How to live in a world where even fantasies about your sexual preferences can be a crime?

Stanislava Shablinskaya
Stanislava Shablinskaya

Discussing sex, sexuality and sexual attraction aloud – no, it’s a very strong taboo, it’s scary, shameful and amoral. It’s so scary and uncomfortable that we feel confused even when we google it. Any flirting fantasy seems to have energy that makes a stranger look disapprovingly only at you, because your desires are shameful.

Most sexual fantasies can be satisfied if you find a partner with similar preferences. It’s not that difficult. All desires are pretty legal if they are consensual. But what should you do if only bodies of people under 15 attract you aesthetically? You like immature bodies, that’s that! It’s hard to imagine a more awful social stigma than that of being a paedophile. Hatred and condemnation in this case are so strong that all moral values don’t longer matter. How can we speak about understanding of the problem if a 44-year-old disabled man accused of paedophilia was burnt to death in Britain in the 21st century. It later turned out that the accusation was false. He was burnt like a witch in the country that puts human rights above all things. However, a coin has two sides. It’s easy to talk about humanity and understanding if you are not a victim of violence. You understand in your mind that not all people who assault children are paedophiles, and not all paedophiles assault children, but you can’t accept it.

Still frame from the film Lolita

It’s hard to be a paedophile who doesn’t commit any crimes. It’s even harder to be a paedophile who hasn’t accepted their sexual identity. In this situation, you can’t come out and say aloud about your orientation, as most people find it appalling. It creates favourable conditions for depression. You don’t know whom to tell about your problem, where you will be heard and understood or at least won’t be labelled as a criminal or sex offender.

A research conducted in 1999 by the University of Minnesota's Department of Family Medicine and Community Health found that 76% of paedophiles suffered from major depression and another 9% met the criteria for mild depression. “When you have a sexual preference that is as stigmatising as pedophilia, then there's nowhere to go with it, there's no one to really talk to about it. So you stew in your isolation, which certainly makes one depressed,” Prof. Michael Miner said.

You can easily guess that people with this kind of sexual identity will scarcely establish open contact with others. Their desire to stay anonymous seems logical. This fear is so strong that it makes people stifle their inward nature throughout their lives and cope with the problem on their own, without seeking help from others, which often leads to tragedies.

To find someone familiar with the topic, I had to create a discussion thread on an anonymous platform. The set of questions was rather harmless and, in my view, didn’t contain anything illegal or offensive. Nevertheless, the discussion was quickly deleted, because everything related to paedophilia is found quickly and incurs liability.

Key questions:

How do you live? How do you struggle with your desires?
Have you tried to find anyone able to help you? Were they medical workers?
Have you told anyone about your sexual preferences?
When did you understand your sexual identity?

I didn’t receive answers to all questions. Some answered briefly and directly, some gave more details. Some demonstrated aggression and expressed their hatred and unwillingness to discuss anything labelled as “paedophile”.

Anonymous person 1

I have a normal life. I live like others. I struggle with myself, enjoy looking at photos, masturbate and feel relieved for some time.

Russia and Belarus don’t provide treatment for such people. It’s hardly possible that someone has managed to get help from doctors.

No, I haven’t sought help. Where should I seek it and why? Mum and dad? I don’t want to upset them. They still hope I just haven’t found my soulmate yet. My sister has a 8-year-old daughter. I don’t want unnecessary suspicions, though she doesn’t attract me at all.

When I was 12-13, I began to notice that I like slightly younger girls more than girls of my age. I was growing, but I still liked children of 7-11 years old. I like pretty girls. I don’t find every child attractive. Actually, I can’t say there are a lot of beautiful children.

– Do you feel depressed?

Well, how to explain it. It’s not that I feel depressed about paedophilia. I have a depression, but the causes are absolutely different. People think if you are a paedophile, you do things. I can say more: most raped children were raped not by paedophiles, but by ordinary men who prefer adults. There are only 25-30% of paedophiles, or even fewer, in this group.

Artwork by Serbian artist Biljana Djurdjevic

Anonymous person 2

I live like other people. I don’t think my situation differs much from that of other people. The fact that someone has an ideal of beauty doesn’t mean they necessarily strive to get it.

Paedophiles who have sex with children unreasonably putting themselves at risk are antisocial individuals, as a rule. The matter is not that they are paedophiles, but that they are genetically prone to assault. Just like common rapists, paedophilic rapists can’t restrain themselves.

I’ve never sought help from doctors. I’ve never even thought about it. I’ve never told anybody about my preferences, God forbid. Never.

I understood it gradually. As a child I fell in love with girls in kindergarten, like all children. Unlike others, my preferences didn’t change as I was growing. I didn’t begin to like big breasts or hips.

Anonymous person 3

It’s a kind of a double life. I don’t feel I am a paedophile. I mean when I read news about an assault or rape I feel it was done by a paedophile. I never associate them with myself. I feel a sort of natural attraction to young girls, but I understand I can’t fulfil my desire without problems, so I just masturbate. I’ve never sought help and never told anyone.

I understood it five years ago when I began to work at school.

– So, you are always on the verge, aren’t you?

No, it’s not the verge. In general, I was on the edge several times, but I had more fear and shame than other feelings. So, I just have my fantasies, look for accounts on social media and masturbate. Talking to them makes me happy. I’m more interested in girls of 14-16 years old, not too little girls.

Anonymous person 4

When I was in senior school I understood it didn’t pass. Earlier, I hope I would grow it over. I did a sort of therapy: I opened photos of a small girl and an adult woman on my computer and compared them, trying to convince myself that physically, the woman’s photo should turn me on more, because the girl’s body is too small for sex. I now understand I was lying to myself. My visits to prostitutes ended in nothing.

Artwork by Belarusian artist Daniella Koliada

Anonymous person 5

I don’t masturbate because it’s fruitless: the thought that I can watch but can’t touch spoils everything. It’s like masturbating on an ad of the product you can’t afford. It may be enough when you are young and hope everything will change, but then you understand that nothing changes and you’ll never get what you want. So, there’s no point in drooling. As a result, you begin to block it.

Anonymous person 6

I can’t understand why people are so concerned about paedophiles: they really, truly love children. Only fools rape children because they don’t care about anything. A paedophile can’t harm a child. Paedophiles can rape children in the same way men can rape adult women. Most rapes are not committed by paedophiles.

If a normal person is thirsty but has no money to buy water in the street, he doesn’t hit a stranger in the face to take his money. It’s the same with a paedophile. He endures and fulfills his desire in legal ways.

Anonymous person 8

It’s difficult to call my passion paedophilia, but I like girls of the age between 13 and 18. I like different girls, but most of them fall into this age group. When I was younger, I took it easy and dated girls of that age, but we never had sex.

Now I am too old even for 20-year-old girls, unfortunately. But I manage to get acquainted with young girls. There are hobby groups that unite people of different ages, for example, dance classes. I meet girls there and then we chat on social media. We never meet one on one. I never start dirty talk on my initiative. Chatting about nothing in particular is just fine. As a rule, they are girls who grow up without a father. Their families are not very happy. They are interested in me not less than I am interested in them. I have all attributes of a successful man – a wife, money, a good car, expensive clothes. They sometimes fall in love with me. Actually, it’s enough for me. I don’t have a desire to have sex with minors. I even feel paternal towards some of them.

Artwork by Italian artist Andros

We should understand that there are many people who harm and will harm children, but will never get prosecuted. It’s disgusting and unfair. We also can’t deny there are people with paedophilic inclinations who want to do something with it and change their lives. As egoists, they don’t want to go to prison, but altruistically, they don’t want to harm a child. People with that kind of sexual identity need help. We should struggle to set up services that would help people understand their behaviour, teach them control themselves and sublimate their sexual desires into something productive that would prevent permanent depression. It looks like a fantasy for today. Even the author of this material can be accused of sympathising paedophiles and justifying their actions.

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