Married to a Pedophile: When the Abuse Continues

Last week’s post caused quite a stir.  So many people resonated with this part of my story.  The emails have been pouring in saying, “If I didn’t know better, I would think I’m reading my own life’s story!”  That’s both wonderful and so very sad.  The sad part is that this abuse continues to be so prevalent in our society.  The wonderful part to me is that victims are beginning to get enough courage to speak out, and they’re being heard!

And, every time a victim of child sexual abuse speaks out there is one more step being taken towards healing.   A large part of my goal with this blog is to help victims of abuse to become “survivors of abuse”!  Just the word SURVIVOR equates with STRENGTH! *I hope that each of you will listen to the 6 minute video included in this paragraph.  It’s a powerful message of hope and healing!

Let’s continue on with my story.  After John left me and the girls, I had a multitude of worries, the first being, “How am I going to pay the mortgage?”  Other worries were along the same line.  “How will I pay for the utilities — gas, phone, electric, fuel oil?”  “How will my daughters go to college?”  “How, how, how?  Dear God, how can I do this alone?”  Going from a two family income to a one family income in the blink of an eye without any forewarning was not easy!  Especially since there were so many bills piled up due to John’s previous encounter with the Federal Government.  I quickly learned that debt incurred while married — regardless of who is responsible — is shared debt!  I was sick — literally.  My blood pressure skyrocketed, sleep was fitful or non-existent, and my weight dropped over forty pounds very quickly.  Physical symptoms almost always are a shadowing of some type of trauma going on in one’s life.

By nature, I’m a very private person who doesn’t like to share my woes with anyone.  This was too big for me to handle alone, though, so with a trembling voice and a racing heart I made a phone call to a local attorney I knew.  He was gracious enough to see me that week.

After telling him about the separation, he sat and looked at me for a few minutes without saying a word.  I had known this attorney for over twenty years, and he had known John for a longer period of time.  His eyes keep reading and re-reading the “Terms of Separation” John had given me and finally the attorney spoke.

“Go after him!”  “Go after him today!”  “I will draw up papers for child and spousal support, and based on the information you’ve given me he will be paying you, $1,279 a month at minimum. You’re crazy if you don’t push him to the fullest.

I sat there shaking my head no.  “No!  No!  No!”  I knew I couldn’t do that.  There was no way I was going to do this to John.  I couldn’t.  Why?  Well, for one thing I still had feelings for him at this point. And,  I’m sure I was in partial denial.

And, when people are abused they often defend their very abuser because that is the only relationship they know!  *NOTE:  I encourage you to read this statement over a hundred times until it sinks in.  This has a lot to do with why children of abuse never tell on the one who is molesting them.  It’s hard to understand if you haven’t been the victim of abuse, but to those of us who have it makes perfect sense.

“What do you mean?  Are you telling me you’re not going to take him to court for the support that should be yours?”

“Yes.  That’s what I’m saying.  Do you understand that my kids already think I’m a terrible person for not staying with their dad?  Do you know what this would do to my relationship with the kids if I take him to court?  I just can’t do it.  I have to find another way to keep me and the girls in the house.”

This attorney is a man of great wisdom.  I know that he saw what a fragile state I was in so he didn’t push me.  He said, “I’ll draw up a letter for you asking the bank to work with you to help you make your monthly payments.  Now don’t fail me on this.  You have to stay well enough to keep working.  Do you understand?”

Oh, how well I understood!  That’s all that was on my mind day and night!!!

This sounds like it was an easy visit to an attorney’s office who was a friend.  Let me assure you that I thought I was going to have to crawl to my car because I was so weak.  When I made it to the car, I folded my head into my hands and sobbed so hard that I’m sure people passing by on the street thought I was either dying or crazy — maybe both.

It’s not easy to talk to anyone when you have been the victim of emotional or sexual abuse — even when you’re an adult!  I’ve thought millions of times over about how hard it was for me doing the simplest of things to move forward in life during this period of time.  My mind cannot fathom what it must be like for a child of sexual abuse!  Can you imagine the thoughts of that child as they cry out for help in their night terrors and no one is there to help?  Can you imagine how impossible it would be to trust anyone when you’ve been sexually violated as a child?

Two days after my visit to the attorney, I had to visit the President of the bank.  I was taking pay stubs, the letter from the attorney, and a letter I had written explaining my intentions of getting a second job as soon as possible so that I could keep the girls in the only place they knew as home.

Many of you might be thinking, “Why would you want to stay in that house?  Why not get out from under a mortgage and rent a small apartment?  Why not move and get a fresh start in life?”

Anyone who knows anything about deep grief and loss knows a person should never make any major decision in the first year following a loss.  Never!  Why?  Because our minds aren’t capable of thinking clearly.  I’m so glad that I had the presence of mind enough to know that I should stay put with the girls until I had my head on a bit straighter.

If I was a drinking person, I’m sure I would have downed a bottle of whiskey before entering the bank that cold day in March.  Instead, it took me three hours of talking to myself in the car saying, “You can do this.  You have to do this.  You’re going to talk to the President without crying.  You’re going to hold your head up and look him in the eyes and ask him to help you.”

Over and over again I went through that pep talk until finally the moment came.  It was time for my appointment.  My legs were like lead.  My head was pounding.  My blood pressure was elevated.  My eyes were swollen from crying.  I was a bumbling mess!

We had our meeting and what a meeting it was!!! 

*Note:  I will share the “President’s Meeting” with you next time. For now, I will fill you in on what John was doing during this same time that I was going through such a difficult, painful time of emotional and physical upheaval.

While the girls and I were going through our personal turmoil and pain, John was actually enjoying life.  He had made plans weeks in advance to move in with one of our sons and a daughter-in-law.  His exchange for rent was to offer them free cable and internet through his job as a salesman, and he would buy some food each month and cook some meals.

A rather sweet deal, wouldn’t you say?  Walk away from your responsibilities as a father and be the “fun dad” — the dad that takes off work whenever he wants.  The dad that works from “home” and has tons of free time to cook and play on the internet.  The dad who has his own bedroom and office and can come and go as he pleases without any accountability.  The dad who has lots of play money.  The dad who is a joy to be around! 

For John, life was good!  No, I’ll say, for John life was GREAT!!!

That being said, I noticed some oddities in family emails that were being exchanged.  Much to my surprise I was included on some of the emails.

“Dad is acting so weird.  He’s stockpiling food like he’s never going to eat again.  He has the kitchen cupboards filled.  He has the trunk of his car full of food.  He even is storing boxes of cereal and canned goods in the garage!”

“Dad is cheating the company.  He pretends he’s out working when really he’s home playing on the computer.  He managed to get unlimited internet, cable, a phone, a new laptop, and he even has a brand new, top of the line video camera.  I can’t believe they keep him on the payroll!”

“Dad insists he’s going to quit the sales job and get a full-time job as a manny.  That is so weird!  He wants to live in with a family and take care of their kids. Then come home on the weekends and work as a fill-in minister.”

“Dad is pushing hard with one of the local churches to be mentored as a youth pastor.  What’s that all about?  He should be thinking of retiring soon — not starting new careers!”

“Dad expects us to go out every weekend to the movies, out to eat, or to hang out with him to watch movies.  Doesn’t he realize we have families?”

“Dad won’t listen to a thing!  We asked him not to feed our dogs table scraps and every day while we’re at work, he cooks an outlandish bunch of food with all kinds of strange ingredients that we don’t like, then feeds the leftovers to the dogs!  He doesn’t respect anything we say!”

I have all of these emails saved.  In fact, I often printed them off and took them to my counseling sessions asking, “What do you make of this?  Why would he be buying so much food and storing it in the trunk of his car and in the garage?  He won’t give a penny of child support, but he’s buying hundreds of dollars of food that is going to waste!”

I never received any answers — only questioning looks from my counselor.

John’s behavior was a mystery. 

But, when I stepped back and thought about it, he had always been that way.  He never listened to authority.  He was never accountable for his time or actions.  He was a cheat and a liar and that’s why he got busted bilking elderly people of money.  He was controlling.  He was all of those things, but the kids didn’t see it because all they chose to see at that time was the “fun dad” — the dad they always knew and loved.

It didn’t take long for the kids to see their dad in a bit of a different light.  But, still…..they continued to feel sorry for him.  He had a way of coming off as “poor John.”  He looked pitiful to them.  One of my daughters confided in me that her dad said, “I don’t know how I’m going to live without mother.  One of these days I’m going to drive my car right off of a cliff and end it all.”

The kids worried about him.  And, to be truthful, I worried about him, too.  I didn’t want him to be suffering.  I didn’t want to cause him pain.  I didn’t want to have it on my conscience that I caused him to end his life.

How does this all tie in with being a pedophile? What does any of this have to do with child sexual molestation?  Look at the red flags waving in our faces!  Now I can see clearly, but back then I was living in a fog of grief and confusion!

1.  John continued to control all of those around him.  He controlled their time, their thoughts, and their emotions.  He was a pro!

2.  He was believable.  All pedophiles are believable.  That’s why people trust them!  They know just how to twist the truth to make everything they say and do believable.

3.  John was extremely selfish.  It didn’t bother him that two of his daughters were eating nothing but peanut butter bread and freezing under a cold blanket because there was not heat or food in their house.  He made certain, though, that he was warm and more than amply fed!

4.  He manipulated the church, his boss, his children, and community friends.  Everyone was worried about him, including me.  And, that is just what pedophiles do!  They come off as sweet, caring, loving people who are sincerely trying to do good all of the time when in fact they have been studying how to gain your trust for their own selfish purposes.

5.  John  openly discussed babysitting little children.  He made certain he told his wishes over and over again until finally it no longer seems as “odd” that a 60-year-old man wanted to be a full-time babysitter.  He knew how to control a person’s thinking!

Read that list over and over again until it sinks in.  Pedophiles are smart.  They know what they’re doing!  They target and use the weak!  They target and use the lonely!  They target and use people in the name of God!  They are brilliant deceivers who are planning and plotting to molest your children — and there is nothing that will get in their way!  Nothing except you being smarter than they are!!!

Pain and Healing

Every time you read a post such as this, you’re getting smarter and stronger.  Every time you allow these words to sink in you’re understanding more about how the mind of a pedophile works.  And, every time you speak out, you are moving from victim to survivor, from weak to strong!

Education is prevention!  And, we’re doing it.  One step at a time, we are getting educated and one step at a time we will learn how to prevent child sexual abuse!

Thank you for caring.  Thank you for sharing!  Thank you for being part of the team that will help stop child sexual abuse!



If you are in need of a speaker at your local school, church, or concerned parent’s organization, please email me at .

6 thoughts on “Married to a Pedophile: When the Abuse Continues

  1. Clara,

    Grace and peace. Your story has been incredibly helpful for my wife and I as we raise our young family. We are blessed to be part of a church that “gets it” when it comes to abuse. However, until reading your story, I really didn’t understand why our church takes so many precautions. As a man very trusting of other believers and someone who would never even think of a child in a perverted way, I had blinders on. Now the light bulb has come on and I find myself empowered with the knowledge to protect my children.

    Someone else who has been very helpful is Boz Tchividjian, one of Bill Graham’s grandsons. I worked with him when I first graduated college a decade ago. He is an attorney and former child abuse prosecuter who founded GRACE, a nonprofit that educates churches and organizations on child abuse focusing on prevention, response, investigation, etc. Knowing what I know now, it is shocking that ALL churches (and secular organizations, for that matter) aren’t better educated. Thanks to people like you and Boz, more Christians are heeding Jesus’ words to protect children and shedding our naivety.

    • Jim,
      I cannot thank you enough for your comment! What a blessing to know that you’re part of a church family that truly “gets it” — a church family that is doing all you can to protect children! It’s so easy to be trusting of other believers. That’s what we’re taught from little up in our churches. It somehow feels “wrong” to question the behavior of others, but that’s exactly what we have to do in order to keep our little ones safe.

      I just came in contact with GRACE a few days ago, and I’m like a sponge absorbing the information and resources made available. Prevention education is definitely the key!!! I hope that more of us can unite and join forces to get this incredibly important job done! Thank you so much for writing and for reading this blog!

  2. I’ve been reading along for months now, but I can never think of an appropriate comment. I have no children, and I was never sexually abused. Nothing here is directly relevant to my life, yet I feel like I’m getting an important life lesson when I read your blog. I don’t consider myself a highly intuitive person, but there have definitely been times in my life when someone’s behavior seemed… off to me, in ways I couldn’t fully express without dipping into personal feelings (“he just creeps me out” isn’t always a great argument). Reading your blog has helped me realize that sometimes, there is no big red flag, just a series of little ones that are easy to ignore.

    You are so brave and so insightful, and your ability to tell your story so completely and eloquently is a gift. I’m sorry that the story is an ugly one, but you are doing such a service to other women and children by refusing to let that silence you. I hope that brings you some comfort. You deserve it.

    • Rachel, Thanks so very much for taking the time and the courage to write. I appreciate that so very much!!

      You said something that is so very important to remember — sometimes there isn’t anything that is really a big tip-off that something is wrong — just a series of little things that are easy to ignore. That is the very thing the pedophile is counting on — us being too naïve to pay attention to the little things. I’ll continue to say it again and again, “If it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.”

      With each post that I write, I’m empowered by the many people who are writing to say, “You’ve given me a voice.” That’s what this is all about! Thank you so very much for reading this blog and for educating yourself! You never know when you will be the one to save a child!

    • Linda, I can write these words so easily now, but at the time I was nearly paralyzed with fear and grief. I didn’t know what to do, where to go for help, or how to get the strength to live through the days. Thank God I still had two children at home or I may have given up. There were moments when I questioned the very existence of God. My prayers became begging God to just keep us safe, keep us healthy, and allow me to work so that we could eat and have a place to call home. It was so hard to hear about John during this time — it was especially hard to know that so many people were showering him with love and concern while turning a blind eye to the girls and me. I think that will always be the most difficult thing about this time period. However, and this is a big however, God was near, and He sent angels to take care of us from the most unusual places. In the next couple of blog posts you’ll see God at work big time!!!

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