“How does one reconcile what MAPs view as being in their best interest with what professionals view as being in MAPs best interest?”
I hope to continue my train of thought from the previous blog and discuss the often dichotomous perspectives and obligations of minor attracted people (MAP) and professionals, in relation to the care, treatment, and support of MAPs.
Working with MAPs both in therapeutic and non-therapeutic settings, we have come across many diverse and often times competing perspectives. As a team of clinicians who support and treat MAPs for a variety of mental health issues, we are often met with condemnation from all sides, including from MAPs, who don't fully understand or support our mission.
Again, our ultimate goal is prevention; prevention of harm, whether it be preventing harm to a child from child sexual abuse, or preventing harm to a MAP who may be engaging in suicidal behavior due to compounded shame and stigma. Even still, with these goals in mind often comes competing interpretations of our mission. Yes 100%, a goal of ours is, "No more victims." However, we never assume an individual is solely at risk of abusing a child simply because they report a minor attraction. Because again, from the research, there is a large percentage of sex offenders with child victims who are not MAPs (Marshall, Barbaree, & Eccles, 1991; Seto, 2009; Schmidt, Mokros, & Banse, 2013).
With that said, we will also never pretend that this isn't a concern, as many MAPs and non-MAPs who come to us for support, report viewing child sexual abuse images (CSAI), or "child pornography". We will never judge you if you have struggled with this, but we will absolutely intervene. While viewing CSAI is different from contact victimization, it's never a victimless crime. Believing that one is "better" than individuals who produce and distribute CSAI, is never constructive. It's also never constructive to entertain a dialogue where certain illegal or non-illegal sexual acts are deemed more or less harmful or acceptable than others according to individualistic "standards" or "morals". We will never support this. With that said, engaging in this kind of thinking, in order to justify or minimize ones behavior, is not unique to MAPs. Many of our clients engage in this kind of thinking.
Within the MAP community there are also those who take the stance of being "contact-neutral." Which again is humoring the notion that certain sexual contact between adults and minors is "appropriate", "acceptable", or "not abusive". This is not a dialogue that we will ever ethically entertain, facilitate, or support. Again, by engaging in this narrative is to engage in a thinking error that supports, justifies, or minimizes the sexual abuse or exploitation of children and minors.
Since the inception of our MAPs program, we have not had to report a client. We're here to support you. With that said, we are a team of clinicians bound by confidentiality and mandatory reporting guidelines as defined by our state and licensing bodies. This broadly translates to, if an explicit or imminent threat of violence is made towards an identifiable victim, we are mandated to report this. In this context a victim is anyone defined as a vulnerable population (i.e., an individual under the age of 18, an individual with a disability, a senior citizen etc.).