I read Luke Malone's well-researched, nuanced and thorough piece at Medium yesterday, You’re 16. You’re a Pedophile. You Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone. What Do You Do Now?
The opening is raw, because it describes a specific, recorded act of abuse against a physically restrained 18-month-old child, detailing both the sights and sounds that the story's subject (and, presumably, the reporter) saw in the footage.
(I am not linking the piece, but I will note that a slightly less stomach-dropping iteration of it aired on This American Life in April.)
I nearly tweeted something all outrage-y at Medium to ask why they didn't include a trigger warning or any indication that the story leads with disturbing, explicit content. Today, 24 hours later, I think I can understand why there wasn't any trigger warning.
(The Awl's interview with Luke Malone is both enlightening and problematic; I urge you all to check it out for a behind-the-scenes look at how he reported the story.)
First off -- it's a story about people who want to have sex with very small children. That alone should tip you off to the nature of the subject matter.
Second -- It's one thing to talk about children's sexual abuse in the removed language of social policy, all, "Well, child sexual abuse is defined by a power differential, a knowledge differential and a gratification differential." It is another to see all three of those things as they appear in real life. The explicit example helps define the scope of the evil perpetrated.
Third -- Understanding exactly what is out there -- and understanding your own reaction to it -- cracks open the rest of the piece: The terror of realizing that you need help and everyone you ask is going to recoil, doubled by the terror that you'll become the monster in the footage.
My heart goes out to the young man who is at the heart of the article's piece: He did not ask for the sexual makeup he has. This piece is ultimately about how poorly we as a society provide preventive measures for at-risk populations. Prevention is a vital component in providing protection to our most vulnerable fellow humans.
The article would have been diminished if we did not understand exactly how high the stakes are -- both for the young man who needs help to avoid becoming a monster, and for the people who would cross his path if he didn't get that help.