In Therapy

The following quotations come from individuals who had either successfully completed a course of therapy within the Prevention Network “Kein Täter werden”, or who were engaged in the therapy at the time of the interview. All personal information - name, age, profession – have been anonymized for publication on this website.

Sven, 45, teacher

The final hurdle was the first session, the very first one, where I couldn’t really imagine how it would be, to get to know other men with my problem. But I very quickly noticed that it wasn’t so difficult to open up amongst them.

Günther, 55, long-distance lorry driver

I had never talked with anyone about it before, and didn’t know what therapy was. I was also a bit worried because the therapist was a woman. Then I was surprised how easy it was to talk about it because everyone in the group had the same problem: We are all pedophiles.

Manuel, 33, computer scientist

The contact and discussions with the other group participants were especially helpful, as I always had the feeling that they could understand me especially well.

Bernhard, 44, advisor

Everyone can say anything. No one is looked down upon. The therapists are very trustworthy.

Ralph, 38, director

The group sessions start with an opening up exercise. Then there is a topic that sometimes stems from something someone brought up during the opening round. At the end of the two hours there’s a closing round, where you reflect on what you can take with you from the two hours. And then the session comes to a close, sometimes with an assignment for something to do on your own in the course of the week, like writing a diary, for example.

Christian, 43, civil servant

We receive assignments for the time between sessions. It could be situations that you’ve experienced, like an encounter with a girl, along with an impulse and a reaction. For example, you think “I wouldn’t mind doing something with her”. In therapy I’m learning to understand the internal sequence that plays out, to unravel it and consider if and what I might have been able to do differently. I’m understanding that this sexual preference is only a part of who I am. My perception is changing. Before, I was very uncertain and had very low self-worth. Now I feel more balanced – I like myself a lot more.

Stefan, 36, sound engineer

The topics are varied and don’t all have to do with the sexual preference alone. I receive a lot of encouragement and strength from the group so I can master my life with more confidence and stability. Each person is a part of the whole, and all discussions are held in absolute confidence.

Christian, 43, civil servant

It often starts completely innocently: You’re sitting at the computer, starting to look for normal pornos, then the overall schema gets younger, the women get younger and younger, the images harder, you type in “teen” and you’re already in too deep, you’ve left the “point of no return” behind long ago. The art of it is to know myself so well that I can control myself and not end up in these situations in the first place. That’s what I’m learning here.

Ralph, 38, director

I had blocked out that, with those photos, children are being abused. In therapy I’m learning to be more conscious of this vicious circle.

Alex, 24, student

I don’t want to succumb to the temptation of looking at child pornography. The therapy is meant to support me in living a life without ever assaulting a child, and it’s doing that quite well.

Christian, 43, civil servant

After two months I wanted to give up on the therapy, because everything hurt so much. I felt so bad as everything came to the surface. I experienced renewed bouts of depression. Sometimes I wished I were dead. But I kept on going, and today I am happy about that. This path is worthwhile, though it’s not easy. At the start you cry and cry, you feel awful, it all comes crashing down on you. But here, they support me, they help by explaining what I’m experiencing.

Sven, 45, teacher

Then came the assignment to act out an abuse situation as part of a role-play. In the first of these role-plays, I played the part of one of the other group participants, of the offender. Afterwards I felt really distressed and didn’t want to do another one. But then I played the role of a victim, of a schoolgirl. I really felt completely in her situation and immersed in the emotional world of my victim. Finally I was able to understand the helplessness, the shame, the fear, and the feeling of having been taken advantage of. That’s the point at which the idea that the adult must take on full responsibility for there never being any sexual contact with a child or young person went from being a consideration to a hard and lasting conviction. I experienced the hard way that the victims carry no responsibility whatsoever, that they can’t necessarily stop the offender from doing it. What I had earlier always thought to be incorrect, without really feeling that way, took on a new, deeply emotional dimension. I now know that an assault is always wrong, because I experienced it for myself. Shortly after that unit, our group got larger, with a couple of new men joining, who were right at the beginning of their therapy. I could then see with my own eyes what a long way I had already come, and the time quickly arrived when I felt that I had learned enough about myself and my proclivities, that I could continue to walk this road on my own two feet.

Christian, 43, civil servant

A long while ago, I would go swimming just to be able to have a look, or I’d walk past a schoolyard, just to look. Later, I totally avoided doing such things, because I didn’t want to look. But now I’m able to go swimming again, because I want to swim; I’ve made huge progress since I’ve been here. I’ll be done with the therapy when I’m 100% certain that I can act responsibly. That’s what I want.

Jan, 29, media manager

When considering the end of my therapy, I’m optimistic. I’ve learnt to deal with my sexual interests and problems. I’ve built a network of friends and other people who know me and know about my sexual preference. I now know where to find professional help, and that makes me optimistic about being able to manage in the future.

Bernhard, 44, advisor

I don’t know when the end of the therapy will be. Even after the group sessions come to an end, I know I have to keep working on myself.

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