Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, Ph.D.

Deborah Schurman-Kauflin Ph.D.


What Predators' Wives Really Know

The secret world of child molesters.

Posted Apr 21, 2012

In this world, there are untouchable individuals who actually get sympathy for their atrocious behavior. Like skilled actors, they use their sad eyes as shields from pointed questions when dark deeds come to light. From the sidelines, they watch for years as the most twisted attacks are carried out right in front of their eyes. Yet they remain silent as does the public that tends to offer a shoulder to cry on rather than a proper investigation into their behavior.

For too long many spouses of child molesters have hidden behind the pretense that they were unaware of the crimes going on in their homes. The myth that these women didn’t know of the depravity which played out under their roofs is just that: a myth. Reality tells a different story. The truth is sickening and may be shocking to some readers whereas other readers may have known this all along.

In my years of profiling violent crimes, I have found that in the majority of cases that I studied, the spouses knew about the child molestation which was carried out by their spouses. They knew because either the offenders told them or they witnessed the abuse! Of course the wives never admitted this once an investigation was opened; however, victims have often stated that the wives of their abusers were present when the attacks took place. As the victims called out for help, it was common for the wives to walk away and shut the door behind them. In other cases, the wives would see their spouses bringing children into their bedrooms but said nothing. Many victims tell their mothers that their fathers are molesting them, and they are not believed.

But never fear. These women are phenomenal at explaining themselves. First and foremost, they are adamant that they didn’t know what was going on. Amazingly, these women who were teachers, physician assistants, and charity fundraisers became stunningly stupid when it came to the sex abuse. Though considered intelligent, these women claim that they couldn’t put two and two together that their husbands were doing something wrong when there was an endless parade of young boys or girls going into the marital bedroom with their spouses. It strains credulity to believe that these women knew nothing.

I personally know of a case where a female was married twice, each time to a child molester. The woman was involved in housing foreign exchange students. Her first husband was caught molesting these young females who stayed in their home. After divorcing him, she married another man who seemed very fond of young boys. Once again, they hosted foreign exchange students. Husband number two insisted that the young boys sleep in bed with him while his wife would sleep in another bed. She claims that she didn’t know anything was going on. How could she? Even though the abuse took place in the same room at the same time she was sleeping, somehow she didn’t see anything wrong. See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil. Remember, this is the same woman whose first husband was convicted of child molestation. One might argue that there was no way she couldn’t have known.

If for some reason, the wives’ pathetic excuse of ignorance doesn’t fly, the women immediately run for the sympathy card. They can’t be held accountable for the actions of their sick spouses. After all, they have children to raise. What would their children do if they were put into prison? Many are church goers who vehemently apologize that they didn’t do more for the children (translation: I am sorry I got caught).

Some wives will fill their eyes with crocodile tears and cry of their own abuse in childhood. They will claim that they were too mixed up emotionally to step in and help the victims. How could anyone cast a nasty eye at them? They were victims as children, so how could anyone expect them to do anything to help anyone? “Poor me,” they whine.” I was hurt; feel sorry for me! Yes, I knew about the abuse and did nothing, but don’t you dare point a finger at me.” These are their words, and they will even go so far as to say that they were good parents, even if the victim was their own child. In brief moments of honestly, some of these women have admitted to harboring hostility toward children which stemmed from their own abuse. In a way, they took a perverse delight in watching others suffer.

For some of the wives, physical violence was a concern. They didn’t want to get beaten, so their way of not being hit was to let their husbands or lovers abuse children. They figure the child is the one who is getting hurt instead of them, so why cause trouble? Other wives were fearful of losing their source of income if the molestation was discovered. If the wives rely on the husband for money, then they zip their lips. The thought of having to go get a job is worse than the thought of children being raped.

For other women, there is a deviant bond which makes them feel close to their spouses. If a molester confesses his secrets to the wife, then she and he share a unique experience. To trust her enough to tell her means that he must love her. And if she loves him how could she turn him in? A type of magical thinking emerges where the females believe that they are in a very special relationship that will all turn out just fine. All they have to do is look away, and sadly, they do. If they can just ignore it long enough, then it will disappear.

Some play their part and aid their spouses because they fear the shame and potential judgment if the truth came out. They cannot believe such a horrible thing is happening, and if they keep it secret then somehow it is less real. In a very twisted type of thinking they would rather live with their secret and play their role in the abuse than to face shame or any potential consequences.

Then there are the most sick of these women. These are the ones who not only know about the abuse but get sexual excitement from it. They enjoy it and use it in their sexual fantasies. I know of such cases where the wives had their husbands tell them every raw detail of the abuse as the couple was having sex. Such women would never report their husbands’ crimes. They see nothing wrong with what they are doing.

No matter what the excuse, the bottom line is that they say nothing, and the heartbreaking part is that this type of behavior is increasing, not decreasing. Even with publicity and education, crimes against children are going up. Too many people suffer the indignity of being molested as children, having their lives ripped apart. Then they are left in pieces as they struggle to put themselves together again, often with little to no help. What they are left with is a clear idea that molesting is wrong and the pain that it causes.

This idea that spousal participation is not important has to change. When there is no price to be paid for their part in the abuse (keeping silent), the behavior will not ever change. Thus this perpetuates the cycle. More scrutiny needs to be placed on spouses of molesters if there is suspicion that they knew. If it can be proven that they knew of the abuse, they should be held accountable.

I have talked to women who knew of their husbands' actions but did not come forward. It is absolutely sickening to listen to these women. They were some of the most self centered and self serving people I ever met, and they were not sorry. The only sorrow they felt was for themselves.

So I'm going let you all in on what I have told these women when they confessed to me that they didn't help the abused children because they themselves had been molested when they were young. I told them, "you turned into the very thing you hated. You are not victims anymore. Once you crossed that threshold from victim to predator’s assistant, which you did when you saw abuse and turned away, you lost any and all sympathy. You are neither brave nor noble for trying to use your abuse as an excuse. And your past abuse is not an excuse for your complicity. You made choices and are responsible for your inaction. The victims will suffer a lifetime because of the part you played."

Children deserve better protection, and one can only wonder how many could be spared being raped if only one of these spouses would simply open their mouths and tell the truth.

About the Author

Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, Ph.D.

Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, Ph.D., is a criminal profiler and expert on serial crimes.

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