Is Pedophilia Still Curable If I’ve Assaulted Others?

You may remember me from a previous question in which I asked if bestiality can be cured. In which you responded magnificently. But another inquiry has crossed my mind.
When I was younger, I was sexually abused twice by kids the same age as me. I know it wasn’t deliberate. But those actions caused me to act the same way against my younger cousin, this went on until I was about 14 years old. I believed that it was a natural thing, but now I understand that it wasn’t. Although everything’s been sorted now, I still feel very guilty. I stumbled across your book about how pedophilia was curable, but is it still curable even if I acted out on my desires? It’s something that haunts my mind every day. Thank you.

Yes, I do remember you, and I’m very glad you wrote in regarding this concern.  It is your soul (not your subconscious) that is stressing over this issue.  Spiritual stress needs to be treated with the same respect as psychological stress, because both kinds will worsen over time if not dealt with. 

The fact that you responded to your own assault experience by assaulting another person, and the fact that this became an ongoing event for you, indicates that your subconscious has an aggressive temperament (see Freezing vs. Fighting: Two Strategic Responses to Assault).  As I explain in my material, aggressives have a natural instinct to lash out when they feel threatened or stressed.  When an aggressive is sexually assaulted, he will often feel a desire to re-enact what happened to him in a hands-on way.  While there are obvious downsides to this method of dealing with stress, it is vital that you learn to respect your mind’s positive motivations in pushing you to assault your cousin.  Your subconscious was designed by God to make protecting you its first priority.  At the time you were assaulting your cousin, your mind would have viewed him (or her) as being nothing more than an expendable stage prop; a useful tool for experimenting with so that your mind could try to figure out what happened to you. Once your mind becomes hyper-focused on defending and protecting you, other people become objectified, and it truly does not care about the damage it is doing to them.  This isn’t a flaw; it’s the way subconsciouses are designed to operate under stress. 

Now the world would be a disaster if we all went around being led solely by our subconsciouses.  It is our souls that prevent us from deteriorating into violent, selfish monsters who constantly attack each other.  Your soul was designed to care about moral principles.  It is also designed with an ability to look at the big picture, not just focus on here and now.  

Notice how you did not realize that what you were doing was wrong at the time you did it.  This is a vital detail in resolving soul guilt, because the fact that you honestly “believed it was a natural thing” at the time indicates God had not yet taught your soul differently.  God is the One who educates your soul about right and wrong, and He educates us all in a different order.  In your case, it sounds like He didn’t help you understand the horror of what you did to your cousin until well after the fact.  When this is the case, God does not consider you to be guilty of rebelling against Him at the time you violated your cousin.  Even though what you did was morally wrong, that is not the right issue to focus on when you are dealing with soul guilt.  The far more important issue to understand is how God is viewing your behaviour.  God’s opinion is the only One that counts here because He is the only One you will be answering to for what you did in this life.  Since He outranks you, His assessment of you trumps your assessment of yourself. 

Now once God educates us in a way that causes us to view our past behaviours as wrong, our souls can either reject or accept that information (see the explanation of educational convictions in these charts).  The fact that you feel so guilty today indicates your soul has accepted God’s explanation that what you did to your cousin was morally wrong.  This is very good.  It means that your soul is aligning with God’s assessment of the situation instead of rejecting it.  That’s the first step to getting soul peace.  But at this point, you are only aligning with part of God’s assessment: His bottom line conclusion that it was wrong to assault your cousin.  You now need to understand the rest of God’s assessment so that your soul can align with that as well. 

When you look back and feel like a crumb for abusing your cousin, you are not judging yourself fairly, because you are not taking into account all of the factors involved.  When God judges you, He always considers all of the factors, which is why His judgments of you are always reasonable and far more accurate than your own (see Your Soul vs. God: Two Different Judges).  When God saw you abusing your cousin, He saw all of the psychological stress you were under, He understood the logic your subconscious was using to justify its actions, and He understood why your mind honestly thought messing with your cousin might be the key to helping you recover from your own trauma.  Even though you feel your original attackers were not deliberately trying to harm you, your behaviour afterwards demonstrates how devastated you were by what they did.  Other people’s motivations can be totally positive towards you, but you will still become severely traumatized if you feel that your body has been sexually violated.  It is important that you don’t trivialize your own feelings here.  What happened to you was internally shattering. It caused you to feel overwhelmed with confusion, pain, and fear, and you then scrambled to try to claw your way out of that dark pit using any strategy you could think of.  

The fact that your mind kept pushing you to continue to assault your cousin indicates it was experiencing very real stress relief each time you messed with him.  This is a normal reaction for aggressives: they find relief by lashing out.  But in cases of trauma-driven assaults, the aggressives who are doing the assaulting only experience momentary, partial relief. It is impossible to resolve your own sexual trauma by violating others.  What actually happens is that your mind experiences very brief relief, then that relief quickly vanishes and you actually feel worse than you did before you attacked. Because you feel worse, your base stress levels rise even higher, and soon your mind is pressuring you to assault again.  It’s a vicious cycle which results in you feeling progressively worse each time you assault a real person.

Now just to help you understand yourself better, let me explain why real life assaults always backfire like this. Let’s remember why your mind pushed you to assault in the first place: because it was trying to re-enact what had been done to you. What had been done to you was life-shattering, so what you’re really forcing yourself to re-enact is your worst nightmare. When aggressive child molesters molest, they are hoping to somehow kill the power that their own traumas are having on them. It’s rather like telling yourself: “I’m going to get over my fear of being horribly burned by a fire in the past by starting a new fire today and forcing myself to stand in the middle of it.” The goal going in is to extinguish fear. But what actually happens is the fear intensifies.

Fans of horse riding often promote the principle that if you get thrown off a horse, it’s vital that you get back in the saddle right away, because that’s the only way you’re going to avoid becoming stalled in fear. Minds with aggressive temperaments often try to use this same approach when recovering from sexual assault. The mentality here is similar to “If I face my fear head on, I can conquer it, and it can no longer upset me.” But sexual trauma is a very different deal than being bucked by a horse, and forcing yourself into a position where you are actively participating in any kind of sexual assault (either as the giver or the receiver) is guaranteed to worsen your mental condition, not help it.

So how do the passives do it? They also try to re-enact, only they favour the role of the victim, while aggressives prefer to play the part of the abusers. There is a slight difference in goals here. Aggressives are often trying to reverse roles when they re-enact their own sexual assaults. In the past, they were forced to be the victims. Today, they seize the role of the abuser, in an effort to symbolically take back the power that was stripped from them in the past. Meanwhile, passives find role reversals too threatening, because they are not designed to find relief in lashing out. So they tend to seek out traumatized aggressives who will abuse them in specific ways–ways that match what the passive originally experienced in the past. The passive then tries to “overcome his fear” by learning to like pain. In both cases, minds are shooting for unattainable goals, and in both cases, everyone crawls out of the trauma re-enactment feeling worse than they did going in. So it’s a mess.

Now I was being very simplistic in the explanation I just gave, and only discussing some of the more common behaviours of aggressives and passives. In real life, things get a lot more complicated. Many aggressives will try to alternate between playing the abuser and playing the victim in their re-enactments. Some super stressed passives will take a shot at being the abuser. The key point I want you to understand here is that passives are in just as much of a mess as aggressives are. Neither group is using a winning strategy when they go for re-enactments, but the impulse to do re-enactments is often overwhelmingly strong.

Now the reason I want you to see how flawed the logic is for both passive and aggressive pedophiles is because aggressive pedophiles are prone to sliding more quickly into spiritual despair. When aggressives see themselves committing real crimes against real people, they often conclude (with lots of help from the general public) that they are intrinsically evil and beyond redemption. Notice how your insecurity about being able to recover is stemming from the fact that you have acted out. In other words, you think that your own set of natural instincts somehow scratches your name off the list of “people who can still have hope.” Well, no, this is absolutely wrong, and you need to be guarded against this kind of logic in more areas than this one because this is one of the vulnerabilities that comes with being an aggressive. Humans judge each other based on their external actions, and since aggressives are prone to lashing out when stressed, they are quickly condemned by others for the things they do and they are given all kinds of discouraging labels. This can result in intense spiritual anguish if your soul makes the colossal mistake of thinking that God agrees with the labels that other humans put on you. Remember that it was God who intentionally created both temperaments. He does not consider passives to be superior to aggressives in any way. He values both temperaments equally.

Now suppose that God had convicted you at the time you were planning to assault your cousin and told you not to. Suppose you reacted by telling God to shove it. That would be a case of spiritual rebellion, and it means I’d be discussing a few additional topics in this post, such as repentance. But even if that was your history, you would still not be beyond recovery in any sense. Spiritual rebellion can be resolved. Pedophilia can be resolved, regardless of how the pedophile has behaved in the past. Recovery has nothing to do with having a clean record. Recovery is accomplished by resolving core distress and adjusting false beliefs. In cases of severe trauma (and most sexual trauma is severe), there are usually false beliefs being held by the mind and the soul, and they all need to be addressed at some point. Right now we’re dealing with one of your soul’s false beliefs: this issue that your past actions can negatively affect your ability to recover in the future. That’s simply not true. The more of a mess you’ve been, the more good God can squeeze out of the whole thing as He helps you turn your mistakes and misconceptions into opportunities to mature. So don’t ever say, “I’m too far gone.” You’re never too far gone when God is involved and God is always the One driving recovery, even in cases where souls are not yet aware of His existence.

Dealing with Guilt

Guilt is fuelled by specific fears. The kind of guilt your soul is experiencing is usually being fuelled by one or more of the following beliefs:

  • I will never be able to respect myself after what I’ve done.
  • I will never be able to gain the respect of other people after what I’ve done.
  • I will never be able to get into a good place with my Creator after what I’ve done.

Take a moment to think about which of these statements resonates with your soul. It’s important to identify the specific underlying fear that is driving your guilt, because to reduce the guilt, you need to address that fear head on. Let’s now discuss each of these fears in turn.

Self-Respect

Your soul has a core need to view you as a morally decent person. Once your soul decides you’ve done something horrible, it will often feel hopeless about ever regaining its respect for you. If it can’t respect you, it has no hope of feeling comfortable being trapped inside you for the rest of your days, and this is what causes the gnawing fear that will develop into exhaustion and despair if it’s not dealt with.

So what’s the solution here? You can’t change the past. What’s done is done. And yet when your soul gets stuck like this, it is overlooking a very important issue: you are not the Supreme Authority. You are not the Supreme Judge. Your opinion of yourself is just that: an opinion. Opinions that aren’t backed by power aren’t worth much, and you are very limited dot of a creature. So unless someone with real authority weighs in on the issue of your respectability, you don’t really have a case for concluding that your own view of yourself is conclusive.

God is the Supreme Authority. God also has infinite power, and His personal opinions play a big role in determining what He does with His power. If God decides He doesn’t like someone, He has the power to nail that person with horrific suffering. If God decides He does like someone, He has the power to radically improve that person’s quality of existence. It is the fact that God acts on His opinions in such extreme ways that makes His opinions so important. It also means that His opinion of you is far more important than yours. So what does God think about your respectability? Does God think that your actions against your cousin make you some worthless dirt clod today? No, He does not. When God looks at you today, He sees a creature with plenty of worth and value, despite what you’ve done in the past.

Once you understand that God views you differently than you do, your soul is forced to respond to that difference. You can either submit to God’s view of you, and accept that His opinion trumps yours because He infinitely outranks you, or you can reject His opinion and go on acting like your own opinion is the only one that counts. There is only one wise move here. Submitting to God’s Authority in this area and asking Him to help you understand and accept how He views you is the way to combat this specific soul fear. In this situation, your soul ends up respecting you out of respect for God, not because it personally feels okay with what you did in the past. You submit to God’s assessment of you, and you work on embracing His compassion and grace even though you don’t feel deserving of either.

The Respect of Others

In this second scenario, the fear is that you will never be able to gain the respect of other people once they find out what you’ve done in the past. To deal with this fear, you first need to realize that you’re focusing on opinions of a bunch of created specks and acting like their approval is some vital thing to have. Well, no, it’s really not. Other humans are as limited as you are. They don’t run the universe. They don’t control what happens in this world. They won’t be transferring your soul on to a new chapter of existence after you die. In this situation, the focus needs to be on putting other people’s opinions in proper perspective, and stop assigning them more value than they actually have. There is only one opinion that you should consider crucially important, and that is the opinion of the Being who created you. What He says about you trumps what anyone else says. If you have His approval, then everyone else can lump it.

Now in real life, when we get stuck in this second fear, we are drastically underestimating how many other people on the planet are struggling with the same issues that we are. No matter what you’ve done or how rotten you feel, there many other people in this world who could strongly identify with you. Identity breeds compassion, and that means that there are many people in the world who would sympathize with you instead of condemn you if they understood your situation.

The problem with an issue like pedophilia is that it causes people to isolate themselves out of a fear of being socially ostracized. There is so much ignorance and misinformation surrounding this issue that the general public ends up being terrified of pedophiles, and they express that terror as intense hatred. This makes pedophiles feel petrified about telling anyone their personal struggles, and while everyone’s hiding in their depressing little corners, they all think they are alone in their struggles. Well, no, you are certainly not alone, nor is it true that no one on the planet would ever understand or respect you. In my line of work, I’ve talked with many pedophiles who are very classy, mature, kind-hearted individuals with strong moral codes and a sincere desire to be a positive influence in the world. They tend to have a lot of compassion for other people who struggle with immense internal anguish. Pain has a way of fast-tracking people’s rate of maturity, which is one of the reasons I like working in the field of trauma.

Pleasing God

God is extremely easy to reconcile and succeed with. Regardless of what you’ve done or why you’ve done it, God will show you clear, doable steps that your soul can take to immediately get into a good place with Him. God is far easier to succeed with than humans are, and when your soul is afraid that God wants nothing to do with you, the solution is to move towards God, not run away. This means that you ask Him to help you better understand how He judges you, and to help you accept His assessment of you, even when it seems too good to be true.

Sexual trauma results in a lot of symptoms that religious communities tend to stereotype as “extra bad sins.” Child molestation. Rape. Homosexuality. Bestiality. Addictions to deviant porn. Then you’ve got a whole set of other ugly symptoms that people feel squeamish talking about. Self-mutilation. Masturbation. Torture. Victims of sexual assault often end up grappling with several of these issues at the same time. With religious communities shunning them like deadly viruses, it’s easy to think God also views them as “undesirable.” But no, God doesn’t take His cue from a bunch of ignorant creatures when He’s deciding how He feels about you. When God looks at you, He doesn’t hyper focus on a few of your worst moments in life. He takes in the whole picture: past, present and future. He is especially interested in your future potential, which is something that only your Creator can accurately assess. So the theory that God is as hung up on the past as you are couldn’t be more wrong. God is ready to move forward and help you start reaping a harvest of spiritual maturity from all of the misery you’ve been through.

To combat this third fear, you need to work on being receptive to the positive lessons God wants to teach you, and you need to respect the fact that He is an autonomous Being who makes up His own mind about who He does and doesn’t like. The fact that you are finding it hard to forgive the past does not mean that God also finds it hard, because He is not you.

Conclusion

Now that we’ve learned why a history of assault does not prevent you from being able to recover from pedophilia, I want you to seriously work on this spiritual guilt issue. First, take the time to pinpoint the specific underlying fears that are fuelling it, then ask God to help you deal with those fears in positive ways. When we take the right approach, guilt becomes an opportunity to make fantastic progress in the area of spiritual maturity.

This post was written in response to Norman.