5. HOW I JUSTIFY MY USE
- 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.
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.
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.”
“I was depressed and nervous.”
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.