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 treatment program, 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, which they can find comforting both in having a way to define themselves, and in the community.
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. The need for a sexual outlet varies depending on the individual, and also changes with 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 that 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 the sexual abuse of a child is 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. But it is by no means innocent to look at abusive material - a picture is the result of a very serious crime. Looking at the material is also illegal in most jurisdictions.