I Just Found Out My Husband Is Watching Child Porn…

My laptop crashed and I had to use my husband’s to pay some bills. I was horrified to discover he’s been watching child porn…quite a lot according to his search history. We have two very young children and now I’m in a total panic. I had NO IDEA my husband had this issue. There were no signs in or outside of the bedroom. It makes me physically sick to think of him being that kind of person. If this gets out, it will destroy everything we’ve worked so hard to build together, but my number one concern right now is to protect my children. I came across your book on pedophilia and am desperate for advice. Should I be kicking him out and calling the police? If he does anything to our kids I’ll never forgive myself, but I also know I’m not in a rational state of mind right now. Please help.

I’m so glad you reached out, because as distressing as this is, things are likely not as bad as they seem right now. The first thing to understand is that an addiction/attraction to child porn does not necessarily indicate that your husband is a danger to your children. In real life, many pedophiles find the idea of physically harming a child every bit as repulsive as you do. This issue is very poorly understood by the general public, so before you destroy your marriage and permanently harm your children’s relationship with their father, it’s urgent that both you and your husband figure out what kind of psychological issues he’s actually dealing with. This is easier to do than it sounds. I would strongly urge you both to read my book Recovering from Pedophilia as soon as possible. For you, the book will provide an in-depth understanding of how this psychological condition develops and how it can be corrected. For your husband, the book provides in-depth therapeutic exercises that will walk him through the process of diagnosing his own root causes. Once you both understand what specific logic is driving your husband’s attraction to child porn, you will be able to better assess if he’s a danger to your children and how you can both help him to get untangled from this porn addiction.

Most pedophiles feel both horrified and confused by their sexual attraction to children. They are also terrified of discussing their struggle with anyone for fear of being labeled as some out-of-control molester. But again, having your mind produce sexual fantasies about children and having your mind push you to physically molest a real child are two different things. Certainly some pedophiles feel an urge to assault real victims, but many others will never go down that road.

There’s a big difference between wanting to watch a horror movie for the thrill of a good scare and wanting to personally imitate the actions of the movie’s villain. Any addiction to watching horror films is an indication of psychological stress which could use to be addressed, but we’d be going too far to accuse every horror film enthusiast of being a physical danger to his society. In the same way, even a strong addiction to child porn does not guarantee that a man is molester material. He might be capable of such actions, but then again, he might not be. It all depends on what specific mechanics are happening within his own mind.

Pedophilia is caused by the subconscious temporarily rerouting the sex drive as a response to severe psychological trauma. But a very important thing to note here is that the kind of sexual attraction caused by pedophilia is actually a form of sexual repulsion. The sexual arousal that pedophiles experience around certain children is actually triggered by psychological fear, not lusty desire. Their need to watch and/or engage in sexual activities involving children is an attempt to resolve severe psychological distress. Typically the mind of the pedophile sees certain children as symbols of himself around the time when he had something traumatic happen to him. Because the pedophile’s real life traumas occurred when he was a child himself, his mind locks onto that age as a particularly distressing time. Usually the traumas that occur in these cases feel core shattering and permanently damaging. These aren’t cases of a kid just having a bad day. Usually some form of sexual assault occurs (either real or perceived) and is either handled very badly or essentially ignored by the adults in the child’s life. Without receiving proper psychological help, the traumatized child is left to try to figure out a way to manage what feels like overwhelming distress.

Now what happens when you have some massive, complicated, super important problem hanging over you? You think about it all the time, right? No matter what else you’re doing in your day, part of your mind is always going over that problem again and again, trying to work out some kind of solution. This is what happens with pedophiles, only in their case, the issue they are mentally obsessing over is, “How on earth do I make sense out of what happened to me as a child?”

The backstories for these folks are usually pretty horrific. Once you stop focusing on the current coping methods (such as an addiction to child porn) and listen to what actually happened to the pedophile to cause his mind to react with such panic for so long, it’s impossible not to feel sympathy for your fellow human being. This is one of those conditions that only develops as a response to extreme psychological distress, and a lot of gentle compassion is needed to recover from this degree of woundedness. Often pedophiles are doing a far better job of punishing themselves internally than other people could ever do, and their own self-loathing is one of the first obstacles that needs to be overcome in order to make recovery possible. But recovery is possible, and the sooner positive treatment methods begin, the better.

Now it’s not surprising that you haven’t had any warning signs before now. Pedophilia often acts like an overlay on the normal sex drive. In other words, many pedophiles have their normal sex drives in tact, which means they can experience a normal desire for healthy sexual interactions with an opposite sex peer. But while their normal sex drive is still functioning, there is often a nagging static in the background that causes them to also think of kids in a sexual way. Because sexual assault is often what triggers this issue, sex in general is a usually a very stressful concept to pedophiles, and one that is linked to a lot of unresolved fears and distressing memories. When their overall stress load is light, it can be possible for them to push pedophiliac thoughts entirely aside and enjoy normal sex. But when their overall stress load spikes for some reason (due to unemployment, marital stress, financial pressure, etc.), their pedophilia symptoms can flare up, causing mental images of children to invade their thought processes more often. Again, most pedophiles feel horrified by these unwanted thoughts surfacing and would desperately love to find some way to block them from occurring. Watching child porn is typically an attempt to get the mind to calm down and stop producing those unwanted fantasies. It’s rather like how you’d eat a chocolate bar to stop your mind from nagging you to have one. When the subconscious is agitated, it can be very pushy about getting what it wants. Often for pedophiles, temporarily focusing on sexual images of children can buy them long periods of mental peace, and so they do it out of desperation. But I have yet to meet a pedophile who feels good about watching child porn, and I’d bet your husband feels very tormented by having this craving in his life. So before you come down hard on the man, realize he is probably already condemning himself far more viciously than you could, only he likely has no idea how to help himself.

As I explained before, not all pedophiles are capable of becoming molesters. Usually the pedophile knows within himself whether physically molesting an actual child has any psychological appeal. Human minds fall into two basic categories of emergency responses: what I call passives and aggressives. Minds that are passive by nature typically find all forms of hands on assault to be quite repulsive and distressing. When distressed, passives are far more likely to pull inward rather than lash out. When threatened, passives instinctively respond with submissive, cowering behaviors. This pattern makes them excellent targets for sexual abusers, but it makes them poor candidates for becoming abusers themselves. Because passives are such attractive targets for abusers, and because sexual abuse is a major trigger of pedophilia, a lot of pedophiles are passive in nature due to being sexually assaulted as children. But while their assault background causes their minds to obsess in a way that causes pedophilia, their passive temperaments cause them to feel deeply repulsed by the idea of physically molesting kids. Passives simply aren’t wired to find psychological relief through hands on assault. In extreme cases, passives can temporarily act like aggressives by lashing out. But this is the exception, not the rule.

Now when a child with a naturally aggressive temperament develops pedophilia, his natural emergency response programming makes him much more likely to view molesting others as a way to get psychological relief. But this does not mean that every pedophile with an aggressive temperament will molest. This is a stress driven condition, and by reducing stress, the desire to engage in any negative coping method is diminished.

It’s vital to understand that while pedophilia acts as a troublesome overlay on the normal sex drive and can produce strong urges to do harm to others, it does not replace a man’s ability to feel normal sexual desires or to form positive bonds with his kids. In other words, the fact that your husband currently has a problem with child porn doesn’t mean that he hasn’t formed strong, positive, fatherly bonds to his own children. It’s quite possible for a man to dearly love his kids and want to be the best father possible while his mind toys with some very dark thoughts.

If your husband had a physical health problem that was hampering his ability to function normally, you’d want to help him find the resources he needs to resolve that problem as soon as possible. But you wouldn’t lose sight of your husband as the person he is. You wouldn’t define him as being a mere set of physical symptoms and therefore stop seeing him as the spouse that you love. Pedophilia is a psychological health problem, yet like physical problems, it can be treated at its core. Yes, it takes time, as all serious health problems do. But a very important factor in your husband’s recovery will be how you as his wife respond to this issue. If you view it as a legitimate struggle that your husband is dealing with, and not as the some ugly thing that replaces the man himself, then you will encourage your husband to feel hopeful about finding a solution. Pedophilia can be healed. It’s not a condition that people are born with–it’s simply a case of the mind getting stalled in distress over past life experiences that it doesn’t know how to make peace with. It’s very common for human minds to get temporarily stalled in distress, yet when the right methods are used, they can get unstuck and resume functioning in a healthy way.

As is the case with all trauma conditions, cases of pedophilia can range from mild to severe. The fact that you’ve gotten this far into your relationship without seeing any red flags is a good vote for your husband’s condition being on the milder side, which means that getting him some good tools now can make a huge difference in how fast he recovers. Talk to him about your discovery, explain that he’s not alone and that there is a lot he can do to help himself overcome this problem without getting publicly crucified. Then get my book and start working through it together. With your love and support, your husband will likely be shocked at how much progress he is able to make in sorting out his own mind.

My book Recovering from Pedophilia is available worldwide on Amazon in paperback and electronic forms and is free to those with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

This post was written in response to K.A.

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