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What can I do if I have concerns?

Suspecting or discovering that a loved one has been having sexual thoughts about children and/or has sexually harmed a child, is a distressing and confusing experience. One partner of a man arrested for accessing indecent images of children online described it as ‘being hit by a tsunami, such was its emotional and practical impact'. How you feel and how you respond will likely depend on:

  • the person’s relationship to you 
  • how you came about this information
  • your own personal circumstances
  • whether the individual’s behaviour is already known to the authorities.

The majority of people who discover that the person they care about has been acting inappropriately towards children will be shocked, even if they suspected something was amiss. Often the initial response is an inability to process the information and to function normally, followed by emotional responses such as anger, distress fear and anxiety and then questions about the behaviour e.g. ‘do I report him to the police?’, ‘what does this mean for our relationship?’, 'what do I say to the children/my friends….?’.


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Other things to consider

There will be a number of difficult, and sometimes life-changing, decisions that need to made and things that need to be considered. Whilst these things need time for thought and reflection, they are often hurried as a number of immediate and practical issues are often clamouring for attention. 

But you need not face this alone. Talking to someone who understands and can help you make sense of what has happened can be a ‘life saver’. It is also important that you have your own support when making and acting on important decisions.

Examples of things that you are likely to have to consider include:

  • Fear of the police finding out (if the person has not yet been arrested)
  • Fear of others finding out (family, friends, neighbours, the wider community, employers, colleagues, the media)
  • Fear of rejection
  • Employment problems (the individual’s and/or yours)
  • Involvement of Children’s Services
  • Financial problems (e.g. if the individual loses their job, you have to take time off work, legal costs, if the person is required to move out of the family home and into rented accommodation)
  • Going through the legal process
  • Waiting to find out about criminal charges and sentencing
  • Media coverage

Many of these stressors may relate to things which have not yet happened, and may not be applicable to you. However, any one of them can be stressful and it is important for you to maintain good self-care. Good self-care involves both recognising when you are feeling bad (rather than just telling yourself it’s ‘one of those things’) and doing something about it (rather than just ‘getting on with things’).


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