Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Power of Forgiveness

When the police broke down my door, armed with a search warrant, I sat at my dining room table for hours. I sat and listened--in my nightgown and robe, with morning breath and bed head--as they lectured me on the fact that child pornography is not a victimless crime.  They were preaching to the choir but I didn't tell them that.  As an advocate for victims of abuse and exploitation, I had witnessed the lingering and overwhelming devastation of one single victimization on an adult woman; unfortunately few of the women I worked with had experienced just one single victimization.

In countless conversations when my ex tried to paint the pictures he loved as "artistic" or create a story about the "happy" children depicted, my pleas to see them as victims were ignored or discounted.  While he professed to love children in a healthy fashion, he could not or would not see that the images he enjoyed were taken on the worst day of that child's life--that they memorialized a horrendous action against the innocence and sanctity of another human being.  Of course, as I have since learned, the pictures he showed me were the G-rated ones; I had no idea how far he had progressed down the slippery slope of child pornography.

But as the former partner of a pedophile, I have felt my own share of grief and shame over the actions of my spouse.  I have grieved for the children impacted by his sin.  The detectives told me that they have been able to identify some of the child victims in the photos circulating on the web and each time an individual downloads their picture, the victim is notified.  This was horrifying to me to think of the thousands of times victims are once more reminded of the worst day of their life, knowing that yet another individual is gaining pleasure at their expense.

Recently I stumbled upon a blog that documents abuse and child sexual exploitation within religious organizations.  One post dealt with partners of pedophiles so needless to say, I was intrigued.  I have linked the particular post above so you can read the post and comments for yourself but one just took my breath away.  It was a response to a comment by a former partner of a man convicted of child pornography who was haunted by the images she happened to see in her ex-husband's collection.  The response was written by a child used in pornography:
Used by permission
Falene's grace, compassion and mercy amaze and inspire me.  Her words give me hope that maybe we can do something about the victims and co-victims of pedophiles and abusers.  If she can offer forgiveness as a victim, maybe there is hope--even and especially for women like Sarah and like me--the silent co-victims.  We hide, isolate and cower in fear because we know how much hatred there is for men like our spouses; we know that often we are judged guilty by association--by the public, those in law enforcement and often within the therapeutic and religious communities.  But Jesus said "A little child shall lead them," and though Falene is no longer a child, she is leading the way and I am eternally grateful for her example.

So Falene, I do not know you but I honor you.  Thank you for demonstrating grace and for offering the only thing that can possibly set dear Sarah free--forgiveness.  My hope is that you have found healing, that you are happy and that your days of victimization and exploitation are behind you.  Please know that there are many more Sarahs out there--women who grieve and lament over the actions of the men they fell in love with. Your powerful words are a balm to our wounded and fearful spirits--a promise that we can be free because of the power of your forgiveness.


  1. so moving. thank you for being brave enough to post this....

  2. What a heart rending blog - thank you for sharing it - blown away by Falene's big heart. . . Diane

  3. Wow, I teared up over this story. Hadn't really given much thought to the partner of the perpetrator so this is some valuable stuff.

    I believe each of our journeys are ultimately our own, but I've also come to know that when I hold hands with my sister and brother survivors, we experience the strength that comes with fellowship and community.

    Thanks Terri, for directing me here....

  4. Thanks everyone but the real kudos go to Falene--her heart is huge.