Family/friends concerned about an adult with worrying sexual thoughts/behaviour towards a child

Stop It Now! helpline call example: Annette

Annette was extremely distressed when she called. She explained that after looking for images for their family Christmas card she found a folder with indecent images of children on her husband Gareth’s computer. She felt disgusted and frightened and did not know what to do. Annette had a five-year-old daughter, Lily, from a previous relationship, and was terrified that her husband had abused her.

Annette wanted to speak to someone in confidence but was unsure if she should go to the police as she was afraid of the consequences for Gareth.

She also wanted to know what to do if Lily had been photographed or abused; whether to ask her if this had happened and what to tell her if Gareth was arrested.

Discussion and advice from her call with the helpline:

  • Firstly, we thanked Annette for calling and acknowledged her distress.
  • We discussed the implications of reporting what she had found to the police, and that from her description a crime had been committed, which meant that Gareth may face criminal charges. This included exploring with her what might happen if she did not report at this stage and the consequences of this.
  • We discussed her concern about the risk with Lily. If Annette notified the police, they could confirm whether there were any photographs of Lily on the computer.
  • Annette was offered information about the police investigation process. We explained that the police would make a routine referral to Children’s Services who would talk to her, and then possibly to Lily.
  • We asked Annette whether she had noticed any changes in Lily’s behaviour, and other potential signs of sexual abuse, including Gareth’s behaviour towards Lily.
  • Annette was encouraged to visit the Stop It Now! website for further information about these issues.

Actions agreed with Annette:

  • She wanted to report the images and we offered help if she did not feel she could do it alone.
  • We encouraged her to identify a close family member for support.
  • Annette would consider a helpline call-back for additional support with the case.
  • Finally, we recommended sources of information for parents and carers of young children.

The outcome of Annette’s helpline call:

Annette reported Gareth to the police and he was arrested and asked to move out of the family home. She continued to call the helpline and had a face-to-face meeting with a practitioner to discuss our Inform course. Following this, Annette later attended the course.

‘I found it extremely valuable to meet other people in similar situations. For the first time since this has all happened, I could actually talk freely and have begun to feel normal again.’

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