It is with considerable trepidation that I bring up a topic about which almost no one wants to talk. I write this as a heartfelt plea on behalf of those who are tormented by disturbing sexual fantasies and believe they have nowhere to go for help. A warm and caring friend of mine is one of those.
This friend once confided in me how, as a young teenager, his stepfather repeatedly forced him for years to watch porn in which adult men sexually abused young boys. As a very sad result of this, my friend as an adult ended up tortured by fantasies of being sexual with boys.
With tears in his eyes, he shared with me how he so wanted help in dealing with this, but there was nowhere to turn. Even though he had never once acted out on his fantasies, he knew that if he revealed them to a therapist, due to mandatory reporting laws he ran a risk of being reported to the authorities.
As one who in my younger years experienced inappropriate fantasies myself, I write this to give a voice to my friend and to others who fear to speak. I write because hiding our sexual shame feeds these dark flames, while shining a caring light into the darkest shadows allows us to face our fears, and to then choose a path towards greater health, healing, and wholeness.
As you read, I ask you to suspend judgment and to take a step out of your comfort zone for a higher purpose. This message might disturb you, but my sincere hope is that, if it does, it does so in a way that helps you to find greater compassion, and that allows you and all of us to step into a more fully healed and integrated world.
Holding this in your mind and heart, I ask you to hear my plea.
First, I invite us to open to talking with care and compassion about hidden fantasies and sexual shame, and how they impact our lives, our relationships, and our world.
Second, I ask that we find ways for those who are tormented by disturbing sexual fantasies to find safe places to go to seek help.
Third, I invite us to make a clear distinction between those who have sexual fantasies about children but are committed to never act on them, and those who actually sexually abuse children.
If only there were evil people somewhere
insidiously committing evil deeds,
and it were necessary only to separate them
from the rest of us and destroy them.
But the line dividing good and evil
cuts through the heart of every human being.
And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
~~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Unbridled sexual desire has led to tremendous suffering and abuse in our world. Untold millions have been sexually abused in a way that has done serious damage not only to individuals, but to the very fabric of our society.
One key way to prevent sex abuse and promote healing that has received exceedingly little air time is to give attention and support to the millions in our world who have never sexually abused anyone, but who need and want help in dealing with hidden sexual fantasies. Many very good people carry great shame about sexual desires over which they feel they don’t have control. Yet there is not only frighteningly little help available, but also laws that discourage accessing such help.
Without the needed help, the intense secrecy mixed with shame around suppressed sexual feelings can eventually drive some to act out in incredibly damaging ways. Isn’t that what we’ve already seen? Consider what’s come out with the #MeToo movement and with the rampant sex scandals in Hollywood, the Catholic Church, government, and much more. How much did secrecy, suppressed sexual desires, and fear of talking about transgressions play a role in all this?
In our current cultural climate, anyone who admits to having a fantasy of being sexual with a child is branded a pedophile and ostracized, even if they have never acted on their fantasies. The word pedophile elicits feelings of disgust even though many who fit the definition are good people who have never done harm and want help. In seeking help, if one admits their fantasies to a therapist or psychiatrist, because of mandated reporting laws they run a risk of being reported to the authorities, which could end up ruining their lives.
For many years now I have done successful work on the Internet to expose and stop child sex abuse and sex abuse in general. I’m convinced that it is even more common than most would think. Yet as one who once had inappropriate sexual fantasies myself, and as one who is a stand for transparency, I feel called here to share my own dark shadows as a way of supporting this most sensitive conversation. I ask for your grace and compassion as you read.
I here want to own that from about age 16 to 32, I had fantasies about girls as young as age five touching me sexually. I want to be clear that in my 60+ years on this planet, I have never acted on these fantasies with one exception. At age 32, I sent a love letter to a 17-year-old inviting sexual connection, which ended up causing her emotional harm. I deeply regret sending that letter and apologized to her. I also want to be clear that I have never once watched child pornography. Though my fantasies were mainly about adult women, I am here acknowledging that for many years I also fantasized about young girls.
The main reason I didn’t act out on my fantasies is that I’ve been willing to face the dark shadows inside of myself from a young age. I’ve also had the courage to talk about these fantasies with a few trusted friends. This has allowed me to stay clear on what is fantasy and needs to stay in the fantasy realm, and to focus on conscious relationships based in healthy love and sexuality. I consider myself very fortunate that I have not had these fantasies in almost 30 years now.
As I have long had the desire to go deep in my conversations with others and I’ve been in many workshops that encourage vulnerability, I’ve had numerous people confide in me about disturbing or inappropriate sexual fantasies involving pets, incest, raping or being raped, sadism, masochism, strange fetishes, and more. Yet it is all but taboo to talk about such things in our normal world. How many good, caring people in our world are similarly troubled? I imagine many reading this at some time in their lives have had what would be considered inappropriate sexual fantasies.
I’ve learned that suppressed sexual desire and the lack of open discussion about sexual shame and fantasies is a key reason for much of the craziness in our world. If you doubt this, I invite you to watch the powerful documentary “Imperium,” which uses solid sources to show how sexual secrecy and perversion have impacted our world on both personal and global levels. Major media footage in this film shows how child sex trafficking rings are used to compromise politicians and business leaders at all levels around the world.
The more of us who find the courage to look into these global dark shadows and start talking about both these and our own deep shadows, the more I know that we can make a big difference in our world. By shining a compassionate light into the dark shadows of sexual shame and suppression, we can create a meaningful space for healing.
While writing this article, I did an Internet search and was most grateful to find a quality website called “Virtuous Pedophiles” at www.virped.org. On this website, those committed not to act out on their fantasies can help each other anonymously. Other supportive resources can also be found there. Yet very few of those afflicted know about this website and its valuable resources. In seeking help, many are afraid even to do an Internet search with the word “pedophile,” knowing that their searches are monitored and fearing they will be discovered and arrested.
How sad that so few make a distinction between virtuous pedophiles and those who are sexual predators. How sad that many who deeply want to heal their sexual wounding and have never acted out on their fantasies don’t know where to go for help. How sad that most people are afraid to talk about their sexual fantasies and shame, even with close friends and therapists. And yet suppressing these matters has caused some to end up becoming so crazed that they act out on their fantasies and cause harm. Others go so far as suicide to terminate their anguish.
We are all human. We all have had sexual fantasies. And in our deepest core, I believe we all just want to love and be loved. Can we find greater compassion for dealing with these most profound challenges and find the courage to talk more openly about these sensitive matters?
I want to end by repeating my heartfelt plea. I ask that changes be made in our laws and our society so that those who are tormented by disturbing sexual fantasies know they have somewhere safe to go to seek help. I ask that we examine the knee-jerk reaction of disgust so many have to the word pedophile, and that we instead open to compassion for those who struggle with these most sensitive and debilitating issues. And I invite us all to open to talking about these taboo topics in caring and supportive settings with the intention of finding compassion and healing.
Let us find ways to shine a loving light into these dark shadows. This not only will give those afflicted by disturbing fantasies a much needed way to find relief and healing, it will also help to save many children from abuse. Let us come together to heal the deep sexual wound that has caused so much pain and suffering in our world.
With very best wishes for a transformed world,
Website founder Fred Burks
Note: Explore a great article on transforming sexual shame. As strong advocate of shining a light into the dark world of sex abuse and trafficking, I invite you to educate yourself on how deep this goes. Please explore the summaries of 20 major media articles on this topic that I’ve compiled on this webpage and spread the word. I’m also a big supporter of bringing the sacred into sexuality, as you can see in this online lesson that I helped craft.