Two years ago my life changed when I met a new man. He was kind, gentle, easy to talk to and made me laugh.
The day after our first ‘date’ I received a text message from him which read:
I need to tell you something but it needs to be in person
I thought he was going to tell me that he was married! I certainly didn’t expect to hear the words that he actually said to me.
The following weekend, I drove to a restaurant to meet him with a feeling of unease. After we’d eaten, he told me that he needed to have a chat with me about something from his past which was likely to affect his present and his future. His first words were ‘I’ve got a couple of criminal convictions’ and, as he continued he revealed to me that he had some historical sexual offences for which he’d spent four years in prison. Well – I wasn’t expecting that!
He continued to explain that in 2010 he’d received a further conviction for downloading and distributing indecent images. He told me that he’d been given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for an indefinite period of time. Luckily I had some knowledge of the law so I knew what he meant and what the implications of this were likely to be. As he was explaining the circumstances, I was surprised to find my heart going out to him and I started to appreciate that a persons lifestyle and background can have a lot to do with why they break the law.
Even though we’d known each other for such a short period of time, I knew that the man sitting in front of me was going to be very important to me. We chatted a lot over that weekend and, when I left for work early on the Monday morning, I’m pretty sure that he didn’t expect to hear from me again. I don’t give up easily and in the following weeks, I bombarded him with questions and made him tell me the full details of his offences – I felt I needed to get a better understanding of why he’d done what he did and I needed to be sure that I could accept this man and his past. It didn’t take me long to realise that I was already happier than I’d been in other relationships.
The next step for us was to visit the police station together to meet and speak to the team who oversee those on the Sex Offenders Register. We were there for over an hour whilst I was asked what I’d been told about the convictions, whether I had any children or grandchildren under the age of 18 (I didn’t). It wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience but it could have been a lot worse.
So what has happened since then? Well this man is now my husband and I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it. We’re both in our 40’s so having our own kid’s isn’t on the cards for us. We have visits from the local police every three months or so and have to answer some very probing questions about our lives (I must say, it’s always done very professionally). We have to remember to report any changes in our circumstances to ensure there’s no chance of him breaching his order but otherwise, we generally have the same lives as anybody else.
My husband knows what would happen if any type of offending behaviour happens again – I’ve warned him that our marriage would be over.
So the moral of the story is that honesty is always the best policy in relationships. There’s no guarantee that a potential new partner will run for the hills. In fact they may, as I did, feel honoured that they’d been trusted with such a huge part of somebody’s life.
By X and B (name changed to protect identity)