Skip to comments.Seeking support when a spouse happens to be a pedophile
Posted on 03/20/2007 9:31:20 AM PDT by Graybeard58
FORT WORTH, Texas It has been seven years since she learned that her 53-year-old executive husband was accused of molesting a child younger than 14.
He quickly admitted guilt and was arrested. After posting bail the following day, he came home, but she ordered him away from her and their children. Public records show he shot himself in the head a day later.
Social services worked with the child he abused. Police took care of her husband's body. But his family was left alone to deal with the shame and horror of his actions.
His widow and children still live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and she asked that she be identified only as "Ann" for the purposes of this article because she is fearful that her children will face ridicule and scorn.
Spouses of pedophiles commonly feel ostracized and stigmatized, even if they have unknowingly associated with society's most hated outcasts, experts say.
"We discovered many years ago that there really was a need for women to come and talk," said Jill Levenson, a professor at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. "There's not any funding for these kinds of programs, and many have to pay themselves but can't afford it."
About 89 percent of the nearly 52,400 registered sex offenders in Texas committed at least one offense against victims age 17 or younger, accordilg to the Texas Department of Public Safety. More than 95 percent of the offenders are men, and many were married when their crimes were committed.
Fear and shame
Ann contacted the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's tip line in October because she wanted to start a support group for spouses of pedophiles. Birthdays, Christmases and milestones had passed since her husband's death, but anger, guilt and confusion had continued to torment her. Other women must be feeling the same way, she believed.
"I have kind of sudfered by myself," she said. "My faith has helped me through, and that's what I want to tell others there is a life after being married to a pedophile."
In the end, however, she decided not to launch the group because she couldn't bear to risk the lives and reputations of her teenage children.
"If this got out, it would ruin the lives of my kids," she said. "I can't start a group. I don't have the expertise to help other women."
Sgt. Carl Coates, who has been with the Grapevine, Texas police's Crimes Against Children unit for 10 years, believes that services for the family of a pedophile would help.
"Something would be better than nothing," he said.
The lack of support doesn't surprise psychiatrist Roy R. Luepnitz, president of the Texas chapter of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. Spouses "would have to come forward, and who in the world wants to admit that," he said from his College Station office. "They are married to the lepers of voday's society."
Ann said her husband raped an 8-year-old girl. Ann had no idea he was attracted to children, she said.
She was relieved when she learned that her husband had committed suicide. He probably did the best thing for himself and his family, she said.
"I have no regrets about what happened," she said. "People like him can't be helped, and they should be taken far away from the general public."
Pam Eckardt was married to Dennis Creutz, who abused her for about two years before she discovered that he was a budding pedophile, she said. In November 1991, Eckardt broke the padlock on a cabinet in the couple's Denton home that she had been forbidden to open and discovered that Creutz had collected bags of girls' dirty underwear and cutouts from Sunday newspaper ads of teenagers in their undergarments.
She fled to a battered women's shelter, where she described her husband's behavior to caseworkers. It was the first time she had ever heard the word "pedophile."
Eckardt wept as she watched hospital doctors examine their 10-month-old daughter for signs of sexual abuse. Doctors found no evidence that Eckardt's child was abused by Creutz, and he continued to try to see the child after Eckardt left him, she said.
"I considered myself to be a smart person," said Eckardt, who has since left the area. "How could I have been taken into this? How could I have allowed myself to be taken advantage of? I was very embarrassed and ashamed, and I blamed myself."
After the couple divorced, Creutz was arrested in 1995 when his girlfriend in California claimed he had molested her daughter and his own godchildren. He pleaded guilty to charges of lewd and lascivious acts with a child younger than 14, and was sentenced to three years in state prison, court records show. He is a registered sex offender.
Ann and her children moved to escape the whispers and gossip. Her kids are involved at school and she waves at her neighbors again.
Everything "seems" normal.
But just when Ann thinks the ordeal is behind her, she's knocked into reality: For more than a decade she slept in the same bed with a man who liked to have sex with children.
Such feelings are common among the wives of pedophiles, said Levenson, who wrote a book for spouses of pedophiles and has a private practice that has hosted support groups for nonoffending spouses in Florida.
Pedophiles molest their own children or someone else's, and a wife's feelings often depend on which kind of pedophile she is married to, experts say.
A 1988 study of pedophiles found that 35 percent had molested their own children.
Experts say Web rings such as Healingwives.com and Sohopeful.org can be a good start for spouses of pedophiles to talk with other wives who have gone through the same thing. They can share advice on whether to leave the offender and how to cope or start over.
If all else fails, Levenson said, spouses should find a therapist.
Ann has tried all of that, but believes the best help would be a face-to-face support group of women who have suffered as she has.
"I don't know what I am going to do," she said. "I'm just trying to get through each day as it comes."
Eckardt attended groups for single mothers and battered wives, but believes a group specifically for wives of pedophiles would have helped her learn to heal psychologically and move on, she said.
Eckardt says she was haunted by her husband's actions even after she remarried. It took nearly a decade for her to stop having nightmares.
"I had so much anger in me during those years, but at the same time I didn't want to broadcast that I was the wife of a pedophile," she said. "The last thing I needed was to deal with a group of judgmental people who have never been in that situation. I just wanted to give (my daughter) a safe environment to live, get a college degree and move on with my life."
While I agree with this statement, my mouth is hanging open with disbelief that anyone could say that of their spouse.
She's come to terms with it. I'm glad she didn't defend him. Good for her.
The family members are not to blame unless they knew and kept silent. But step outside yourselves, ladies. Surely you can understand why people stay away. Blame the only guilty party: your spouse. He took away the innocence and happiness of his child victims and he took away your stature in the eyes of others. It's part of his crime. Blaming the wrong people for things may be part of what got you where you are today.