Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

No one is to blame for your child abuse images ‘addiction’ other than yourself

Online child abuse addict: 'I was curious about images of teenage girls on the internet – a bit like car crashes. There’s a fatal fascination'  was the headline of a piece that appeared in the Indy on Wednesday 23 July 2013.

Firstly, I really don't like the use of the car crash analogy here, car crashes are invariably accidents, child abuse images are not nor is one in the habit of stumbling across them randomly or inadvertently (see below as the man in the article, Tom, not his real name, admits himself he had to play 'detective' to access them).  If one does, those without this 'curiosity' (or perhaps 'predisposition towards child abuse would be more apposite') would shut down the site immediately and hopefully report it.  I am assuming that the word 'fatal' has been used here as Tom was caught.

Secondly, once again we see the use of abuser-friendly terminology with weasel words such a 'paedophilia' and 'child porn'.  I would advise the author of this article to refer back to this piece  penned by  Louise Whittaker of the End Victimisation and Abuse campaign which appeared in the Voices Section only two weeks ago.

Last but not least, we are subjected once again to a succession of lame justifications by a man trying to engage the reader by playing the 'I couldn't help it, it's not my fault' card.  There have been a few such pieces of late, in the wake of Savile et al, where men have professed to be benign 'paedophiles' who are uncontrollably sexually attracted to children but would never dream of harming one.  One such piece of child abuse apologia appeared in the Guardian which not only totally failed to give victims and survivors a voice but provided convicted child sex offender Tom O'Carroll , former chair of the odious Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) a platform to eulogise about and reframe child sexual abuse, asserting that "It is the quality of the relationship that matters, if there's no bullying, no coercion, no abuse of power, if the child enters into the relationship voluntarily … the evidence shows there need be no harm."  I need not point out how this statement is not only one big mendacious oxymoron but wrong on every conceivable level.  Abusers will use any means necessary to justify their behaviour and I have had the misfortune of having to listen to a child rapist try to convince me that a 6 year old girl with traumatised genitalia enjoyed being raped.

Aside from the fact that Tom is full of contradictions (I'll come to those) it appears as if 'online child abuse addiction' is now the patholigised condition du jour.  One of a series, including sex addiction and 'paedophilia' (as an innate and immutable sexual orientation, a view promoted by O'Carroll and his ilk), which have been created to absolve men of any responsibility whatsoever for their actions; they are nothing more than modern variations of the 'male uncontrollable urges' meme except by appending the term 'addiction' it is supposed to assume medical gravitas and elicit sympathy.

This notion is not only offensive to victims and survivors by placing the blame upon them in that they innocently, or deliberately, triggered some kind of Pavlovian response in an abuser, but it is also an insult to men as plenty, if not the majority, are perfectly able to control themselves thank you very much.

Tom states "I looked at adult pornography for some time and I found it easy to go across from that to younger teenage girls".

Is he trying to argue that adult porn is the gateway to child abuse material here?  That it is a seamless and natural transition?  Whilst I am not a fan of porn, I have yet to be convinced that viewing adult porn is responsible for transforming men into child abusers by proxy.  Whilst there is undoubtedly a lot of infantalisation of adult women within mainstream porn, which is axiomatically highly problematic and disturbing, does it send one down to road of viewing child abuse images?

Tom also cites depression, stress and alcohol as factors in his child abuse images consumption.  A common refrain that many who have experienced abuse will be familiar with.  He then says '"There are two lines, legal and moral. You know it’s an illegal image, but I thought, a bit like doing 35mph in a 30mph zone, that it was tolerated and understood".  Why would anyone other than a child abuser and apologist think that it is tolerated and understood?  Newsflash: for right thinking functional people, it is neither tolerated nor understood in the sense that he means.

"There’s a satisfaction in hunting images down and collecting them. Sometimes there would be encrypted files and you had to wait three days for the password. It’s like a detective hunt. The pictures were there; a lot of them I deleted, but they were still there", he opines.  Really?!  So, it's not at all like a car accident at all then is it?  Unless rubberneckers are of the habit of going out of their way to look for them.  Furthermore, he contradicts himself, as first he tells us how easy it is to find these images but now vaunts his 'detective' skills which were drawn upon to obtain access to these 'encrypted sites'.

Tom goes further to try and minimise his actions by stating that 95% of the images he tracked down were level one, as if we're supposed to congratulate him for only being slightly morally bankrupt!  Oh, that's not so bad then, is it mate?!

I didn’t like seeing children being upset. I feel bad when I see a child being smacked in a supermarket.

What a warped sense of morality this man has.

With Google you are literally a couple of clicks away from those images.

Sorry, I am confused, I thought that you had to "play detective"? Which is it?

If warning signs, like they have in Sweden saying you are entering an illegal site, had come up I wouldn’t have gone there. If there had been a warning that police were going to track me down, there is no way I would have done it. If there had been more publicity, there is no way I would have done it – and if the internet hadn’t have been there, there is no way I would have done it.

I am not remotely convinced by this at all as Tom says above that he knew that what he

was looking at was illegal but you know, it was just like going slightly over the speed limit, which although illegal, everyone still does, apparently. Extending his metaphor, even speed cameras in addition to the knowledge that it is against the law do not act as a deterrent to some drivers. Not to mention the obvious that a minor driving offence is in no way comparable to seeking out, watching and enjoying children being raped and sexually abused.

It really is quite simple, Tom, there is no excuse whatsoever for abuse.  It is not the fault of the government's lack of intervention, lack of regulation, nor alcohol, nor drugs, nor stress, nor depression, nor climate change, nor the weather or whatever the abuser chooses to blame. A child has been abused by appearing in that image, so anyone viewing these for personal gratification is de facto, also an abuser and therefore committing a heinous crime, enabling child abuse.

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