The project Bridge aims to prevent child sexual abuse by contributing to the development of individualized healthcare services for persons at risk of sexually offending against children. This wider access to healthcare and personalized interventions will hopefully protect children and lead to improved quality of life for this patient group.
The study has been approved by the Swedish Ethical Review Authority (Dossier no. 2023-02321-01) and is conducted in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration on Research Ethics.
The therapeutic interventions are anonymous, free of charge and accessible via TOR browser.
Five text-chat Motivational Interviewing sessions exploring and eliciting the participants' own reasons for change aiming to facilitate help-seeking.
A five-week self-help program based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help individuals decrease or stop using CSAM. Texted based chat support is available if needed.
Anonymous text-chat interviews exploring how individuals with sexual urges towards minors, experience help-seeking in different countries.
Available in English, Spanish, German, Czech, Slovak, Finnish and Swedish. Bridge is a collaboration between universities and a non-governmental organization in six EU-countries. For reporting obligations in respective country see FAQ below.
For more detailed information on what it entails to participate in the Bridge research project, see below. Also, you can find the FAQ section further below.
Recruitment runs from 18 September 2023 to 21 July 2024. You register by clicking on the Registration button above. After reading the detailed information about the study, you will be asked to give your consent to participate. Create your login details and book the first interview.
A researcher, also working as a practitioner in the project, will meet you for an anonymous online text-chat interview in order to make sure that you fulfil the criteria to participate in the study.
An anonymous chat interview exploring your views on, and experiences of seeking help for your sexual thoughts, feelings and behaviors involving children. The participation in this interview is optional.
Pre-, during- and after the therapeutic interventions you will be asked to complete a number of questionnaires. The purpose of this is to evaluate the therapeutic interventions, collect information at group level about the participants in the study and to monitor how you are doing during the project.
The participants that are randomised to the waiting list will receive the therapeutic intervention after three or five weeks.
You will be offered one of the two therapeutic interventions we are evaluating, but we cannot influence which intervention you are offered:
Mi Bridge: Chat with a professional practitioner and explore your situation. Find and formulate what is important in your life and take a closer look at different ways to seek help.
ReDirection: Work with the self-help program and learn psychological skills to help change your situation. Use text-based chat to receive additional support.
In the end of the therapeutic intervention you work on, you will be given recommendations for alternative treatments if you need further professional support. The list of "Other organisations" is also available further down the page.
If you have any questions, or are thinking about participating but are unsure of what it entails, you are warmly welcome to email us at email@example.com.
Dr. Christoffer Rahm
Project Coordinator for the Swedish parts of the project:
Maria Breide, Licensed psychologist
Project Coordinator for the Finnish parts of the project:
Katariina Leivo, Specialist in developmental psychology, Therapist
Project Coordinator for the Spanish parts of the project:
Professor Rafael Ballester-Arnal
Project Coordinator for the German parts of the project:
Professor Peer Briken
Project Coordinator for the Czech parts of the project:
Dominik Jozefik, Licensed psychologist
Project Coordinator for the Slovakian parts of the project:
Professor Jozef Metenko
Centre for Psychiatry Research, Region Stockholm, Sweden
Suojellaan Lapsia, Protect Children ry, Finland
Universitat Jaume I De Castellon, Spain
Universitaetsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany
National Institute of Mental Health, Czech Republic
Akademia Policajneho Zboru V Bratislave, Slovakia
Linköping University, Sweden
What is the target group?
This research project is for those who are worried about their sexual urges involving children and who have viewed photos or videos of children for sexual purposes (child sexual abuse materials, CSAM) during past six months. This includes for example individuals who have never sexually abused a child but are worried about their urges to do so; individuals who have sexually abused a child or viewed pictures or films of children for sexual purposes and want help with their thoughts and urges; and individuals who are actively using this material or have other ongoing problematic behaviors and want help stopping.
From our clinical experience, and previous research, we know that having a sexual interest in children can lead to difficulties in different aspects of life, for example anxiety and shame, stressful family situations, fear of being exposed, as well as other potential consequences.
What are the interventions like that are being evaluated?
We are evaluating two different therapeutic interventions in the Bridge research project:
Mi Bridge: A series of five conversations over three weeks to help participants understand more about themselves and their willingness to change, and to help participants connect with the care they need and want. The conversations are carried out as anonymous text-based chat. Mi Bridge is based on the established and well-researched method of Motivational Interviewing, which has been shown to be effective in helping people achieve the desired changes for several lifestyle related problems.
ReDirection: A self-help program consisting of five modules and lasting five weeks. The program is based on a cognitive behavioral therapy approach and aims to help participants reduce their use of sexual abuse material by gaining greater understanding of, and skills to manage risky sexual thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. If needed, during the self-help program and at the end, participants have the opportunity to chat anonymously with a practitioner to get support in working with the program. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an established and well-researched method, helpful for a range of conditions such as anxiety and depression.
The aim of the interventions is to help participants manage their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors more helpfully so that they can learn how not to act on sexual urges involving children. The interventions can also help participants feel better and get an increased quality of life.
In this clinical trial, we are comparing against a waitlist control. This means that when the participants are included in the study, they have an equal chance of either being included directly into one of the interventions (Mi Bridge or ReDirection) or being placed on a waiting list for three or five weeks before being able to join an intervention. During those three or five weeks the participants will still receive requests to fill in weekly questionnaires. After this period, participants will access the intervention they are offered. This process is used so that we can thoroughly test our interventions in order to ensure high quality and effective interventions.
Can I be anonymous?
Yes. All participation is anonymous and no identifiable information about you will be collected (e.g. no contact details, personal ID, geographical- or IP-address). The treatment platform is accessible via TOR browser. Onion link to the platform: https://6wvybf7ub3xk5ow66wt7os3aovbzoo2eei6vjirvhvvkmqg4alnezzid.onion/sites/bridge
Do I need an email address?
After weighing both the risks and the benefits of having an email attached to the platform, we decided to make it optional for the participants to choose whether they would like to use an email or not.
The benefits of using an email include us being able to reach participants by email to remind them to take the next step in the program. Another benefit is to be able to help participants with password resets, should they lose their password to the platform. This means that the person who chooses not to leave an email is responsible for keeping their login information safe, as there would be no way to recover the password without an email attached.
The risks, however, include the identification of participants found through exposure from the use of email. It's relatively hard to obtain an email address anonymously. Using one single email address for more than one purpose, say for Bridge and other email communication, is risky because it makes identification easier if your information is exposed. This is why we encourage participants to create an email just for use in Project Bridge.
How is my information stored?
One of the most important and central aspects to us is to keep all information about our participants secure. All potentially person-identifiable data, such as email addresses (if one is being used), chats, and answers to assignments, is stored in encrypted form. The risk of identification based on stored data, even for someone with access to the data in a decrypted form, is under the participant’s control -- by avoiding typing in identifying data (for example in chats), or by avoiding using an email address that can be linked to an individual, there is very little information stored that could make linking possible.
The only information being stored that could potentially help with a confirmation attack to link a participant to other stored data is timestamps in the database indicating the date and time of a certain action being taken, such as when a message was sent, or an assignment was answered. These timestamps would then have to be correlated with other data somehow obtained outside of the platform, pointing at a person. We consider this risk to be low.
How is my data handled outside of the platform?
The platform has functionality for exporting data from the study to excel files, to be stored on the computer of the practitioner performing the export. Only the practitioner/researchers can do this and will do so at the end of the study.
How is my data handled after the study?
The way sensitive data is handled once the study is finished affects the long-term privacy for participants. Data is going to be exported from the platform and stored in approved systems at Karolinska Institutet that require two-step authentication or are security-classified to be able to store sensitive personal data. The data will be shared with researchers in the collaborating countries, using a service that requires two-step authentication and makes it possible to securely share and receive data from internal and external users. Data is stored so that unauthorized persons cannot access it. All persons who handle the data are covered by confidentiality obligations, either through their form of employment or via confidentiality agreements established in accordance with the universities’ instructions. The data will be used to do statistical analyses, which will be published and used to see the efficacy of the treatment.
What are the benefits of using a Tor browser?
Using Tor Browser to connect to the platform protects the user from being tracked on the network layer by hindering the IP address from being linked to the web site of the platform. Tor Browser also stops several methods of tracking on the application layer.
What other measures have you taken for my safety?
Therapists and administrators of the platform use two-factor authentication (2FA) when logging in to the platform. The second factor is the ability to read incoming text messages to a certain phone number, one per therapist or administrator.
I have other questions not found on this website
Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pedophilia and hebephilia
Pedophilia refers to a sustained sexual interest in prepubertal children, usually children under 10 years old who have not had any body changes that come with puberty. Pedophilic disorder is diagnosed if someone with pedophilia experiences serious distress because of their interest or has acted on their interest in children. Hebephilia is a clinical and research term used for those with a sexual interest in children in early puberty who have just started to develop.
In this research project, we do not give you a diagnosis, but it can be good to have a little information on the topic. A diagnosis is not something that defines you or your identity. It is also not something that is permanent, and whether you meet the criteria for a diagnosis can change over time.
Sexuality as an identity
Some people we meet have created a strong identity around their attraction to children. It can be scary to do something different or learn to change your ideas about yourself and who you are, but it can also be a very positive transformation. It gives you the opportunity to ask yourself, what kind of person do I want to be, and what kinds of things does that person do?
Some people find ways to live without putting too much effort or energy into their sexuality, some allow themselves to be open to signals and attractions but consciously choose not to actively act on it. Finding other meaningful areas to explore, allowing focus on sexuality to rest for a while, becomes positive for some over time.
Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM)
When we (and the legislators) talk about child sexual abuse, we are talking about all children - not just young children. Sexual abuse of children is thus also abuse of teenagers, or abuse committed by other minors. Abuse does not have to involve penetration or even physical contact.
Sexual abuse is characterized by exploiting a child's position of dependence or exposing the child to actions that he or she cannot understand or is mature enough for. Child sexual abuse can be both physical and non-physical, offline and online. It is always a crime for an adult to have sexual contact (physical or non-physical) with a child.
When pictures or videos of sexual abuse of a child are spread around the world, the crime is repeated, over and over again. Those who watch child abuse material online sometimes defend their behavior by saying they are "just watching" and not committing physical abuse themselves. It is by no means innocent to look at abusive material, looking at the material is also illegal in most jurisdictions.
The ReDirection Self-Help Program has been used as an online self-help tool since 2021. Participants have been invited to post comments about their experiences, see below for some selected positive quotes.
In the ongoing project Bridge, the ReDirection Self-Help program has been modified and updated and a thorough analysis of participants’ appreciation of this new version of ReDirection is planned as part of the ongoing project.
“I understood for a long time that this was wrong, I thought and tried to find a clue to stop once and for all. And your program gave a huge boost and confidence, especially when I read that there is a real live person behind every video or photo, it caused me a lot of feelings and emotions, a sense of shame for myself and a great desire to change.”
“Affirming my continued pursuit to get better.”
“I think it's very very good that there's websites like these. They should be promoted everywhere and if I had the chance, I would fund advertising it everywhere. Not alone to let people know other's thoughts with the same problem but to also acknowledge that there are others. If I ever experience any unwanted thoughts, I go to this website.”
“It's good that people are here trying to influence people like us without just wanting to put us in jail.”
“Amazing to see connection between depression and my actions, so badly want to do better and seeing myself as redeemable helps.”
Prevent It (https://www.iterapi.se/sites/preventit/)
The Bridge project collaborates closely with researchers and practitioners working with the EU- and Oak Foundation funded treatment program Prevent It, a therapist supported cognitive behavioral therapy for those concerned about their sexual urges involving children. The nine-week program aims to help you gain a better understanding and control of your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
The platform is also accessible via TOR browser: https://6wvybf7ub3xk5ow66wt7os3aovbzoo2eei6vjirvhvvkmqg4alnezzid.onion/sites/preventit
Association for Sexual Abuse Prevention (ASAP) (https://asapinternational.org/) tel.: (541) 891-6168
Provides referrals to mental health professionals as well as counseling services via Skype. Calls therapists on behalf of persons with pedophilia to vet them for views on mandatory reporting as well as for willingness and ability to help people with sexual attraction to children in need.
The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) (http://www.atsa.com/) tel.: (503) 643-1023
A national professional association of specialists in the field of sexual abuser treatment. Although the therapists primarily treat people who have sexually abused children, we are told that many of the therapists who are listed have the skill and desire to treat people with attraction pattern to Children who doesn't act on it as well. For a referral contact them by phone or email. No identifying information required.
Specialist Treatment Organisation for the Prevention of Sexual Offending (https://stopso.org.uk/) tel.:07473299883
StopSO UK is an organisation that aims to prevent sexual offending through therapy.
Prevention Project Dunkelfeld (https://www.dont-offend.org/) tel.:+49/30/450 529 450
Located in Germany. The Prevention Project Dunkelfeld (PPD) provides confidential treatment free of charge for individuals who have a partial or exclusive sexual preference in terms of pedophilia or hebephilia and seek therapeutic help.
PrevenTell (http://preventell.se/) 020-667788
Located in Sweden. PrevenTell is a help line that people can call in Sweden to receive care for problems with sexuality, and sexual attraction patterns to children.
Circles of Support and Accountability (https://cosa-ottawa.ca/)
Located in Canada, in several countries across EU (www.circleseurope.eu/) and in the United Kingdom (https://circles-uk.org.uk/). Groups of volunteers who provide assistance and social support and who, in turn, receive support and supervision from professionals.
A professional organization of sex educators, therapists and counselors. The web site includes a 'Locate a Professional' function, some of whom have expertise with pedophilia.
A community of professionals who have clinical interests in human sexual concerns, including attraction to children. The web site includes a therapist directory.
A community dedicated to supporting people with sexual attraction to children. They help provide therapy and work to find open and empathetic therapists.
Help Wanted (https://www.helpwantedprevention.org/)
Help Wanted is an online course designed to provide the skills and tools necessary for adolescents and young adults with an attraction to children to live safe, healthy, and non-offending lives. Course sessions include strategies for coping with an attraction to children, determining whether and how to talk about their attraction with others, and testimonials from people with an attraction to children who lead successful, offense-free lives. Help Wanted is anonymous and self-paced, and course sessions can be accessed in any order.
Troubled Desire (https://troubled-desire.com/en/)
Troubled Desire is an online service for people who are concerned about their sexual feelings for children and early adolescents. They offer online resources and if available, a local therapist. Hosted in Germany, Troubled Desire guarantees confidentiality and anonymity and is subject to strict European Data Privacy laws. (Website is in English, French, German, Hindi, Marathi, Portuguese, and Spanish).
Stop It Now! (https://www.stopitnow.org/)
Stop it Now! USA - provides education and other resources to prevent child sexual abuse. They have self-help pages for people who are concerned they might engage in harmful sexual behavior, a confidential helpline at 1.888.PREVENT and online chat. (Website is English only).
Stop It Now UK; Ireland - UK & Ireland provides anonymous hotline and confidential advice and support to people worried about their own thoughts, feelings, or behavior towards children. They offer self-help resources for people who are worried about their online behavior, and self-help resources for people who are worried about their thoughts, feelings, or behavior towards minors. (Website language is English).
Stop It Now Belgium - Flanders (Belgium) and Stop it Now! Netherlands provide a confidential helpline at 0800.200.50 (Belgium) and 0800.266.64.36 (Netherlands) and online chat for support. In 2017, both organizations launched “Stopping is Possible” for those who are concerned about their viewing of child sexual exploitation material (child pornography). (Both websites are in Dutch).
PrevenSI. is an organization based in Spain that offers free and anonymous consultation and referrals to those with sexual interest in children through their helpline, messenger, and email. Their helpline and messenger are both open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 4PM to 8PM CET and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10AM to 2PM CET. (900.440.443)
Dis No (https://www.disno.ch/)
Dis No is a French program based in Switzerland that offers anonymous support for those struggling with their sexual interest in children. They are available through their helpline (0 840 740 640) Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9:30AM to 12:00PM CET and 1:30PM to 4PM CET
Save the Children Finland (https://www.mielenterveystalo.fi/en/self-help/self-help-program-sexual-interest-children))
This self-help program for people who are concerned about their sexual interest in children can be used anonymously and free of charge. The program is available in English, Finnish, and Swedish. It was produced in collaboration between Save the Children and HUS Psychiatry.
Virtuous Pedophiles (https://www.virped.org)
Virtuous Pedophiles offers an online peer support group for pedophilic individuals committed to never acting sexually with a child. Support group topics include: coping with sexual or romantic feelings about children, depression or anxiety, and social isolation.
Safe to talk (https://safetotalk.nz/)
Safe to Talk is a New Zealand-based program that offers free, confidential support to those who have been sexually harmed, or who are concerned about their own thoughts and behaviors. Email (email@example.com), text (4334), live chat, or phone (0800 044 334).
Parafilik Program (https://parafilik.cz/)
Located in the Czech Republic. The Parafilik Program offers online counseling, hotline services, and contact therapy to people with different sexual preferences in the Czech Republic. For up-to-date information on the operating hours of the help line, visit https://parafilik.cz/.
Schicksal und Herausforderung (suh-ev.de)
German association dedicated to promoting self-help among non-offending individuals with a sexual interest in children; the website offers personal counseling via e-mail, information on pedophilia, and a self-help forum, among other services.
Contact the study team
Contact us with any questions about the study or if you need help registering.