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Survey: 31 % of men and 14 % of women have an unusual sexual preference

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A recent survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) involving over 10,000 respondents revealed that 31 percent of men and 14 percent of women have an unconventional sexual preference. Surprisingly, only a small fraction of them seek assistance from specialists. However, there are avenues available to help mitigate the negative impact on their mental well-being or the potential risks associated with problematic sexual behavior. These individuals can find support through a crisis helpline and therapy services. These findings were presented at the final conference of the Parafilik project, which received funding from the European Union.

Kateřina Klapilová, the head of the NUDZ Centre for Sexual Health and Interventions, explained that the term “paraphilic” refers to individuals who exhibit a strong preference for unconventional sexual objects or activities that may involve non-consensual or violent elements. She emphasized this in a press release.

While the causes of paraphilias are not yet fully understood, experts believe that they are innate in nature. In the Czech Republic, approximately 0.3 percent of the population is estimated to exhibit pedophilic tendencies, focusing on pre-pubescent individuals, while about 1.9 percent show a preference for pubertal individuals (hebephilia or ephebophilia). Additionally, around 3.6 percent of individuals have a preference for partner restraint, and one percent have a preference for pathological sexual aggression. It’s important to note that paraphilias can also occur in women, although they are more prevalent in men.

Experts note that a significant portion of individuals with paraphilias never engage in criminal acts. Many attempt to manage their sexuality privately and do not seek professional help. A survey conducted at the beginning of the project revealed that over 60 percent of individuals involved in self-help and support communities expressed dissatisfaction with the care system in the country. Furthermore, more than 68 percent reported being afraid to express their fears and feelings, even in the presence of a professional.

As a response to these challenges, the website was created as part of the project in 2019. Since its launch, the website has received nearly 68,000 visits. Therapists have provided guidance and answered over 370 questions and concerns through the anonymous online counseling room. Additionally, a crisis helpline has received more than 190 calls. Numerous individuals and their loved ones have received individual, group, or couples therapy. The project has involved the training of twenty-five doctors and therapists, along with social service workers and over 100 police officers.

In May of the previous year, the project authors initiated an active intervention on the PornHub website, where a dedicated page was established to redirect individuals displaying problematic behaviors on the internet to the Parafilik project website. More than 3,400 clicks were registered from this intervention. The project also collaborated with the platform and the Czech domain operator CZ.NIC.

The focus of experts extends to the mental health of paraphiliacs, who are more prone to anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal tendencies. These individuals encounter difficulties in their daily lives and face challenges in their family and partner relationships. Marek Navrátil from NUDZ highlighted the significance of early intervention in improving their overall life situation, their perception of their sexuality, and self-acceptance. Therapy has demonstrated the potential to reduce the risk of problematic sexual behavior or recidivism.

Navrátil further emphasized that risk reduction also benefits society by preventing crime, subsequent incarceration, and the need for victim care. He stated that for every penny invested in a therapeutic program, an estimated return of 30 cents can be expected for society. Realistically, the benefits to society are anticipated to exceed the cost by more than twice the initial investment.

Following the conclusion of the four-year European project, the website and the online counseling service will continue to be maintained. Therapeutic care will be covered by public health insurance, which means it will no longer be anonymous, potentially discouraging some individuals from seeking help. In addition, the NUDZ plans to launch a follow-up crisis helpline for sexual health within the supra-regional social services system during the summer months, incorporating the activities of the Parafilik line, as stated by Klapilová.



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