Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.
Oct. 5 2006 7:52 AM

Terrible Discovery

I found out my boyfriend has child porn. What do I do now?

1_123125_122976_dearprudence_02

Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click here to sign up. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Dear Prudie,
My boyfriend and I have been together for five years and have lived together for two of those years. We are in our 20s. The other night I was using his computer (mine is away for repairs) to look at some pictures from a recent family trip and had to eject a CD of his. When I reinserted it, the contents were displayed on the screen. I was only a little surprised when the contents turned out to be pornography, as I know that he's a guy and enjoys it occasionally (although probably more than I would like), and we use it together at times. But when I looked more closely at the titles of the pictures and video clips, I realized many had to do with child pornography. I opened them, thinking they may just be labeled wrong, but they weren't. Quite a few of them involved young (approximately 6 to 10 years old) girls. It made me physically ill to think that my boyfriend might be looking at these. I suppose it's possible a friend gave it to him and he didn't know what was on it. My dilemma is, how do I ask him about this without making it seem like I was snooping through his stuff? I really do try to be careful that I don't invade his privacy when I use his computer, as I know that would bother him.

—Confused and Worried

Dear Confused,
Your more pressing dilemma is what to do about the gravity of what you found. Yes, you should ask him about it, but first you should ask friends and family if they have a place you can stay while you look for a new apartment, because you need to end this relationship and move out. You wonder if possibly the CD could have been borrowed from a friend and your boyfriend didn't know what was on it. Let's say he offers this as an explanation. No, it isn't plausible, is it? The chances are minuscule that this situation is anything other than what it appears: Your porn-loving boyfriend is a pedophile. This is horrifying, but think how lucky you are that you found out before you married him and had children. But there's more to this situation than your walking away. Your boyfriend is committing a felony, and he is sick. I talked to Peter Pollard, public education director at Stop It Now, who points out that viewing child pornography is not a victimless crime—children are being sexually abused for the satisfaction of people like your boyfriend. Pollard adds that while viewers of child pornography don't necessarily end up molesting children themselves, it is a warning sign. Your boyfriend must address his problem and seek treatment. You can tell him one place to start is calling Stop It Now's confidential, anonymous hotline. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, when you have this conversation, do it in a public place—perhaps suggest meeting for coffee, then sit outside where you can talk. You may tell him in the most caring way possible, and he may respond with tears and relief that his terrible secret is finally out. On the other hand, you are confronting him with the fact that you know he's a pervert and a felon, and he may not be so grateful. For the same reason, when you get your stuff, have someone—large and male would be good—accompany you.

Advertisement

—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
I am seven months pregnant with my first child. My husband and I had been trying for a baby for quite a while and had shared with our families the plan to name the baby after both my grandmothers if it was a girl (which it is). However, three weeks ago my sister gave birth to a baby girl and, to my surprise, named her after our maternal and paternal grandmothers, as I had planned to do. I am enraged. I can't believe my sister would do something so underhanded as stealing the names I had planned to give my child. My mother thinks I should let this go and move on, but I'm having trouble even being in the same room with my sister. At this point, I have seen my niece only once since she was born. Should I let bygones be bygones, and if so, how?

—Nameless

Dear Nameless,
Is it possible that you thought everyone knew but not everyone did? If you did have a direct discussion with your sister that you planned to have a little Gertrude Agatha, then her behavior is bizarre and infuriating. Without accusing her of "stealing" your baby name, just so you don't stew over this at every future family event, you can gently (she's a new mother!) say you want to clear the air with her. Explain you thought she understood about your plans for a baby name, and while you're delighted it has now found a worthy recipient, you now have to come up with something else. Having done that, your mother is right, you must move on. Don't miss out on sharing new motherhood with your sister and watching these cousins become close. She has now given you the opportunity to rethink honoring relatives: You could include someone from your husband's family in the newly constituted name, or you could make a first name/middle name combo out of your mother's and your husband's mother's names. Once your baby is here and named, I promise you will feel no other name could have been so exactly right for her.

—Prudie

Dear Prudie,
My male partner of over six years and I are lucky enough to live in Massachusetts, where we have the legal right to marry. While we both want to have a wedding in the near future, we are unsure about what to do with the invitations. Since we have both been to numerous family weddings, we feel as though we should send invitations to all members of his family and mine. Knowing that some would object to our marriage based on religious or political beliefs, I want to put a disclaimer attached to the invitation to please not attend out of a feeling of obligation, only if you wish to help celebrate our day. We want only family members and friends at our wedding who are truly happy for us, not someone who disapproves or is even disgusted by our union. I thought of inviting only my immediate family, but I know that members of the extended family would be hurt to not be invited. Is it appropriate to invite only those I know would attend? Another part of the problem is that I have never really "come out" to the family, but my partner has attended multiple family events (including weddings) and is well-known.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Right of Free Speech
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 21 2014 12:05 PM Same-Sex Couples at Home With Themselves in 1980s America
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 4:14 PM Planet Money Uncovers One Surprising Reason the Internet Is Sexist
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.