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Updated 07 November 2014

Inside the mind of a peeping Tom

Here's what goes through the mind of a Peeping Tom as he scours the neighbourhood for his next victim.

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I boarded the train at my station, and sat down. Opposite me, there was a beautiful pair of legs encased in silvery stockings. I followed the legs upward and caught the eye of their owner – a slightly plump, very attractive blonde.

Voyeurism is a form of sexual perversion (paraphilia) which involves "peeping" at other people who don't know you're watching them. Anyone can be a voyeur.

Read: What you need to know about paraphilia

“The voyeur does not look different to any other person in the street,” says sexologist Dr Eugene Viljoen.

Voyeurism usually begins at around the age of 15, and it occurs most commonly among males. What the victim of the voyeur is wearing is irrelevent: they may be covered from head to toe, may be in the process of disrobing, or may be naked.

“The sexual gratification stems from the secrecy of the act, and the suspicions of the victim,” says Dr Viljoen.

Sexual arousal

Voyeurs become aroused, and may masturbate during voyeuristic activity, or afterwards, while recalling what they have seen.

The victim is unlikely to be physically approached. Though the voyeur will often fantasise about a sexual encounter, rarely will he or she do anything to change the fantasy into a reality. Any danger tends to apply to the voyeur himself:

“The behaviour can become dangerous if the compulsion to view interferes with his daily life, and interferes with his interactions with family, friends or partners,” according to Dr Viljoen.

“Connected to voyeurism is the reading of pornography, the visiting of pornographic internet sites and the viewing of real life sex scenes."

I was obsessed by those legs. I peeped again, and saw how her legs were now crossed high on the thigh. I could see the long curve of the underside of her thigh.

Diagnosing voyeurism

The following criteria are useful indicators:

  • recurrent, intensely sexually arousing behaviour over a period of six months
  • behaviour involving obsessive observation of unsuspecting persons who are lightly dressed, undressing, or naked
  • the creation of fantasies while observing
  • significant distress caused by the onset of sexual urges brought on by the act of voyeurism

I was beginning to get an erection, but could not look away. She wiggled in her seat a bit, and then, as if she was uncomfortable , uncrossed and recrossed her legs, giving me a glimpse of her crotch.

Voyeurism is an illegal act, yet the number of arrests is low. This is because most voyeurs are highly secretive, and are rarely discovered. This has also made it a difficult paraphilia to study and observe.

Treatment

Treatment of voyeurism usually involves psychotherapy, which may help to identify the origin of the behaviour, and perhaps help the subject change the behaviour. Behavioural and group therapy can also be implemented, and may help in some cases.

There are also certain medications which assist with the dampening of compulsive thinking associated with paraphilia, and usually involves the prescription of hormone treatment to help suppress intense sexual urges or behaviours. These courses usually need to follow a long-term plan to be most effective.

I don’t know why I do it, but it’s a part of me I can’t let go. I don’t think I’d ever take it further though, I just like to watch, you know? I have always been a voyeur, and will always be… (Quotes taken from an anonymous confession from a voyeur)

Read more:

Strange turn-ons
Cross-dressing and other fetishes
Private passions
Strange sex

 
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