How do thoughts lead to actions?
Giving permission refers to all the explanations and justifications that a person uses to make the activity seem permissible and harmless.
Examples of such explanations include:
- I'm just looking at pictures. I'm not abusing a child.
- I'm just talking to the children. I cannot help it if some child wants to talk to me about sex.
- The child can end the conversation at any time if they don't like what we're talking about.
- Looking at pictures doesn’t hurt anyone.
Positive experiences reinforce behaviour
Transitioning from thinking about children sexually to actions does also require that the actions feel rewarding and positive for the person doing them.
For example, viewing child-sexualising images online can make a person feel refreshed after a stressful day. Looking at pictures can cause sexual arousal that feels good. Chatting with children online can alleviate the experience of loneliness.
The objective of the actions are acceptable, the actions are not
A person who acts in ways that sexualise children generally seeks to satisfy needs that are natural to all people. They may seek, for example, intimacy, satisfaction of sexual needs, friendship, experience of coping and competence, and a feeling of being in control of their life and its stress factors.
Usually, the objective or purpose of the actions are acceptable. However, the means of achieving this objective are harmful to children and, in some cases, constitute sexual offences. You can change your own actions so that your needs are satisfied, but the actions do not cause harm to others or to yourself.
The exercises of the self-help program provide you tools for reflecting on how you could act in ways that are more responsible and respectful of children in the future. You will also find ways to increase meaningfulness of your own life and promote wellbeing.