I have been thinking about pedophiles the last few days.

I have been thinking about them because they were all once children like me. They were usually—although probably not always—sexually abused when they were young and vulnerable just a I was.

And so they have that same link in their heads between an awareness or a sensation in their private parts and disgust.

Disgust is a particular kind of reaction to danger. It is a reaction to a different kind of danger than fear. Disgusting things can’t run after you and attack you. They don’t have that kind of mobility. But you ought not to touch them.

Pedophiles aren’t predators solely because they have a sexual response to children. They are predators because they have a sexual response to children and they view themselves as so important that the well-being of the children they are sexual with is of no concern to them.

So they have a sexual response. They feel disgust, and instead of doing the reasonable thing and stopping what they are doing—noticing that this is disgusting and withdrawing from it—they blame the child.

Because really, like me, they want to get the spider off them. They want to get rid of the uncomfortable feeling of sexual arousal, and the most efficient way towards that end (in their minds) is to indulge it.

Your welfare doesn’t figure in. They might feel guilty—not because they care about the confusion and fear in your eyes, but because they know they are breaking a rule. This can be gotten around by shifting blame onto the child.

Not all pedophiles do this, but a lot of them do. Many of my abusers did. Others just pretended it wasn’t disgusting, that it was instead beautiful and loving. Or some other whacked out nonsense.

But I am thinking about the abuser who blames his victim for the disgust, because that abuser will say, “You tempted me. You make me do these things to you. You are [insert epithet here].” This kind of abuser has no sense that their feelings and impulses are caused by their own brains or are their responsibility. They experience themselves as being at the whim and mercy of the world. Their brains are, for them, like machines or computers. What can be controlled is the input—the outside world—but never the inside. That is just doing what it is. Consequently, they have no sense of themselves as people who could choose differently, who could exercise restraint, who could react to the feeling in a different way. They will tell you explicitly that you are to blame and while they are doing this, very often they will look at you as though you are something like a snake. As if you are what is dangerous, and not the adult who has chosen to harm you.

And that’s the view you often absorb when you are a victim. They are merely leaves tossed about in the wind. The problem is you. It is your body. It is something intangible and unidentifiable about you that creates this uncontrollable response in others. Because of this, repeated victimization seems inevitable.

The danger is you. And you can’t get away from it. It is inside your body, inside your mind, inside your something. It is your squidginess, your sexuality, your particular body parts, your thoughts, your emotions.

It’s hard to pin down exactly. It’s never clear. But it makes only a flight from the self seem safe.

The only way to be safe again is to somehow escape from your self.