The impact of my actions on my Family The day everything changed After work on 5th June 2014, I collected my son (aged 13) from my previous marriage from my parents’ house and drove home. Waiting for me were my wife and young daughter (three) and my in-laws who were visiting from London. I was in a good mood and looking forward to a pleasant evening with my family. When I pulled up outside the house to drop my son off at the door, I noticed a number of policemen further up my street but didn’t really think it had anything to do with me. I then noticed a man in a dark blue sweater standing in my doorway – he looked very serious but I still didn’t register what was happening. I drove off to park the car and the man followed me and confronted me when I got out.
He quietly and politely informed me that an email address belonging to me had been used to access a website that was associated with the sexual exploitation of children. He needed to talk to me and to take away all of the computer equipment (and phones with internet access) in the house for expert analysis. He cautioned me and led me back to the house.
I’ll never forget the look on my family’s faces when I walked in – confusion, shock, disbelief, desperately seeking reassurance. I told my wife that there was obviously a mistake – someone must have hacked into my account. Later, when she insisted that I wasn’t telling her the whole truth (my manner was that of “a guilty man”) I admitted to her that I had a long hidden addiction to internet porn.
However, I insisted that, whilst shameful, it was nothing illegal and that this would all be cleared up soon enough. I LIED. The Police took away computers, laptops, memory sticks, external hard drives, blank CDs and mobile phones – these included my wife’s laptop and a laptop and mobile belonging to my place of work. I was taken to a police station and questioned. On the advice of a duty solicitor, I gave a “no comment interview”.
After several hours, mostly in a cell, I was released on bail. It was explained to me that, normally I wouldn’t be allowed to stay at my home as there were children present but that I was being given the benefit of the doubt. I was, however, not to have any unsupervised access to any child under the age of eighteen. I was bailed until 21st of August – three days before my daughter’s fourth birthday.
Whilst I was at the station, other police officers spoke to my wife and my son. Everyone was “freaked out” – partially worried about me being falsely accused, but partially wondering what if? I was driven home in the early hours of the morning and the living hell began.
How did I get here? The activities that resulted in these charges are a result of wider psychological problems relating to pornography addiction and an “OCD” compulsion to seek and collect “new” images or videos. I do not view or download pornographic or exploitative material for sexual gratification. I am not attracted to minors and am of no risk to my, or anyone else’s, children. However, no one made me look or download/save these images – whatever the motivation, it is my fault.
I am absolutely appalled by both the material and the fact that I have accessed it over a long period. I completely understand that, whilst I have not personally abused, or desired to abuse anyone – let alone minors – these are not victimless crimes and I have unfortunately played my part in creating a world where such dreadful material is created and published on the Internet. I accept that I clearly have mental health issues – no one “normal” could view or save such material and whilst I am clear in my own mind that my issues do not include an attraction to children, I fully accept that I need help with my wider problems, which is why I sought assistance from an appropriate therapist.
I dearly wish that I had sought help much, much earlier – I had long hidden my addiction to pornography and had convinced myself that I could “beat it” on my own. Even before the addiction had descended on the slippery slope into illegal images and videos, It was having an impact on my family and my work.
Despite what my wife now believes, I was happy in my home life, loved her and adored my two wonderful children. I had, so I believed, successfully “boxed away” my addiction and the images and videos I was watching didn’t influence my thoughts, behaviours or actions in the “real world”. I had no desire to replicate anything I had seen on screen in real life.
I have suffered from erectile dysfunction (for medical reasons) for many, many years – a main factor, I believe in my addiction to porn – so my lack of sex drive with my wife was put down to that, rather than any impact my late night viewing habits may have had.
I rarely, if ever, masturbated whilst watching porn (and never whilst watching child exploitation videos or images) so that wasn’t a factor in my poor sex drive. However, it is now incredibly difficult for my wife not to retrospectively associate our intermittent sex life with my viewing habits – “you obviously prefer the women you watch on screen!” This isn’t true but I can obviously understand how she comes to that conclusion.
On the outside, I had a very successful career and was very well thought of (and popular) in the work place. However, feelings of guilt and shame together with the tiredness brought on by late nights in front of a computer screen made me less capable than I should have been. Impact on me and my family since police investigation started.
Whilst I take full responsibility for my dreadful actions and fully accept that there will be, notwithstanding mitigating factors, a severe price to be paid in the Crown Court, the last eight months have already had a huge impact on me and those who I love and love me: ? Incredible amount of stress and distrust in my marriage ? No unsupervised access to my children for 8 months (ongoing) ? Living away from family home for 3 months (ongoing) ? Financial cost of self-funded therapy / counselling (approx. £1,000 to date) ? Voluntary loss of job to avoid employer being shamed by association
What is of the greatest concern to me, more than any legal penalty that I am facing, is the impact on my family of any publicity arising from my case. I am dreadfully concerned about the reaction of various communities that could have a huge impact on my family and my children’s well-being. I am truly sorry for what I have done, for what I have brought onto my family, and for the dreadful plight of the poor innocent children who have been exploited and abused as part of this horrendous “industry”. I believe that I am, with help, beating this addiction (although I am aware that I must take each day as it comes) and hope to get my life back as a fully rounded person, husband and father at some point soon.