When we find out about the childhood of a serial killer, like Jeffrey Dahmer and learn that he did things like kill small animals we always say, “Why don’t we pay attention to those red flags in children?” Maybe not exactly that way but we do say things about how we could’ve prevented certain murders if we had done something about these people in the first place. And it does make sense. So much of what happens in this world is preventable if only our society and system would care for people who showed signs of certain mental illnesses and we took preventative care more seriously than always dealing with the aftermath.
Thing is, I have never thought about this when it came to pedophiles. I think I get so wrapped up in the anger and hate that I am blinded by any rational thought or idea that these are human beings who might actually not want to be what they are. Just typing that much made me twitch. It’s really hard to get past my own personal feelings for the person who abused me. I watched a documentary recently and that is what it was about, helping non-offending pedophiles so that they don’t become child sex offenders. One of the points they made was that we tend to interchange the term “pedophile” with “sex offender” and they aren’t the same thing. A pedophile is a person who is sexually attracted to children…sex offenders are people who actually act on those impulses.
So now there is a lot of talk out there about helping pedophiles to come out and get help before they might act on their urges. They have compared it to an illness just like any other. I want to feel okay with this. I suffer from depression, anxiety, suicidality…I know what it is like to have an illness that people can’t see and therefore don’t take seriously. Or they have assumptions about what a person with mental illness is like. We are all crazy and psychos or some other such ignorance. Pedophilia is an illness. It isn’t hard for me to believe. I mean I already believe it. They are sick. It is just so hard to separate a non-offender from the image I have in my mind of the offenders or my knowledge of them. I want to be a decent human being and I believe that I am. I am a very understanding person, I care about humans, but they are right when they say, “You don’t know unless it happens to you.” You just don’t know how you’re going to feel or the confusion it will cause and how it will shape your thoughts and ideas for years to come.
Do I agree with helping them? I suppose I do, how can’t I? They are human beings after all and they are sick and need help. The hardest part for me is trying to separate my feelings and to stop seeing this as pity on the sex offenders, especially since they aren’t sex offenders. Pedophiles. I need to keep these terms separate.