Adults who have offended offline, or who are at risk of offending

Stop It Now! helpline call example: Tony

Tony, a middle-aged man, contacted the helpline with concerns about his feelings towards his friend’s teenage daughter, Sarah. Recently, Tony had developed a close friendship with Sarah’s mother who had been through a difficult divorce, but he described this relationship as a friendship that wasn’t sexual.

He thought Sarah saw him as a father figure, but he developed sexual feelings towards her. He was appalled by his thoughts and never acted on them, and wanted to help manage them.

Tony recently started seeing a therapist for his depression but had not spoken about his feelings for Sarah because he feared the consequences.

Tony did not have any children of his own and did not come into contact with any during his working hours as an office manager.

After agreeing that Tony had taken proactive steps by contacting the helpline and by seeing a therapist, helpline operators discussed with Tony:

  • It was recommended that he continue seeing the therapist discuss his mental health and general sexual concerns.
  • Helpline operators stressed the importance of Tony never being alone with Sarah or putting himself in situations that were risky.
  • Tony was not to reinforce his inappropriate thoughts with masturbation. We explored a number of techniques to try and manage his fantasies, including removing himself from risky environments and distracting himself with mentally absorbing tasks.
  • Helpline operators discussed the negative consequences for Sarah if he acted on his thoughts and suggested that Tony reflects on these.
  • Tony was close to his sister, so we suggested that he consider telling her about the situation.

Actions agreed with Tony:

  • Put in place immediate child protection measures by never being alone with Sarah
  • Use the discussed techniques to manage fantasies
  • Consider using the helpline again
  • Think about telling his sister, and share the helpline number with her
  • Continue seeing his therapist.

The outcome:

Tony called the helpline five times over four months. He began to spend less time with Sarah’s mother and Sarah. He started an adult education class where he met some new friends, which helped him to manage his fantasies, and increased his self-esteem. Tony continued to see his therapist for support. He also told his sister and although she was initially shocked, she offered support.

Stop It Now! helpline call example: Jeff

Jeff, 24, called the helpline, which was suggested by his probation officer because he was concerned about his sexual feelings towards teenage girls.

At 22, he had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl, which he described as consensual and said they were in love. He was reported to the police by the girl’s family when they found out about the relationship.

Jeff served around half of a two-year prison sentence where he completed a treatment programme. But he said it was unhelpful to him as he felt different from the others on the course, because he saw his relationship with the girl as loving and mutual, and struggled to think of it as abusive.

Although Jeff had moved away from where the young girl lived, he said that he was tempted to get in contact, as he still had strong feelings for her. During the call, Jeff acknowledged a wider attraction to girls of around 14 or 15 years old. Although he was aware that sexual contact with anyone under 16 was illegal, he felt that he needed to help address this attraction. He said he was getting on well with his probation but wanted specific help with managing (and hopefully changing) his sexual feelings towards adolescent girls.

During his calls with the helpline, Jeff was advised to:

  • Not make any attempt to contact the girl involved.
  • Consider why the relationship had been inappropriate and potentially harmful to the 14-year-old girl; there was a significant age gap and therefore a considerable difference in knowledge, maturity, experience, and power.
  • Think about what may have fuelled his inappropriate attraction through fantasy and masturbation.
  • To consider the potential benefits of confiding in a trusted friend when he needed support.
  • To continue to work with his probation officer on managing his risk, and consider making an appointment with our call-back line for more support and advice in managing his sexual thoughts and fantasies.

Actions agreed with Jeff:

  • Arrange a call-back on the helpline
  • Identify a trusted adult for ongoing support
  • Think about the kinds of hobbies and activities he would like to do that would help him meet with people of his own age and to develop appropriate and satisfying social relationships, while also distracting him when struggling with inappropriate thoughts.

Stop It Now! helpline call example: Lawrence

Lawrence contacted the helpline as he was concerned about his online sexual behaviour.

He said that over ten years, he had developed an ‘addiction’ to viewing online pornography, including indecent images of girls between ten and thirteen.

He had a 12-year-old step-daughter from his previous relationship, which broke up about a year ago. Lawrence said he had never abused his step-daughter but his ex-partner ended the relationship when she became aware of his illegal online behaviour.

Lawrence had a successful career in education and coached a local youth cricket team at the weekends. He felt his primary access to the world was through the internet. Lawrence lived alone and reported repeated spells of depression. He knew he needed help to address his illegal and inappropriate behaviour.

After commending Lawrence for taking the proactive steps in contacting the helpline, the helpline advisors discussed:

  • The harm that his offending causes to the children in the images. Also the wider harm to relationships with partners, family and friends
  • The consequences of internet offences: including, in Lawrence’s case, losing his job and role with the cricket team
  • Strategies to help him manage his behaviour
  • Having a call-back with a Lucy Faithfull Foundation practitioner to talk about strategies that would manage his illegal fantasy life and how to begin to replace these with legal, appropriate fantasies
  • Joining a club or organisation where he could meet adults and not provide access to young girls

Actions agreed with Lawrence:

  • To put in place limits around his use of the internet. Change his behaviour so that he is not placing himself in any risky situations
  • Purchase a copy of ‘Cybersex Unhooked’, a workbook for exploring compulsive sexual behaviour
  • To consider seeing his GP about his depression
  • To make an appointment with a Lucy Faithfull Foundation practitioner


Lawrence kept in contact with the helpline and spoke to a specialist practitioner about his behaviour. Lawrence said he has stopped looking at illegal images. He joined a rambling club where he meets and socialises with other adults. He had not visited his GP as he now felt better about himself and the future.

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