Why people who offend might deny their online behaviour

Think about something in your life that you feel really ashamed of. If someone asked you to confess it, imagine how hard that would be. This gives you an idea of how tough it can be for a loved one to admit to their illegal online behaviour.

Being honest about it comes with serious consequences, like risking arrest, losing relationships and their job. They might still care about you but find it difficult to confess because of guilt and shame. Their offences might have helped them avoid certain negative thoughts or actions, and admitting them might bring up feelings they’re not prepared for.

Being truthful could also make them face the impact of what they did, something they might want to avoid. It is rare someone wants to think that they have hurt another person, especially a child.

Someone who viewed sexual images of children might only admit to parts of what they did and minimise it, for example:

  • saying they were drunk and didn’t know what they were doing
  • claiming they thought the people were older than they looked
  • blaming the other person for starting a sexual conversation
  • insisting it was a one-time thing
  • saying they didn’t physically hurt anyone
  • claiming they clicked on something by accident
  • pointing out that the children in the images seemed happy
  • explaining that their relationship was going through a rough time

When a loved one is denying their behaviour, it can be helpful to think about some of the reasons why, or why they might accept it over time but are initially very defensive. This understanding can help how you shape having those conversations.

If you have any concerns, questions, or would just like to talk about what you are going through, our experienced, non-judgemental helpline advisors are here to support you. You can stay anonymous and don’t have to give your real name, location or any contact details. If you’re not ready to speak to anyone yet, you can also use our live chat or send a secure email.

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