What it’s like living with the ‘worst secret in the world’: Couple who admit they’re paedophiles insist they don’t offend and say being together saves them from suicide – in dramatic new book by journalist Andrew Gold

A new book about the psychology behind secrecy has delved into the dark world of paedophilia.

The Psychology of Secrets: My Adventures with Murderers, Cults and Influencers, by UK YouTuber and podcaster Andrew Gold, features a range of different behaviours and activities people have kept hidden – including murder among others.

Andrew is best known for his YouTube channels On the Edge, which investigates cults and extreme beliefs, and Heretics, which features interviews with ‘guests…brave enough to go against conventional wisdom, societal norms, religions and cults’.

Now, he has interviewed an even wider range of people for his new book. In a chapter titled The Worst Secret In The World, the author describes meeting a non-offending paedophile couple, who opened up about their desires, relationship, and how they suppress their urge to offend. 

Referred to simply as Ruby and Sirius, the pair are self-described as ‘minor-attracted persons’ (MAPs) which is a clinical term to distinguish those who are attracted to children but do not act on those urges from those who do abuse them. 

Andrew Gold (pictured) is a British YouTuber and podcaster, known for his channels On The Edge and Heretics. He is also the author of a new book called The Psychology of Secrets

Ruby, 25, who lives in a small village in northern Germany, says she is ‘horrified’ by her desires, which has led to a ‘sad and lonely existence’.

These desires include an attraction to boys aged between just one and seven-years-old. 

She is a rare case of a female in a population mostly comprised of men, like her partner 27-year-old Sirius, who she met on an online forum for non-offending paedophiles.

According to the book, citing sexologist Michael C. Seto, some one per cent of men are paedophiles. 

The affliction is believed to be far less prevalent among women. However, it is speculated that fewer young males report abuse from older females due to societal stigma.

Speaking to the author, Ruby revealed that she first discovered ‘something was wrong’ after she became ‘aroused by Japanese anime depicting young boys’, which she used as a substitute for pornography.

Feeling despair about her predilections, she avoided society, seeking out only the online company of other MAPs online.

After meeting Sirius, the pair say they fell in love, despite them not being attracted to adults. 

The Psychology of Secrets (pictured) by Andrew Gold is published by Macmillan and is available now in book form, for Kindles, and as an audiobook

The Psychology of Secrets (pictured) by Andrew Gold is published by Macmillan and is available now in book form, for Kindles, and as an audiobook

They credit discussing their sexual desires with each other as saving them from suicide. 

More graphically, the couple reveal that they have sex daily, taking turns at role playing as a baby, which the book describes as a ‘nauseating’, but ‘more palatable alternative to the couple acting out their desires on real children’. 

The app which aims to reduce demand for child sexual abuse images and videos 

Some of the people interviewed by Andrew Gold for the chapter have been involved in the development of an app which aims to reduce the demand for child sexual abuse images and videos.

Berlin’s Charité Hospital, which is home to the Don’t Offend clinic, led the project, in partnership with ‘experts from diverse and wide-ranging fields including criminology, public health, developmental, clinical and forensic psychology, software engineering, child protection, and internet safety’.

Director of the Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine at Berlin’s Charité Hospital, Professor Klaus Beier, and the head of the UK’s Stop It Now! programme, Donald Findlater are among those who worked together to develop the software.

The app, Salus, which can be installed voluntarily by MAPs on their devices, uses machine learning to detect child sexual abuse images and videos and block them.

In a statement announcing the March 2023 release of the app, Professor Klaus Beier said: ‘The increasing consumption and distribution of child sexual exploitation material is a problem of international significance and necessitates research into user behaviour, particularly in cases not known to the legal authorities, which far outnumber those under juridical inquiry or after conviction. 

‘This has been largely neglected in the past, despite being where the potential for prevention is greatest.

‘Thus, with the development of Salus, Protech also targets self-motivated and cooperative, potential or real users of child sexual abuse images who want to avoid starting or continuing consumption.’ 

Donald Findlater, Director of The Lucy Faithfull Foundation’s Stop It Now! UK and Ireland helpline, added: ‘Last year, nearly 5,000 people contacted our Stop It Now! UK and Ireland helpline concerned about their own sexual thoughts or behaviour towards children. 

‘They want help to manage this so that children aren’t harmed and they do not commit a crime. In addition, our online self-help resources had hundreds of thousands of visitors, looking for help to manage their own or a loved one’s online sexual behaviour.

‘Salus would help many people who contact us to stop viewing sexual images of children. This project allows us to support these people and learn how to better tackle the problem of people viewing sexual images of children online. Salus has the prospect of becoming a major contributor in the global fight against online child sexual abuse.’

In addition, they attend a therapy programme run at Berlin’s Charité Hospital – the Don’t Offend clinic, which invites MAPs to attend sessions and talk, without being reported to authorities.

While the initiative is controversial, as it allows known MAPs to remain free, the clinic believes this is the only way to encourage them to come for therapy.

This, it says, can subsequently save children from abuse by helping potential offenders to control their urges before they act on them. 

Furthermore, the Don’t Offend clinic aims to eradicate the cognitive bias that results from paedophiles coming together in online forums, and convincing each other that sex with children can be consensual.

Andrew interviewed Don’t Offend’s Maximilian von Heyden for the book, asking him how the therapy works, and whether the attraction to children can be eradicated.

Mr von Heyden answered: ‘No [attendees won’t lose their desire for children] but some of the patients we see have high ethical standards. 

‘They come to therapy to improve their lives and try to cope with this better. To be better socially integrated. But they would never abuse a child.’ 

Discussing the clinic’s findings, Mr von Heyden revealed that around four per cent of the population has an attraction to minors. 

That translates to a significant one in 25 people.

He explained there is a ‘difference between exclusivity and non-exclusivity’.

‘If you’re exclusively a paedophile, you probably have a hard time because you can never act out your sexual fantasies without committing a crime or hurting someone,’ he explained.

 ‘But if you’re non-exclusive, you will be satisfied having sex with a partner in the normal age range. You might become aroused by a child running around naked, but you’re not obsessed with it.’

He continued that while it is ‘wrong to stigmatise’ those who are born with an attraction to children, ‘clearly that abuse can’t be tolerated’. 

As he believes that research and clinical data support the idea that paedophilia is fixed (this is non a universal belief: the head of the UK’s Stop It Now! programme, Donald Findlater considers it a curable illness) MAPs who attend the clinic are taught about what can increase their risk factor when it comes to abusing children – for example, drinking, being around minors, and being stigmatised.

This is because being stigmatised, and being described as monsters, can lead MAPs to online forums, where others justify child abuse, with some even describing it as a ‘victimless crime’.   

‘That’s very dangerous, because it gives those  who never intended to offend a free licence to do so without feeling bad about their identities,’ writes Andrew in the book.

He also notes that no other secret he’s ever learnt about ‘has been darker or more burdensome than that of Ruby and Sirius’.

However, to the author’s shock, in researching the chapter, he discovered there is a ‘pride involved in being a non offending paedophile’.

Revealing how he ‘skirted around the p-word in their presence’, believing it would offend the couple, instead he found they are ‘desperate to talk about it, and spread their non-offending stance in their community’, as they believe that open discussion helps them, and could help others, control their urges.

Andrew writes: ‘Their secret has consumed their lives to such an extent that there is very little to talk about besides paedophilia. 

‘Now that they have the chance to tell an outsider about their secret, they don’t want to stop. For me, I’m a bit sick of it. The preceding hours are enough for a lifetime.’ 

The Psychology of Secrets: My Adventures with Murderers, Cults and Influencers by Andrew Gold is available now. 

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