It was February when I found him. It was 2pm on a Thursday, the 18th.
I had gone to my parents house, he didn’t know I was coming early.
We had arranged to have afternoon tea together , my father , my two youngest girls, Ella, Emily and I. I was going to pick them up from school up the road and go over to their house with them while we waited for my oldest daughter, Layla to finish touch foot ball training at school. He had said he was excited, it would be good to see us and he would get some snacks for the kids. We hadn’t seen each other for awhile because they were renovating their house.
But on this day its 35 degrees, it was summer and it was hot. I had the puppy with me in a crate in the car and thought I should drop the dog off with my father early then drive up the road to school to get the girls. I was worried the puppy would over heat in the hot car while I went into school to get them. He didn’t know I was coming earlier than planned.
When I arrived I walked under the half open garage door ,opened the inter-leading door to the house and yelled “dad”. To which there was no reply. I then walked out the front of the house and saw their new caravan was closed up and thought. ‘he must be working in there with the air-conditioning on as its so hot’.
As I started walking towards the door to the caravan my heart was racing, everything had slowed in time now, it was literally step by step as I approached. My head was telling me to knock on the door, but clear as day this voice said to me ” do not knock, just open it, please listen and open it.” At this point I knew it was God’s voice. I hadn’t prayed much over the last few months and didn’t feel very close or connected to God but this time I just knew it was him.
I reached down , gripped the door handle firmly in my right hand and pulled it down, hard and fast.
It was then I was confronted with the horror. The horror of my father completely naked in front of a laptop on the table.He was watching pornography. I could only just see the screen, it was on an angle and I could only make out a video with flesh moving. I just knew it was pornography. He had had this problem his whole life, when I was growing up, so I knew.
But this was different. My mother had disclosed that he was heavily into online pornography prior to sexually abusing my 9 year old cousin 12 years ago, and here he was still doing it. Still doing it after being charged with his crime, after being handcuffed and locked in a police cell for a night. After serving a community sentence and being listed.
I dropped the dog crate in the door while he jumped behind the kitchen bench and he started mumbling all the excuses, ” its hot, I was hot.” His eyes darting all over the place, he wouldn’t look at me. And I left.
I drove to school to get my daughters, I was so angry, my finger nails were digging into the flesh of my palms on the steering. I hated him, I hated the fact that that he was still “sick” that he was never rehabilitated, that it was all lies. That he now posed a huge risk to my family to my three girls.
I got the girls , drove back to his house and approached the caravan. I told him I would not be bringing the girls in to see him, we would not be staying for afternoon tea as planned. I picked up the dog crate by the handle and turned to leave. He said “but I brought ice-creams for them”, he then asked to give them one each while they sat in the Van.
He handed them each one and we left.
That night when my husband, Michael got home I told him I had found my father with pornography. He was shocked. We sat we talked about what to do and that he could never see our daughters again because of the risked he posed to them given his history of child abuse.
A few days went by, I went to a doctor got on a mental health plan and started seeing a psychologist as I felt I was not coping. I felt once again isolated by the shame of my father, I could not confide in any one, all my friends are mothers themselves. What would they think of me, what would they think if I told them my fathers history.I felt cornered and trapped by fathers actions.
We had a prior arranged social dinner at mutual friends with my parents for the Saturday. We went, and he was strange, towards my husband and I, he struggled to give us eye contact and he drank beer after beer.
He sat one chair away from me with my 5 year old daughter sitting on his lap, later this image would haunt me.
That would be the last time I saw him.
My brother called from Over-seas and begged me to reconcile with my father, to meet with him and talk. He also said he had known of my fathers on-going issue with pornography even since my father had abused my cousin, Sienna, 12 years ago.
I called my father a few days later , told him we needed to meet to discuss what had happened and how things would change with him and my girls. He was vague and non committal.He was riddled with shame didn’t converse much, he was very quiet on the phone.
Then as a plan of action because I was not coping with every thing , Michael decided he would meet my mother, Rebecka to tell her, at her school where she was a teacher. He would tell her that I had found my father with pornography and how things would change with our daughters and him.
He took time off and went to meet her on a Tuesday afternoon at 4pm after school had finished and every one had gone home. I was at home with the girls that afternoon, and paced around the house, my anxiety had peaked. I started praying. I wept and he said ” she knows already.”
When Michael came home I rushed out to meet him, he was ashen in color and quiet, I turned to him and asked him what she said. He looked me in the eyes and said ” she already knew he was back into pornography, she said “this has been an on-going issue in their marriage for a while now”. He said “when we talked at her school she was shaking and crying and said “she didn’t know what to do.”
I was shocked, my mother had confided in my brother of my fathers mental state but both of them chose not to tell us when they knew our daughters were at risk. Both of them knew my father was back into online pornography which was a prior sign last time before he committed a crime.
I remember feeling sorry for her at this point. I thought maybe this was the last straw in her marriage with him, maybe she would leave him now.
She arrived 10 minutes later. A mess, tears pouring down her face, she climbed out the car and asked me what I had seen that Thursday when I found him. I told her and I said ” mom you know what this means, you know he is a risk to the girls now, he can’t see them.” . The phone rang, her phone. She answered and it was him. She was on the phone for 5 minutes hung up and turned to me and said ” what did you really see, he said he was watching a documentary on Pompei.” She started to interrogate me and question me.
I knew then the tables had flipped. She was once again siding with her husband
She then came in our house sat down and cried with Michael and I. She went on to say ‘he has a real problem with pornography, he’s addicted, he has been for years really. He needs help.If its God’s calling in my life to help this man then that is my calling.”
I was shocked by her words. Numb really. I kept saying ‘but now he can’t see the girls mom you know he’s a risk to them.”
She left and went home to my father that night.
She called me the next morning at 7am, while I was getting the kids ready to leave for school. She was crying hysterically, driving some where. She said ” we’re just really worried, your father is really anxious now. Please don’t report this to the police.” I was shocked, my anger building in my throat. I shouted back at her through the phone ” last time it was child abuse when we reported it with police, this time it’s pornography, right?, why would we report pornography?”
She went quiet and I hung up. I was clouded by confusion from the phone call.
I met with the psych every week and started to come to the conclusion that I would have to be estranged from my parents. That I could not see them as my father posed a risk to my daughters and he was not well.
She advised me to call parent help line to determine what to say to the girls. They had all been really close to their grandfather over the last 2 years since arriving here, they loved him and now we their parents had to tell them they could not see him any more.
I then wrote my mother a letter, amid floods of tears and posted it two days later. I told her I was angry with her for not telling me that he was back into pornography, which meant be posed a huge threat to my children’s safety. I told her she had jeopardized them. And that God didn’t want her to suffer any more, but to be happy. She did deserve happiness but she needed to walk away.
That day I posted that letter I called Parent help line and they told me to tell each child separately .. ” grandad has a sickness in his mind and he might hurt you so you can’t see him any more.”. I then called my husband at work and asked him to come home soon so we could tell the girls.
We sat each child, each daughter, down one by one and told them that night. “grandad has a sickness in his mind and he might hurt you so you cant see him any more.”. Our youngest Emily, who was now 5 years old threw her head in my lap and wept. The middle daughter, Ella who was 8 years old was very cold and said absolutely nothing. And our eldest daughter, Layla wept on my shoulder for ages.
We then spent time with them as we didn’t want to put them to bed sad or upset. We watched funny Tv shows and laughed and ate ice-creams.
An hour later our lives would change forever.