Most family members tend to “accidentally” find out about the sexual activities of their partners or other family members. They often discover images of children on the computer or find picture collections in other places. The possible reactions to such discoveries are understandable, e.g.:
• Fears concerning the consequences of the discovery for the family and the partnership
• Fears of police investigations, the reactions of social contacts and neighbors, or of financial difficulties
• Worries about the safety of one’s own children
• The feeling of being betrayed and deceived, given that the partner has been leading “another life”
• Disgust, revulsion and a lack of understanding at the needs and fantasies of the partner
• Anger at the partner who “selfishly” pursues his own interests at the cost of others • Shame and guilt for not having noticed anything before, or even fear of being partly responsible
• To feel torn, not knowing whether or not to contact the police Family members should therefore be offered support in coping with the newly acquired knowledge and the conflicts that may have arisen as a result. This can also consist of a referral to professional counseling.
In addition, family members are encouraged to seek an open dialogue with the affected person.. This way they can help to promote an awareness of the problematic nature of the behavior and motivate the person to seek professional help. This step is important because only direct talks allow for a reliable assessment of the situation and for many of the family members' questions to be answered. The involvement of family members is also expressly provided for in the further course of therapy.