Is my boyfriend a pedophile?


Dear Stop It Now!,

My boyfriend has had a problem with pornography. Recently I was looking at his computer history and saw that about 2-3 years ago before we met, he searched for child pornography. He says this was a dark time in his life, that he doesn't like that stuff, and it was a mistake. He admitted to being molested by his babysitter's grandson when he was younger. Is he a pedophile who will molest? Should I run now or is there a chance he can get help? I'm scared and feel alone because I don't know what to do or who to talk to.

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Dear Concerned Girlfriend,

Thank you for contacting Stop It Now! about your boyfriend’s pornography viewing. It’s great that you’re willing to reach out and question a close adult’s behavior when something doesn’t feel right.

It takes a lot of courage for your boyfriend to admit to what he did, but it sounds like he may need help. Watching child pornography is, in fact, child abuse. However, that does not necessarily mean that he will go on to molest a child.

To answer your question, I am unsure whether or not your boyfriend is a pedophile. That sounds like something he may want to explore in therapy. Pedophiles are adults who are attracted to children, and I am unsure whether this is the case with your boyfriend. You should know, however, that there are pedophiles who never molest children – although attracted to children, some pedophiles have made a commitment to never harming a child, and are successful.

Professional Help for Adults At-Risk
It sounds like you and your boyfriend are going through a lot right now. It’s great to hear that you have confronted him with evidence of behavior that may have been difficult to understand. The next step may be to speak with him about options of seeing a therapist.

Although he said that he was viewing child pornography several years ago, I am wondering if he is still struggling with these feelings. There is help available, and I think it would be an important first step for him to Find Treatment. Seeking out a professional who specializes in sexual behavior problems or pornography addiction, would be ideal for him. Many Adults At-Risk go on to lead healthy, abuse-free lives because they have had specialized help to manage their difficult feelings. 

Warning Signs
I am wondering if you have noticed any other Signs An Adult May Be At-Risk To Harm A Child when with your boyfriend. Although it sounds like your main concern came from viewing his internet history, reading through these may pinpoint something that you could not articulate previously.

Healing as an Adult Survivor
I understand that he is also an Adult Survivor. That must be a very difficult thing to struggle with, but it’s great that you two have a trusting relationship and he can be open with you about such personal things. For this reason as well, I believe that he would greatly benefit from a professional ear. He could seek out a counselor who specializes in adult survivors separately, or see if he can find someone who is trained to work with adults struggling with sexual behavior problems or pornography addiction, as well as adult survivors of child sexual abuse. It's never too late to begin the process of recovery.

Online Support Options
You may want to also pass on these resources to him; they are organizations to help stop illegal viewing behaviors and could helpful while he is looking for a therapist locally, or if he is not yet ready for that step:

Legal Implications
Watching child pornography is illegal, and having it on your computer is an offense that could result in jail time. However, encouraging him to get help, is a vital step towards keeping children safe and to his own personal healing journey. Many adults call or write us with similar problems, so he is not alone. Child Sexual Abuse Material: Getting Help to Stop is a helpful resource from our website highlighting some of the feelings he may be experiencing, legal ramifications, and encouraging seeking help to stop.

Speaking Up
If you do, that may be even more reason to encourage him to seek help. The conversation you have with him may be a difficult one, and it may not end in him finding specialized treatment immediately, but hopefully with encouragement, he will make the right decision. Although it seems you have already had one difficult conversation, our guidebook Let’s Talk may be a helpful resource for you when choose to talk to your boyfriend again about this situation.

Finally, I was wondering what sort of resources you have for yourself. It sounds like you have a lot to deal with right now. It may be helpful to find your own support. You may want to explore our Finding Treatment page for yourself as well. Please know that you’re not alone in this.

Speaking up when you see something wrong is extremely courageous. I’m so glad that you contacted us for more information. I hope this information has been helpful, and I wish the best for you and your boyfriend.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us again. 

Take care,
Stop It Now!


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Last edited on: June 9th, 2021