What is CSAM?
CSAM refers to Child Sexual Abuse Material (sometimes known as ‘child pornography’). CSAM includes images, videos, live-streaming, and any other material that depicts sexual violence against a child. CSAM can include material that shows a child in a sexually suggestive or explicit manner partially clothed, or nude, and can include material that does or does not illustrate sexual activity.1 The use of children in the production of sexualized material is sexual abuse and exploitation.2 This program does not use the term ‘child pornography’, as this does not accurately reflect what is being portrayed in the material, which is the sexual abuse or exploitation of children under the age of consent.
It can be difficult to stop viewing CSAM, because viewing explicit material affects you in in multiple ways. Whilst watching CSAM, you may for example experience sexual arousal which rushes dopamine to your brain, making you feel good. This feeling can be addictive, making it very difficult to change your behavior. The goal of this program is to help you identify and overcome the obstacles that have prevented you from stopping using CSAM and help you to make long-lasting change to stop using CSAM.
Making a change for the better starts with understanding why your behavior is so harmful to yourself, those close to you, and to the children depicted in the CSAM.
1. See COPINE scale in Introduction.
2. ECPAT International
Why Should I Stop Using CSAM?
The use of CSAM is harmful. It is harmful for you as the user, and it is
especially harmful for the child victims of the sexual violence depicted in
the materials you watch. It is necessary to understand that children are
re-victimized every time material is shared, which sustains the abuse in a
continuous cycle. The images are not just images – there is real harm to real
children in viewing, using, and re-using the images. Understanding the
consequences of your actions will motivate you to take concrete steps to
change your behavior.
All individuals experience sexuality in different ways and sexual preferences
may be directed towards different subjects. We may be sexually attracted to
people of different genders and ages. Individuals have the right to express
their sexuality freely, so long as in doing so they do not violate the law or
the rights of others. All sexual acts related to children, including any use
of CSAM, are never within the boundaries of free sexual expression, and as
such are never justified. This is because children are vulnerable and need
special care and protection, and they are unable to legally consent to any
Having sexual preferences and acting upon them are two entirely separate
things. This ReDirection Self-Help Program aims to explain that whilst it may
be very difficult to change your sexual preferences, you are able to control
and change your behavior and stop using CSAM. In fact, it is possible to feel
sexual attraction towards children, and never act on this attraction. In order
to achieve this, you must understand the harmful effects of CSAM-use and learn
how you can change your behavior by changing your thoughts and emotions.
Behind the images, a real child is being abused and exploited behind the
camera. Each time the images are shared, the child is revictimized. Children
cannot consent and under no circumstances is the child a willing participant
in their abuse.
The use of online violent images or images that sexualize children/CSAM leads
to negative consequences for the user, including impaired social and
occupational functioning and deep distress. The growing availability of CSAM
has raised concerns that early access to the material may have negative
effects on people’s attitudes, feelings, thoughts, behavior, and biological
Our research results in the dark web demonstrate that a majority of the
users of CSAM (70%) were under the age of 18 when they first saw CSAM. 40%
were under 13 years old.
The Pathway to CSAM & How to ReDirect Towards a New Path
Various underlying factors and motivations form a path towards your use of CSAM, by triggering thoughts and emotions that lead you to harmful behavior. With the help of the ReDirection program, it is possible to step away from this path and make long-term sustainable behavioral change. This program will teach you new skills to control your own thoughts and emotions to stop yourself from using CSAM, by choosing how you react to the different factors that push you towards using CSAM.
We have a natural tendency to justify everything we do. However, learning to recognize and challenge our own thoughts will help us gain a new perspective of our life and actions. This section of the ReDirection program gives you better understanding of why you are searching for and using CSAM.
The ReDirection Self-Help Program will help you to set meaningful goals for you to adopt a CSAM-free lifestyle and improve the quality of your life. The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve. Take a look at the questions below and think about what you want to accomplish.
- How will my life improve if I stop using CSAM?
- What makes me keep using CSAM?
- What are my concerns about my use of CSAM?
- What are the reasons why I want to stop using CSAM?
- What would it take for me to stop using CSAM?
- What would my life be like without using CSAM?
Overview of tasks
Section 1 includes four tasks:
- My concerns about using CSAM
- My life at the moment
- My values
My thoughts and feelings about using CSAM & looking at other perspectives
Task 1: My concerns about using CSAM
This task focuses on your thoughts and concerns about your use of CSAM, and
your hopes and goals for what you want to achieve through the ReDirection
Reflect on the following questions and write down your answers:
How concerned are you about your use of CSAM? Score 0–100 (0 = not at all,
100 = very concerned).
What concerns you most, e.g. your thoughts, behavior, consequences of
searching and using CSAM? What would be the worst thing that could happen
Have you considered making a change? Why are you considering trying to
- Why is now the right time for a change?
- What will happen in the future if you do not stop using CSAM?
How will this affect you, your relationships, your work/school, leisure
activities and hopes that you have for the future?
If the use of CSAM has been a secret, how has is affected you, or the things
in your life that are important to you?
- What makes you continue searching for and using CSAM?
What makes you think that you need to change your behavior and life in some
- What would it take for you to stop using CSAM?
What would you like to achieve with this change? How would it affect you,
your friends, family life, your work, sex life/sexuality etc.?
If you have previously managed to stop using CSAM, what felt different
compared to when you are using CSAM?
How did answering these questions make you feel? Were you surprised by any of
your answers? Take a moment to reflect on this task before you move on to the
Task 2: My life at the moment
In this task, consider how satisfied you are with your current life situation.
Looking at what you would like to change will help you to create meaningful
goals for the future.
Reflect on the following questions and write down your answers:
- What is your life situation like at the moment?
How satisfied are you with your current situation? Score 0–100 (0 = very
unsatisfied, 100 = very satisfied).
How much does using CSAM affect your satisfaction with life and your
happiness? Score 0–100 (0= not at all, 100= very much)
What would increase your satisfaction with your current life situation?
What would decrease your satisfaction with your current life situation?
What are you missing in your life at the moment? How realistic it is for you
to reach the things you miss? What would it take to achieve these things?
How is using CSAM getting you closer to the things you miss in your life?
What do you expect from the future (e.g. in six months, one year, five
years, twenty years)?
What dreams and hopes do you have for your future? How would it be possible
for you to reach your dreams and hopes? What is stopping you from achieving
- How would your life change if you stopped viewing CSAM?
How motivated are you to work on the tasks in this ReDirection program? (0=
not at all, 100= very much)
What do you hope to gain from the ReDirection Self-Help Program? List three
What do you expect the ReDirection program to be like? Is there anything
about the program that makes you feel suspicious?
Look back over your answers and try to identify some key points that make you
feel motivated to continue your rehabilitative journey.
Task 3: My values
Think about how satisfied you are with your current situation and what kind of
a life you would like to lead. This exercise will help you to identify your
core values, which guide how we want to live our lives.3
Read the two scenarios and finish the sentences.
You wake up in the morning. It is your birthday – you are turning 80 years old
today. You never made any changes to the way you are currently living your
life. You start to think about the past and you look back on your life. Finish
the following sentences:
- “I spent too much time worrying about...”
- “I spent too little time...”
- “If I could go back in time, I would...”
You might see that you are not completely satisfied with the way you have
lived your life. Try to think about what could help you to live your life in a
way that you will be happy with your choices when you look back over your
Imagine again that it is your 80th birthday. You are having a party. Everyone
you care about is at the party. What do you want them to remember about you?
You have lived a happy life that you are satisfied with. What has your life
been like? Your family and friends are giving speeches at your party. Finish
- Your friend is describing you: “You have been a friend, who...”
Your partner or close family member talks about you: “You have been a
partner/family member who...”
Your child talks about the way you have acted as a parent: “You have been a
You are remembering your life: “I am especially happy about my life
In scenario 2 you are describing your values. There can be a big difference
between your values and your current situation. Once you have identified your
core values, you can begin to make important decisions to bring your current
situation in line with your values. Upholding your values will make your life
more satisfying and meaningful.
Our values tell us how we want to live our lives and how we want to treat
ourselves, others and the world. A value might be, for example, “I want to be
kind and present with other people” or “I want to take good care of myself”.
With every decision we make, and every interaction we have with others, we
have the choice whether or not to uphold our values.
Values are not the same as goals. Goals are concrete objectives that you can
achieve, whereas values continuously affect how you act and behave. For
example, you may have the goal of “being in a satisfying
relationship”, but you can continuously uphold your value of
“behaving respectfully and kindly towards other people”. Upholding your values
will help you to achieve your goals.
Below you can find a list of values and a description of how that value may
present itself in your behavior. You can use the list as inspiration to help
you identify your own values.
||I am honest about my actions to myself and others
I act accordingly to my own will, regardless of the expectations of others
I act fairly toward other people and I expect others to treat me fairly in
||I act respectfully towards myself and others
I take care of the safety of myself and others. I consider the short-term
and long-term effects of my actions on other people
I share my feelings and thoughts openly to those close to me, although it
may seem difficult
||I treat myself and others with love
I strive for flexibility in my thoughts and actions, even in difficult
||I take responsibility for myself and my behavior
||I am kind to other people
I hang on to the goals that are important to me in the face of adversity
||I am genuinely present in the moment
Take a moment to identify the values that you want to live by. Write down the
values most important to you. You will return to them in Section 3.
3. Modified, Pietikäinen 2020.
Task 4: My thoughts and feelings about using CSAM & looking at other perspectives
In this exercise you will look at the use of CSAM from different viewpoints.4 By considering some new perspectives on the use of CSAM, you can clarify your own thoughts and feelings about your use of CSAM and challenge any defensive thoughts that you may use to justify your harmful behavior.
Sometimes looking at a situation from different perspectives may give rise to new thoughts and feelings. This can be difficult, but it is part of the process. Give yourself time to learn new skills.
There are a number of perspectives on the use of CSAM, including your own perspective, the perspective of the victim (the child), and the perspective of society as a whole. It is important to consider each perspective to fully understand your own thoughts and feelings about your use of CSAM.
- Your perspective
- Victim’s (child’s) perspective
- Society’s perspective
Reflect on the following questions and write down your answers:
Your perspective on CSAM
- When and how did you start searching for or using CSAM?
- What makes you start searching for CSAM?
- When thinking back, what has the use of CSAM been like for you?
- How often do you search for and use CSAM?
- What are your reasons or motives for searching for and using CSAM?
- What needs do you fulfil by using CSAM?
- What factors make you vulnerable to wanting to use CSAM?
- o E.g. use of drugs or alcohol, stressful events in the environment, intense emotions (anger, fear, sadness, loneliness).
- What is the triggering event that sets off a chain of events that lead you to use CSAM?
- o What exact event often starts the chain of events that cause you to search for and use CSAM?
- o When did the problem start?
- o What is going on the moment the triggering event starts?
- o What are you doing, thinking, feeling, imagining at the time?
- What is your mood when searching for and using CSAM?
- How do your thoughts and feelings make you behave? What takes you closer to using CSAM?
- How do you justify your use of CSAM?
- What defensive thoughts do you have which give you permission to use CSAM? E.g. do you tell yourself that your use of CSAM doesn’t harm anyone?
- How do you feel while using CSAM?
- How do you feel after using CSAM?
- What kind of thoughts do you have while watching CSAM?
- What kind of thoughts do you have after watching CSAM?
- What do you think is happening in CSAM images and videos?
Victim's (child's) perspective
- From the child’s perspective, what is happening in CSAM images and videos?
- What might the child feel about the child sexual abuse and the persons abusing him/her?
- What might be the child’s thoughts after his/her sexual abuse?
- What might the child think of the persons abusing him/her?
- What might the child think of the persons watching CSAM depicting him/her?
- What do you think about persons who use CSAM?
- What do your friends/family/colleagues think about persons who use CSAM?
- What do the legal authorities think about persons who use CSAM?
- What are the legal consequences for persons who use CSAM?
After considering these new perspectives, how do you feel about your own use of CSAM? What new thoughts and feelings do you have? Take your time to process any new emotions.
4. Nurminen 2015.