Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New Zealand: Inside an Internet Porn Addict's Mind

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND -- He was an ordinary man with an ordinary interest in soft porn. But when Alex began to search online for child pornography, he began a 15-year descent into degradation that ended with a knock on his door from police. He talks to Ruth Laugesen.

Standing in a fish and chip shop a year ago, Alex realised something had changed. When a little girl walked into the shop, Alex glanced at her and felt nothing.

"There was no sexualisation going on, and there was no guilt going on. That was the most amazing feeling I can remember having," Alex says.

Alex is recovering from a 15-year compulsion that began with a hunt for soft core adult porn, but saw him become a paying customer of the global internet child pornography industry. Children, toddlers and even babies are obscenely degraded and exploited on film to feed the cravings of men like Alex, men safe on the other side of the world, gaping at their computers.

In his search for sensation, he built up what he believes could be one of the largest New Zealand collections of sexual images of children, perhaps tens of thousands of images. The pictures ranged from fully clothed teens through to little girls and babies and crossed every sick boundary, including rape, violence and bestiality.

When Alex walks into the meeting room at Wellington sexual offenders treatment centre Wellstop, he could be anyone, in any workplace. He is relaxed, pleasant-looking and talks easily. He is neatly dressed in a business shirt and slacks, with a zip-up knit top.

This is how Alex appeared to the world every day at the office. But he was a man divided. By night he trawled through filth, rolling in the virtual gutter of the internet.

Alex is not his real name. He wants to remain anonymous, but he also wants to tell other men trapped in a cycle of compulsive pornography consumption, including child pornography, that help is available. And while child sex offenders and consumers of child porn are notorious for minimising their actions and refusing to accept responsibility, Alex says he has tried to be as honest as he can.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Stuff.co.nz

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