majority of friend requests.
I will reiterate that: I have been on the receiving end of almost all friend requests which are the basis of this graph. But if you have a hard time believing that, I could understand. It appears to be the friends list of somebody who was searching for teenage girls. But the truth is that my self-esteem is too low to send a friend request to anyone of any age. I think I sent one or two requests only because the other person was new to the site and were having difficulty figuring out how to do it themselves.
I have mostly been active in the group chats, and I have received most friend requests from people I have spoken to there. If these numbers are not imbalanced, then perhaps that means the demographics for chat room communication are heavily on the teenage side. I don’t really like doing research so I am not going to try to confirm this any time soon. But what is true is that all these teenage girls know that I am a pedophile, since I don’t accept requests from people who sent them randomly. I wait until getting to know somebody before I accept a friend request.
Now, if the age distribution is unique for me compared to other members of TherapyTribe, there are a number of possible conclusions to draw. The first point to consider is that I’m going by the ages which the members claim to be. I have no proof that anybody is telling the truth, and it is possible that none of the members I’ve spoken to are actually teenagers.
It could even be the case that self-styled investigative types have created many of those accounts in an effort to “catch me”. That’s alright, and personally, I don’t care. I don’t have criminal intentions and the reason for my suicidal ideation is that I’d rather die than ever hurt somebody in that way. After being an active member for a year, anybody still suspicious should realize that I’d have been banned long ago if I was doing anything inappropriate. It is gracious that the Tribe administrators have permitted me to remain a member of this site, but I have no doubts about whether they are watching me like a hawk.
When I first joined, I figured that the majority of people who would be willing to talk to me would be in their 20’s or 30’s. I assumed that anyone younger would shy away from me, just because of how much stigma exists around the subject of pedophilia and confusions about the difference between a pedophile and a sexual predator. But it seems to be the opposite.
I am starting to believe that many of the adults who chose not to talk with me or to remain in contact were unable to look past the stigma, they just could not accept me for who I am. And maybe teenagers, while having been exposed to the same hatred, stigma, and “stranger danger” conditioning, just haven’t solidified the hatred yet. Could it be merely the presence of naive open-mindedness that they took the chance to get to know me? Is it possible that if we met years into the future, they would have hardened?
Maybe younger people are the most willing to give me a chance, listen to my story and realize that I’m not a disgusting pervert and that, like the majority of law-abiding pedophiles, I never would have chosen this sexual orientation and I don’t want to hurt anyone. But I don’t know what this means, on a larger scale. I only know that I have not found many adults who are supportive of me. (There are some for sure, I am very thankful for their ongoing support!)
I have felt uncomfortable and awkward at times when I found out I was chatting with somebody who turns out to be a 13-year-old girl (or possibly younger, as 13 is the lowest age a user can enter to complete registration), especially when I find that out after the whole conversation about my sexual orientation. But if they are struggling with their own issues, I’m not going to ignore them just because of their age. Maybe other people might think I should stay away from them, but I’ve tried and failed. Consider the fact that every single age-restricted (18+) mental health and depression support community I have found has immediately banned me solely because I told them I was a pedophile after joining. Bar none. Why? Who did they think I was going to victimize in an 18+ community? Perhaps one day they’re realize that collectively, they’ve reduced a depressed pedophile’s options for online peer support to sites with mixed age groups.
So yeah, somehow the universe has played out that a number of my supporters are young girls. Maybe. If I knew they were really adults, I’d still chat with them, and it would save me the awkwardness. I’m not saying that I am never comfortable talking with teenagers, I’m okay once we get past introductions.
Regardless of what’s going on, I still benefit from talking with these friends of mine. Because at the end of the day, I have done my best to help support somebody with their life struggles, they showed understanding and support for me, and as a bonus I’m sure I’m raising awareness about pedophiles on the Internet, and the need to follow usual safety guidelines when talking to anyone. This could also save my life.
As a result of the unexpected encounters online, I now have some cognitive dissonance between my fear of offending, and the confidence I have that I am not going to engage in anything inappropriate with these individuals. Every day that I can have a civilized, appropriate conversation with a kid is a day that I know suicide isn’t yet necessary. Maybe one day I’ll get to the point that I no longer feel the need to die and I will be ready to resume my life.