How to Ask for Help When You are Troubled by Your Thoughts about Children

Asking for help breaks the isolation

The reasons why some adults think of being sexual with a child are complex and specific to that adult. There is no single reason why this happens, but there is help. Most adults who have these disturbing thoughts or urges have great difficulty controlling them on their own. Sexual thoughts about children is a danger sign which may indicate that you need to work through childhood experiences of abuse or trauma – perhaps experiences you may not even recall. Many have shared with us that they are surprised by their thoughts or desire to relate sexually to a child. It is important to confide in someone or seek help as soon as possible because hoping that it will fade or go away on its own is denial. This denial only provides temporary relief from something that if ignored may only get worse and more difficult to resolve later on.

Who to ask for help

These are tough issues that require professional assistance and ongoing support to manage safely. Not all therapists have specialized training or background in working with adults who struggle with these issues. Be sure you consult with someone who has an expertise in working with adults with similar concerns. These therapists are sometimes called “sex offender treatment providers”. Sex offender treatment providers work with adults who have already offended and with those who have not offended but feel worried that they could.

These therapists are professionals who specialize in this specific area of sexual behavior in adults and understand that only a small percentage of those who sexually abuse children are actually pedophiles (people with an exclusive attraction to children and not to adults).

What to say

To a therapist

Find words that you feel comfortable saying. To call for an initial appointment with a therapist, (sometimes called an “intake”), you do not need to describe anything about your thoughts or behaviors. To make an appointment you may only need to let the office know that you are calling about sexual behavior concerns. If you want to be sure you are calling someone who specializes in adult sexual interest in children, you can consult the Adults At Risk to Abuse and Who Have Abused Resource Guide.

To a friend

Planning to confide in someone who cares about you can be an important step towards controlling your behaviors and staying safe. When speaking with this person stay as honest as possible and start slowly. Maybe you can let them know you have a personal issue that is troubling you and you need some support in getting help. It might be important to let an adult know “It’s not a good idea for me to be around this particular child right now.” Perhaps you can share part of the problem, and assure them that you will explain more next time you talk.