My father is a recently convicted paedophile. These are not easy words to write, and believe it or not, they're even harder to say. But it's the truth, and no amount of beating around the bush is going to change the matter. My father is a recently convicted paedophile.
It's a tough position to be in – to be a family member of the guilty party. I'm not one of those who was abused during the course of my father's actions, now have I received any sort of abuse, first-hand, from anyone who is aware of the connection between us. Yet, I still consider myself a victim of his actions. I still feel as though I have a right to, at the very least, an apology.
Let me explain my reasoning, and hopefully, by the end of this, you'll agree with me.
The investigation and court process took just shy of two years from initial police visit to sentencing – for all but the last month of this process, all we have been told (from the guilty party), is that there was no crime. He professed his innocence directly, indirectly, abstractly, blatantly, subtly – heck, he might as well have had it written in the sky – he was adamant that he had committed no crime. Not only that, but if there was even the slightest hint that we thought he might actually be guilty, there wouldn't be an argument, there wouldn't even be anger. He'd say the one praise that a parent can say to near as damn it guarantee that their kid is going to listen to them.
I'm disappointed that...
And of course, in our case, it would … that you think I might have done this. Pretty unfair things to say to someone who was also investigated by virtue of misinformation and knowing the accused – something which in this case would have been rather hard to avoid! And if you think that's bad, remember what I said above, about how for all but the last month or so of proceedings, he professed his innocence?
He pleaded guilty at trial.
But of course, I'm the disappointment.
Then there's the paranoia. Who knows? What do they know? Did they read this particular article, with the worst of the revealed details? Did they read the article that used words like “sick” and “vile”? Did they read the bit where it turns out they knew him, and they only knew him through me, and if so, did they realise? What do they think about me? What do they think about me? What do they think about me? What do they...
And it goes on, and on, and on. All day, every day. And to mention it would just make it worse, because they might not know, and all you've really done is remove the first question, because you know they know, but the minute you're not talking any more, all the other questions start becoming a problem again. Will they look it up? What will they find out? Will they read this particular article, with the worst of the revealed details? Will they read the article that used words like “sick” and “vile”? What do they think about me? What will they think about me? What will they...
No man, nor any woman for that matter, should be made to feel as though they are being judged for someone else's actions – but I feel as though I am being judged, and there's nothing to be done about it. You can't police someone's thoughts, no matter how Big Brother our lives are becoming. You can't make someone think a particular way, and you never should – they are entitled to their opinion on the matter, but it's the not knowing how they truly feel that makes this such a painful experience.
There's this feeling that, potentially, you should have known, or that you could have stopped the matter, when in reality, there's nothing you can do. People will always do what they want to do, with your knowledge or otherwise, no matter how hard you try to stop them. All you can do is watch and hope that when the facade of honesty and morality slips, you're far enough away to see it coming.
Finally, as someone who was involved in the investigation, you get access to certain pieces of information that the public doesn't find out. I don't know the legality of sharing some of the surplus information, so I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that when you have seen some of the defence paperwork, which includes some police interview transcripts, you get information about which direction an investigation is going in, as well as some of the grittier details that I assume would only normally come out in court, if at all.
This information... it can damage a person to read it, let alone to think about. To have read what some of these videos were called – to think about the implications of the wording... It's damaging, and it feels like the sort of damage that won't be easy to repair without expensive therapy. It also ruins the image that you have of the guilty party.
I had many a happy year with my father prior to this kicking off, but now every happy memory is tainted by the knowledge that he is a sick and twisted paedophile. For someone who was so involved in shaping who you are as a human being, including your sense of right and wrong, the moral compass that guides the bulk of your actions... for them to be one of those people for whom you've always been taught could never have an acceptable excuse for their actions... It affects the way you look at everything. One day, you're looking at the world through a clear window, with right and wrong clearly defined and easy to distinguish. Then the next day, the window gets ground into a powder, rubbed into your eyes and you have to force yourself to see the world the same, through all the anger and the pain.
At the end of the day, that's all I am. Angry and in pain. I've done no wrong, yet I feel guilty. I'm done no wrong, yet I'm a disappointment. I've done no wrong, yet now I struggle to see the lines between good and bad.
And all I feel is angry and in pain.
Now tell me that I'm not a victim.
It's not that I want sympathy from you – trust me, I don't. It's that I just want someone, anyone, to tell me that it's okay to feel this way, because all I seem to get from people is the assurance that this will pass into memory as one of the darker parts of my life and that we'll all forget about it and that it will no longer matter.
I just want someone to tell me that it's okay to hurt and be angry about it, because right now, that's all I feel, other than that to feel anything else right now would feel wrong.