Belfast Telegraph: ‘Mother’s shock over child porn images’

04.25.2011, 12:17 PM

Thursday Apr 21 2011

Dear Fiona, About a year after my divorce, I met a fantastic man and our relationship developed quickly. He moved in, my children love him and he treats them like his own.

However, it was niggling me that he spends hours on the Internet so recently I sneaked up behind him, expecting to see photos of naked women. Instead there were sickening photos of children doing sexual stuff that will be in my head forever.

I grabbed the laptop and ran into the bathroom and went through the history and he was going mental, trying to kick the door in. There were masses of images of children and I threw up in the toilet but he swears they just popped up.

I want to believe him but what should I do?

Distraught Mother

Grab your children and run for their lives.

Others, read up on child sexual abuse after divorce, including the influential work of Robin Fretwell Wilson. One paper:

In this Article, Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson addresses whether the law can effectively mitigate the risk of child sexual abuse by considering it in custody determinations. After dispelling common misconceptions about the nature of sexual abuse, Professor Wilson marshals overwhelming empirical evidence – more than seventy social science studies – showing a connection between family disruption and child sexual abuse of girls. Professor Wilson argues that family law deals inadequately with this disturbing phenomenon because courts in custody proceedings generally neglect to address the increased statistical probability of sexual abuse after divorce. She then maps out three possible routes to prevention of sexual abuse by using custody determinations to increase parental awareness and encourage parents to take affirmative steps to mitigate the risk to their daughters.


10 Responses to “Belfast Telegraph: ‘Mother’s shock over child porn images’”

  1. ki sarita says:

    I usually advise my single mom friends to beware of men who profess too much interest in their kids.
    These single moms are usually thrilled to find a man like that, they think its a sign of good husband material. NOT!
    I think it is far more normal for a man to have misgivings and deliberations regarding his relationship with her kids.
    Eventually If he loves you, he’ll grow to love your kids too.
    Never the other way around.

  2. La Lubu says:

    Elizabeth, I can’t follow the link; I don’t have a lexis/nexis subscription. Would you mind giving the exact percentage of risk? As in, how many stepfathers molest children? One in a thousand? A hundred? Twenty? Or is the primary risk not from stepfathers, but from boyfriends?

    Culturally, I think a lot of the risk can be mitigated by getting rid of the belief that a woman is nothing without a man, or that a woman is a bad mother by not getting a substitute father in the house, pronto. Single mothers are under a lot of scrutiny when busybodies feel that we aren’t dating enough, or fast enough. I’ve been criticized for that; I’ve also been criticized for not introducing my kid. Why on earth people think it’s a good idea to introduce their children to just any old guy they date…I’ll never know. The single fathers I know—and I know quite a few—receive the opposite advice. Take it slow, do background checks (police, credit, court cases, bakruptcy, etc.). Be very discriminating, be wary of women who don’t seem to have much of a life or don’t have an education, that sort of thing. I think that’s great advice, so I follow it! Still, I get criticized for it—how dare I not be willing to date any man with a pulse. Who do I think I am, having standards? “Oh, you think you’re so *perfect*” is the standard response. Nope, not perfect. Just sensible.

    I will say this—it’s a red flag to me if a man is around my age yet doesn’t have any children. That’s probably unfair, but it is what it is….I don’t just have myself to look after. I wouldn’t say that’s an absolute dealbreaker, but I haven’t dated any men that didn’t have kids. It’s a further red flag if a man has never been married, and it’s an absolute dealbreaker if a man has never even cohabited long-term with a woman. If he’s gotten to my age and no other woman has wanted him, well….there’s usually a reason for that.

    “The Gift of Fear” and “Protecting the Gift” by Gavin deBecker weren’t written as dating guides, but I recommend them anyway. *smile*

  3. La Lubu says:

    Also, cosign to kisarita with the “too much interest in the kiddos” thing.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    I’m curious about what courts are expected to do about this when it comes to custody.

    It always seemed odd to me that the Bush administration’s plan to encourage marriage among welfare recipients (who almost always have children) skipped over the impact of introducing non-related men into these homes. While there is clearly evidence that single moms who marry generally move up economically, I’ve wondered at what cost.

  5. La Lubu says:

    I’m curious about what courts are expected to do about this when it comes to custody.

    That would remain to be seen. While I think it’s a great idea to be able to deny child custody to someone living with a known sex offender—I believe the court can already do that (at least, here in the US). Though, considering what child custody court cases look like in the US, I imagine that for every one instance in which a case would be legitimate, there would be fifty cases of one parent using the courtroom as leverage to control or get even with the other parent (punish them by making them spend money—lawyers aren’t cheap).

    There needs to be a better way of ascertaining danger than just “my child’s mother is dating a man!” or “my child’s mother might date a man in the future!!” Most men aren’t sexual predators.

    (oh, and along with Gavin deBecker’s books, I also recommend signing your kid up for one of those seminars run by police departments that teach those principles, as well as practical self-defense and safety tips that even a child can use. The best prevention against sexual abuse is teaching your child how to trust his or her intuition, teaching them about various tactics predators use to get close to them, teaching them about bodily integrity and that they have an absolute right to it, identifying psychological manipulation to them, and making sure they understand that they can trust you—that they can always come to you with a problem and not be punished for it.)

  6. ki sarita says:

    curious La Lubu; why is not having children a red flag for a man?
    On the one hand you don’t believe that everyone must have children in order to be viewed as a full fledged normal human, so isn’t that a bit unfair? Perhaps I have misunderstood you.

  7. ki sarita says:

    “The best prevention against sexual abuse is teaching your child …”

    Teaching your child is great; but I disagree that teaching children is the best prevention.

    It is not a four-year-old’s job to prevent herself from being abused. It is the job of the adults in her environment.

    I have a friend in her 30′s today, who still carries shame, guilt and self blame for not warding off her molester at age 4….

    Going back to the original post, educating kids is great, but if their mother will not protect them and remove them from danger, all education is for naught. Education of ADULTS is where the priority must be. Education of children is effective when a supportive, knowledgeable and empowered network of adults exist for them.

    La Lubu I don’t think you meant to disagree with this in your comment but I decided to emphasize the point because I thought it could be misconstrued. too many people would rather burden small children with the responsibilities that they are unwilling to take on themselves.

  8. La Lubu says:

    Perhaps I have misunderstood you.

    Yes. I even said it isn’t really fair. However, like I said, I don’t just have myself to think about. When a man has children, it’s extremely easy to “vet” him as to his attitude towards children. How he treats his own children, and how well-adjusted they are, is a pretty good indication as to how good a parent he is.

    If a man has reached his forties without having had children, it usually means he isn’t interested in children. Or, it can mean he has no experience with children, and isn’t used to having to adjust his life to accommodate them. An man who is not interested in children and/or is not good with children is an unsuitable partner for me, a parent. It’s possible he could be a great partner for someone else who does not have and does not want children—just not me.

    (also, you gotta remember—I live in the midwest. The demographics here are quite different from major metropolitan areas on the coasts. For one thing, women greatly outnumber men where I live. A man who is really interested in marrying or having children won’t have much difficulty doing so here, as long as he is gainfully employed. And people marry younger here—my available dating pool is divorced men, not the never-married. So, “red flag” doesn’t often mean “creep” in that instance; it means “don’t bother–totally inappropriate”. I stand by my remark that a man who hasn’t even lived with a woman by the time he’s reached his forties is a “red flag” in the “creep” sense though. If he’s never found partnership in three decades or more of looking….there’s something wrong with that picture.)

    And you’re right—I don’t want to leave the impression that children (or anyone else! who is abused carries blame for their abuse! The fault lies solely with the abuser. However, I think a lot of folks want to bury their heads in the sand about the issue, and prefer to think of it as “something that can’t happen to me”. Contrast that with how much we stress fire safety to children. I think firemen visited my child’s classroom (and other programs she was involved in) from preschool to second grade every.single.year. We live in a society that doesn’t take child sexual abuse seriously. Sad but true. Most offenders never see the inside of a prison—they get probation instead.