Clinical sexologist, Dr Marlene explains the difference between a paedophiliac and a child sex offender

POLOKWANE – The subject of paedophilia and minor attraction was thrust into the spotlight recently after a Gauteng man was sentenced to 140 years in prison for assaulting and abusing a two-year-old. During his trial the man said that if he could only have gotten help to deal with the urges he was feeling, he would have never acted.

In light of this, Stop It Now! embarked on a campaign including a two-part webinar to educate people about an issue that does not seem to get enough thought and in effect can be an answer to the prevention of sexual abuse of children.

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The issue they are focusing on, called minor attraction (people being sexually attracted to children), encouraged people to register and get involved with the prevention of child sexual abuse by knowing how to help themselves or someone they know who are minor attracted.

The webinar followed two specialists who are globally involved in a minor attraction prevention programme, Candice Christiansen and Meg Martinez Dettamanti. They spoke about the different issues that people face in instances of minor attraction and how it can be dealt with.

Candice Christiansen s a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist-Supervisor, certified EMDR and Sex Specific Mental Health Court Evaluator. She and her expert clinical team take a holistic approach to sexual recovery.

Stop It Now! wants to create awareness of the number of people being minor attracted growing over the past years with more and more cases being reported and the offenders then calling for assistance or saying that if they could only get the help they needed, they would have never offended.

Clinical sexologist, Dr Marlene Dr Eve Wasserman, said there’s still confusion on what the difference between a paedophiliac and a child sex offender is.

She explained paedophilia was a sexual orientation and those with paedophilia disorders have a mental disorder in which they cannot control their urges to have sexual relations with minors. The disorder usually manifests during adolescence and the children they are attracted to have to be at least five years or younger.

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“Paedophiles are a specific group of people who have a sexual attraction to children that is only about sexual orientation in terms of their love and lust,” Wasserman explained.

It is with this in mind that Stop It Now! started their two-part webinar called ‘Dear Stop It Now! Helpline… I’m attracted to children’ and ‘Dear Stop It Now! Helpline… I’m attracted to children. Part 2: What Kind of Help Should I look for?’

Stop It Now! explained one of the biggest problems are that people keep themselves isolated because they do not think they have assistance and a place to go to help them with the problem of being minor attracted.

This leads to people keeping quiet and children ending up falling victim. “We urge people who find themselves in this group having thoughts to seek immediate support and treatment in the form of seeing a professional to help deal with the thoughts and feelings before it ends in a child being hurt,” Stop It Now! stated in a recent press release.
Their advice to people in professions like sex offender therapists, trauma therapists and addiction therapists is to keep an open mind and be compassionate when meeting with a person who is minor attracted.

“When a person needs help and comes to see you, you need to check you own personal feelings at the door. We have found too many people who judge their patients and this can be catastrophic in many cases. People not only end up hurting a child but can also end up taking their own lives and, in many cases, these people are young themselves,” Christiansen said.
She urged people who find they are minor attracted to see a therapist but make sure they are a good fit for the person they will talk to in order to ensure they get the help they need. She also urged people to make use of supplemental support in the form of self-help programmes, groups and clinical assistance from online websites.

Dettamanti said there are several problems with support in not only South Africa but all over the world when it comes to support for people with minor attraction, especially women and youth.
“When it comes to these people coming out to families, it is important that families also get assistance from professionals on how to deal with the information and help and support this person close to them with this problem,” she added.

Clinical sexologist, Dr Marlene ‘Dr Eve’ Wasserman, says people must understand the different terminology when it comes to sexual predators and people who seek assistance before doing something wrong.

Some causes of people becoming minor attracted can include:
• Being abused themselves.
• Having a brain imbalance.
• Trauma they suffered in their lives.
“This is why it is important that professionals not deal with every person the same way and understand that a sex offender is worlds away from a person who knows they have thoughts and feelings and need help because they will not act on them.”

People who need assistance can contact:
https://www.stopitnow.org or send an e-mail to [email protected]
[email protected].
[email protected].
• Childline Polokwane: 17 Hans van Rensburg Street, (015) 295 6449, (080) 005 5555 or 087 943 6539.
• Sanca Polokwane: 33 Kerk Street (015) 295 3700, (015) 291 5985, [email protected] or [email protected].
• Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) http://www.atsa.com.

Here there are different links that can be followed for more information as well as becoming a member.
• B4U-Act http://www.b4uact.org, general inquiries: [email protected], research inquiries: [email protected], MAP inquiries: [email protected]. Co-founder and Board Chair: Russell A. Dick, LCSW-C, [email protected].
• Virtuous Pedophiles (Virpeds) https://www.virped.org, [email protected].

[email protected]

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  AUTHOR
Riana Joubert
Journalist

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