Unfortunately, we’ve none of us rehearsed this situation in our minds. It doesn’t come as part of ‘The Guidebook to a Happy Marriage/Partnership’ and, if we were even to think of such a possibility when we love someone so deeply as to want to share the rest of our life with them, we would consider that there was something deeply wrong with us.
At the moment of discovery, whether it’s because the police are knocking at your door, very loudly, early in the morning, or whether it’s just you and the computer (in my case), or whether it’s just you and your child ( as in a friend’s case and in the cases of several mothers who came to see me when I was teaching) the first thing that will happen is that you go into shock. You can’t think, speak, stand, walk, the blood in your body rushes to protect the body’s essential functions – you’re body keeps you alive – while your mind disappears for a few seconds that feel like an eternity. This is perfectly normal.
The problems come after that.
If you have children, your immediate reaction (I would expect, although not all mothers feel this way) will be to protect them. This leaves no time for obvious denial. If you’re in the unfortunate position of having police searching your house, first thing in the morning, your immediate thoughts will be about getting the children dressed and somewhat settled, or getting yourself dressed, at least. If you have children, social services will have been informed by the police if they’ve been searching the house/come knocking and you will have to provide social services with sufficient evidence to prove that you are keeping your children safe in order to prevent their removal from you. Please make sure that you put your children first. At this time, although you’re desperate and confused, your feelings will have to be put on the back burner in order to get through the next few days. This isn’t denial, this is common sense. The horror of what you’re confronting, if you allow it to the front of your mind, will not help you with what you need to do in order to keep your children safe.
When you, eventually, have time for reflection, however, there is always the possibility for denial to set in. After all, you have loved this man. You have given your life for the past however many years to him, you have had children with him. There must have been a mistake. The police (if they were knocking at the door) will have been misinformed, surely?
It is highly unlikely that the police would have come knocking if they hadn’t had significant evidence to prove his guilt.
If, however, you found the stuff? If you saw the files? You’ll have gone through shock, but, is there room for denial? You may feel that there may be just a simple explanation for all this, that you should give him a chance to explain what he was doing. If you dig too deeply into those files, you might find stuff that you really can’t explain away for yourself. Better to let him do the talking? I would ask of yourself a big fat WHY do you want to talk to him about it? Do you want him to tell you that it was a mistake, that it wasn’t deliberate? That he was just looking at porn and those things popped up? If he were to say that, would you really believe him? Honestly? Are you happy to live a life not knowing? Is this not denial?
Please remember that the children in these photos/films are real. Whatever you may be feeling – and believe me, I’ve been there and I know how huge this is – the abuse those children have suffered, and may still be suffering, is beyond what you are feeling, as an adult, at this time.
By reporting what you have found to the police, you may feel that you will, in effect, be ending everything that you hold dear: if you have children, you will have to live separately from your husband in order to keep them safe, if you have children or not, your marriage, as you once knew it, will be over.
To paraphrase Lady Macbeth: What’s known cannot be unknown – in other words – your marriage, as you once knew it, was over from the moment you saw what you saw.
At this point, some people feel that they can’t tell the police, that it’s too soon. They don’t know who to confide in. I know – when I first found out – that I didn’t think that anyone would ever believe me. He was a very well-respected member of the community in our small town. Again, ask yourself a question: can I continue to live another moment under the same roof as a man who has done this? If you believe that you can, then I strongly suggest that you find The Lucy Faithfull Foundation’s website: http://www.lucyfaithfull.org.uk and look at their pages for family members, especially their ‘Inform’ section for families and partners. There are hoops through which you may have to jump, in order to speak to someone, and, if you email, they may not answer you immediately, but they are there and they have specialist groups for family members that will help you to clarify your feelings. (I have to put in a disclaimer, here. When I left, The Lucy Faithfull Foundation existed solely to support perpetrators and those family members who wished to support them. Although their message then, and now, is that internet child pornography use must be stopped, at that stage they were spending more of their energies on working with those who had committed the crimes, in order to help them to stop, and the family members who chose to stay with them. I didn’t feel able to talk to them at that time. Their approach is different, now.) ©