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  • Chris's story

    I'm a sex addict. Ever since puberty I have been sexually attracted only to young children.

    A recovering paedophile

    From my teens I talked about my paedophilia to friends and family, but since I treated it as a joke, so did they. But it wasn't a joke. I had dozens of little friends: my younger sister, other young relatives, neighbours, family friends, children I met in playgrounds, swimming pools and coming home from their schools - anywhere I could hang out to meet them. Most of the time I was actually good to these children, but being sexual with them just seemed to be a natural part of that - I knew it had to be kept secret, but I didn't know the difference between sexual abuse and genuine love. Later I experimented with more 'normal' sex. I had one or two older girlfriends and tried being sexual with one or two boys my age and older men, but I continued to rely on friendships with little children, blindly taking risks with their well-being as well as my own.

    I married a very small woman who seemed willing to be child-like, but sex with her seemed unnatural - a means to an end - whereas sex with my own children seemed in my mind to be a natural part of being a loving father. Eventually I admitted to myself that the children I loved would be hurt if others realised I was sexually abusing them. Although at first I blamed 'society' for this, it did at least give me a strong motivation to stop my risky behaviour. Later, when my own children were involved, I also admitted that children could be hurt if they grew up remembering sexual abuse, regardless of society's reaction. But when I finally tried to stop, I found that I was powerless to do so. I tried for a long time, but finally admitting that I could not stop under my own will power was my first step towards recovery.

    What I did about it

    At first this admission of powerlessness left me feeling hopeless. Stories in the media, legislation, and the attitudes of my friends all gave the same message: people like me were evil and irredeemable. Under these circumstances getting help seemed impossible, and breaking my secrecy seemed literally suicidal. Eventually my wife left us, and things got worse. Instead of seeming to be loving, my sexual fantasies and behaviour became tinged with anger, frustration and sadism. I was horrified to realise that my sexuality was not really motivated by love, and decided that, even though I didn't know how to get it, I needed help, no matter what the consequences. This belief that there might actually be some help out there was my second step towards recovery.

    I found a counsellor, but it took 15 months of weekly sessions to admit what my anxiety was really about. As soon as I had, I asked to be referred to a qualified family therapy for myself and my children. Telling him exactly what had been going on felt like throwing myself off the edge of a cliff. Only utter desperation made me do it. This was the first time I had surrendered my own unsteady willpower to someone else's care - I had begun to take my third step towards recovery.

    What it's like now

    After working with my children and their extended family, the family therapist assessed that they were better off living half their week with me, but that I needed a lot of help to stop my risky behaviour. The insights and coping strategies we developed together were tremendously helpful, but they were not enough. I still found myself grooming and taking worse risks with children. I had been brought up as an atheist and was myself an atheist, but one day crossing the road outside the primary school at home time I felt so desperate that I just stopped where I was and prayed for help. It came immediately. I felt as though that old man in a dressing gown with a white beard came down from above the clouds and gave me a hug. I prayed secretly to myself when I was putting the children to bed. I started reading the Bible, then attending a church. I discovered an online recovery group for abuse offenders. They told me about SAA and I went to a meeting every week. Finally, I had discovered my own real Higher Power, and had begun to turn my will and life over to Him. I had completed my third step towards recovery.

    My risky behaviour did not stop immediately. I suffered many slips, and even after I had worked all twelve steps the time came when I found new ways of acting out my sexual addiction. I worked all twelve steps again. This time it was much easier. My SAA comrades had different acting out behaviours but the same inner struggle. They gave me a place to break with secrecy, techniques to intervene in my addictive cycle, and hope that recovery from sex addiction was possible. Above all, in their loving kindness and determination to do their best and help me do my best, they were the embodiment of my Higher Power.

    Later a court-appointed psychologist confirmed my therapist's assessment: that despite the severity of my past behaviour and ongoing psychological problems, the support network I had built up for children and myself, including SAA, was keeping me safe from future offences. I know I could never have achieved this without SAA.


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    Last updated: January 6th, 2023
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