“Dear Ignacio, this is something that I have carried lots of shame around for most of my life. Since I was a teenager, I’ve been sexually attracted to those younger than myself. I wasn’t sexually active until later in life, but my interest and fantasies in younger people has slowly extended from teenagers to younger children. To be clear, I have never acted on these feelings. I am writing because my wife is now pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl. She is aware of some of my fantasies, but doesn’t know I also think about younger children. I am ashamed, worried, and concerned about being a father. I have no intentions of ever acting on these thoughts, but I feel suffocated and alone. I feel like a terrible person. Please advise.”
I appreciate you reaching out, despite holding socially unacceptable thoughts and feelings. Here at The HEAL Project, we don’t cast #judgement based on one’s thoughts and desires, and distinguish between those who think and fantasize and those who engage in harmful behavior.
People, like yourself, who find in themselves an attraction to younger people or children are referred to as MAP (Minor Attracted Person). This term is often used in the Sex Offender Treatment Community. No, I am not calling you a sex offender, as based on what you shared you have not offended, and there is no indication that you will necessarily become an offender.
There is little societal understanding of the difference between sexual desire and attraction to children, and behavior that brings those desires to reality. It is difficult for people to believe that someone who is attracted to minors has not already harmed, or will not harm a child. In fact, there are many people who do not act on their sexual attraction to younger people, but they are rarely given any attention, at least not until they offend.
The word “#pedophile” is associated with sexual abuse and exploitation of a child, even though the word itself only indicates interest and not action. Pedophile, as a technical term, indicates attraction to #prepubescent children. “#Hebephile” is another term used to refer to attraction to #pubescent children or those in early #adolescents. And, “#ephebophile” is for those attracted to late adolescents.
Whether we believe sexual desire and attraction is a personal preference or an ingrained quality, desire is not behavior. Your commitment to refraining from acting on your thoughts is imperative. #Secrecy and #shame will not be supportive of this commitment, especially as your family will soon welcome children.
I encourage you to offer yourself understanding and compassion. You need all the support you can get to manage your sexual attraction to children, so that you won’t end up harming. I encourage you to learn more about your sexual desire, and find safe and private spaces where you can process your thoughts.
Perhaps you also need to consider having a more open conversation with your wife. This can reduce the distress and loneliness you are experiencing. Be honest with her. She deserves to know the truth and have information to make an informed decision on how to move forward.
Remember that doing this alone is extremely difficult. Please seek help by going to support groups for MAPs, and connecting with resources and professionals that can help you stay far away from acting on your desires. Below are several resources to get immediate help and support for families.
Support for families of MAP
The MAP Support Club (MSC) is a community for Minor Attracted People (MAPs) of all ages who are committed to never harming a child and are fundamentally against adult-child sex.