The Inbox of Virtuous Pedophiles get email from a great many pedophiles, most of them expressing some level of distress. They are the people our organization is designed for.
We get email from another group of distressed people too: women who are partners of pedophiles. Typically they discover images of young girls on a partner's phone or computer (sometimes legal, sometimes not). Based on my tagging of gmail conversations, I would estimate we have heard from 180 such women in the six years of our existence.
Pedophiles are at increased risk of committing a horrible crime: child sex abuse. They are also at high risk of committing another crime which most of society also considers horrible: accessing and viewing child pornography. These 180 women suggest another way that pedophiles can cause distress: by becoming lovers with women who only later find out they are pedophiles. Keep in mind that most pedophiles are non-exclusive, meaning they do have a significant attraction to adults.
The women often describe their pedophile partners, and patterns emerge. Often the man will deny that he uses the pictures for erotic purposes. Other times he will admit that he finds them arousing but doesn't consider himself a pedophile because he's not attracted to actual children, just the pictures. In the face of his partner's distress, a man will often promise to delete the pictures and never look for more, and he often doesn't keep that promise. Sometimes a man will indicate he doesn't really think it's any of his partner's business what pictures he looks at, but far more often he will express great remorse and self-hatred for what he has done. Mostly these men seem to be a bit deficient in self-awareness. Never has a woman reported a man saying, "Yeah, I knew I was a pedophile when we met, but I can't have kids for partners, and I hoped you'd never find out."
Even if you think celibate pedophiles aren't terrible people, it is tempting to condemn such men as having committed a grave moral offense. Many fellow pedophiles will condemn them. I think more compassion is warranted. A very interesting parallel case is gay men and lesbians who have gotten into long-term heterosexual relationships in times and places where homosexuality was fiercely condemned. The parallels are a sexuality that everyone else hates and that they are reluctant to embrace, and a hope that they really aren't that kind of person or that they can change. Some level of self-deception is usually involved. In recent times, you could even fault the homosexual more, because they know they have the option of moving to one of many urban centers where they would be accepted and can have a fulfilling sex life. Pedophiles have no such options.
The next question is what advice we at Virtuous Pedophiles can give these women.
An obvious possibility is to refer them to a therapist. I suspect it would be a rare therapist who would urge them to stay. Like others in society, a great many therapists think almost all pedophiles will molest children sooner or later. They and their colleagues will have heard of men who molested children or step-children, while any relationships where nothing bad happened will not come to their attention. Surely it's safer to recommend they leave, to avoid a tragic outcome. In comparison, the pain and disruption of ending a relationship will seem minor. Therapists must also consider mandated reporting issues, if a woman reports having a pedophile partner -- especially if there are any children in the family or nearby. Those mandated reporting issues in turn weigh heavily on us, we have to suggest extreme caution if such women seek therapy. We are stuck doing our best to give advice.
There are many members of Virtuous Pedophiles who have been married and successfully raised children without abusing them and have found it rewarding just as any other parents do. In some cases the partners never found out. In others, the men have been "outed" (voluntarily or not) and after some painful adjustment, the marriage survives and the children continue in an intact family without any abuse. We know that it can work out.
I suspect that many women who find their partner is a pedophile will never consider staying. They can freely write online about their horrible partner and get support and understanding. Others who aren't so sure what to do are largely invisible and can't get support in most of society. They are the ones who would write to an organization of pedophiles for advice.
From the woman's point of view, there are a variety of issues that arise.
A very common one is that these women, like most people in society, think pedophilic attractions are disgusting and evil. Reconsidering that is a major adjustment. Sometimes they get to the point of accepting it as a malady, but can't accept the idea that a man might actively fantasize about sex with children. Sometimes they accept such fantasizing occasionally as long as the man feels guilty and remorseful, but can't accept the idea the man might not think he is doing anything wrong.
The woman might also feel betrayed that he kept a secret from her, and I point out his likely confusion himself and the limited options pedophiles have.
If the partner is accessing illegal child pornography, I point out the grave legal dangers to their partner. If they live together, I also point out the potential trauma to them directly of a police raid and losing their electronics too when the police seize his.
Women whose partners say they have engaged in child sex abuse are a different case, and we rarely hear from such women. The women who write to us believe no such abuse has happened -- and I tend to believe them too. But they worry about the future as existing children get older and if having children is a possibility. I point to the Westermarck Effect, and the overwhelming experience of Virtuous Pedophiles parents that they felt no attraction whatsoever to their own children. But I certainly don't offer any guarantees. I will often tell them that having children with such a man requires keeping his secret, and it may involve some discomfort if he has any extended contact with his children's friends -- trusting him on behalf of her own children is one one thing, but trusting when someone else's children are conceivably at risk is a further step. But I point out that if necessary it is usually possible to arrange things such that no such situations arise.
I point out that if she can come to accept the man's pedophilia, she may earn his lasting gratitude, and that in any case he will never "trade up" to a 10-year-old.
Such women sometimes report that their sex life is not satisfactory. This makes sense if the man's attraction to children is much stronger than to adults. Even if it has been satisfactory, she may feel upset knowing that she is second best and he finds children more attractive. I point out that most men will find the hottest actresses or models more attractive than the actual women they are involved with. Does it matter if for him the unavailable hotter people are children? I point out that while couples therapists usually encourage openness in relationships, many (most?) will not complain about either partner sexually fantasizing about other people -- but suggest they keep it to themselves. But I will stress that a woman needs to decide whether the man's sexual interest in her is enough for her, and that it's not likely to change for the better.
In evaluating whether a relationship with a pedophile might work out, I also inquire as to the man's character. If he doesn't take responsibility for his actions and always blames other people for his failures, I take that as a negative sign. If the woman is afraid of the man or entirely submissive, that too is a negative sign. If the man actively considers and worries about whether he might abuse children, I take that as a positive sign, while his blithe confidence that there will be no problem is a negative sign.
I never promise that such a man will not abuse children in the future, but also point out that most men have weaknesses, and celibate pedophilia could be considered as one among many and not akin to being a serial killer.
I always stress that the woman must decide based on what works for her personally. I would never suggest she stay with a man because she feels sorry for him.
I'm not a professional and can't give professional advice to these women. But I am convinced that professionals can't give unbiased advice either, and the danger of mandated reporting must also be considered. So I do my best based on my own life experience and many conversations with pedophiles and other women in the same position. Unfortunately, I rarely hear long-term follow-up reports from the women on how things turned out.
I welcome feedback from others about how my messages could be improved. I also welcome tips on where else such women could go for support, perhaps "Partners of pedophiles where the assumption is that SOME pedophiles might be decent partners."
I touched on these issues in two earlier blog posts:
"To tell or not to tell..."
"Pedophilia and parenthood -- a cautios yes"
They were written when Virtuous Pedophiles had been in existence for two years. Now we have been around for six years, my opinions haven't changed but I have refined them.