Being Shame is a child abuse social awareness and impact film. It has been created to promote social awareness around the dark web, online grooming and paedophile rehabilitation. The film looks at the complex issues around the paedophilic drivers that motivate online grooming, while addressing the ‘victim to offender cycle’. The central question is whether or not children who have been sexually abused will go on to commit sexual offences and if sex offender treatment programmes should be part of all custodial and community sentencing.
The campaign highlights organisations like the Lucy Faithfull Foundation who publicly advocate that paedophiles who have abused and viewed indecent images online can be rehabilitated. The charity runs the Stop It Now! programme designed to help treat paedophiles and stop child abuse.
‘Public and media preoccupation with paedophilia is considerable, and yet the research that exists on this emotive subject suggests a limited public understanding, and uncertainty amongst professionals over its definition, treatment and management. Furthermore, the word “paedophile” appears to have taken on a life of its own in modern society, being used inaccurately in the media to categorise an exceptionally complex and varied range of people and problems under a stigmatising label that evokes fear and disgust. Well-informed discussions are eclipsed by social hysteria and moral panic. Some research suggests that widespread denial and distorted perceptions of paedophilia, both in social and professional contexts, actually exacerbate the problem and hinder efforts to tackle it effectively.’ - Stuart Avery, Integrative Counsellor
‘As therapists, we strive to embody empathy, authenticity and a non-judgmental attitude. But how do we manage this when working with clients at the far reaches of societal acceptance? And how does social discourse around paedophilia – the ultimate taboo subject – affect the working practices of therapists brave enough to enter such “unspeakable” territory?’ - Stuart Avery, Integrative Counsellor
The film looks at the complex issues around the paedophilic drivers that motivate online grooming, while addressing the ‘victim to offender cycle’. The central question is whether or not children who have been sexually abused will go on to commit sexual offences and if sex offender treatment programmes should be part of all custodial and community sentencing. Studies suggest that between 33% and 75% of child sex offenders have being sexually abused as children, although this statistic is often debated. The film looks at how online-facilitated child sexual abuse is committed, shared and sold on the dark web. While it is not illegal to access the dark web, the dark web is often used by the most sophisticated offenders. Statistics from the National Crime Agency show that last year 2.88 million accounts were registered globally across the most harmful child sexual abuse dark websites, with at least 5% believed to be registered in the U.K. Since 2016, British police have been arresting between 400 and 450 people a month for associated offences and over 600 children are safeguarded each month as a result.
The story amalgamates four true stories that promote and highlight the investigative work of the National Crime Agency, paedophile rehabilitation therapy promoted by the Lucy Faithful Foundation, Circles UK’s volunteer support in recidivism prevention and the controversy around paedophile hunters.
‘Behind every sex offender is a story, a series of life conditions and mental health issues that led that person to decide to harm someone; and make no mistake, they are 100% responsible for that. And by painting sex offenders and pedophiles as "monsters" we, as a society, contribute to the continuation of the sexual abuse of our children. That's right. We are responsible for the revolving door of children who make their way into treatment centers all across the country. Think for a moment how we treat sex offenders: we shame them, we publicly humiliate them, and we give them no pathway to redemption. We want sex offenders to just magically stop harming people, yet we provide no safe place to openly address their issues before they commit a crime. And afterwards, we cast them out of society, leaving them further isolated and ashamed. Do you know that, in most states, if a pedophile tells a therapist of their inappropriate sexual attraction to children and that person is around children in any capacity, the therapist is mandated by law to report him to the police and Child Protective Services, even if no crime has occurred? This system was designed to protect children, and it serves it's purpose in part, but it also creates fear for the prospective perpetrator to openly share, thereby eliminating a major prevention strategy: being able to tell someone you need help before acting out. So, really, we put the burden on our children, the most vulnerable among us, to "Say no" and to "Tell someone if this happens to you." But, where is our responsibility as a society to prevent this from happening in the first place? It is magical thinking to believe our children are safe by ignoring sex offenders and then ostracizing them from society once a crime has been committed. It's not working for anyone involved.’ - Rainbow Marifrog, Therapy for the Whole Person, U.S.A.
‘According to Oxford Dictionaries, (n.d) shame is an intense feeling of humiliation and distress, which is caused by conscious engagement in wrong or reckless behaviors. Shame can be exhibited in two ways, externally and internally. Internal shame stems from a negative view of one’s self (Bierbrauer, 1992). External shame comes from external factors such as a social expectations and the fear of not meeting them. In both displays of shame it is important to note that shame consumes the whole body and the individual’s sense of self, which results in intense feelings of low self-worth and low self esteem. Society for its own selfish purposes continues to respond aggressively and violently towards sexual offenses and offenders which only perpetuates the shame and abuse cycle they are already exercising, and thus perpetuates the cycle of offending (Bierbrauer, 1992).’ - Ellen Spofford, Adlerian Counseling and Psychotherapy