Husband and Stepdad Viewing Child Pornography

worried married woman
How would you advise a woman who just found out that her husband is viewing child pornography?

I’m devastated; I caught my husband watching child pornography. My young daughter from a previous marriage lives with us. I love my husband and want our marriage to survive, but I need to protect my daughter. What should I do?



We’re so sorry you’re having to walk through this pain. The situation is devastating and requires careful attention and decisive action on every level.

But before getting into what you should do, we want to assure you that you’re right to be concerned.

Child pornography offends God

Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? We ask because here at Focus on the Family we believe the purpose of life is to know and glorify God through an authentic relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. And that frames our understanding of and response to a broken world.

So spiritually speaking, it’s difficult to think of an offense more revolting to God than involvement with child pornography. Children are precious to our heavenly Father. Consider Matthew 18:5-6:

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,” says Jesus. “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Shocking as it sounds, our Savior suggests that it would be better for a man to lose his life than to violate the innocence of a child.

The effects of using child porn are alarming

Child pornography is illegal in all states — people who get caught go to prison for a long time. And once behind bars, they often find that their troubles are just beginning. Why? Because most people have a deeply ingrained instinct that children need and deserve adult protection. So even the most hardened criminals usually feel nothing but contempt for a fellow inmate convicted of sexually abusing a child.

In addition, child porn use has psychological and physiological implications. Like every other kind of addiction,  pornography addiction causes chemical changes in the brain. Even worse, the addiction causes anatomical and pathological alterations that result in various cerebral dysfunction.

That’s not to mention what researchers found: Among convicted, sex offenders there is an 85% correlation between viewing child pornography and participating in actual sexual relations with children. In short, people who look at child porn often go on to act out their fantasies.

What does all of this mean for you?

Four steps to take

Find out from your husband exactly what’s been going on and how far his habit has progressed.

There’s a big difference between a man who has looked at child pornography twice and a man who’s deeply steeped in this kind of behavior. When you ask, he may deny the truth or become defensive. Regardless of his reaction, however, it’s important to bring up the issue.

And if he tries to downplay the seriousness of the problem, it would be a good idea to bring a third party into the discussion — someone you trust who won’t be taken in by lies or smooth talk.

Determine the nature, duration, and frequency of your husband’s use of child pornography.

Persuade him to meet with and be assessed by a competent licensed clinician who’s specially trained to deal with sexual addiction. A good therapist can help evaluate your husband’s overall attitude. For example, is he truly repentant and sorry for his actions, or does he refuse to admit that he’s done anything wrong? The counselor will also be able to gauge how open your husband will be to treatment.

Think about separating yourself and your daughter from your husband for a while.

We don’t want to assume anything about your situation. So we’ll offer a gentle word of caution here: We’ve found that many women in your position tend to downplay their spouses’ behavior out of a desire to get back to normal. Please don’t make that mistake.

Don’t be so quick to save your marriage that you overlook the effects of pornography use. When porn is in the house, there’s always a possibility it will have a direct impact on the behavior and actions of the user. And your daughter’s safety is your top priority.

If you do decide to live apart for a time, it would be best if your husband moved out. That way there’s no need to disrupt your routine or upset your daughter any more than necessary. But if he won’t cooperate, you may have no choice but to pack up and leave.

In that case, make sure you have a support system and a place to stay. Have a plan, line up your resources, and make your arrangements ahead of time instead of reactively packing and leaving in a hurry. Don’t wait until you’re emotionally out of control and risk making a snap decision you’ll regret.

Consider the legal ramifications of the situation.

The best way to do this is to consult a reputable attorney. If you don’t want to take this step right away, another option is to contact Child Protective Services with a hypothetical report. In other words, call them and say, I know someone who is having serious domestic problems. What should I tell a woman who’s discovered that her husband — the stepfather of her child — is involved with child pornography?

Depending on the legal advice you get, you may come to the conclusion that it’s time for you or your lawyer to report your husband to law enforcement officials. This is a decision you’ll have to make on your own; we can’t tell you what to do. But we would suggest that this is probably the best way to get him the help he needs. If the case comes to trial and he’s convicted of a crime, the judge will probably order him to undergo individual therapy.

We’re here to help

We understand that you love your husband and want to preserve your marriage. But sometimes love has to get tough. Under the circumstances, the most loving thing you can do is to put your husband on the pathway to recovery by shaking him out of his current pattern of behavior.

Our staff counselors would welcome the chance to talk with you more about your situation. And they can give you a list of reputable and qualified family counselors working in your area for ongoing support. Call us for a free over-the-phone consultation.



If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Love Must Be Tough: New Hope for Marriages in Crisis

The Last Addiction: Why Self-Help Is Not Enough

False Intimacy: Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction

Nothing to Hide: Hope for Marriages Hurt by Pornography and Infidelity

Digital Pornography Addiction: What You Need to Know and Where to Find Help


Be Broken Ministries



Pornography and Virtual Infidelity

Dealing With Pornography


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