By Cecilia D’Anastasio
Growing up, Camryn had always considered his taste in women particular: short, flat-chested, youthful. The girls he had liked in high school were smaller in stature, a body type he now describes as “loli-like,” referring to “lolitas.” Two years after he graduated high school, he still felt most drawn to playfulness and youth, parceled in the trappings of “cuteness.” He had never suspected that he could be attracted to children.
Camryn was 20 when he first met his step-niece, who was five years old at the time, at his stepbrother’s house. Camryn has slight autism and, when he felt alienated from family “adult” conversation, he would take his step-niece outside to play tag. Like this, they forged a connection. Eventually, Camryn offered to babysit. Cartoons, miniatures and make-believe—pastimes that Camryn had always enjoyed anyway—sanctioned more substantial quality time. But as months passed, Camryn increasingly experienced pangs of attraction when his step-niece would climb on his back or hang off his arms. He was forced to consider his condition: He was attracted to a five-year-old. Now what?
Camryn knew he could never force himself on a child of any age. The cost to his step-niece’s well-being was too high. Children with a history of sexual abuse face higher rates of substance addiction, suicidal ideation, and PTSD. Some research estimates that child sexual abuse victims are a staggering one thousand percent more likely to face revictimization later in life – that is, further instances of sexual assault. Also, he says, he is just morally opposed to it.
He resolved never to act on, or even carelessly reveal, his feelings, although he struggled at times to maintain composure. He reasoned that his standards of behavior needed to account for his predilections. “I decided to keep my desires to myself,” he said. “My worry of ‘slipping up’ did kind of hamper attempts to carry her when she was tired.”
Experts at anti-child-abuse organizations like Stop It Now! argue that the most certain way for a pedophile to avoid “slipping up” is making sure they are never alone with a child and to abstain from fantasizing about children altogether. Camryn’s approach is different, although he insists it helps serve the same purpose.
Picture: Cracksinthestreet (My own work, I took the picture myself) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons