Wednesday, 15 July 2009

fiona's story

i was going to post about this on monday night, but got distracted with the 60 minutes interview. i watched the sunday theatre on tv1, which was called "fiona's story". if you didn't catch it, it was about a woman who's husband is charged with owning child pornography. the story is fictional, but very well told and much of it would mirror what many women in similar circumstances went through.

there were so many issues that were raised really well, but the ones that stood out for me were:
  • the fact that her husband was so absorbed with the pornography that it damaged their sex life. he was no longer interested in her. this resonated with me, because i've recently heard that complaint from someone who is now separated. she said "i was right there, i was a ready and willing partner, but he gave more attention to the computer screen than he did to me." i think the damage done to some relationships by pornography is really sad.
  • the way that husband's behaviour was trivialised and excused by his family members. in particular, there was one scene with the couple and (i think) the husband's brother where the latter couldn't really see the problem with viewing stuff that was "already out there".
  • and sort of related was the way that fiona didn't want to mentally deal with the reality of what had happened - you could see a kind of denial in the way that she accepted the husband's initial excuse that he was a victim of identity theft; and even after he admitted what he had done, she still seems to shy away from the details and the implications of his actions.
  • the consequences that the wife and children would have to face had the charges been made public - the anonymous threatening phone calls, the shunning of the kids etc. and the way that this was used by the husband to ensure that fiona ended up him even when she was appalled by what he did. if the film had a weakness, it was that the full impact on the wife and children of public naming and shaming through a trial and sentencing wasn't shown.
  • the financial stresses that the family would have faced had the husband been jailed.
i don't know that we have any kind of formal system for supporting women and children who find themselves in this kind of situation. they have to suffer for actions that were not theirs, and the destruction of relationships is probably the worst of the problems they face.

this is a good review of the film, but i really want to share one of the comments at the bottom of it:

I was looking forward to watching Fiona's Story, I thought it would help people like myself who have been in the horrible situation Fiona found herself in. I was very dissapointed with the drama. I didn't think the BBBC covered the real effects it has on the wife, the children, friends and family. My children and I have been to hell and back. The impact it has on the children, knowing what their dad has done this terrible crime and viewed children their age is heartbreaking. Seeing your child being singled out at school, trying to protect them from the local headlines and billboards outside the newsagent. Trying to explain the crime their dad who has never commited an offence before was going to spend some time in prison. The visits of the social services, who stopped my husband seeing his children unsupervised immediatly after he had been charged. Telling the children they cannot be alone with their dad anymore, they couldn't understand because he had never abused them, he was their kind loving dad, yet he chose to see other children being hurt and abused. I was off work I couldn't leave the house I felt so ashamed and guilty somehow because I felt I should have known, yet had no reason to suspect for two years. My life now six months after he was given a six months sentence suspended for two years. I still fear people finding out and do my children, although I am seperated from my husband yet we still remain friends. He is on a sex offenders course and I am taking each day as it comes. There is very little help for the internet peodophile wife and their families yet lots of help for the peodophile! I wish the BBC had helped situations like mine and other families that are torn apart and shown the reality of a husband who was sentenced, the humiliation and guilt the wife has and the effect it really can have on the children!


Anonymous said...

stargazer said...

so what, anon? even if true, does it change the abuse currently happening to the children in the images people have viewed?

Anonymous said...

It doesn't, but persecuting people who would never even touch a child is not the right thing to do.

stargazer said...

the crime is owning objectionable material - viewing images where you know children have been abused. the person who has viewed and owned such material should absolutely go to court & be sentenced.

it's the family of that person, the wife and children who have committed no crime, who should not be persecuted.

you are really missing the point anon. by viewing child porn, you create demand & deserve to be criminalised.

Mikhela said...

I wish I'd seen this show. I worked in a place where one of the senior managers was found guilty of this. Interestingly, the only person who took his side - was a character witness at his trial - was a co-worker whose own children had been sexually abused. I never understood this but reading your post I wonder whether co-worker had some sort of distinction between physical abuse and watching images of abuse. There's a real lack of awareness that watching the images perpetuates theculture of abuse.

Anonymous said...

Would computer generated but highly realistic representations of children having sex with each other and/or with adults be considered objectionable by (a) you and (b) the law?

Hugh said...

By the law, yes. They've prosecuted for written fiction; they would certainly prosecute for fictional artwork.