5 Things I Learned From Being Addicted To Child Porn

The difference between pedophilia and child molestation is a conversation that absolutely nobody wants to have. It's depressing enough to contemplate people being sexually attracted to children without getting into which model of windowless van they prefer. But they say knowledge is power, so let's power up.

A pedophile is someone attracted to prepubescent children, while a child molester is someone who sexually abuses them. Although not every pedophile will molest a child, most of them look at child pornography, which obviously hurts the children forced to participate in it. Unfortunately, demand is high. To understand this problem better, we reached out to one of the consumers. We spoke to "Charlie," who's been arrested twice for possession of child pornography. He's not looking for sympathy, or trying to play the victim. He told us ...

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5
Ironically, Interest In Child Porn Often Starts As A Child

"I was 12 years old when I first looked at pornography," Charlie explains. "At first it was adult pornography. Shortly after, I started looking at more and more porn. I kinda fell into a black hole in the internet which eventually led to taboo porn (BDSM, domination, etc.), which led to incest porn. Finally, while clicking around the many sites dedicated to incest porn, I found a link to a chat room. I was a kid in a chat room with a bunch of adults. I did not try to hide my age on there, either."

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Needless to say, he suddenly found himself alarmingly popular.

Occasionally, the users would post child porn, and no one would make a big deal about it ... until they found out they had an actual child in their midst. Oh, they freaked out, but not in the way you'd hope. Charlie received many messages in that chat room, often accompanied by pornographic images of kids.

"These pictures were of kids my age," Charlie told us. "There wasn't anything wrong with me looking at this stuff, right? And that's exactly what the people in the chat would assure me of. They'd say things like, 'It's normal to look at these pictures ... a lot of people do, they just don't talk about it."

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Sadly, that's probably the lie they were telling themselves, too.

This is grooming -- befriending a child and teaching them about sex like you're simply a pal and educator ... right up until you can demonstrate it to them in person. Fortunately for Charlie, he was smart enough to never meet any of these people in the real world. But what they said made sense to him. Why shouldn't he look at naked girls his own age? So he kept doing it.

And you remember Matthew McConaughey's most famous quote, don't you?

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4
Consuming Child Pornography Can Be Like An Addiction

While reading the confessions of professed pedophiles, which is not a fun hobby we would recommend, you start to notice that many of them talk about addiction. "I'm attracted to boys between 7 and 12, and I'm addicted to porn videos, photos and drawings," says one anonymous pedophile. "I often want to say 'stop,' I erase everything I have on my computer, I go to dating sites, I try to be normal but it never lasts I crack again I re download and spend sometimes the whole night looking at this porn files on my pc."

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Charlie says, "When I was 15, I moved from Florida to Washington. It was here when I would say that I got addicted to child porn."

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One of the rare times Adult You would prefer that 15-Year-Old You had developed teen alcoholism instead.

Many forms of addiction apparently develop much in the same way as grief. They stem from loneliness and isolation, and involve a lot of bargaining, anger, and depression. This is exactly how it went for Charlie. "I knew no one in Washington. On top of all the normal teenage hormones and angst, I had no friends. I ended up spending all day on the computer. I isolated myself. I spent probably seven hours a day looking at porn at the peak of my addiction."

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Basically every waking hour not spent eating or at school, with nothing to show for it except a slew of felonies.

So like any other 15-year-old with an internet connection. But in Charlie's case, he was watching child porn. By then, Charlie was considerably older than the kids in his pornography of choice, which made it harder for him to justify watching it. That's when he entered the bargaining stage.

"I set deadlines for myself," Charlie explains. "Like, one was when I have sex, then I'll stop. Like if I had sex with a girl my age, then I'd magically be cured of this addiction. Then, of course, I entered into a sexual relationship with a girl my age and I still didn't stop. Then it became when I turned 18 I would stop. This never happened, obviously."

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When it destroys my life, I'll stop.

Eventually, Charlie started hating himself so much that he "literally could not look at myself in the mirror. I was disgusted with myself because I knew that what I was doing was wrong." And yet he couldn't stop. Remember, calling child porn an addiction doesn't justify it; it only helps us understand the problem better, and it may even help us find a way to stop non-offending pedophiles from ditching that vital prefix.

3
To Addicts, Even Prison Is Not A Deterrent

There are hundreds of ways to exchange illegal stuff, from carrier pigeons to chat rooms on the Dark Web. But Charlie didn't use any of them, and that's why he got caught at the age of 19.

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"I was caught trading child pornography that I had downloaded off the internet with an undercover police officer on some chat room. That trial went on for about two years, and I ended up getting sentenced to six months in jail and 10 years probation. Shortly after I got out, I was looking at online child porn again."

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In case you aren't familiar with the probation system, it tends to frown on that kind of thing.

"I don't even know how I got caught the second time, honestly. I was 22. I ended up getting a two-to-four-year split bid, which means I'd spend three years in prison and do one year on parole. Being from an upper-middle-class white family probably helped me avoid longer sentences both times."

This is indeed unusual. Child porn sentences are notoriously harsh, despite there being no mandatory minimum for possession of illegal material. Charlie should have gotten at least five years the first time. But even that wouldn't have stopped him from watching child porn; it only would've paused it for half a decade.

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Recidivism for guys like Charlie is lower than commonly thought, but statistics didn't change his urges.

See, pedophilia is most likely hardwired in the brain. You can't just scare something like that away. Also, despite what pop culture tells us, it seems prison isn't that bad for all sex offenders.

"The first time, I spent my entire stay in protective custody. What that means is they put in you in a jail cell for 23 hours a day, and only let you out when everyone [else] is in their cells. I had trouble sleeping, and I spent most of that time just pacing my jail cell, but other than that, nothing. The second time, when I got sent upstate, I expected the whole Oz thing to happen, especially since I was a sex offender. But I was able to avoid all that by luck and just keeping my head down."

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Really, it comes down to whether it's better to be stabbed or re-offend.

However, please note that none of this applies to California prisons, which have implemented a strict pedophile conversion program ... wherein inmates routinely convert sex offenders from alive people to dead people. Charlie avoided that only by claiming that the people in the pictures he downloaded were 16-17, which "moved me down the target list."

2
The Sex Offender Registry Is Bizarre And Somewhat Arbitrary

Charlie had no hand in making child pornography. He didn't personally know the kids in the stuff he watched. He got it randomly off the web. This, however, complicated things when the state was determining his sex offender level. "It was decided by a number of points," he recalls. "You would get X amount of points, depending on the age of the victim. The lower it was, the more points you got." And the more points you got, the more trouble you were in.

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Over and above the baseline "A fuck of a lot of trouble" to be counting points in the first place.

"The first time, I was designated as a Level 2 sex offender, but there were arguments to be made for being a Level 1 (where I wouldn't be on the registry for the public). The one that pushed me to a Level 2 was the fact that I did not know any of the victims in the pictures, so I got 20 points instead of 10. Because somehow it would have been better if I knew the victims in the random pictures I was downloading. No one's ever really come up with an explanation for that for me."

No one is disputing that Charlie is guilty, but Level 2 of the Sex Offender Registry is usually reserved for people with multiple offenses and/or substance abuse problems that might contribute to them re-offending. That's why Charlie tried to fight the decision.

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Though he did re-offend within three years, so interpret that as you will.

"We went to trial to try to advocate for a lower level. The prosecution brought in a therapist stating how I was a danger to the community and how I should be a Level 2 versus a Level 1. He was also the therapist I was required to see after I got out of jail, which I felt was kind of a breach of the doctor/patient trust right off the bat."

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You wouldn't think meeting with a stranger to discuss pedophilia could get any more awkward, but there you go.

Charlie and the doctor never rebuilt that trust, because it's tough to rebuild things when they were never built in the first place. "When I started looking at porn again, which lead to looking at child pornography again, I never really trusted my therapist enough to tell him I was having problems."

That's why Charlie is now a Level 3 Sex Offender, the highest level there is. Although he does say that "Being on the SO registry has in some ways had less effect on my life than you'd think. People don't actively Google 'sex offenders near me,' and therefore the people who actually know about my crimes are few and far between."

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Turns out this is one of those things most people would rather not know.

1
Overall, We Don't Know Much About Child Porn, Addiction, And Pedophilia

Sometimes, the best way to solve a problem is to examine the root cause of it. But in this case, the root cause is massively depressing and examining it makes you want to die.

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"People often ask me why I watched child porn," Charlie says. "And honestly, I never have a good answer for that. Because there is none. Do I tell them, 'Well, when I was 12 years old and learning about sex, I found child pornography, which eventually got so interwoven with my sexuality that I couldn't escape from it, even when I desperately wanted to, and to make matters worse, when I finally realized I needed help, I couldn't go to anyone for fear of going to prison, which eventually just perpetuated the cycle that I had found myself in, until I inevitably get arrested and went to prison anyways'? No, I can't tell them that."

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Because it's too much to dump on somebody, for one. And for two, all of Charlie's friends are fearsome grammar pedants, and would not tolerate the run-on sentence.

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Yes, a grammar joke. This topic has kind of sprained our "Wakka wakka!" reflex.

As of now, Charlie is keeping his affliction in check. "I can honestly say that this is the first time in my life that I am not looking at child porn, and I feel great. My life is looking up. I'm not depressed, and I don't hate myself as much as I used to." But like with any addiction, it's still on his mind, and will probably be there forever. "I know that if I looked at it again, even once, then I'd be on the fast track to prison, and I'd go through the same cycle over again."

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That's sort of a thing with addiction.

Will this be enough to make Charlie stop watching child porn for good, or is it already too late for him? Are your kids in danger of ending up like him? Science says: "We ... have no idea. And this feels gross to talk about. How about lasers instead? Pew pew, zap!"

Charlie is just a man trying to make up for some of the wrongs he's done in his life. He hopes that his experiences might inspire someone to get help if they find themselves in the same situation that he was in. If you do find yourself in a similar situation; then please. Get Help. If you are a parent and are worried about protecting your child online, here's a link with some information on how to keep your children safe online.

For more insider perspectives, check out 5 Ways We Misunderstand Pedophilia (That Makes It Worse) and 5 Things I Learned Infiltrating Deep Web Child Molesters.

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