When I was 14 my father was arrested for watching child pornography. Social services told me that based on his online activity, which included teen incest fantasies, I was at risk. He defended himself by saying that he’d just been watching “normal” porn at first and got in with a “bad crowd,” talking about it as if it was something that had happened to him passively, and not something he was actively responsible for. He didn’t apologise or seem to think I deserved any explanation; all he was interested in was painting himself as a victim in the whole situation and making sure everyone believed him. I was told there were 5,000 images but he never faced any legal consequences except the arrest. At first I occasionally kept in touch with him, thinking maybe he’d just made a mistake, but as I got older I realised the harms of pornography and that even if he hadn’t known for a fact that the girls were underage, he’d still behaved repulsively, and at 16 I eventually cut off all contact with him. Unfortunately, he had been my least abusive parent, so overall my life got worse. I hadn’t even known that child pornography existed before his arrest, and I resent that I had to learn such horrible details at a young age. Social services had also told me that the girls in the images “looked like me,” and now whenever I meet a women who looks like me I am reminded of his collection and can’t help but wonder if she was abused and part of it. I wonder if those girls are alive today and where they are and what their side of the story is. I resent that he never apologised or made any indication that he would actually stop. I hate knowing that he’s still out there, and that apart from my cutting him off, he faced no consequences.

TRIGGER WARNING: “Please be mindful when deciding on whether to read these stories that they are emotionally impactful and may be triggering. Within people’s accounts, there is mention of rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, child sexual abuse, other forms of abuse and violence, self-harm and suicide. There are various helplines available for support.