Troubled Desire is an internet-based self-management tool for people who feel attracted to children and early adolescents. When appropriate and possible, contact with a therapist may be arranged. The goal is ultimately to prevent child sexual abuse and the use of child abuse images and to alleviate the distress experienced by those with paedophilic inclinations.
Human sexuality is characterized by a wide variety of sexual preferences. Each individual has specific erotic particularities that are realized first as fantasies and sometimes later as urges that develop into behaviours. Sexual preference of any kind is predetermined and not chosen; nobody gets to decide his or her own sexual orientation.
Specific erotic arousal patterns result in a sexual preference for the body age of prepubescent children and/or early pubescent teenagers. According to data from Germany, approximately one percent of the male population is characterized by a sexual preference of this kind, named “paedophilia” by the World Health Organisation. As long as sexual interest in children remains on the fantasy level no harm has occurred. However, if these fantasies are acted upon it can be very damaging to a child.
Due to societal taboo, being a paedophile can cause serious personal distress. This may cause symptoms associated with depression, anxiety and social isolation, which in turn can actually enhance the probability of acting on impulses. This could result in problematic sexual behaviour manifesting either as child sexual abuse or as consumption of child sexual abuse images (child pornography).
It is important to ensure that these offences never occur and to help affected persons prevent urges from becoming problematic sexual behaviour. There are strategies to improve the symptoms associated with distress and ways to integrate sexual interests without acting them out.
This understanding is the reason the German government has integrated preventive help for those with paedophilic inclinations into the healthcare system. Every individual in Germany is entitled to preventive treatment without financial cost or revealing his or her identity.
In Germany this treatment can be done in personal counsel because the law allows those with paedophilic inclinations, even those who have already offended, to do so without legal consequences (doctor-patient confidentiality). In many other countries, such as India, Canada or the United States, there are mandatory reporting laws which make it difficult to work with patients in a live setting on a personal basis.
We are facing an internationally relevant phenomenon. To protect children and improve the quality of life for persons with a sexual interest in children we are providing this internet-based self-management tool for those unable to seek help due to their local situation of mandatory reporting. This service is anonymous, confidential, free of charge and completely free from any conflict of interest. Troubled Desire aims to contribute to the safety of children everywhere and help those with paedophilic inclinations who renounce sexual offending to live a healthy and fulfilling life.
If you are healthcare professional interested in contributing to helping people with a sexual preference for children, please feel free to contact us at (firstname.lastname@example.org)