I was married to a pedophile and did not know it until the diagnosis was made after his arrest for possession of child pornography. But early in our marriage, the clues were there; I just didn't know enough about pedophilia to see it and he was so very good at providing explanations for his behavior that made sense. The old adage "hindsight is 20/20" is so true.
Some people assume that wives of pedophiles always know and that we are somehow complicit in our spouse's criminal behavior. Some even go so far as to insist that we should be prosecuted for our spouses' crimes. We are seen as weak women who are co-dependent on our perpetrator spouses and it is assumed that we look the other way while a child's innocence is robbed and their lives forever altered.
Very shortly after our honeymoon, my husband introduced me to a child who lived with her mother in the island
community we had moved to just after our wedding. She was 8 and he wanted her to spend time with us--lots of time. It was confusing to me and I didn't understand why this was so important to him. We were newlyweds and I wanted to spend time alone with him, so I objected.
Three years later we were living in a rural area of the United States when I walked into a room where he and a friend's child were. Immediately, I knew something was wrong--very, very wrong. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, but everything inside of me screamed DANGER! I invited the child to join me in my dinner preparations and waited until we were alone to confront my husband
Nothing, absolutely nothing I had ever experienced in my life, believed or knew about the man I was married to, or expected to hear could have prepared me for the words that I heard him say. He admitted to molesting both the friend's child as well as the island child. Like his child victims, my world tilted and spun and was never the same.
For a very long time, I have been so afraid to share my entire story because I feared the judgment sure to come. After my husband's confession, I chose to stay in my marriage for several reasons: his explanations made so much sense, his remorse seemed genuine and I was pregnant with our first child. But I made a solemn vow to myself--that I would stand watch and do everything that I could to make sure that no other child was harmed in any way by the man I was married to.
The shame that has silenced me for many decades is that I didn't call law enforcement and report the abuse and in that way, I didn't stand up for the victims. I understand why I didn't--I was afraid, shocked and he seemed genuinely repentant. Plus, I had another child to be concerned about--my own. And realistically, there is no guarantee the police would have been able to do anything about the crimes. One occurred in another country and I had no proof that either crime actually occurred. This was over three decades ago and police departments were not prepared to deal with victims as they now are; there wasn't the public awareness on child sexual abuse that we now have.
But the reality is that I did stand up for the victims. To say that I "objected" to his "friendship" with the island child is a huge understatement. It was the issue we fought about the most during those early months of our marriage. I did not gently acquiesce to his insistence on spending time with her--I fought it vigorously. And I continued to fight when he shamed and blamed me and tried to coerce me into silence. I did not give up; I did not stop.
And three years later when I walked into that room where he was with a friend's child, how did I know something was off? Why did I confront him? Why did I get the child away from him? Because in my gut, I knew but didn't know what it was that I knew. I knew and I didn't turn or walk away. I stayed in that arena and fought like a lion, like a mama bear. I was tenacious and didn't give up. I did fight for his victims and I fought valiantly and for a very long time.
So it is time to reframe my story--to lay down shame and see the reality of what happened. It is time I tell myself the truth about what I did rather than cower in fear and shame over what I did not do. I did not bury my head in the sand of his lies and deceit. I was not complicit in anyway but instead I fought hard to protect his victims. I fought with everything I had and then some. I am a formidable fighter and he quickly learned that.
Every time we had a conflict during our marriage, he berated me or blamed me because he said he was afraid of how I fought. For damn sure! He had reason to be afraid and it's good that he never forgot it. Because I am a fighter and a victim's rights advocate--I truly am and always have been.
So the next time you are tempted to judge a woman married to a pedophile, remember that you do not know what goes on behind closed doors. Remember that if she knows what he is doing, and that is a huge "if" because pedophiles are such good manipulators and deceivers, she may be fighting, just not in the way you want her to. And she may be doing all that is within her power to protect children while she works to get herself free.
I think this is a very important article that has good insights into the world of ex-wives of pedophiles.ReplyDelete
For the wives:
• It's the gnawing discomfort, rather than the knowing.
• It's protecting people even when we're not sure exactly what the threat is.
• It's confronting when we could cover it up and sweep it under the carpet.
Although some people might argue ex-wives didn't do enough, it is certainly clear that many did something.
It's hard to stop an adult who is secretive and wishes to do evil things. Ask the parent of any adult drug abuser or alcoholic.
Thanks, Anonymous for visiting and for commenting. It's obvious that you get it--we don't know what we don't know.ReplyDelete
Brenda I think back in my situation. And I remember the times where my spouse was playing with a kid and something seemed "off" he has never abused a child in our relationship that I'm aware of.there were conversations where I had suttle gut feelings I couldn't explain And I would think why did I think or feel that? I had no reason to I knew about my partners past as a child/youth why am I thinking it feeling this way now... it wasn't a huge red flag I didn't understand what it was I was feeling so I let it go I blamed myself in a way thinking it was me that couldn't overlook his past if that makes sense or something was wrong with me to think that way for a split second... I really thought. OMG what is wrong with you...knowing what I know now. Looking back at conversation about his past he made himself the victim. Certain materials body language that I didn't notice the way I do looking back. The way he said things...I should have known. At times I feel guilt ridden thinking back on how indirect he was I wish I had pressed for more direct answers when it came to our many conversations about his past.there was a point where after having our daughter I asked him I want to know full details about your past where he told me seemed remorseful and oh asked did u seek therapy or treatment the answer was yes he was solemn remorseful and sincere. I have come to find out he never did finish treatment.some times the guilt swallows me while where I think did I know... and think back time nudges I didn't understand..but we didn't KNOW in my case I had conversations around my partners past where I felt terrible for him he was just a kid /youth then he is not his past and it affects him since badly where he says he feels like a monster now I would comfort him tell him he needed to let go if his past and that I felt terrible for how he feels/was treated as a kid/youth he was 13 when he apparently got treatment. My point is in my case he had Every opportunity to correct me otherwise and never did he stood there and watched me live and support him instead much like your husband did.we are not heartless naive women I like you got accused and mistreated. I stood my ground the best I could and said no I did not know nit everything is a black and white situation.the fact that we have guilt and look back shows we didn't just stand by knowing what was going on.ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by. I have to remind myself often that pedophiles are quite skilled at deception and manipulation--so much so that they can fool even trained therapists. We were conned and perped on--and we believed them because we had no reason not to. Hindsight is always 20/20. Extend grace and mercy to yourself--you did not know what it was that you "knew."
I am struggling with staying with my husband after discovering multiple inappropiate pictures of children in his possession. Yes, he had great excuses I.e. they were accidental downloaded, it's a snowball effect from adult porn, he never looks at them etc. I became a watch dog going through all of his belongings regularly, ferociously, along with all his devices. It had been sometime and I wanted to believe this man who had showed himself as a wonderful husband, Father, friend but I never ceased to search. After several months He admitted to having "an affair" with a 17 yr. Old. (Sick &twisted but legal age of consent). He begged,pleaded for his family/marriage and ended the relationship. I haven't found anymore porn of any kind but my heart hurts, I love him and we have a 16 yr old who apes her dad (Ihave questioned her throughly and she assures nothing had ever happened inappropiate with her.)Everything is seemingly normal but I'm struggling, because I don't know if this makes him a pedophile. I have been married for almost 20 yrs and looking back it's been teenage girls that I have noticed he takes unusual interest in; but because we have always helped young people and had children their age, I wasn't alarmed. However, I was molested as a child and when a flag would go up with the teenage girls I felt maybe it was suspension due to my own child abuse and the girls when asked never admitted to inappropiate behavior on his part, they all loved and trusted him and resented me for asking. I am struggling with this and I don't know what to do. Is my husband a pedophile?ReplyDelete
I am so sorry that you find yourself in this "club" of women married to charming, kind men who have dangerous secrets. I cannot answer your question as to whether your husband is a pedophile or not. He would need extensive psychological testing to arrive at a definitive answer to that question. One thing I have learned is to listen to my gut--it has been right most of the time. Your gut has also told you that something was off and I encourage you to believe in yourself.
At the very least, your husband is a perpetrator--having an affair with a 17 year old, though it might be "legal" is a huge red flag. He has betrayed you and your marriage and has engaged in illegal activity. Child porn doesn't just magically appear on someone's computer. And if that should miraculously occur, the average "normal" person would immediately get rid of it--it would be incredibly offensive to them. My ex had a massive collection and had categorized and arranged his pictures--repeatedly. This is typical of those trading in child pornography.
I know you love him and probably aside from these incidents, you have had a good life with him. But he is skating on incredibly thin ice and I urge you to get help. Certainly finding a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist is a great first start. I also encourage you to find the nearest S-Anon group and begin attending for you. The groups are anonymous and safe and you will find other men and women who are also struggling because of their relationship with an individual who has a sex addiction or compulsion.
One last thing--because of the incidents I wrote about in this piece, I walked around for over 30 years with a knot in the pit of my stomach. I had a lot of anxiety and fear during my marriage. I didn't even know the knot was there until after I had separated from my ex-husband. There is still grief over the many losses and wasted years but I no longer live with a knot in my stomach. I want to encourage you that should you decide to leave your marriage, there is hope and healing and you do have a future. It won't be easy but you are worthy of freedom from fear, anxiety and betrayal. You deserve more as does your daughter.
I am more than happy to have a "conversation" with you via the email address at the top of this page.
Thank you Brenda. I haven't slept in days because of the "knot in my stomach" and when I do I am still restless, panicked, uncertain about my choices, my family, my marriage. I will contact you via email. I just wanted to say thank you. I am encouraged because of your reply.ReplyDelete