Here are some of the labels I have found for partners of pedophiles:
- One organization has labeled a woman who finds out her partner is a pedophile and stays as a co-pedophile.
- S-Anon labels women in a relationship with an individual with sexual compulsions as a co-addict. None of the other family groups in the 12-step groups label a family member as a "co-alcoholic" or "co-gambler."
- A psychologist wrote recently in a major psych magazine that the wife always knows and should be considered a criminal.
- One prevention site calls the wife a predator-in--the-making.
- Treatment professionals often believe that the partner of any addict is a co-dependent.
- They are excellent at grooming another to accept unacceptable behavior.
- They are very often respected, up-standing professional men of the community.
- They are master manipulators and deceivers.
- Undifferentiated pedophiles are attracted both to adults and children.
- The main person they target to deceive is their spouse because they need the spouse as a cover.
- They are great at gas-lighting.
- Though she may suspect something is off, she often has nothing to hang her gut instinct on.
- When she does discover that her spouse is acting out in some fashion, she is incredibly traumatized and reacts accordingly.
- Not all of life with a pedophile is confusing or difficult--there is good as well, which according to Patrick Carnes, creates a powerful betrayal bond.
- She may have children of her own to consider. If he has not been arrested and she leaves, she knows that he may obtain sole or unsupervised visits with the children and she fears for their safety.
- Without proof that will stand up in a court of law, she knows that she will lose in any legal battle because she is going up against a system that still favors the man, even a pedophile.
I am not a co-addict--addicted to him. I thought we were creating a life together; I thought I was in a loving relationship.
I am not a criminal but I may be married to one without knowing a thing about it.
I am not a predator-in-the-making but rather a mother, wife, daughter, sister and aunt, who has been kept in the dark about my spouse's criminal activity.
I am not codependent, though my behavior may look like I am; I am a trauma survivor.
If I have any inkling that my husband's interest in children may be sexual, I may have formed a powerful betrayal bond (think Stockholm Syndrome) that makes it very difficult to leave him. I am a victim of his grooming as well.
But skeptics ask "How is it that a wife may not know of her husband's predilections or criminal activity?"
- According to Dr. Patrick Carnes "Addicts withhold a major portion of themselves--a pain deeply felt, but never expressed or witnessed. They do not trust nor do they become intimate with others, especially their families." (Carnes, Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction, p. 6).
- "But even when partners suspect something is amiss, ask questions, check computers, phone bills, credit card and bank statements--basically do everything they can short of hiring a private investigator--their mates simply lie. This leaves them with continued suspicions, but with no concrete evidence and thus no way to prove what they only fear." (Steffens & Means, Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal, p. 61).
No, I am not a co-pedophile, co-addict, criminal, predator-in-the-making or a codependent. I am a co-victim. The vast majority of non-exclusive pedophiles (attracted to both children and adults) are married and have children. Their partners and children are secondary and silent victims.
If we as a country really want to protect children from sexual predators, we have to stop blaming their co-victims and find a way to reach out to her in compassion and kindness and with information.
Name-calling, labeling and blame will just keep her isolated behind a wall of self-protective silence. And since pedophiles are usually only identified after they have molested a child or been arrested on child pornography charges, it is imperative that we find a way to engage the partner in our fight to safeguard the children in our world. She is on the front lines of the battle and may not even know hat she is in a battle. We need to arm her with truth about pedophilia but also about the sinister web of deception and manipulation that she is probably caught up in. Only then will we be able to begin to create a safer world for our children. Labels just don't work.