Husband and inappropiate pictures
May 23, 2014 5:07 PM   Subscribe

I have discovered some questional pictures on my husband's computer. How do I approach him about them, without him getting defensive?

About a year and a half ago I stumbled upon my husband's porn collection and found some (for me) disturbing images mixed in with some normal porn. It was an honest accident that I found the porn and he wasn't taking any measures to hide it. The photos I found disturbing were relatively low quality pictures of underage girls on a beach, without tops. I am sure they were not 18 (more like 13 or 14), plus the pictures looked like photos taken on the sly, by someone on the beach.

He doesn't look at websites as far as I know, but downloads images and videos from usenet groups. From the timestamps of the downloads I know he downloaded porn pretty much every day.

I tried to start a discussion about the porn, saying that I was concerned he was downloading so much of it, that it was affecting his life in a negative way (because he was doing it every day) and that I found some of it disturbing/inappropiate. He immediately got defensive and promply created a password for his downloading program, so that I could no longer open it and see what search terms he used. He later promised he would stop watching so much porn. I believed him and we haven't talked about it since.

Today I needed to use his computer and I purposefully looked through his download folders, just out of curiosity. I found more pictures of underage girls. This time they looked like modeling pictures. They were done in a studio, but the girls were definitely not 18 or even 16. The girls looked like they were aspiring models and talked into taking semi-erotic images. It disgusts me that young girls are being taken advantage of like that and that my husband feels the need to support it by downloading those images.

I don't know how to approach him about what I found. If I just bring it up, he'll get defensive and accuse me of violating his privacy and say that he can't trust me etc. How should I talk to him about what I've found?

I don't think he is addicted to porn, because there are days where we are together all day and he doesn't watch porn on those days or when we are on vacation for weeks at a time. I don't think he does it on the weekends, just during the week when he is home and I am at work.

I don't have any problems with normal pornography, but there has to be a line somewhere and for me that is pictures of underage girls. They weren't naked or even topless, but I still find it disturbing. Am I overreacting?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (40 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Underage porn is illegal, and I think it's fine to call him out on that. There's no way to do it without making him defensive, so just go ahead and make him defensive.

Downloading porn every day doesn't seem to be a problem. How can it be affecting his life in a negative way if you didn't even know about it? If it were truly affecting his life in a negative way (e.g. him completely losing interest in you or repeatedly getting fired for downloading porn at work), then you would know it. It sounds like it is actually not affecting his life in any noticeable way.

I would bring up the real issue (illegal underage porn) and not cloud it with the non-issue (watching porn every day).
posted by cheesecake at 5:12 PM on May 23, 2014 [13 favorites]

If I were you, I would figure out what you want to get out of this conversation, and what your next steps are, before you bring it up. A reaction flowchart, if you will.

For example -- you are disturbed by these images. Would you end the marriage if your husband said they were an important part of his sexuality and he wouldn't stop downloading them? What if he just says "OK, I like them, but since they upset you I will stop"? Would you be OK with that, or would you be uncomfortable with the knowledge that he finds it titillating? Would you trust a pledge that he would stop?

Sexuality is a tough thing to rationalize and this is something that he has already taken steps to keep private, so that will probably make it even tougher for him to be able to discuss it openly. I would not count on being able to actually accomplish anything with a conversation other than perhaps learning more.

And I agree with cheesecake, the every day porn issue seems pretty mild compared to the photos of children issue.
posted by telegraph at 5:21 PM on May 23, 2014 [10 favorites]

Child porn is very very very very illegal as you well know.

Be upfront and honest. Is he going to be defensive ? Yeah. But can he go to jail for a long time and be placed on a sex offender registry for the rest of his life? Absolutely.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:22 PM on May 23, 2014 [11 favorites]

I realize that they way you describe the images it doesn't fit in the 'traditional' (I'm using this term very loosely) child porn catagory. But he is clearly collecting pictures of underage girls for sexual purposes and that makes it child porn.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:25 PM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

What he is doing is illegal and, moreover, totally amoral. While he is not directly abusing children, he is aiding child abusers by being part of the market for child porn.

That said, knock off the snooping. Just because what he's doing is much worse, that doesn't excuse the sort of shitty thing you're doing.
posted by Betelgeuse at 5:38 PM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

during the week when he is home and I am at work.

I'm sorry, are you supporting him? So he's defensive about his underage porn viewing habits that you're paying for?

I would talk to a lawyer. His defensiveness is shitty, and unfair to you. There's nothing you can do to keep him from being defensive because it's a posture designed to make you feel shitty and disregard your (COMPLETELY NORMAL, ACCEPTABLE!) boundaries so he can do whatever he wants to matter how it affects you, or those poor children he's exploiting in order to get off.

I'm sorry. I just don't see much of a future with someone who has this poor of a moral compass. He obviously hides it very, very well, but now that you know you can act.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:45 PM on May 23, 2014 [50 favorites]

It's possible he is downloading these images non-specifically, and they're just arriving with other files (which typically come in huge collections.) So I don't think it's at all clear that he is intentionally collecting images of underage girls but that doesn't mean it's OK for those images to be on that computer.

My personal approach would that this is not actually something that needs to be discussed, but rather something that needs to be defined. What you need to do is give him the benefit of the doubt but be clear about the boundaries:

"I don't have an issue with you downloading porn but I have a serious issue with images of young girls, pornagraphic or not, being included in your collection. I need you to be hyper-vigilant and 100% reliable in making sure any of those images are deleted immediately, both to protect ourselves legally and to keep your porn consumption from becoming an issue between us."

Send it as an email, no accusations and no padding. There's not a lot to argue with there. ETA: if he does argue, or takes even more evasive action, seek outside intervention because that means he's collecting with intent.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:46 PM on May 23, 2014 [7 favorites]

Just to agree with the folks above: your husband was, and still is, downloading child porn. It doesn't matter if he was viewing it on websites, downloading from user groups, or god forbid producing his own: he is using and sharing child porn, and that is EXTREMELY illegal, not to mention reprehensible.

You've discussed this with him before, and all he did was get defensive and password-protect it so he could continue his underage porn obsession without interference. At this point, the best thing (perhaps the only thing!) you can do is protect yourself. Surely he knows this shit is illegal; you need to make sure that if he is swept up in some mass arrest YOU aren't also arrested.
posted by easily confused at 5:46 PM on May 23, 2014 [7 favorites]

There are at least 3 separate issues here:

(1) Illegal underage porn. Does he know about the FBI porn stings, etc.? In addition to ethical issues, there could be legal ones for your family, e.g. your home appearing on a list of sex offender residences. So this is a case where his boundary crossing may become your boundary crossing.

(2) Privacy. You say that your husband will accuse you of violating his privacy, and he's undeniably right about that, so prepare yourself to admit it, and to apologize. You looked 'just out of curiosity', which is rather different from 'OMG I don't want to do this unethical thing but if I don't, a greater wrong will have been committed!'. Show that you're willing to drop your defensiveness, and hopefully he'll do the same.

(3) Your own negative feelings about porn. You say you 'don't have a problem with it', but if that were the case, you would have led with Issue #1, rather than opening your discussion in the way you actually did. It's ok that you have these negative feelings, but you need to admit (at least to yourself) that you actually feel them, and not let them sneak into the conversation disguised as something else. If you're interested in working on or changing these feelings, tell your husband so.

As far as whether you're overreacting: the legal issues are a legitimate concern. The ethical ones are too. At the same time, it's hardly rare for consumers to ignore the exploitative conditions under which commodities have been produced (which include sexual exploitation far more often than is revealed by the products themselves). If by overreacting you mean that you're tempted to think of your husband as a despicable person, it may help to consider in this light the consumption practices of yourself or others you respect.
posted by feral_goldfish at 5:48 PM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

This is a serious enough matter for you to hire yourself a lawyer to advise you. You have illegal child porn in your home and right now there is nothing preventing YOU from being the one found in possession of it. Please, please, please consult a lawyer.
posted by hush at 6:16 PM on May 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

Sorta a side note here, but it absolutely sounds like an addiction, to me. I know people who tried to justify that they were not addicts by going 'See, I went X days/weeks without drinking/smoking/porn binging" That + the hiding behavior....
posted by Jacen at 6:21 PM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think you are underreacting. This isn't a tiny issue. You caught your husband committing a felony. One that can impact you and him for the rest of your lives. The question is what are you going to do? Are you going to stay with him? Are you going to report him? Are you just going to pack your bags when he is out and leave everything?

You also need to look at your wording. Inappropriate isn't the word. When I first stayed reading this I thought you were talking about BDSM or a weird fetish. Not girls under the age of 15.

When I posted earlier I said to talk. But that is based 100 percent on your feelings of safety.

This has got to be incredibly hard on you. I agree that a lawyer may be a wise choice. But you need to look at your moral compass and figure out your boundaries are before you do anything else.
posted by AlexiaSky at 6:22 PM on May 23, 2014 [12 favorites]

i just faved the young rope-rider. this is a bomb in your household waiting to go off, and the primary imperative is that it doesn't take you out too, and a lawyer is the first step in preventing this.
posted by bruce at 6:23 PM on May 23, 2014 [18 favorites]

The key thing to determine before deciding how to approach this is whether he's downloading pictures of underage girls intentionally. What DarlingBri said above about porn often coming in giant collections of many pictures, videos, etc. is very true, especially if he's torrenting it.

If he's intentionally downloading pictures of underage girls, then it's time to lawyer up and get a divorce.

If he's just downloading big collections of porn and those pictures happened to be in them, then educate him about the legal risks and moral issues with downloading sketchy collections that may or may not contain child porn. Maybe you could use your next AskMe question to request recommendations for legit porn sites that are stringent about filtering out that crap and then tell him that he needs to stick to those from now on.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:33 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's not clear to me than anything you have seen is necessarily illegal. You wrote, I don't have any problems with normal pornography, but there has to be a line somewhere and for me that is pictures of underage girls. They weren't naked or even topless, but I still find it disturbing.
, so I think it's likely there are images you consider porn that are not child pornography according to the legal definition of the term.

I think the issue of whether he actually is engaged in illegal behavior would be an important issue in any discussion you have. If you claim it is illegal and it's not, or you can't clearly demonstrate that it is, then the discussion can easily become about the legal issue when it seems what's really important to you is that he's doing something you think is disgusting. On the other hand, if it actually illegal, that might be more important than your personal feelings about it.
posted by layceepee at 6:39 PM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

I don't want to end up being castigated as the paedophile apologist here, but I am not seeing evidence in the OP's description to support definitive statements that her husband is in possession of illegal child pornography. The current crop of images is described as "not naked or even topless." I agree these images are creepy in context, but I am not getting to "felony" from there.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:39 PM on May 23, 2014 [10 favorites]

Agreeing with Bri here.

They weren't naked or even topless

OP, yes, talk to him about it, obviously it's a conversation that you need to have happen. Given that you've broken his trust, though, you've set yourself up for a really contentious conversation, regardless of the sketchy morality of him having these photos.

The "lawyer up" and "you caught him committing a felony" comments are hysteria.
posted by MillMan at 7:24 PM on May 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

The photos creeped you out and they were stored with other porn images, indicating that he is viewing young girls sexually. This is not etiquette, this is a huge legal and ethical bomb.

Talk to a lawyer. Don't talk to your friends about this until you have talked to a lawyer because depending on where you live and what you do, you may end up having to make and be held to hard decisions.

More importantly: does your husband have a job or other activities involving young girls? Do you have young girls at your house?

A lot of porn collectors do not harm the children and teenagers whose images they collect but some do, and collecting child porn is one of the risk factors. I'm not suggesting that you are in denial or your partner is abusing children (past the continuation of abuse in collecting images through supporting their distribution) and it may just be that he's jaded from a large porn collection and seeking more and more edgy images. They may have been part of a large collection he downloaded and never bothered to filter. There are much more benign interpretations.

But if your gut is churning and you are worried, please listen to that instinct. And don't blame yourself if you realise it's true. Child abusers can be charming loving people who keep their harm tightly locked up and concealed from people in their lives.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:39 PM on May 23, 2014 [8 favorites]

They weren't naked or even topless, but I still find it disturbing.

Yeah, I totally missed that the first time around. Can the OP explain what makes the photos 'semi-erotic images'?
posted by feral_goldfish at 7:50 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

A family member got a surprise visit from the authorities for downloading child porn. He had downloaded groups of images from groups, there were images much like the ones you described in among more mainstream and legal sorts of pornography. Even though he deleted most of them as he wasn't interested in them, he still got into a lot of trouble because he missed 3 images, it is really hard to actually truly delete something and they had records of him downloading the images in the first place. He did not mean to download them and only got out of some super serious trouble by the skin of his teeth because he was young and his computer backed up his story of deleting the images pretty much as soon as he saw them. Your husband may or may not be using these images in a pornographic manner, the authorities don't care they are on his computer and he is no kid making a silly mistake. The authorities can and do find you, and really do just turn up with a polite knock on the door, make of that info what you will.
posted by wwax at 7:51 PM on May 23, 2014 [11 favorites]

I would bet that these are images from the infamous "jailbait" subreddits, before they got shut down. They are horrible. They are not illegal. OP is in a tough spot.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 8:36 PM on May 23, 2014

Did some of you even read the OP's question? "The photos I found disturbing were relatively low quality pictures of underage girls on a beach, without tops."

As in showing naked breasts. As in the OP has already found illegal child porn in her home 18 months ago, and guess what? It can still be traced to her computer. How is that not obvious?

Clearly there is more. To assume otherwise is straight up dumb.

LAWYER. Now. Please for the love of God.
posted by hush at 8:59 PM on May 23, 2014 [23 favorites]

relatively low quality pictures of underage girls on a beach, without tops. I am sure they were not 18 (more like 13 or 14), plus the pictures looked like photos taken on the sly, by someone on the beach.

So topless pre-teens. Nth the suggestion to see a lawyer and that people who are into this sort of thing are usually very good at covering it up and may seem like perfectly nice, normal, caring people. Protect yourself.
posted by everydayanewday at 9:00 PM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Blunt truth: your husband is a criminal and a pervert. This may be all there is to it or the tip of the iceberg. If the truth is worse than this, will you be ok with it? If the cops come, are you ok with paying massive fines and visiting your husband in prison?. Only you can answer these questions, but let's not pretend this is a simple fetish.

Also, for those who only skimmed, she also said this:

The photos I found disturbing were relatively low quality pictures of underage girls on a beach, without tops
posted by superfille at 9:21 PM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

relatively low quality pictures of underage girls on a beach, without tops. I am sure they were not 18 (more like 13 or 14), plus the pictures looked like photos taken on the sly, by someone on the beach.

He's downloading topless creepshots of children? Get a criminal lawyer to protect yourself and a divorce lawyer to dump the motherfucker already. Or in lieu of the latter, at bare minimum, immediate intensive serious "do this or we are done" marriage counseling and individual therapy.

There is a world of moral difference between willing participants in pornography and people being exploited without their knowledge and/or consent. He would be a scumbag for the creepshots even if they were "just" upskirt shots of otherwise fully clothed adult women. That they're topless creepshots of minors make him a criminal scumbag who is helping to sexually exploit children and committing felonies in your home.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:27 PM on May 23, 2014 [9 favorites]

This thread has been bothering me all evening because I couldn't articulate what I wanted to say - nicebookrack just said it better than I could have. This is disturbing and there are a few comments here that seem to be treating it as not a big deal when it clearly is a big fucking deal. Underreaction, indeed.
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 9:35 PM on May 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

One more vote for Very Big Deal (and another for bruce's comment as well).

This is not even a little okay. You know it and he knows it.

Yes, he could be downloading batches of stuff, but when you told him you found some of the images disturbing, a different man would be able to honestly say, "Oh, so do I!" and explain how it happened instead of hiding it more.

Please take the advice to protect yourself legally. I know you want to believe what he says, but don't.
posted by whoiam at 9:50 PM on May 23, 2014 [8 favorites]

From an anonymous commenter:
I am an attorney who has handled cases involving facts similar to what you're describing. I would encourage you to speak with a criminal defense attorney in your jurisdiction, preferably one who has experience with child pornography prosecutions. It's a niche practice. Your state's bar association probably has a referral service, but you might instead contact a federal bar association. Use Google to figure out which is your local federal District Court, and you might find they have their own bar association. Obviously, be careful what you say.

Talking to an attorney does not obligate you to do anything. You don't have to divorce your husband, you don't have to report him to the police, you don't have to convince him to stop what he's doing. This is merely about getting information for yourself. In situations like yours between spouses, secrecy and information asymmetry are common. Don't rely on what one person tells you, even if that person is your spouse. Do your own homework. For you, a relevantly experienced attorney is both the best and the safest resource.

I do understand that you're talking about "modeling pictures," aka "semi-erotic images." If you want to learn more about the kind of material you are describing, the Wikipedia article titled "Child erotica" can give you a good start. Its references and sources sections offer additional reading, and you can get some ideas about what terms to Google if you want to know more.
posted by taz at 10:09 PM on May 23, 2014 [23 favorites]

We are in a time when notions of privacy are being reexamined, not just yours and his, but the both of yours in relation to law enforcement agencies. Having child porn on a computer in your household is an issue you should take very seriously, because when the officers escort your husband's PC tower off your premises, they won't be podunk municipal police, they will be FBI, they will have the full weight of the federal government behind them, and absolutely no one will have sympathy for him.

You have to think about this now in terms of legal risk to you. I am as sympathetic to non-standard sexualities as anyone you'll meet, but I'll be the first to tell you that child porn is a serious problem that exploits actual people and gets actual other people who think this is all just bits on a computer screen in serious, life-altering trouble.
posted by malapropist at 10:18 PM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

The reason I suggested lawyering up and possible divorce if it turns out that he is *deliberately* downloading pictures of underage girls is that even if the pictures themselves aren't technically child porn, if he's storing pictures of underage girls in his porn folders then you know he's whacking it to pictures of underage girls. Girls who apparently *look* underage enough that OP thinks they can't be older than 14, which means we're talking just-past-puberty-aged, not 17 years and 11 months. That seems... problematic, to put it mildly.

Again, figure out if this was on purpose or if he just downloaded a big torrent or other collection of pictures and didn't personally select all the pictures in it himself (and thus might not even know about the underage girls pics being included).
posted by Jacqueline at 11:34 PM on May 23, 2014

I'm going to try to address your initial question - how to raise the issue without your husband getting defensive.

My suggestion is based on two assumptions: firstly, you want to make your relationship work; secondly, all you want is for your husband to stop jerking off to pictures of underage girls who aren't complicit in the experience.

Sexuality is a strange thing. Some people get turned on by things they know are shameful. Their loins don't agree with their heads/hearts.

It sounds like your husband is ashamed of what he is doing. So the best way to approach it is not increase the shame factor during your conversation. From your description of your first conversation it sounds like this may have happened.

Is there anything you are ashamed of? Think of how you might want someone to address it to get you to change your behaviour.

If it were me, the only way I would be open to a conversation about shameful behaviour is if I felt I wasn't going to be judged. I get that you're repulsed by his behaviour, but is there any way of having a conversation where this isn't reflected in its tone? Can you bring up the issue in more of a 'hey, porn is fine but wanking over unwitting adolescents isn't'?

To some, this lighthearted approach will be at odds with the gravity of the situation. That's your call to make. You know your husband better than strangers on the internet (I hope).
posted by bernardbeta at 12:43 AM on May 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

My guess is that what you found is just the tip of the iceberg. Proceed accordingly.
posted by barnone at 5:26 AM on May 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

What if the computer crashes and has to be taken into the shop to be repaired? Child pornography is found on a computer that you and your husband share. He is putting you at risk of jail time. I know that is the extreme, worse case scenario (for you, anyway- the girls that are his victims have the truly worse case scenarios) but you sometimes have to walk all the way down to the extreme to understand what you are risking by protecting his behavior.

Move out. Leave the computer. Don't allow young girls to be around him. He will get defensive. He is doing something shameful and wrong. Don't let him make you feel like you are a bad person for calling him on it. Stay strong and either he will get help and stop what he is doing or you can find a nice man and live the rest of your life without having to wonder what he is planning on doing with that secret room in your basement.
posted by myselfasme at 5:33 AM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

OP, regardless of various peoples' split opinions about the questionable legality of at least some of the images, I am changing my advice. On the one hand, we have Anon Attorney saying "federal Bar association" and on the other, we have parents being charged with child pornography for possessing photos of their own kids in the bathtub. Wherever these photos actually fall on that continuum, you probably need to address this with both your husband and an appropriate attorney.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:35 AM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Check out Prison Talk, specifically the forum "Loving a Sex Offender." You will have to register to view it. Start reading about what got these people arrested. Some of the stories sound remarkably similar to yours, including accidental download of apparently innocuous material.. Of course not everyone's story is completely accurate; yours may not be either in terms of what you have heard from your husband. But when they do come knocking, as suggested above, they are NOT looking for reasons why you meant no harm. I think a lot of people think they are going to be OK because they are not a "real" sex offender but they end up on the SRO registry just the same.

Please be very careful about what you post online, by the way, and whether it can be traced to you.
posted by BibiRose at 5:56 AM on May 24, 2014

[Please stick to answering the question, not debating other commenter. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:45 PM on May 24, 2014

OP, those pictures from 18 months ago are NOT shots of your husband's own kids in the bathtub that happen to be on his computer and happen to include nudity. They are photos of child strangers, photographed without their apparent consent, that were deliberately added to a collection of pornography that your husband chose to download. Whatever the origins and intent of those photos, they are being used as child porn by people like your husband.

To extrapolate further: these disturbing images are ones that you were able to "stumble upon," unprotected in your husband's regular download folder. Your husband appears computer-savvy, able to password-protect his downloading program so that you couldn't see how he used it. And he chose to be secretive and password-protect it, rather than be honest with you about his reasons to hide his porn use from you.

Because of these things, you do not know what other material he may or may not have on the computer that he's taken actual care to hide under password-protection or encryption. He didn't trust you enough to let you see what he was doing, and now you can't trust that he wasn't doing something harmful.

Please, please talk to a criminal attorney ASAP, before you talk to your husband.
posted by nicebookrack at 1:17 PM on May 24, 2014 [7 favorites]

Yes, please talk to an attorney before you talk to your husband. You need to get the facts and put your own well-being first as it's extremely unlikely that he's concerned about YOUR well-being given the nature of your discovery (and I'm not even getting into the larger issue of possible child victimization).

Please, attorney first.
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 2:04 PM on May 24, 2014

I'm somewhat confused by your question and the way you've framed it. It's strange to be concerned about your husband's defensiveness when his other behavior is much more serious. I can't tell from what you've written if you brought up the photos from a year and a half ago with your husband when you talked to him about the porn you found at that time. Far and away, those were the real concern in that situation. When you express your concern about overreacting, you specify that you are concerned about photos that don't include nudity or toplessness, like the more recent ones you found. But you have seen photos that do include those things - photos that are absolutely child pornography, as other commenters have also been clear about. It sounds to me like you may be trying to hide from what you probably know - and I would say definitely should know - is happening here.

What is happening here: Your husband has downloaded child pornography. There is child pornography in your home, on a computer that may also be legally your possession. Child pornography harms children - not just when it's made, but also when it's viewed, disseminated, and tolerated. Your husband is harming children. You know about it now and have known about it for over a year. This is a very serious crime. You do not appear to have done anything about it at all. By not doing what you can to put a stop to this, you are also contributing towards the harm of children.

As an aside- if you've seen these, he hasn't deleted them immediately after download. Theoretically if someone wanted to download large batches of porn but didn't want the child porn that they can reasonably suspect will be included, they can go through what they've downloaded when it's finished and delete the images they don't want. This hasn't happened.

Here's the answer to the question you asked: As previous commenters have stated, your husband will get defensive. This is not important. If you really want to avoid his getting defensive during a conversation about porn/child porn, the only way for you to do so is to not have that conversation.

Here's the answer to the question you didn't ask:

Do not talk to your husband and do not have any contact with him that is not necessary for you to (a) end any involvement with him or (b) aid in any criminal prosecution that may take place.

Contact a lawyer for yourself. It sounds like you might need one.

Report your husbands downloading of and possession of child pornography. You can do that by contacting the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's cyber tip line. They are linked to on the Dept. of Justice's page on reporting child exploitation and obscenity. This page also says that you can call 1-800-843-5678.
You can also contact your local police, your state police, or your local FBI field office, if you like. There are a lot of different ways and opportunities to do this. It is better to do it now than to continue to not do it.

See what you can do to stop caring more about your husband's misplaced feelings/possible deliberate acts of manipulation than you do about serious crimes and people who are being harmed. Child porn causes extreme trauma and ruins people's lives. Tolerating your husband's involvement in this and not doing what you can to stop it, especially when an opportunity is dropped into your lap gift wrapped with evidence, is absolutely unacceptable. There are times when not performing an action is not simply inaction, but an action in and of itself. This is one of those times.
posted by Verba Volant at 7:33 PM on May 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

So which one of you do you think will end up in federal prison? To be blunt, this is trafficking of young children and others. So I know you are safe, go to a lawyer before you do any reporting and do it now.

Don't take more than a few days but do it. Everything you know will change if your husband is arrested and it is only a matter of time.
posted by OhSusannah at 8:13 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

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