A wild ride towards self-acceptance

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Ed Chambers, today’s guest blogger, bravely strode into the public arena three years ago when he outed himself as a non-offending paedophile on British television, via the Channel 4 documentary The Paedophile Next Door. Not long afterwards he would be invited to Canada to take part in I, Pedophile, a film being made for CBS doc series Firsthand, broadcast in 2016. After the earlier programme, when he was named only as “Eddie”, I said his appearance had been the one bright spot in an otherwise disappointing production. So I am very pleased he has decided to tell us about his long battle to come to terms with his orientation, a struggle that has seen him engage in both cooperation and combat with therapy providers and the Virtuous Pedophiles (Virped).

I pre-announced this blog as “the Big One” last time because I knew it would be breaking entirely new ground. As far as I am aware, this is the first time a prominent former member of Virped has gone public with a stinging critique of the organisation and repudiated its philosophy – not counting, of course, his own devastating comments here following Peter Herman’s recent blog.

 

WE MUST BE STRONG IN THESE DARK TIMES

Now a middle-aged man, I have struggled all my adult life with a preferential attraction to prepubescent girls. Without being able to openly express this at the earliest opportunity, and correspond with those who could relate to me, it has been the cause of a great many emotional and psychological issues. With my academic and sporting pursuits suffering as a result, mainly through the use of drugs as an aid to denial, only recently have I been forced to face the realities of who I am. I wish I had done it sooner.

Several times I have reached out to mental health professionals in the NHS, and on numerous occasions I have asked for chemical castration and psychodynamic therapy. My journey for the purposes of this contribution began in 2001, in my late twenties. This was the first time I thought I was ill, when I wanted to know that I wasn’t paedophilic, or if I was that it could be changed. This first encounter was a disaster. At the end of a 45-minute session with a consultant psychiatrist, I was offered very little, other than a pen in order to sign the notes that had been made. Both the psychiatrist, and subsequent community psychiatric nurse to whom I was referred, viewed me with a look of horror, recoil and a complete lack of understanding. It broke me in such a way that I moved from my home town of twenty five years, to the adjacent city to start a new life, with a new identity.

Roughly seven years later, after leading a virtuous life, I returned to my habits of old. I had used cannabis as a crutch in my denial of being paedophilic since the age of 16, and my use of relevant pornography stretched back as far as 1998. I was fooling myself to believe that I could be any different, the draw was too strong. I carried on in a sort of limbo, with no one to talk to about the nature of my libido.

In 2011, in what would be a defining moment in my life, I had the opportunity to resurrect my first love, the Lolita with whom I had been so besotted in my teenage years. It was a crazy idea, as she had morphed into an overweight whale of a woman for whom I had little interest. I quickly moved on, this time hitting the drugs and pornography with a vengeance. It was a damning confirmation of the very thing I had tried to deny. As a matter of course, I proceeded to slide myself as clumsily as I could into a lot of trouble. As I crashed and burned, I desperately tried to find support.

I found Virped in 2013. To the probable dismay of many here, I owe them my thanks for the support I have received. However, it is not quite as simple as that. The persecution and harassment I have been subject to in my life would scarcely be believed, so will remain undisclosed, at least for now. Nevertheless, to say I needed a crutch is akin to stating that Kim Jong-un is fond of nuclear weapons. I found what I needed to survive, but with the accompanying incompetence of the NHS in the UK, I was still without therapy and the libido-reducing medication I was asking for.

Cue Dr Sarah Goode and her book Understanding and Addressing Adult Sexual Attraction to Children: A Study of Paedophiles in Contemporary Society, recommended to me by none other than fellow Virped, Gary Gibson. Halfway through the book I emailed Dr Goode, discussing with her my experiences with StopItNow and the NHS. By the time I had finished her book, something I view in retrospect as a shallow and narrow-minded assessment of the realities of being a Minor Attracted Person in contemporary society, I had already met with her and Steve Humphries, director and presenter of The Paedophile Next Door, in the latter’s office in Bristol. In May 2014, the filming of my contribution was finished, and I began the patient wait for the release in late November.

In these dark days, I travelled to Berlin for therapy at the Prevention Projekt Dunkelfeld (PPD), which has 11 centres across Germany. Anyone with the correct diagnosis will be assisted by the most understanding and considerate people, providing they have health insurance, or can pay privately. I found the German bureaucracy a nightmare, and it caused me a great deal of stress and problems in trying to settle there. However, a MAP can tell the staff everything and not be criminalised, not made to feel like the antagonist of an Alien movie, or told they are mentally ill. They will bend over backwards to help and it is a gift to us, from the only government in the world that gives a shit, and a credit to our community. With each visit to this institution, I was proud that I had finally been given something.

At this time, the release of The Paedophile Next Door was a huge disappointment to me. There was no talk about the PPD. Simply stated, there was the sacrificial paedophile, the “expert” doctor trying to garnish sympathy for the bogeyman, all the while pitted against the other participants who professed their universal hatred against our kind. Subsequently, my UK address was visited three times in two days by the police, much to the dismay of my friend who subsequently disowned me. I had found Ground Zero and flatlined.

Here in Berlin I found the beginnings of a revelation. I had come to terms with all of the descriptions mental health professionals use to describe people who are sexually attracted to children. I had even started to use them myself. I identified as a paedophile now. I had accepted it, whereas before I had wasted so many years of my life in denial. Although I was treated very well here, I had to move on once more, without therapy or drugs. Despite the PPD, the seeds of doubt were now firmly planted in my mind. Was I really ill or subject to a conspiracy that both undermined the existence and behaviours of MAPs as well as children who were sexually active? As for Virped, and their manifesto for the non-offending MAP, the writing was already on the wall. I had already seen they were complicit in the war on paedophiles, in the insidious guise of trying to help them.

It’s fair to say I was on the run. Before our communication ceased, my friend in the UK had informed me of the considerable interest the English police had shown in me. On top of that, I had seen some of the tweets that had suggested people were aiming to lynch me for the greater good. Suitably, I found work in Northern Cyprus, ironically a country only recognised by Turkey, and I figured I would be safe for a while. It was here I made contact via Virped with Matt Campea, a bright, young director with an open mind and a drive to represent MAPs as the protagonist. Whilst in Toronto, at considerable expense to Matt, I contributed to his documentary I, Pedophile. At the release in March 2016, it turned out to be the Yin to The Paedophile Next Door’s Yang, and was everything I and the Virped community had hoped for.

On my return to the UK, after 30 months of exile and now devoid of finances, the biggest surprise for me was to make it through the airport at all. I had imagined I would be taken aside by the police for questioning about various things, not least my participation in The Paedophile Next Door. Step by step, I rebuilt my life, and on the recommendation once again of Gary Gibson, sought the help of Juliet Grayson and therapy at StopSO. It turns out, as the full name would suggest (Specialist Treatment Organisation for the Prevention of Sexual Offending) that involvement with any therapist here concentrates on prevention of offending, and in this respect therapy does not cater for the well-being of participants. They are not subject to mandatory reporting laws, but are subject to ethical reporting by the therapist to their governing body, and accordingly the governing body would report to the police. Simply, one cannot discuss the very things that one needs help with. It is a madness that I pointed out to Grayson in numerous emails, and something she ignored. In fact, ignorance appeared to be her style, as it was a treacherous betrayal of my trust that caused me to pull out of another documentary project that we had started working on with VICE, promoting StopSO as a ground-breaking development for the treatment of MAPs. Inevitably, VICE would’ve presented this as a new way of processing sex offenders. I had become used to the way media organisations dealt with people like me, and the topic as a whole. Once bitten, twice shy.

I now realise, as a 43-year-old, it is society, not me, that is sick. I was 13 when I began to realise that my preference was for a body-type indicative of being paedophilic. As I have grown older, I have realised that my paedophilia is far more than a sexual attraction. It has been a wild ride, from denying my true self through the use of drugs, to crawling through the depths of suicidal thoughts and behaviours, to my exaltation above the ignorance of the multitudes to understand and appreciate the true sexual beauty of prepubescent girls.

There have been several times when girls in the age range 6-15 have expressed a sexual interest in me, and this includes a general curiosity in what it’s all about. Whilst I have never engaged them, this has been through a fear of harming them in some way rather than a fear of how society will view or judge me for having had said intimate relationship. This is indeed a fear that was born out of the tall tales of the child-rapist, reported all too often in the tabloid press. Rather than being born out of a desire to protect children, society’s bent towards banning intergenerational relationships is born out of a desire to subjugate the child and deny them essential rights to express themselves in any way they choose. It is out of this perversity that Virped was born. It is a support group for MAPs, but only as long as one conforms to the idea that it is our kind who are mentally ill, perverse in nature for our appreciation of the beauty of children. And yet, no one cares to cure us, aid us in our struggles, offer us what we need in order to lead that all-important law-abiding lifestyle. Therapy, PPD to one side, does not exist. All you will find in the eyes of those that return your look is horror and hatred.

Civilisation has reached the point where control is ever more paramount. Through the use of television and social media, surveillance is at an all-time high and becoming ever more pervasive. The dogma of Virped encapsulates the need of this intrusive society to control the thoughts and actions of everyone so that it conforms to a narcissism that is born out of pseudo-religious rhetoric. Quite simply, humanity in general refuses to acknowledge that adult sexual attraction to children should exist at all, and these spurious attempts to remove it from existence revolve around how it might appear to a race of aliens visiting in their space ships, or indeed Almighty God as He reclines on His cumulonimbus.

We need to reach out to young MAPs, and others of our kind who need help, and steer them away from the perils of Virped, and the dogma that will warp them into believing they are ill. I believed in Virped, as I did mental health professionals. Now I see them as an extension of a sick world that denies the rights of anyone under a set age, a world that has found the eternal shadow monster in a demographic that means no harm. We must be strong and survive these dark times whence we exist as the sexual heretic.

Inadmissible Testimony

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I always knew my lengthy interview in July for an upcoming TV documentary might go unused, even though the company making it, Testimony Films, made a considerable investment in my appearance. They gave me two nights’ hotel accommodation and other expenses, and committed a five-strong production crew to an entire day’s filming and studio hire in London, over 100 miles from their Bristol base, solely for my input.

A couple of weeks ago, as briefly reported here in response to a request for a progress report, I said I had received an email from Testimony saying “As this is such a difficult and controversial subject it is taking a very long time to make – and to go through the [name of TV channel] system. There have been several discussions with the [name of TV channel] lawyer over the content. The final shape of the programme still hasn’t been decided. There is no transmission date as yet.”

I was under a commitment not to name the TV channel until the last week before transmission. That time is now up. I now know that the programme, titled The Paedophile Next Door, is to be aired next Tuesday, 25 November, at 9pm on Britain’s Channel 4. I have been informed it will not contain any footage of the interview I gave, which lasted around two and a half hours.

This is disappointing, but I would not be particularly upset if I thought it was going to be a good programme anyway. I always hoped that if my contribution proved a bit too controversial for Channel 4 they might nevertheless be willing to give a platform to someone like Judith Levine, or Bruce Rind, or a British academic such as Glenn Wilson, who put up a spirited if all-too-brief showing on the same channel’s news output recently: PIE spy, with my tabloid eye…

All the signs are, though, that the programme will not be good. From a heretical standpoint it looks like being far worse than I had expected, indeed such an utter disaster I am feeling totally gutted even before seeing it. Am I prejudging too much? We’ll soon see.

I suspect Testimony are embarrassed. It seems they wanted to keep me in the dark as long as possible in case I went public too early and tried to derail things. Unbeknown to me, Channel 4 issued a bulletin about the upcoming programme on the 7th of this month, including its release date. But on the 10th, three days later, in response to my enquiries, Testimony were telling me there was still no release date and did not give me C4’s programme information.

The Testimony people have been very friendly and they definitely did not set out with the cynical intention of setting me up as a pantomime villain. Director Steve Humphries has a strong reputation as a documentary maker with an interest in a diversity of voices. He gives every impression of being a man of broad sympathies; his interview style is empathetic.

It is possible Channel 4 insisted on taking the production in another direction from the one first envisaged by Humphries. It may be significant that a second director’s name is now on the credits: Rudolph Herzog, son of the world renowned Werner Herzog. Herzog fils appears to be based in Germany, with no obvious connection to Testimony. His location, however, would make him well placed to explore Germany’s Prevention Project Dunkelfeld, highlighted in Jon Henley’s feature article on paedophilia for the Guardian last year.

Channel 4’s programme information begins thus:

With almost every passing week a new child sex abuse scandal breaks. In this sobering and thought-provoking film, historian and acclaimed social documentary maker Steve Humphries sets out to discover why all the elaborate policies and legislation put in place to protect children from sexual abuse have failed.

He discovers some radical new solutions proposed by an increasing number of child protection experts which challenge our deep-rooted attitudes and emotional reactions to paedophiles. They tell Humphries that many paedophiles live in our midst and go completely undetected. “They’re not monsters with horns and tails, but ordinary blokes,” says senior lecturer Dr Sarah Goode – and this makes them so dangerous and difficult to identify. Controversially, Dr Goode believes that the most promising way to reduce the number of child abuse cases is to encourage paedophiles who have not yet targeted children to “come out” and receive treatment.

This theory is supported by an extraordinary interview in which Humphries meets a man face-to-face who confesses, on camera, to his strong sexual attraction for children as young as five. He claims that he has not interfered with a child, nor could ever imagining doing so. He is so desperate for help that he is prepared to ‘out’ himself in the hope that men like him will be more readily offered support to manage their unwanted desires.

Paedophiles are the most vilified of all criminals – invoking universal hatred and disgust. Humphries hears from experts who explain that, as a result, the fear, self-loathing and stress paedophiles will associate with their desires makes them actually more likely to offend. Humphries explores pioneering schemes and initiatives designed to help paedophiles before they might hurt children. These ground-breaking schemes aim to educate families and encourage men to seek help – some of them provide residential support and treatment confidentially. Supporters of these initiatives believe they will keep children safe and are far more effective – rather than engaging with them only after they become offenders…

You get the picture. It looks as if this will be “virtuous” shit from start to finish. If I feel gutted, it is because the ideology of repression has won decisively in a direct contest with that of self-determination. I am gutted because I spilled my guts out for that interview and I know it was a good one, after a lot of preparation and an emotionally draining encounter with Humphries. It was all the tougher, oddly, thanks to his gently searching style. His kindness was killing. My answers could only come from the heart, at times painfully so when the questions reached deeply into the personal realm, – a place no aggressive inquisitor could touch; the defences would be up.

I’m not putting it too strongly when I say I feel betrayed, especially by the apparently central role given to Sarah Goode and her piss-poor thinking, which I believe I adequately demolished in my review of her book Paedophiles in Society and its predecessor – a review Humphries certainly knew about because I alerted him to it in an email back in May.

But to claim I have been betrayed by Testimony, or by Steve Humphries in particular, would be grossly unfair. I am confident Steve fought as hard as he could for my inclusion. That does not mean he shares my views, though, and I probably underestimated the extent to which he was keeping his cards close to his chest on that.

As for whether I really had performed strongly, was this just an illusion? Here’s the relevant part of what Steve emailed the next day:

I just wanted to say thanks so much for coming down for the filmed interview, which was as excellent and as powerful as I’d hoped it would be. I thought you told your personal story and stated your case as strongly as anyone could. I know the team…really enjoyed meeting you too and found it a moving and hugely interesting day…

A few days ago, “Bloom” wrote in the comments here “It would be interesting to get your take on the controversy over contact vs non-contact. Not so much on the question itself, which is somewhat abstract, but on how you see it affecting the overall struggle for greater tolerance and acceptance.”

First of all, I agree with another commentator, “Stephen6000”, that “pro-choice” is a better expression than “pro-contact”, although, it will be seen that I have opted above for “self-determination”, which avoids confusion with abortion. Also, I don’t think self-determination is too abstract, but what Bloom perhaps meant to say was too academic, as in the expression “it’s all a bit academic” i.e. it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon, so why bother talking about it?

If that was the intended meaning it undeniably amounts to a strong argument, not least in view of this Channel 4 programme: I tried to talk about sexual self-determination but who was listening? No one ever does these days. So what’s the point of banging on about it?

Presumably Bloom is pleased to see controversy over self-determination taken out of the equation by Channel 4. That leaves The Paedophile Next Door, and any similar presentation of MAPs, free to focus on “tolerance and acceptance”, right?

Well, sure, and that would be a good thing if it were taking us in the right direction. Politics is often characterised as the art of the possible. The way to reach an ultimate goal is to focus on small, incremental achievements. You don’t frighten the horses by seeming to be insanely radical.

I understand that. But what if those small steps are heading in the wrong direction, leading away from one’s ultimate objective? The “tolerance and acceptance” aimed at in VP efforts is not tolerance and acceptance of sexual self-determination, after all, but it’s exact opposite i.e. an outcome that cements intolerance and non-acceptance of sexual self-determination permanently in place and depends upon brainwashing and coercing MAPs into submission.

This represents a repudiation of all I believe in and I cannot support it.

I will watch the programme, though, through gritted teeth. As long as I am publicly engaged in blogging and such like, I feel I have a duty to keep myself informed. It will not be easy. One of those taking part, unless I am greatly mistaken, is Ian McFadyen, who is fast becoming a full-time professional victim. I don’t relish the thought of having to watch this self-righteous bully’s “dignified exchange”, as the programme info puts it, with a paedophilic self-sacrificial lamb.

McFadyen, to be sure, was genuinely the victim of a sadistic rapist on the staff of Caldicott Preparatory School if his story is true, and I have no particular reason to doubt it. As a result, it seems, he is now determined to victimise anyone who crosses him, including his old school pal Nick Clegg – yes, that Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat MP who has been deputy prime minister of the UK since 2010. McFadyen was recently quoted as saying, “I’m definitely really angry with Nick Clegg… he’s been a real disappointment. I’m actually ashamed to have gone to school with him.”

Gosh, you might wonder, what’s poor old Cleggie been up to now? Nothing illegal, it turns out, though it might be thought so from McFadyen’s wrath. It’s just that Clegg had failed to back McFadyen’s demand for a massive inquiry into historic sexual abuse. See what I mean about the “bully” thing?

McFadyen has plenty of reason to feel traumatised and angry, of course, and it behoves us heretics to advocate for a more open society (including more accountability in schools) so that dreadful experiences like his are not repeated. But it is characteristic of so-called sympathetic programmes, including this latest Channel 4 one, that their purported sympathy for non-active paedophiles tends to be yoked together with truly extreme and appalling cases of abuse. Far from increasing sympathy for the average paedophile, the likely outcome of this pairing is to crank up the fear of paedophilia to a heightened extreme, so that even the most virtuous VP will come under ever more intense suspicion and scrutiny – and insistence that they do not go anywhere near kids.

For a bit of realistic balance, we could do worse than turn to some recent revelations by TV personality and former Tory MP Gyles Brandreth. He told the Daily Mail a couple of months ago he had been “abused” by a choir master at his prep school.

“I suppose I liked him,” said Brandreth. “At least, I was flattered by his attention. I think I felt it was my due. I was 11, 12 and 13 when this was happening, and quite full of myself. Mr Harkness took lots of photographs of me. We both admired the results.”

Also:

“Has this experience of being a victim of child abuse had a lasting effect on me? I certainly don’t feel traumatised by it, nor even resentful. I did not complain then, and I am not complaining now.”

It is no accident, I feel, that neither Brandreth, nor anyone with a comparable experience, is being featured on the Channel 4 programme so far as I can tell. They wouldn’t want to spoil their “misery memoir” narrative with any happiness, would they?

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