We publish here the testimony of a young teenager who had contacted us, like many others, because of his child pornography use. He wrote, redacted and completed this text with the help of Mrs Bennari aiming at making his story known to help others in a similar situation.
I am 15 as I write this. I’m going to start at the beginning and tell everything that happened during my fall toward child pornography, exactly as it was.
It begun when I was about 11. I was reading a forum on the site of a well-known and very popular video game. Everything was great, until I clicked on some random link. I told myself “No big deal”, but instead of finding more games I ended up staring at homosexual porn. At first I was grossed out by it, but as I kept looking my curiosity took over and I started feeling a sort of fascination. That’s when I started watching pornography and feeling a need for it.
I watched porn for 4 years without understanding the consequences for a boy my age. I looked for content more and more unusual, new, sensational, up to the more violent images. I told myself there was nothing wrong with it. They were just fantasies, nothing to do with real life.
But as I kept looking for new stuff, I ended up on some child pornography images and I felt again that same thrill I had felt when I discovered porn for the first time. So I started looking for child porn sites which are actually easy to find. I was still mainly addicted to adult porn, but on some rare occasions I looked for child porn. It’s true that I wasn’t worried about those few times. I didn’t take my use of child porn seriously because I still felt a stronger pull toward adult porn.
But little by little I started doing more and deeper searching for child porn. I only found it on two sites. The minors that matched my preferences were between 11 and 17 years old. But I did once get off on the picture of a 4th grader girl (I’m extremely ashamed of that). I even downloaded a picture once, that I deleted immediately after even though the teenage girl in the photo was a nudist. Every time my libido brought me to masturbate to those videos and photos, but once the pleasure was gone I regretted it and felt betrayed by myself.
I totally got that the children “models” were the victims of criminals or unaware of what they were asked to do. I was filled with guilt and shame. I wanted to be a benefactor to people everywhere, and instead here I was.
My friends started calling me “pedophile” as a joke, because I often joked on the subject. But some of my pals thought my jokes went a bit too far and so they asked me: “Do you actually like little kids?”. I told them no, and actually in a sense it’s true as I don’t feel attracted to kids in real life. But that question made me doubt myself anyway. Was I like the men I hear about on the news? Am I like those I disapprove of? Am I a pedophile?
As I became more aware of how bad and wrong what I was doing was, I started searching informations about it online. I found the Blue Angel website and I saw that it was a place where I could find answers to my questions and my anguish, and also ask for advice to stop doing these things I hated.
I called the number on the french site. The president herself, Mrs Latifa Bennari, answered the call and listened to me before asking some questions and chatting with me. All this made me relax and I felt much better. She soothed my conscience pointing out my real life abstinency and congratulating me on my decision to call for help. She did also warn me about the danger I was into with my child porn use: of undermining my adult life and getting caught by the police with potentially devastating consequences.
Today I have decided to be a normal high school student, focused on studying, passionate about video games and with a mind fully opened to the world and everything and everyone in it, including sexuality. Because I have no taboos about telling what happened to me. This doesn’t mean that I won’t warn you about pornography, adult or pedophile: it is bad for young kids. Bad, I get it now, not just for us users but also and most of all for the minors exploited to produce it. I know now that there are many others in the situation I was into that are still too afraid to speak. And others who seeked help in vain for years and in the end found only the cops at their door.
I often ask myself what would have happened to me without the Blue Angel. Talking is often the cure for all evils. It’s also the best way to protect ourselves and others, so let’s do it.
Thank you, Latifa, for freeing me from silence and secrecy.
An opinion and a few words from Latifa Bennari
This testimony from a young man in contact with the Blue Angel shows the incoherence and aberration of most measures concerning pedophilia in place today. Too often they are taken and crafted in response to the high media coverage of a few sensational cases despite the fact that the offenders involved represent only a slim minority of the total pedophile population.
Such measures go against common sense and keep feeding an inadequate legal corpus that can only make an already alarming situation even worse. Written by ministerial staff without any real knowlege of the problem and of its complex ramifications, without consulting with any competent association actually working the field (especially on the subject of child pornography), they keep pushing forward a blind repression policy, showing a critical lack of judgement from our state representatives that can only make us wonder.
This testimony is a perfect example of the reality most users of child pornography live in. It is becoming urgent for society to start looking at this reality without the veil of prejudice that is preventing us from taking adequate measures to counter the potential effects on our population’s mental state of the proliferation of easy-to-access child pornography images (drawings, comics, photos, videos, etc).
This young man’s profile is extremely representative of the majority of virtual pedophiles who slowly and inadvertedly sink into an addiction to child pornography without truly measuring or understanding the seriousness of the consequences both for themselves and for the exploited children.
Helping them quit with an adequate and experienced support is the only way, preventing further use of child pornography and in some cases also any possibility of a real life acting out, even though we hasten to point out that there is no systematic link between using child pornography and acting out on real children, indeed such a jump is quite rare.
On the contrary, the silence, secrecy and fear pedophiles (abstinents, users of child pornography, ex-offenders, etc) are de facto confined into by the indiscriminate aggressiveness of the law and most medias only serve to strengthen their isolation and mental fragility, therefore increasing the potential danger they represent for society and especially for our children.
We have the choice to continue with methods which have been revealed as failures by their results during the last decades, or thinking about developping more effective ones. Today we expect from our representatives of state to acknowledge their failings and learn from past mistakes, putting in place a humane policy of prevention. Enough demagogy, purely electoral speeches and measures, enough senseless and misguided pushing of the principles of precaution and security, the abuse of which shows a complete lack of understanding of the problem at hand.