Tag Archives: Mental health

Thoughts on the legalisation of paedophilia

Child Sexual Abuse

Child Sexual Abuse

Earlier today, I reblogged a post from Anna Waldherr at A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse, about the reclassification of paedophilia by the American Psychiatric Association in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the possible legalisation of paedophilia.

Shock, horror, anger, disgust, mortification, disbelief… the list of initial feelings and emotions is/was pretty much endless.  Coming from the perspective of having lived through years of child sexual abuse, the last thing you want to hear about is the possibility of paedophilia being legalised.

However, to assess the situation as rationally as possible, it is necessary to put aside personal bias.  I have to say, this has been quite a difficult task, not the least because every journal article, newspaper article, book, study analysis etc., that I have since read (hurriedly, I have to admit), has caused my body a large amount of physical distress, to mention nothing about my state of mind.

Regardless, I am going to at least attempt a reasonably rational assessment of the topic.

For those of you who don’t know what the DSM is, it is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States – and also the basic mental health diagnostic tool used by mental health professionals in Australia.

To be clear, in general terms, to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder in Australia, you have to meet the criteria set out by the American Psychiatric Association in the DSM.  Therefore, any changes to the DSM affects mental health patients in Australia.

So, DSM V now makes a distinction between a paraphilia ( sexual interests in objects, situations, or individuals that are highly atypical – see Wikipedia for a list) and a paraphilic disorder.  Paedophilia is a paraphilia.

What this change means is that a person (paedophile) can only be diagnosed with a mental health disorder if they have a paraphilia that is currently causing distress or impairment to themselves, or personal harm or risk of harm to others (see Highlights of Changes from DSM-IV-TR to DSM-5).  The most basic way to explain this is that if a person THINKS about paedophilia but does not ACT on it, then there is no mental health problem.

Now, this might cause some readers a bit of concern, but I guess a drastic analogy might be that just because I think about ‘meowing’ it does not make me a cat, nor does it mean I have any kind of mental health disorder (?).

How does this link with the legalisation of paedophilia?

It seems quite a leap, doesn’t it, to say that just because there is a change to the mental health diagnosis of a paedophile, that paedophilia should be made legal?

Well, apparently not.

In my brief reading today, I have discovered quite a number of articles in which so-called ‘experts’ make the argument that paedophilia is a sexual preference – just like homosexuality or heterosexuality – or even, bestiality.  The argument continues, that if we (society) was wrong to criminalise homosexuality, then it is possible that we are wrong in criminalising paedophilia.  (The diagnostic change is, in some circles, being heralded as the first step in decriminalisation).

This may be a sound argument.

However, because a large percentage (if not the majority?) of paedophilia is undertaken with children under the age of 12, I find it extremely difficult to believe that the children involved would have the competency to provide informed consent to someone having sex with them.

Given the results of numerous studies on the long-term impacts of child sexual abuse, and the personal experience of knowing that unless you have lived through it there is no way you could possibly comprehend what it does to you, not just mentally, but also physically, then the possibility that a child would be able to factor those consequences, even at the age of 15, into their decision becomes even more unlikely.

Is my perspective slanted with a Western bias?  Possibly, but even studies that are coming out of countries in which it is the cultural norm for adults to have sexual relations with children (yes, such countries do exist) are showing that there are devastating long-term impacts for the children.

From the perspective of a ‘survivor’, I do have to question the motivation of those who argue in favour of legalising paedophilia, or who minimise the impact of child sexual abuse on children – are they motivated by their own desire to engage in sexual acts with children?

This is my point of view.  You are welcome to disagree.

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Senility

I just don’t understand.  Everything was moving forward, falling into place, and dragging me along for the ride, but now… nothing.  Worse than nothing.

What am I going to do?  I made all these promises that now, I can’t keep.  Dozens of people are relying on me, but I can’t come through for them.  I’ve lost everything.

Slowly I am drowning, dying, disappearing into nothingness.  Maybe they won’t notice.  Maybe… maybe I don’t really exist.  Maybe everything I think is real, really isn’t.  I thought what I had was real, but it wasn’t.  Maybe I am hallucinating.

Oh, what am I going to do?  No job.  No home.  No family.  Nothing.

This grass is cold.  My bum’s all wet from the dew.  My face is burning, but I don’t know why.  I don’t think I care.  I just need to work out how it all went so wrong. 

I smell.  I need a bath.  A shower.  Where was that pond I passed yesterday?  Why don’t they put taps in parks anymore?  What caused me to be here?  What did I fail to see, or do?

Dad always said I’d amount to nothin’.  How did he know?  “Useless as tits on a bull,” he said.  “Thick as two bricks, and not much bloody smarter.”  Well, I guess he was right.  I can’t be too smart to have lost what I’ve lost.

There’s no way out.  I’m pretty sure.  I mean, what can I do?  I have nothing to give, nothing to make up for everything.  It was all going so well.  What went wrong?

The sun’s up now.  It’s getting hot.  Steam’s rising from the ground as the heat boils the dew.  I can’t go back there.  I just can’t.  They’ll do things to me I just can’t bear.  The pain’s too much.  I need some peace.

“George!”

Oh, shit!  She found me!  I can’t get up.  There’s nowhere to hide.

“George!  What on earth are you doing here in the garden?  You’re all wet, and what’s that on your face?  Ugh, you smell like turpentine, what have you been up to?  Everyone’s been looking for you.  You were going to play the organ for the dance.  Come along now, George.”

“But it all went wrong.  I’ve lost everything.”

“That was years ago, George.  You’ve got a nice home with us now.  C’mon, the nurses will help you.”

He won

He won!

I don’t have any one to talk to that is going to understand this, so I will have to write it because if I don’t get it out somehow it is going to kill me.

He won.

He wasn’t a dumbass – I think he knew exactly what he was doing and what the outcome would be. Unfortunately, the dumbass is me, for taking so long to realise what his death means.

In many ways, and probably all the ones that count, I am now in a worse place than I was two years ago.

Back then, if I had a bad day, if I suffered from anxiety, depression, panic or whatever, it was my problem and my fault. (Just another day in Hell).

Then, for the last two years, I have been surrounded by people wanting to know how I am, saying they care about me, and telling me how brave I am and how strong I am.

Now, of course, Dad is dead, and with him died the court case – and it would seem that most people think that all of my problems relating to what happened to me died with him. “It’s all over now.”

Well, no, it’s not all over.

Now, not only am I some crazy bitch with a temper and mood swings and God knows what else, because now many people believe that I am the cause of my father’s death.

People still don’t know what he did to me. People still don’t know all of the ways it has affected me. But apparently none of that matters now because he’s dead.

If it was so easy to stop being affected by what happened, don’t you think I would have hit that switch long ago?

So, now I guess it goes back to being my problem, my fault, and all in my head. Now it means I am stuck in ‘No Man’s Land’ – I can’t grieve for my father because people don’t understand that even though he did terrible things to me he was still my father. I can’t talk about what happened because nobody knows or wants to know – and it doesn’t matter now, does it? I can’t have anxiety, a panic attack or depression because the cause of my problem is dead.  At least two years ago I could go through all of these things and I was just ‘crazy’ because no-one knew why I was like that.

I guess that means the last two years have been a complete waste of time.

And, I guess that means Dad won.