• Lifestyle
    The Telegraph

    ‘The day I discovered that my husband was a paedophile’

    It was a Friday morning in summer and I was getting ready for work when the doorbell rang. How odd, I thought, that someone should turn up this early – it was only 7am. Next thing I knew, the house was overrun with police officers. From the window I could see two police cars parked on the driveway of our house in the Midlands, which I shared with my husband of 25 years – the loving father of our two grown-up daughters, who were both away at university. I had no idea what was going on. Not even when my husband and a female police officer entered our bedroom where, moments earlier, I’d been applying make-up before heading to the secondary school where I worked as a teacher. My husband was a secondary school teacher, too, but everything was about to come crashing down. “Police are searching the house and are going to arrest me for viewing indecent images,” he told me bluntly. I was thrown into total confusion. This was the man I loved. How could this be happening? I’m not alone in having been through this. The national Stop It Now! helpline offers support to people worried about their own or someone else’s sexual thoughts and conduct towards children and young people. Last year, 3,553 people in the UK contacted the helpline with concerns about online sexual behaviours towards children, including more than 1,000 people who were concerned about someone else’s online behaviour. The pandemic has contributed to an increase in calls – between June and August 2020, the helpline was contacted by 47 per cent more people compared with the three months of the first lockdown. With family and friends spending more time together, the warning signs had seemingly become more apparent. The Stop It Now! helpline, dedicated to reducing the risk of children being sexually abused, is urging others to call if they know or suspect a loved one is viewing sexual images of under-18s online. But it hadn’t occurred to me that my own husband could have gone down this path. We had met in the early 1990s and quickly realised how much we had in common. By 1992 we were married, and started a family together two years later. When our daughters grew up and left home, we were looking forward to having a bit more freedom, including to travel. Our marriage was pretty good, or so I believed. We could have enjoyed a normal life and a comfortable retirement. I’m not saying that things were perfect. My husband had a history of depression, which had come and gone over the years. Looking back, I can see there were some red flags – but nothing that could have alerted me to the truth. He was having difficulty sleeping and would regularly stay up late at his computer downstairs. He said he was looking at forums about the things he was interested in, which made sense, as he’d always been quite obsessive: about extreme exercising, dieting and spectator sports. I would go to bed and leave him there, and often he’d never make it upstairs. He’d fall asleep on the sofa, where I’d find him fully clothed in the morning. He told me he was anxious about work and whether his job was secure. I could see it was getting him down, so I encouraged him to seek help. I later learned he’d been on the verge of confessing his actions to the GP. But he ducked out, uncomfortable with disclosing something so troubling to the young locum who saw him. Innocently, I had warned him to be careful online. “Take care you don’t stumble across something you wish you hadn’t found,” I said. He looked me in the eye and replied: “I wouldn’t do anything illegal that could put my career or our marriage in jeopardy.” Except he already was. And the police were now swarming all over my house, seizing all our electronic devices and placing them in evidence bags. My husband and I were escorted downstairs to the living room. We weren’t allowed to speak to each other in private. He was shaking as I asked him: “Is this true?” He just kept repeating: “I am not a paedophile.” Initially I believed him. Somebody must have set him up, I thought. Perhaps a malicious former pupil. “This is the sort of crime that breaks up families,” the investigating officer said before they took him in for questioning, leaving me alone and confused. I heard nothing for hours, so eventually I phoned the station and was asked to come and collect my husband at 8pm. It was still warm and light when I got in my car. A pleasant evening, for some. My husband was brought out from an interview room. He looked chastened, exhausted and sweaty. For the first time since his arrest, I was able to speak to him alone. And that’s when he confessed. “I’m a porn addict,” he said. “I’ve been looking at porn for the last 10 years. For the last two years, I’ve been viewing indecent images.” Of children. I had no words at first; I just let out a scream. I had to get out of that cell-like room, away from its bare, breezeblock wall and plastic chairs. It was all I could do to safely drive us both home. That night we talked. “You’ve betrayed us,” I said. “You’ve been lying to us all.” He told me how depressed he’d been and how sorry he was. When I phoned my sister the next morning, she advised me to leave the house, for the sake of my teaching career. She sent a friend to collect me and take me in for a week. Sitting in the passenger seat of this woman’s car, I stared out of the window. Nothing felt real. I saw my neighbours standing around, wondering what was going on. I feared they’d seen the police descending on our home the day before. I felt disassociated from the world, and totally numbed. The following week I saw a solicitor to set in motion my divorce. Some women choose to stay with their partners after they’ve been caught. But I could never have rebuilt a trusting and equal relationship with mine after our marriage was traduced. More pressingly, I had to tell my daughters. This was as awful as you’d imagine. My older daughter was tearful, shocked and full of questions. Her younger sister folded in on herself and couldn’t cope at all. There was a long wait before my husband’s case came to the crown court. He was found to have viewed a large number of images, many in the highest category of offending. He was handed a community sentence, however, went into therapy and was placed on the sex offenders register. I had tried to go back to work, but lasted only a fortnight. I was bursting into tears all the time and struggling to focus. Back at home on my own (my husband had moved into a camper van), I was constantly fearful of a vigilante attack. I felt so scared and alone. Stop It Now! was a total godsend. Through the helpline, I spoke to counsellors and found reassurance. I have since moved away and remarried; I left teaching and found another job. Four years on, the wounds have largely healed over. My ex-husband and I have little contact these days. One of his family disowned him. Our daughters never did. I hope if any good comes from telling my story, it’s that others will seek the help they need before it becomes too late. *Name has been changed As told to Rosa Silverman

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  • Celebrity

    iCarly 's Jennette McCurdy Confirms She's Quit Acting and Says She's "Embarrassed" by Her Roles

    During her latest podcast episode, iCarly alum Jennette McCurdy said she doesn't foresee ever acting again and shared, "I resent my career in a lot of ways."

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  • Entertainment
    Yahoo Entertainment

    Bella Thorne says shooting a music video with a porn star was like working with a girl that she could date

    Bella Thorne discusses new music, working with a porn star and shedding her Disney "good girl" persona once and for all.

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  • Celebrity

    I married ‘the life of the party.’ But all he does is take his financial troubles out on me and call me a gold digger

    There are three topics: My husband, his business and his family.’ Let’s just say there are three topics of conversation: my husband, his failing business and his terrible family. The pandemic hurt the already shaky family firm.

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  • Politics
    The Week

    Manhattan DA investigators are reportedly focusing on the Trump Organization's chief financial officer

    Investigators with the Manhattan District Attorney's office are taking a closer look at Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, as they continue a probe into former President Donald Trump and his family business, people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times. They are investigating potential financial fraud, and whether Trump and the Trump Organization manipulated property values in order to receive loans and reduce property taxes, the Times reports. Weisselberg, 73, has worked for the Trump Organization for decades, starting at the company when it was helmed by Fred Trump, the former president's father. Two people familiar with the matter said prosecutors have been asking witnesses about Weisselberg, and spoke with one person about Weisselberg's sons — Barry, the property manager of Trump Wollman Rink in Central Park, and Jack, who works at Ladder Capital, one of Trump's lenders. None of the Weisselbergs have been accused of wrongdoing, and there is no indication Barry and Jack are a focus of the probe, the Times says. The investigation began more than two years ago, with the district attorney looking into hush money payments made to two women who said they had affairs with Trump. Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, arranged the payments, and pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance charges. He testified before Congress that Weisselberg came up with a strategy to hide the fact that the Trump Organization was reimbursing Cohen for making payments to one of the women, pornographic actress Stormy Daniels. Trump has called the investigation "a witch hunt." More stories from theweek.comHistorian: Biden's support for Amazon workers voting to unionize is 'almost unprecedented'The myth of the male bumblerTrump is back. Did anyone miss him?

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  • U.S.
    The Conversation

    Can QAnon survive another 'Great Disappointment' on March 4? History suggests it might

    The big question looming over QAnon: What happens after March 4? Rick Loomis/Getty ImagesThursday could be a big day. On March 4, Donald Trump will be triumphantly returned to power to help save the world from a shadowy syndicate of Satan-worshipping pedophiles – or at least that is what a small fraction of American citizens believe. But before you circle the date and dust off the MAGA hats, a note of caution: We have been here before. Adherents of the same conspiracy theory, QAnon, had previously marked Jan. 20, the day of Joe Biden’s inauguration, as the big day. As Biden ascended the steps of the Capitol to take the presidential oath of office, tens of thousands of adherents of QAnon were eagerly awaiting the imminent arrest and execution of Democratic politicians in a “storm” that would upend the social and political order. It didn’t happen. In the aftermath of this disappointment, some disillusioned QAnon followers left the fold. But as evidenced by the new date of March 4 – chosen because it was the day for presidential inaugurations until the 20th Amendment was adopted in 1933 – some hardliners claimed they had simply gotten the date wrong. When – or if – that date too passes without incident, a new date may emerge. It might be thought that enough failed predictions would eventually discredit a prophet. But as a philosopher of religion, I know history suggests a more complicated set of possibilities. Apocalyptic movements rarely simply dissolve when prophecies are seen to fail. Indeed, such crises have in the past presented believers with fertile opportunities to reinterpret prophecies. They have even strengthened movements, giving rise to new theories that attempt to explain the shortcomings of earlier ones. The Millerites This dynamic played out nearly 180 years ago with the Millerites, members of a 19th-century evangelical Christian movement who were part of an earlier “Great Awakening” in U.S. religious history. A Baptist preacher, William Miller drew on biblical texts and numerology to predict the imminent second coming of Christ. Although Miller did not initially claim to know the exact date, he and his followers offered various predictions. As each passed without incident, the Millerites redid the Biblical math to propose new dates, until finally the movement settled on Oct. 22, 1844. As the expected second advent drew near, many Millerites gave away their possessions in anticipation of Christ’s return. A caricature of a Millerite awaiting the end of the world. Library of Congress When Oct. 22 came and went without incident, the Millerites were left to reconstruct a worldview that acknowledged what came to be called the “Great Disappointment.” Miller’s followers concluded not that the Scriptures and numerology on which they had based their predictions were false, but simply that they had misunderstood their meaning. In one view, what the predictions foretold were not earthly events, but heavenly ones. Millerism did not collapse; rather, elements of it were central to the establishment of Seventh Day Adventism, a rapidly growing Protestant denomination that continues to look forward to Christ’s return. Crisis point Looking at how the Millerites dealt with their Great Disappointment gives an insight into how believers navigate what the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre calls “epistemological crises.” These are moments when the way someone understands the world is thrown into question by events that don’t fit expectations. Epistemological crises are not unique to religion. Anyone who has experienced heartbreak in a relationship, or felt the rug pulled out from under them when unexpectedly fired by an employer, knows that they are a fact of life. Such a crisis undercuts a person’s ability to tell the kind of story about themselves that gives order and meaning to life. Left unresolved, it threatens one’s understanding of oneself and others. Yet, such crises don’t always prove insurmountable. MacIntyre writes, “When an epistemological crisis is resolved, it is by the construction of a new narrative, which enables the agent to understand both how he or she could intelligibly have held his or her original beliefs and how he or she could have been so drastically misled by them.” Sometimes the new understanding repudiates the old. Often, however, the new narrative is not a radical departure from the old one, but an improvised and more sophisticated version of it – one that incorporates what had earlier seemed like outlying data points. The Millerites, for example, survived their Great Disappointment by reaffirming their belief that God is at work in ways that humans cannot always fully anticipate. Writing in the mid-20th century, the philosopher Antony Flew suggested that over time, religious beliefs “die the death of a thousand qualifications.” That is, they are modified beyond recognition, to the point of meaninglessness. But scholars of religion have documented a pattern in which, rather than dying, fringe beliefs evolve, becoming more socially acceptable. As they are gradually disentangled from politics, they come to be thought of as more truly “religious.” Making sense of disappointment Whether or not movements like Millerism can move past great disappointments depends in part on the interpretive tools available within the group and the ingenuity of adherents in explaining away their own unfulfilled expectations. It is anyone’s guess whether QAnon will survive its current epistemological crisis. And if it does, there is no guarantee that it will emerge chastened. Some commentators have predicted that it will return even more dangerous than before, evolving into increasingly virulent strains. It may well be subsumed within a larger conspiracy theory that seeks to explain the current disappointment in the context of an even more elaborate narrative. Perhaps one day QAnon will take its place within the domesticated pantheon of American civil religion as another benign and depoliticized “faith.” Then again, it may simply sputter out, dying the death of a thousand qualifications. But if history is any guide, whether QAnon survives its Great Disappointment will depend on its adherents’ ability to successfully explain to themselves how they could have been so drastically misled. [Over 100,000 readers rely on The Conversation’s newsletter to understand the world. Sign up today.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Richard Amesbury, Arizona State University. Read more:QAnon and the storm of the U.S. Capitol: The offline effect of online conspiracy theoriesNearly two centuries ago, a QAnon-like conspiracy theory propelled candidates to Congress Richard Amesbury does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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