Overview of tasks
Part A: My life and my use of CSAM
- Task 1: My life situation at the time of using CSAM
- Task 1(a) Myself
- Task 1(b) My relationships and sexuality
- Task 1(c) My daily life
- Task 1(d) My values
Part B: My pathway to using CSAM
Task 2: Factors that trigger the use of CSAM and alternative ways to react
- Task 2(a) My triggering factors
Task 2(b) My risk management plan to cope with triggering factors to use
- Task 2(c) Identifying desires and developing self-regulation skills
- Task 2(d) Surfing on desire
- Task 3: Identifying underlying motivations and needs to use CSAM
Task 3(a) What makes people use CSAM and what do they gain from CSAM?
Task 3(b) What kinds of needs do I fulfil and what do I gain from using
- Task 3(c) My problem-solving skills and my CSAM use
- Task 4: Identifying thoughts I use to justify my use of CSAM
Task 4(a) Analyze your thinking related to common cognitive distortions
- Task 4(b) My thoughts before, during, and after using CSAM
- Task 4(c) My behavior with which I make my CSAM use possible
- Task 5: Identifying my pathway to use CSAM: Summary
Part A: My life and my use of CSAM
Why do some people use CSAM and others don’t? The use of CSAM is a complex phenomenon, which can occur as a result of a number of underlying factors, including sexual interest towards children, desensitization to legal adult pornography, sexual abuse, relationship problems, boredom, stress, or low self-esteem. A person can have deviant sexual fantasies and thoughts about CSAM, and this does not necessarily lead to them viewing CSAM or other sexual offences. There are certain factors which may lead to sexual interest in children and factors which may push a person to act on these thoughts, including individual motivators, behaviors, emotions, and other variables. It is important to understand what causes you to use CSAM, as this is where you can step in to ReDirect your path and change your behavior and actions.
Each emotion you have is accompanied by an action urge. This is an automatic urge that arises in response to biological stimuli. For example, when you feel hungry, you experience the action urge to eat. Similarly, when you feel sexual arousal, you may experience an action urge to search for CSAM or other illegal materials to satisfy your sexual emotions. However, this is not the only option you have. You can learn to respond to this action urge in a different way, in order to break the chain.
In our ReDirection ‘Help us to help you’ survey (2021), we asked CSAM searchers and users about the reasons for their use of CSAM. Here are some answers:
“When watching porn, sometimes it isn't enough and I need something more "taboo", so normal porn isn't enough.”
“I use child porn when regular porn bored me.”
“Drawn porn/hentai/manga might have functioned as a low entry bar to escalate into more serious stuff (like actual photographs).”
“I have been abused in my younger days, and every time I recall what has happened to me, I feel the urge to view this kind of material so I don't feel alone.”
“I use it to examine the cycle of my own sexual abuse. The attempt to reclaim power.”
In our survey we found that approximately 50 % of the users of the CSAM (N=1 360) said they had sexual thoughts or feelings of sexual arousal and 30% said they had sexual thoughts about children or illegal material before viewing CSAM.
Predisposing factors or risk factors are personal characteristics, traits or
behaviors that may increase the likelihood of harmful behavior. Different
factors form “sets of predisposing factors” unique to each individual.
Possessing predisposing factors may make certain individuals more likely to
search for and use CSAM.
Take a look at this list of predisposing factors:
- Mindset/attitudes supportive of using CSAM
E.g. children as objects of sexual interest, strong/obsessive sexual
- Difficulties in sexual self-regulation
- Sexual interest in children
- Poor socio-affective functioning
Feelings of inadequacy: subjective experience of loneliness, low
self-esteem and sense of being under external control.
Distorted intimacy balance: intimacy balance is more easily achieved with
children than adults.
Grievance thinking: difficulty understanding other people’s perspectives.
Emotional intimacy deficits: failure to build emotionally fulfilling
intimate adult relationships, whether unwilling or incapable (lack of
intimate adult relationship, difficulty building relationships).
- Self-management problems
E.g. lifestyle impulsiveness, poor cognitive problem-solving, poor
In our ReDirection survey we found that approximately 50% (N=1 360) of the
users of the CSAM said they masturbate or stimulate themselves in other ways
before the search and use of CSAM.
Seto 2019; Hanson, Harris, Scott & Helmus 2007; Ward & Beech 2006; Ward &
Task 1: My life situation at the time of using CSAM
In this task, you will look at different aspects of your life situation that
may be related to your use of CSAM. These aspects include yourself, your
relationships and sexuality, your daily life, and your values.
Instructions: Read through Tasks 1(a)-(d), reflect on the
questions and write down your answers. Once you have completed the tasks, fill
Task 1 Summary Form to summarize your thoughts.
In response to our “Help us to help you” survey, approximately 70% of CSAM
users (N= 2 351) said that they were under 18 years old when they had first
seen CSAM, and approximately 40% were under 13.
Approximately 50% said they first saw CSAM by accident, whereas
approximately 20% first found it by actively searching for hard core
pornography or CSAM.
Task 1(a): Myself
The way you view yourself may have an impact on your use of CSAM. Low
self-esteem and other negative emotions may lead to certain individuals using
CSAM. Using CSAM can also influence your self-esteem and your emotions.
Reflect on these questions about yourself, how you view yourself, and your
emotions. Write down your answers.
When you think back to the time before you had started watching CSAM (or you
were not yet interested in CSAM), how was your life at that point?
What changed when you started watching CSAM/you started having interest in
- How old were you when you first found interest in CSAM?
- Did you notice any changes in yourself?
- How would you describe yourself? What kind of a person are you?
- How would you describe yourself as a person who uses CSAM?
- How satisfied are you with yourself?
- How does your use of CSAM affect your self-esteem?
- How do you feel about yourself when you are watching CSAM?
- What type of emotions make you watch CSAM?
- How do you feel when you are watching CSAM?
- How do you express your different emotions?
How do you handle these emotions? Do you think you handle your emotions
- Are you using CSAM to regulate your negative emotions?
- What other ways can you regulate your negative emotions?
Are you using CSAM to regulate uncomfortable feelings? E.g. do you use
CSAM when you are stressed to make yourself feel better?
- What other ways can you regulate your uncomfortable feelings?
In our survey we found that that approximately 40 % (N= 1 776) of the CSAM
users said that they had experienced feelings of guilt about their use of
CSAM or other illegal material.
“I am aware of the harm caused by those actions to other families.”
“I tried in every way to free myself from this problem that I carry from
my childhood, I realized that the situation only gets worse, I am afraid
that everything will come up, once I have to reveal myself about the
problem I have in my dark heart.”
“I often hope to get busted by the law but I am also afraid that it will
Task 1(b): My relationships and sexuality
People satisfy various needs, such as sexual needs, the need for intimacy, and
the need for love, through relationships. There are different types of
relationships, including the following:
- Romantic relationships
- Sexual relationships
- Parent-child/family relationships
How are these needs and relationships being met in your life right now? How
are your relationships related to your use of CSAM? Reflect on the following
questions and write down your answers.
- Romantic relationships
- How satisfied are you with your romantic relationship(s)?
- What would you like to change about your romantic relationship(s)?
If you are not in a romantic relationship, how do you feel about your
- What things stop you from having a romantic relationship?
- How has your use of CSAM affected your romantic relationships?
- Sexual relationships
- How satisfied are you with your sexual relationships?
- How does CSAM fulfil your sexual needs?
- How old were you when you started watching CSAM?
- Do you have (primary) sexual interest in children?
If yes, what do you think about the fact that children are the target of
your sexual needs?
If yes, how has your sexual interest in children affected your sexual
- Do you feel sexual attraction towards adults?
If you do not have a primary sexual interest in children, what draws you
to watching CSAM?
How satisfied are you with your personal relationships and friendships?
- What things are you happy and unhappy about in your friendships?
What would you wish from your friendships that you currently don’t have?
What kind of friendships do you have (not many friends/a few close
friends/lots of friends)?
- How has your use of CSAM influenced your friendships?
- Family relationships
- How satisfied are you with your family relationships?
- How would you describe your family relationships?
- What would you like to change in your family relationships?
- What is your family like? Who are your family members?
Which family member are you closest to? Who are you most distant from?
- Do you feel safe and accepted in your family?
- Do any of your family members know that you are using CSAM?
- Interacting with others
- How easy is it for you to interact with other people?
What kind of people are easy and what kind of people are difficult to
How does your use of CSAM affect your interaction with other people?
- Social perceptions
- What do you think other people think about you?
- What is your attitude towards other people?
- Do other CSAM users impact you in any way?
How does your use of CSAM influence what you think others think of you?
- Close relationships
- Who are the most important people in your life at the moment?
- In what way are they important to you?
- Who do you feel close to?
- Whom do you find it easy to feel intimate with?
- Do you find it difficult to feel close to other people?
What role does CSAM play in the way you experience closeness with other
Approximately 15% of respondents to our survey mentioned that they have
experienced difficulties in close relationships.
“I try to feel 16 years old because I had depression and not relationship
with girl in my teen age”
“I mean I am the helper for others I can't ask for help I don't have
anyone so ... I am just a guy a gamer, I didn't have a relationship
before. That's bad for a 21 year old.”
“hard time getting an erection”
“It affects my actual adult healthy sex life”
“I have never had a relationship”
“Thoughts about the monster that I’ve become prevents me from keeping
relationships and also makes me hate myself”
Task 1(c): My daily life
Read and reflect on the questions below about your daily life. Write down your
- What is your normal daily routine?
- What do you find easy in your daily life?
- What do you find difficult?
- How does your use of CSAM influence your daily life?
- What do you do in your free time?
- What activities do you enjoy in your free time and why?
- Who do you spend your free time with?
- Which other activities would you like to engage in?
- How satisfied are you in work or school?
- If you are unemployed, how do you feel about this?
- Are you happy in your work/school?
- What would you like to change?
- How satisfied are you with your financial situation?
How does your use of CSAM contribute to the way you feel about your
- Would stopping using CSAM improve your financial situation?
- Do you consume substances such as alcohol and/or drugs?
- How much? How often? What kind of substances?
- What makes you consume substances?
- Are you worried about your use of substances?
- How is your substance use related to your use of CSAM?
- Do you consume substances while you use CSAM?
- Does consuming substances make you want to search for and use CSAM?
If you are worried about your use of substances, please contact your national
healthcare sector for information on support and treatment facilities in your
Task 1(d): My values
In this task you will identify your core values and look at how your use of
CSAM relates to your values. Reflect on the questions and write down your
- What are the most important things in your life?
- How does your use of CSAM affect these things?
Looking back on your life, what events or situations have had the biggest
impact on your life and on the person you are now?
- What do you think caused your use of CSAM?
- How do you want your life to be in the future?
- How can you achieve this?
- How does your use of CSAM affect your future plans?
- What do you value?
- How are your values visible in your actions?
- How does your use of CSAM relate to your values?
- Is watching CSAM in line with your values?
Task 1 Summary Form
Now you have considered these different aspects of your life situation, fill in the form below to summarize your thoughts.
Look back over what you have written down in Tasks 1(a)-(d) to help you answer the questions in the form.
PART B: My pathway to using CSAM
In this section, you will learn about the thought and behavioral patterns that guide your actions and lead you to use CSAM. You will gain a better understanding of the factors that cause you to use CSAM and learn new skills that will help you abandon harmful thoughts and behaviors and replace them with new goals.
The ReDirection Self-Help Program is a rehabilitation program based on cognitive behavioral theory. Rehabilitation programs based on cognitive behavioral theory are proven to be effective at achieving long-lasting behavioral change. According to cognitive behavioral theory, our actions are based on three factors: behavior, thoughts and feelings, which operate together. Through cognitive-behavioral rehabilitation, by changing thoughts, it is possible to also change behavior.
In the following tasks, you will consider your underlying motives for using CSAM, and the psychological and sexual needs that you are trying to fulfil through your use of CSAM. These motives and needs are different for everyone. This section will help you identify triggers that lead you down the path of CSAM use. By recognizing these factors, and by practicing alternative responses, you can control your own behavior and step off the path to CSAM use.
In response to our “Help us to help you” survey, 30% of CSAM users (N= 1 787) said that they would like to stop searching for and using CSAM/illegal violent material nearly every time they view it.
Task 2: Factors that trigger the use of CSAM and alternative ways to react to triggers
The use of CSAM does not happen on its own but is prompted by various internal and external triggers. A trigger is a factor that sets off a chain of events that leads to the use of CSAM. Both internal and external factors can impact your use of CSAM, by leading you to act on your emotions and feelings. These factors include your personal qualities, emotions, values, relationships, sexual interests and daily routines, as well as external factors in your social environment. By understanding your triggers, you can choose how you want to behave in response to them. You are in control of how you react – you can either choose to use CSAM or take active steps to go in the other direction.
“I, myself, can choose how to react to a trigger - I can choose whether or not I want to use CSAM”.
- Deviant sexual arousal
- Deviant sexual thoughts and fantasies
- Need for intimacy
- Negative or positive emotional states (e.g. feeling disappointed or stressed)
- Easy access to CSAM
- Substance abuse
- Positive, negative or traumatic life events
- Other situational factors (e.g. seeing a picture on social media that arouses you)
Try linking your triggering factors to what you wrote in the Task 1 form.
CSAM users told us about different triggering factors that lead them to use CSAM:
Traumatic life events (such as sexual, physical and/or mental abuse in childhood)
Moving from watching legal adult porn to more taboo and extreme sexual materials
- “I was a victim myself and we watched it together.”
- “I have been abused in my younger days, and every time I recall what has happened to me, I feel the urge to view this kind of material so I don't feel alone.”
- “I was sexually abused when I was really young and this is a coping mechanism, a horrible one.”
Easy access to CSAM
- “When watching porn, sometimes it isn't enough and I need something more "taboo", so normal porn isn't enough”
- “I use CSAM when regular porn bored me”
Negative emotional states
- “It is very easy to access and the thought of viewing something illegal and forbidden is very sexually exiting”
- “I was depressed and nervous”
Task 2(a): My triggering factors
Take a look at the specific factors that trigger you to use CSAM. This will
help you learn to take control of how you react to triggers, in order to
change your behavior and stop your use of CSAM. Follow the five steps to
understand your triggering factors and learn how to deal with them.
Step 1: Think back to moments/situations that have acted as triggers and
led you to use CSAM
- What was the situation like?
- What thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations did you have?
- What triggered you? What situation/thing served as a trigger?
- What internal variables trigger you (e.g. sexual arousal, stress)?
- What external variables trigger you (e.g. being home alone)?
Step 2: Write a diary for a week (see form below)
Write down all internal and external factors that trigger you to use CSAM.
Reflect on the feelings and physical sensations that come with the triggers.
Step 3: After completing your diary entries, make a summary of the common
triggers that lead you to use CSAM and their relationship with your
feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and behavior
What feelings make you want to use CSAM? What feelings require CSAM to work
through them? What makes you choose CSAM over other means of dealing with
What thoughts make you want to use CSAM? What thoughts require CSAM to work
through them? What makes you choose CSAM over other means of dealing with
What bodily sensations make you want to use CSAM? What bodily sensations
require CSAM to work through them? What makes you choose CSAM over other
means of dealing with your bodily sensations?
Step 4: Come up with alternative ways to react to your triggers (see form
Think of alternative ways to react to triggering factors. Come up with ways
to work through your emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
Step 5: Practice your new ways of thinking and behavior
- Write down findings of the practice into your diary.
How do you feel? What are you thinking? What changes have you noticed in
yourself, your thinking and your behavior?
1. What triggered me to use CSAM
Where were you? Who else was there? What did you do?
Draw parallels between the triggering factor and the wider themes raised
on the 'My life’ form (e.g. there were problems in your relationships,
you felt lonely). Explore what is happening in your mind, body, and
The internal factors that triggered me to use CSAM:
The external factors that triggered me to use CSAM:
2. My thoughts related to the triggering event:
What were you thinking? How did you react to the triggering factors?
What did you think about the triggering factors? What type of thoughts
took you closer to using CSAM?
- How could I think differently/how could I reframe my thoughts?
What thoughts would help me to take a step back from using CSAM?
3. My emotions related to the triggering event:
What feelings did the events evoke in you? How were you feeling? What
was your mood at the time? How did you process your feelings? What type
of feelings took you closer to using CSAM?
- What could I do to calm down my emotions?
4. My bodily sensations related to the triggering event:
What bodily sensations did the events evoke in you? What type of bodily
sensations took you closer to using CSAM?
What could I do to calm down my bodily sensations?
5. How did the above thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations make me
behave? What did I do that took me closer to using CSAM?
What stopped you from acting differently, in a way other than using
What could I do to prevent me from taking things further to the point
of using CSAM?
Task 2(b): My risk management plan to cope with triggering factors to use CSAM
In this task you will create a risk management plan for moments when you feel
the urge to use CSAM. Write your plan on paper and look back at your plan
whenever you want to use CSAM, or you experience any of your triggering
factors that you identified in Task 2(a). List at least three risk situations
and make a risk management plan for them.
Creating a risk management plan:
- Risk situation
- Look back at your diary from Task 2(a) to recall risk situations.
What kinds of situations are risky for me? What situations make me want to
search for and view CSAM?
What feelings, thoughts and mental images are risky for me? What feelings,
thoughts and mental images make me want to search for and view CSAM?
How can I manage these situations? What steps can I take to stop myself
acting on my feelings and thoughts?
- Avoiding risk in the future
- How can I avoid risks in the future?
- What can I do to avoid risky situations?
- What can I do to avoid risky feelings, thoughts and mental images?
I am using my computer and I have the urge to search for and use CSAM.
I immediately turn off my computer. I take a few minutes to calm down
and I look back at my values and how I want to behave and act to uphold
|How to avoid risk in the future
I will remove the TOR browser from my computer.
I will not (re)download the TOR browser.
I am feeling stressed/anxious and I want to watch CSAM to make me feel
I talk about my stress with someone close to me. Alternatively, I write
down how I am feeling in a journal. I stay away from my computer so that
I am not tempted to search for CSAM.
|How to avoid risk in the future
I will think about what is causing stress in my life. I will find new
ways to manage my stress without resorting to using CSAM.
Task 2(c): Identifying desires and developing self-regulation skills
The desire to use CSAM can arise in various situations, for example, when you are tired, stressed, lonely, or sad. Giving in to your desires often helps you feel better and/or creates pleasure in the short term. Using CSAM is, however, very harmful and has serious long-term effects on your brain and is extremely harmful to the children who are victims of CSAM. Thus, giving in to your desire to use CSAM is harmful in the long term. In order for you to learn how not to give in to your desires, this task will help you to develop self-regulation skills.
The underlying reasons for your desires are often difficult to identify. To strengthen your self-regulation skills, it is important that you understand where your desires come from. Next time you notice a desire arising, note the situation down in your diary (see form below). Describe how that feels in your body. Where do your thoughts and attention shift to? Recognizing these feelings and factors allows you to decide how you want to react.
- Recognize the sensations in your body brought about by the feelings.
- Take note of the desires, thoughts, and ideas of what you want to do.
- Stop for a moment. Take a few deep breaths and ask yourself: “is this bringing me into the direction I want to be moving in my life?”
- Be honest in your response to yourself. You can now choose to move in the direction that you yourself respect. Or you can decide to go in the other direction. The choice and responsibility are yours.
Diary: The Awakening of My Desires
Where in my body can I feel the awakening of desire?
How does it feel?
What am I tempted to do?
How am I tempted to act?
Where do my thoughts shift to?
Does this take me towards the life I want to lead?
Task 2(d): Surfing on desire
With this task, you can practice your ability to regulate yourself and manage
your strong urges by ‘surfing’ on your desires. It is best to begin practicing
with something concrete. Many people find a hard candy helpful for this
exercise. Place a hard candy in your mouth and keep it there without chewing
or eating it. Now pay attention to what is happening in your mind and body and
follow the steps below:
- Recognize your desires: notice how they are awakened.
Observe without judgement: How does it feel? Where do you feel it? What
mental images are accompanied with the desire? What does your mind and body
want to do now? Make note of these things. Do not get caught up in them and
do not try to change them. Just let them happen and observe them without
Breathe: give yourself and your body some space to process the desire.
Breathing calmly helps calm down your body and mind.
Surf on the desire: you can imagine surfing on the desire as if though you
would be surfing on a wave. You can start by assessing the intensity of your
desire on a scale of 0 to 10. After that you can observe what this makes you
feel and how the desire moves in your body. Do not try to push it down. You
can reassess the intensity every few minutes and pay attention to how the
Many people find that the desire strengthens a lot in the beginning. With
time, however, it often decreases significantly. What do you notice happening?
For example: “even strong desires ease up. I do not need to act upon my
desires. I can manage even though the desire is strong”. What kinds of
conclusions can you draw based on your findings?
Combine this exercise with your own values: what reaction to this urge would
be in line with your values and the life you want to lead?
You can practice this safe surfing on desire wherever you want. For example,
in the grocery store: you have decided to eat healthy, but while you are
grocery shopping you begin to crave chips and beer. In those moments you can
try to surf on the desires and look at what happens. Just let it be and pay
attention to it for a while. Surfing on desire is a skill that requires
patience and practice. It can be difficult at first, like any other new skill
that you are trying to learn. Practicing your skills with your desires will
help you to keep on developing the skills that help you to stop the use of
Task 3: Identifying underlying motivations and needs to use CSAM
In the previous tasks you looked at your life at the moment and the triggering internal and external factors that lead you to use CSAM. In this task you will identify the underlying motives behind your use of CSAM. All our behavior is guided by motives and using CSAM is no exception. The motives of individuals to watch CSAM may be related to sexual needs or other personal psychological needs that the individual tries to fulfil through using CSAM. Alternatively, an individual may have some other inhibitions preventing them from achieving sexual fulfilment through socially acceptable means. When examining your use of CSAM and deviant sexual arousal through the framework of motivations/needs, two things must be considered:
- What is the purpose of using CSAM for you?
- What is the significance of using CSAM for you?8
Carefully consider these questions and write down your answers.
Motivations behind CSAM-use
The motivations behind using CSAM can generally be divided into three main
- Sexual interest in children or other deviant sexual interest.
Feeling emotionally connected with a child, whereby the adult can feel
connected to a child, easier than to an adult.
An individual in this category gets sexually aroused when looking at
pictures of children. The use of CSAM serves to satisfy their sexual needs
and urges. Being sexually interested in children does not, however,
automatically lead to CSAM use, because a thought is different from an
act. Directing sexual gratification needs at CSAM or deviant objects can
be a temporary or permanent characteristic. For some, sexual contact with
a child/using CSAM may represent a longing for intimacy and relatedness.
For others, the motive/objective of the using CSAM is to reinforce their
sense of autonomy and control.9
A person can meet other psychological needs through watching CSAM (Good
Lives Model (GLM)-needs)
In these situations, an intimate, emotional relationship with an adult may
seem scary.10 Through watching CSAM, an individual can get a
feeling of closeness/connection with another person, even only through
The GLM theory explains an individual's use of CSAM through the pursuit of
nine Good Life goals (needs) using the wrong methods resulting from the
individual inadequate problem-solving skills.11 Rehabilitation
helps you identify such deficits in yourself and replace them with more
effective problem-solving strategies. With new skills, you are better able
to fulfil your life goals without harming yourself or other people through
- E.g. CSAM might be used to ease stress or loneliness.
Think about which of the three categories you might fall into. What are your
main motivations for using CSAM?
8. Barnett & Wood, 2008.
9. Finkelhor 1984, 1997; Seto 2019.
10. Herman, McPhail & Helmus, 2017.
11. Ward & Stewart 2003.
12. Ward & Brown 2004; Ward & Mann 2004.
Good Lives Model Theory: Nine Needs
Experience of physical, mental, and sexual wellbeing.
For example, sufficient somatic and psychological health. The ability to express your sexuality in a way that brings pleasure and well-being to yourself and does not harm others.
Experience of mastering basic things.
For example, having the necessary knowledge and skills to function as a member of society. Studying can be a way to fulfil the needs related to knowledge.
Experience of competence, ability and skill through work, leisure activities and relationships.
For example, a feeling of being capable at your job or mastering a hobby.
Opportunities to experience and express a sense of control, healthy self-esteem and experience of the possibility to influence what happens to you.
For example, when you need to make a decision, you have the sensation that it is you who is controlling the situation, you are not a bystander who is unable to play a role in the outcome.
Experience of connection and interaction with other people.
For example, family or close friends, with whom you share an important emotional bond and a shared feeling of enjoying each other's company.
Experience of peace of mind and mental stability.
For example, the ability to face adversity and overcome it by restoring your internal balance without significant consequences to yourself or others.
Experience of meaning and purpose in life and values.
For example, the feeling of knowing what things are important and valuable to you and what you want to achieve in your life. This could be, for instance, religion or other such belief.
Experience of happiness and satisfaction with oneself and one’s own life.
For example, the feeling that things are good enough taking into consideration the circumstances. A subjective feeling of happiness.
Experience of the opportunity to express creativity in a natural way.
For example, a sport, singing, playing an instrument, work, chores, doing art.
The aim of the following tasks is help you understand the motives that guide behavior and the needs that you may be trying to fulfil through your use of CSAM. You will examine the extent to which you have sexual interests in children and how much these interests have guided your path towards using CSAM. You will investigate your personal problem-solving styles and self-regulation (e.g. what stopped you from achieving a sense of control and power and sexual gratification by other means than using CSAM?). You will also consider alternative ways of fulfilling your needs (e.g. need for power, control or sexual gratification) that you have previously fulfilled by using CSAM.
The aim of the following tasks is to help you understand the deeper goals and motives operating in the background causing you to use CSAM and the methods you choose to achieve these goals. Realizing this supports your sense of self-efficacy and hope and thereby develops your skills to set meaningful life goals and to flexibly explore different ways to achieve them.
Task 3(a): What makes people use CSAM and what do they gain from CSAM?
Reflect on these questions and write down your thoughts.
- What makes people use CSAM?
- What underlying motives and needs do CSAM users have?
- What do users gain from using CSAM?
- Why does watching CSAM feel good?
Using CSAM may satisfy sexual needs, what other needs could the use of CSAM
Are there negative feelings (loneliness, shame, sorrow, insignificance)
associated with the use of CSAM, that individuals try to suppress by using
Task 3(b): What kinds of needs do I fulfil and what do I gain from using CSAM?
Think about your
own motives and needs related to your use of CSAM. Look at your findings from your diaries in Task 2(a) and Task 2(c).
- What do you gain from using CSAM?
- What makes using of CSAM important to you?
- What makes you continue using CSAM?
- What important things would you need to give up if you were to stop using CSAM?
Mirror the questions to the things you considered in Section 1, Task 2: ‘My life’. What area of your life is lacking, that the use of CSAM fills?
Look at the nine needs in the Good Lives Model below. Which of those needs do you aim to fulfil by using CSAM? Select at least three needs that link together.
- For example, if you feel that you are primarily seeking sexual pleasure, think about two other needs that it also ties in with.
- E.g. “I feel lonely (relatedness), I view CSAM, feelings of loneliness are reduced (inner peace), I get sexual pleasure from watching (sexual wellbeing).
- Consider the motives behind your CSAM-related behavior or deviant sexual interests with regard to the primary needs in the Good Lives Model.
- Inner peace
|What do you gain from using CSAM?
||Which GLM-need does the use of CSAM fulfil?
||How can I meet these needs without using CSAM?
|"I was stressed but using CSAM made me feel more relaxed."
||6. Inner peace - I use CSAM to make me feel better and more calm.
|| In what other way, other than through CSAM use, could I feel better? For example
I could go out for a short walk
|"I get sexual satisfaction."
||1. Sexual wellbeing - I get sexual gratification from using CSAM.
|| In what other way, other than through CSAM use, could I achieve sexual gratification/satisfaction?
|"I feel less lonely/ I don't feel lonely."
|| 5. Relatedness
6. Inner peace
4. Agency - I don't feel lonely when I watch CSAM, so using CSAM is a way to control my emotions. I feel capable when I watch CSAM.
Task 3(c) My problem-solving skills and my CSAM-use
In the previous exercise you looked at what GLM-needs your use of CSAM fulfils
and what you gain from using CSAM. The GLM theory emphasizes that the goal
(motive) is always appropriate, as you are aiming to achieve a balance between
the nine primary needs.13 However, the method chosen to achieve the
aim is where an individual may go wrong. CSAM users are aiming to pursue the
elements of Good Life, such as sexual pleasure, meaning, or a sense of agency,
but they choose methods that are harmful and wrong. Harmful behavior is thus
seen as a result of unsuccessful problem-solving.14
In this task you will look at the problem-solving skills you use when you feel
certain emotions, such as feeling lonely, anxious or stressed. Peace of mind
and mental balance is a mental state where the individual is free from
internal stress and anxiety. For example, an individual who feels lonely, has
a lot of problems, and feels unable to find a way out and therefore constantly
ruminates over problems, may find it difficult to achieve peace of mind. An
individual can use a range of methods to relieve themselves from anxiety,
stress, depression and anger.
A) Think back to situations in your life when you have felt depressed,
anxious, stressed or other negative emotions. How have you tried to make
yourself feel better?
In general, there are three types of problem-solving methods: problem-focused,
emotional, and avoidant. None of the methods are as such right or wrong.
Everyone is unique and uses different methods. Sometimes we use different
problem-solving styles depending on the situation. What methods do you use
with different problems?
Problem-focused: you approach the problem by first defining
it and then deciding the best way to solve the problem.
Emotional: you approach the problem by dealing with the
emotions and feelings the problem creates in you, rather than by dealing
with the problem itself. You might worry about the situation, feel
self-pity, feel desperate, or begin to believe the situation is better than
it really is.
- When do you use this method?
Avoidant: you avoid the problem and solving it at all
costs, whilst waiting for it to resolve itself.
- When do you use this method?
- When do you use this method?
B) Think back to situations in which you used more CSAM than normally. What
happened in your life in those times? How were you feeling? Was there more
stress in your life in those times?
Think back to the ways in which you managed with your problems, what kinds of
problem-solving methods did you use? If you see a connection between CSAM use
and feeling low/stressed, it is possible that you are using CSAM to avoid
uncomfortable feelings and emotions. This leads to your mind learning to use
CSAM as a method to solve your problems. It can often start forming into an
addiction. Think about ways in which you could solve problems more efficiently
in the future.
13. Ward & Stewart 2003.
14. Ward & Brown 2004; Ward & Mann 2004.
Task 4: Identifying thoughts I use to justify my use of CSAM
People have a natural tendency to justify everything they do, including when they are doing something undesirable, forbidden or illegal. When a person is doing something that they know is wrong or harmful to another person, they must in some way justify their actions to themselves for them to be able to carry out those actions.
- I am walking and come to a street crossing – the red light indicates for me to wait. There is very little traffic. I know I should wait for the green light. I tell myself: “there are no cars and no traffic, crossing the road even though the light is red is not as harmful as driving through a red light. If I go quickly there is no harm in it”. I decide to cross the road even though the light is still red.
- I am driving well over the speed limit even though I know what the limit is. I tell myself “this is a straight road, and the weather is great, and there are no speed cameras on this road, it doesn’t matter if I drive a little faster”.
It is said that people are extremely good at lying to themselves, and we find it very easy to justify our actions to ourselves. These justifying thoughts are known as cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions represent your internal speech, or thoughts, by which you explain or defend your actions.
As you are aware on a rational level that you are breaking the social norms by using CSAM, you often convince yourself that your actions are acceptable or justified, so that you can comfortably break the social norms. Cognitive distortions allow you to avoid taking full responsibility for your actions while at the same time regulating the feelings of guilt and anxiety caused by the using CSAM.16
Below is a list of typical explanations and cognitive distortions that CSAM users tell themselves to justify their behavior to themselves and make it feel accepted and right.
“I am well-adjusted in using CSAM, since I only enjoy the material when the subject is enjoying it.”
“I am stuck but I tried to get out of it. I have been a porn addict since the age of 9. I don't think I can be fixed at this point.”
“There's absolutely nothing wrong with it it's natural if mother nature didn't want us to make love to our children, then she wouldn't have made them so beautiful and attractive sexually.”
“I am a victim of circumstances”.
“I don't produce the sort of material. It can be easily found anywhere on the internet if you know where to search. What I mean is it's something that will still keep existing even if I stop doing this.”
“I don't think it is bad, because just using and sharing it doesn't hurt anyone”.
“Home where every single illegal porn searching can happen with no worry because there is literally nothing wrong with doing it privately, laws aren't for all humans.”
“I can see nothing wrong with it. As long as this is consensual”.
“Children can consent”.
“I'm not putting it online. I'm not creating it, downloading it, saving it, sharing it I’m just looking at pictures.”
The more you become aware of your cognitive distortions, the more able you become to replace them with different thoughts, which will then lead to different behavior. The goals for the following exercises are to:
- Help you recognize features in your inner speech (thoughts) that helped you justify your actions (cognitive distortions) to yourself before, during and after using CSAM.
- Motivate you to replace cognitive distortions with non-distorted thinking.
- Enhance your ability to put yourself in the victim’s position and see the negative impact of the offence on the victim. This is achieved by exploring and challenging your cognitive distortions.
- Invite you explore the connection between your cognitive distortions and the deeper behavior-guiding CSAM-related-attitudes and allow you to use CSAM.
Task 4(a) Analyze your thinking related to common cognitive distortions
There are a lot of misconceptions about CSAM. The reality is very different.
Below you can find common cognitive distortions/misconceptions that CSAM users
use to justify their behavior. Think about the misconception and the reality
behind them. What do you think about them?
Misconception: Children are sexual beings, just like
Reality: Based on what we know about children’s
sexual development, we can conclude that children do not identify themselves
as sexual beings in the same way as adults do, and they have difficulties with
understanding adults’ sexual acts and feelings.
Misconception: Pictures do not harm anyone. Using CSAM is a
Reality: Many individuals who have their photograph
circulating on the internet against their will, feel that they are being
abused over and over again. The child may feel intense feelings of losing
control and powerlessness, which are related to the fact that the child is
unable to make decisions regarding themselves and their bodies.
Misconception: The child themselves has taken the picture and
made it public. Therefore, it has been the child’s decision and they feel good
about their choice.
Reality: Children are not able to make good decisions
regarding their well-being and often make mistakes (e.g. experimenting with
drugs and alcohol) that they regret later on. This is because they are still
developing and they are unable to think about the consequences of their
actions in the long run. Therefore, it is the adults’ responsibility to
protect children and not to strive to benefit from their mistakes and poor
Misconception: Someone else produced the material. In any
case, this material is circulating on the web. It is not my fault that it is
Reality: Demand generates supply. The more people willing to
access and use the material, the more it will be generated and made available.
By being part of the demand, you are personally contributing to the supply of
Task 4(b): My thoughts before, during, and after using CSAM
In this exercise, you will examine the explanations that you use to justify your use of CSAM.
A) To start, write a list of all the thoughts (before, during and after using CSAM) you use to justify your use of CSAM. It is a good idea to write down the answers, following the table above. Try and keep a diary for at least a week to observe your CSAM activity and the connected thinking. Reflect on your answers.
Before using CSAM:
- How do I justify my use of CSAM before the act?
- How do I justify it to myself that committing the act would be okay?
- How do my justifications relate to the needs and motives behind my use of CSAM?
- What do I think about the victim(s) of CSAM?
- What do I think about myself and other people who use CSAM?
- What negative effects do I think that using CSAM would have on myself and others?
- How do I overcome the negative effects?
- What kind of thoughts would prevent me from using CSAM?
- What stops me from behaving differently?
Whilst using CSAM:
- How do I justify using CSAM during the act?
- What do I tell myself that make it possible for me to commit the act?
- What do I think about the victim(s) and the way they behave?
- What do I think about myself and the way I behave?
- What do I gain from it personally?
- What kind of thoughts would make me stop using CSAM now?
- What stops me from behaving differently?
After using CSAM:
- What do I think about the act afterwards?
- How do I justify the act afterwards?
- What do I think about the victim(s) afterwards?
- What do I think about myself afterwards?
- What do I think about the repercussions for myself, the victim(s) and other people?
- How do I keep my use of CSAM a secret from others?
||My thoughts to give myself permission to use CSAM before I use CSAM
|| My thoughts to give myself permission to use CSAM while I am using CSAM
|| My thoughts to give myself permission to use CSAM after I have used CSAM
B) Next, examine the list you have made and go through it, question by question, and consider the following questions on each of your justifications for using CSAM. Write down your justifications on paper and analyze your cognitive distortions by asking yourself:
What you mean by saying...? (Add your cognitive distortion here) E.g. watching CSAM does not harm anyone, it is a “victimless crime”.
Consider different explanations and interpretations of the events... what else is happening in the images? In what way, other than a “victimless crime” could you describe the images?
How factors are interconnected... how does the fact that there is real sexual violence inflicted on a child relate to your thoughts about it being a “victimless crime”?
Think of exceptions to the rules... you think that watching CSAM does not harm anyone, and it is a “victimless crime” – how do you know that is the case? In what kinds of situations does this not apply?
Think in a new, different way... could you think about this in a new way? For example, “even though I am not directly abusing a child, CSAM does portray real sexual violence against a child, and I do not want to be a part of that as it is illegal and extremely harmful for the child.”
Task 4(c): My behavior with which I make my CSAM use possible
In the previous task you looked at how you justify your use of CSAM to yourself, before, during, and after using the material. In this task you will look at all the practical things that you do to make CSAM use possible (look at the figure below: How does the use of CSAM take place? How do I remove external obstacles?).
The aim of the task is to help you recognize the behavior that allows you to use CSAM. The better you recognize the warning signs taking you closer to using CSAM, the earlier you can stop going towards CSAM and ReDirect your behavior. This enhances your ability to make conscious decisions and control your behavior. For situations in which you are already taking concrete steps towards watching CSAM, it is good to come up with a path to take another direction.
A) Think back to situations in which you have decided to use CSAM. Write down the actions that you did to make it possible to use CSAM.
- “I made sure I was alone and no one could see me watching CSAM”
- “I searched for images with search terms that I knew would lead to a site I wanted”
- “I keep the TOR browser installed on my device”
These following quotes are from respondents to our Help Us to Help You – Questionnaire:
“At home and when I am alone.”
“Somewhere private by myself.”
“When I am under the influence of drugs.”
In our survey we found that nearly 30% of the users of CSAM stated that they often drink or use drugs before they search for and use CSAM.
B) Think of alternative ways to act in these situations. What could you do differently to interrupt the path toward using CSAM. What could you say to yourself that would make you stop the behavior?
Task 5: Identifying my pathway to use CSAM: Summary
In the previous tasks you have thought about your life at the moment and the triggers that lead you to use CSAM. You have thought about the underlying motives of your CSAM use, as well as the ways that you justify your use of CSAM. Through the tasks you have formed a path that helps you visualize your way to CSAM use. This visualization helps you find alternative behaviors to replace the ones that currently lead you towards using CSAM.
This task is a summary of the previous tasks. Look at the figure below and think back to the path that leads you to use CSAM. If you have written the past tasks on paper, you can visualize them easier by placing them on a table accordingly to the figure below. Go through all of the contributing factors that bring you toward CSAM use, and all of the new thinking and behavioral methods that take you away from CSAM use that you have learned through the tasks.
- My life at the time of using CSAM
- How is your use of CSAM related to who you are?
- In what ways does your lifestyle allow for and uphold your use of CSAM?
- What kind of a lifestyle would keep you away from CSAM use?
- What can you do to reinforce your wellbeing and meaningful life?
- What do you want to change in your life?
- What makes me want to use CSAM?
- What kinds of psychological needs (e.g., loneliness, sexual needs) does using CSAM fulfil?
- What do you gain from using CSAM?
- In what ways could you meet those needs without using CSAM?
- What kinds of situations, thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations work as triggers for CSAM use?
- What kinds of situations are especially risky?
- What new ways could you come up with to respond to the triggers?
- What risk-management plans have you made?
- How do I justify my use of CSAM?
- In which ways do you justify (cognitive distortions) CSAM use before, during, and after using CSAM?
- How could you think differently?
- How does the use of CSAM take place?
- What concrete actions do you do to make CSAM use possible?
- How could you act differently in the future?
Look at the path and all its phases. What does your path look like from the beginning, all the way to CSAM use? Imagine yourself walking on the path, one step at a time. What could you tell yourself that would take you away from CSAM use on your path? E.g. “I feel lonely and using CSAM would make me feel better. Even though CSAM use would make me feel better, I want to practice other ways to deal with this. This feels difficult, but I know I can do it."
Remember that you can stop at any stage of the path and take your time to figure out new ways to react.
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