Abel Sexual Abuse Prevention (ASAP), appears to be the latest wheeze of snake-oil salesman Gene Abel. It sees Abel and his colleagues, though that is too polite a word, touting for business among distressed Minor Attracted Persons (MAPs) who have “not been detected by the authorities”.

The not-so able outfit does not claim outright to “cure” paedophilia, but the website implies as much by saying it is a treatable disorder, when really the best that can be claimed honestly is that a good therapist might succeed in reconciling paedophiles to their sexuality.

Heretic TOC’s attention has been drawn to ASAP through a current thread on Sexnet, the academic forum recently introduced here. A Sexnet subscriber posted to say he had received correspondence from one of the founders of ASAP which included the following:

I know from personal experience that pedophiles can develop a sexual attraction to adults and be happily married in spite of an ongoing sexual attraction to children.

Develop an attraction to adults, or already have at least a “useful” level of such attraction? I found myself sceptical on the development point and I would be very interested to know what readers here think, especially based on insights from your own lives. I posted to Sexnet about my own knowledge of paedophiles trying to relate sexually to adults, including my own personal – and painful – experience long ago when I was a young adult. This is the post I sent, which began with the above quote from the ASAP co-founder:

Assuming the correspondent is talking about male paedophiles, I suspect this indicates confusion as to when any such sexual attraction to adults would have begun.

I have known plenty of successfully married male hebephiles (and a few paedophiles) but never one who developed a sexual attraction to adults in the course of a pre-marital relationship or during the marriage itself. Always there was some significant level of pre-existing attraction to women alongside the attraction to juveniles. I do not know any paedophiles in a male-male marriage.

In the case of paedophiles who have enjoyed a successful marriage, the happiness of the union has been attributable precisely to NOT having an active marital sex life. This can include an affectionate and loving but non-sexual relationship with the wife. Characteristically, it has been the wife’s second marriage, by which time she already had children from the first. Rather she values the husband for companionship and as a loving father to her children.

In the case of hebephiles who have enjoyed a successful marriage, the man has always had a significant level of attraction to women as well as to juveniles. In these instances marriage does not present a great sexual difficulty.

There are also, however, a great many paedophiles and hebephiles who are not so lucky. Either they have insufficient sexual attraction to adults to make a marriage work, or they cannot find a woman who is indifferent to sex AND is prepared to marry them despite their sexual attraction to children.

This of course raises the very big ethical and practical question of what a paedophile or hebephile is going to tell his intended wife. It was a question I wrestled with as a young man in my twenties, at a time when I would have dearly loved to marry, have a family and be a “good” father i.e. law-abiding both within and outside the family.

I was in fact engaged to be married, and made very earnest endeavours to “develop” a sexual attraction to my fiancee, for whom I had an affectionate and respectful but not an erotic attachment. I did not at first tell her about my feelings towards children. I suppose I hoped I would become “normal” and that all would be well. As I was able, with difficulty, to “perform” in bed (though it was as artificial as any theatrical performance) she seemed to have not the slightest suspicion anything was amiss.

But I couldn’t go through with it. It became increasingly clear to me, as the weeks and months passed, that I was deceiving her in what would always be a major matter, and that it would be desperately wrong to take that deceit into a marriage. I told her the wedding had to be called off and I told her why. She was shell-shocked, having suspected nothing, but was sad rather than angry: better, she said, to know the truth; she respected the fact that I had confronted the situation.

How is a “virtuous” paedophile supposed to behave virtuously in a situation like this, I wonder? Do those who make a virtue of paedophilic abstinence also feel morally obliged to be completely open with their fiancees? If not, why not? I’d have thought that in the present social climate it must be all but impossible for a paedophile to be honest about his sexual feelings and for the relationship to survive. Indeed, there must be many who feel that it would be irresponsible for a woman to marry a man knowing he had strong sexual feelings towards children, no matter how “virtuous” he promised to be.

I am not sure that those who attempt to nudge and cajole paedophiles towards adult relationships are very interested in thinking such things through. Like those who claim success for “reparative” gay therapy, they appear to go in for wishful thinking as to the degree of flexibility of adult male sexual orientation, with the consequence that attempts along such lines have the potential for some disastrous situations and bitter disillusion – sometimes with terrible outcomes to be expected for spouses and maybe for children too. I am thinking here of acrimonious divorce and its emotional fallout for children rather than sexual abuse – although false accusations of such abuse could well become a feature of contested custody hearings.