Supporting MAPs and Preventing Child Sexual Abuse
Written by Rusty Warner (used with permission)
I met Ender Wiggin in the spring of 2017. It was an accident that changed the direction and purpose of my life from then on.
I had a Twitter troll follow me and, when I checked his timeline, I saw him harassing Ender. I publicly asked Ender how he avoided offending. His immediate response was to ask how I avoided raping women. I had never thought about that. We spent a few hours in DM, and we discussed how he managed his attraction without ever touching a child. Almost everything he said was what people in the teleiophile range do when they're attracted to someone they can't have.
I started following members of the community like TNF_13 and Robert West. I learned a lot during that time. I believed them, but I still had my doubts. Then I did some stuff I am still a little ashamed of, because I needed to know for sure they were telling the truth about the purpose they were on Twitter. I picked three random MAPs and pretended to be a MAP at risk of offending. All three offered help. (I have since deleted that account I used to troll them. I regret not getting the screenshots of the conversations, as they would have been proof for the skeptics out there.)
When I started advocating that MAPs get the help they deserve, I thought it was so they did not offend against children. Over the last two years, it has become obvious that that is not the primary thing they need help with. Yes, MAPs may be statistically much more likely to sexually offend (usually with image-based offenses). How much more likely is not able to be determined at this point, as we do not have solid data. It’s impossible to know at this point in time. We don’t know precisely how much of the population are minor-attracted, and we don’t know for sure how many people who offend are pedophiles.
Since I became an ally, I have had about fifteen accounts message me that they were at risk of offending. I think only two were genuine, and the others were trolls trying to see what I would do. I am still in contact with the two genuine accounts. I have had many other MAPs talk about the other things they experience because of their attractions. If it were anything else they were dealing with causing all that harm to them, everybody would be extremely sympathetic. But we as a society believe they are ticking time-bombs who are destined to offend. So we dehumanize them, regardless of whether they have ever done anything.
Most MAPs just need a listening ear—somebody who will listen to what they are going through and not judge them for it. The fear they have of themselves when they first realize they have the attraction is so sad, especially considering the help that is available today. They fear they will eventually offend and there is no help for them. This stage is difficult for most, but it’s just the beginning for many. The duration and difficulty of this stage is different for everybody. Once a person gets past the stage where they understand they will not offend, some reality sets in.
If a person is exclusive, the possibility of a relationship is not there for them. Todd Nickerson and I have had many conversations about the loneliness he feels on a daily basis. He says that’s the hardest part for almost everybody. Having peers and people willing to listen does not make the loneliness disappear. It just gets slightly easier to manage.
Some MAPs feel guilty that they have thoughts about children. The thoughts are unwanted, and most wish there was a button a switch to shut them off. Accepting that the thoughts are going to come and go, and managing the shame one experiences when having them, is a learned skill. It takes talking with peers who have figured out how to manage these times. Not being a MAP, I cannot contribute to somebody learning that skill, no matter how much I would like to be able to.
Suicidality among MAPs is common—way, way too freaking common. On the second Prevention Podcast episode with Everett, he told the story of the suicides during the time he had been in a support group in the Netherlands. During that same time, two good friends of mine attempted suicide. One of my friends who attempted suicide had told me indirectly a few days before that he was considering it. As we cannot be sure of how to stop these events, reducing them involves listening, supporting, and reminding people of who they have in their lives, what they mean to us, and what they have to be hopeful for.
MAPs often isolate themselves for a few reasons. They fear they will accidentally show their attraction to the wrong person. They have the perception that they do not belong around children. It is hard to be single and hang out with your married friends. People always ask, “Why aren’t you dating?” MAPs have to say, “I am busy”, etc. The stories I have heard regarding people isolating themselves are heartbreaking. People who are isolated are at far greater risk of harming themselves and others. Encouraging MAPs to form friendships and mingle with those around them is helping.
It is important to help MAPs with these struggles for two reasons. The first reason is that they are human beings and you may know one. It could be your father, brother, mother, sister, or child that is struggling with these issues. Some people will make the ridiculous statement they would disown a body that they knew was a MAP, but it’s more likely they would try to get a loved one help. The second reason is that these issues can inhibit a person from reaching their full potential. Many of the MAPs I know are very talented, wonderful individuals who have things to contribute to society. Let’s not miss out on these great people.