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I'm attracted to children and I want to stay safe during quarantine.

Question: 

Dear Stop it Now!,

I am attracted to children, but I’ve never hurt a child. I don’t want to either, and I don’t think I will. I have just been finding everything more difficult lately. Life feels more challenging being in quarantine, and all the things I usually do are gone. I have friends but they don’t know this part of me, and it feels like I haven’t hung out with them in ages. My gym is closed, I lost my job… I feel like I’m on the internet all the time. I keep going into these chat rooms where I know kids hang out, and then I stop… but then I go back again. HELP! I need some strategies while I’m stuck at home. 

Response: 
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Dear Concerned Individual,

It’s really fantastic that you’re noticing that you’re feeling more at-risk, and are reaching out – even if you’re nervous or apprehensive about doing so. I know that must have taken a lot of courage, and I’m glad that you’re asking these great questions about ongoing safety in these new and changing times. 

Support and Safety Planning
You’ve already identified some fantastic sources of support – like your friends and your hobbies – but no doubt both of these things have changed. Right now, more than ever, we all need to adapt our lifestyles, which may mean keeping a routine for yourself so that you’re more likely to stay occupied with positive tasks. So, write out a schedule – I know that may seem weird, but give it a try. Block out times for eating, exercising, and connecting with friends. 

Also, think about what’s worked for you before and help weave this into your safety plan. For some people, there are specific times or scenarios that they feel more triggered in – for some folks this is when they’re drinking at night or even feeling bored and alone. What can you do to combat these feelings, and who can you reach out to? Can you keep a journal to monitor your feelings and activities over time to notice a pattern?

Connecting with Others
Even if you’re not hanging out with your friends, be sure to schedule check-ins, and do the same with your family. If you’re not able to reveal all the challenges you’re facing, you can still share your emotions or that you feel like you’ve been spending way too much time online. And, even though you’re not able to go to the gym, look up some internet classes – there are so many yoga and fitness classes that you can join with other folks around your area. The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers wrote a blog post that you may find helpful, with many of these above tips called – Advice for People At-Risk of Committing a Sexual Offense.

There are also some online and self-help groups for folks who, like yourself, are attracted to children and want to stay safe. There may be folks that you can connect with here as another source of support. 

Reducing Risk
You can also think about using privacy setting on your phone, tablet or laptop to your advantage – you can use the parental controls to modify how much time you spend online, or to block certain apps or websites altogether. There are also software devices you can look at, like Covenant Eyes (which is mainly for pornography use), that do a similar job of preventing you from looking at certain pre-determined sites; a quick Google search may help you find what’s right for the technology you’re using. But these controls are only as good as you allow them to be – meaning, you can easily override them, but they can be an additional (helpful) barrier in your way when you may have potentially made an unsafe choice. 

Therapy
I’m also curious, have you ever thought about talking to a therapist? This certainly may be something you think about as you build a larger support network, as having someone there to listen, not judge – and to help you with things that come up for you as you continue to stay safe can be so beneficial. There are therapists who work with adults who are having sexual thoughts about children, and that would be an important distinction here – someone who is specially trained who can not only help you with any distressing thoughts or risky behaviors, but who can also treat you as a whole person, and work with you on any other issues that may arise in your life. I’ve included our resource for People Concerned About Their Own Thoughts and Behaviors, as you may find some of the pages there helpful – like ATSA which may be able to help you find sex-specific treatment. Similarly, b4uact is another organization (not listed there) that may help you find a compassionate and informed counselor local to where you are – or maybe, considering the current state of affairs, someone who does tele-therapy. Our page on how to ask for help may also be helpful in figuring out if there’s anyone in your life you’d like to talk to now, or in what to look for in a potential counselor. 

Please feel free to reach back out to us to let you know what steps you took, and how you’re doing. 

Take care,
Stop It Now!

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Last edited on: April 30th, 2020