When Leah Mouatt, a 34-year-old woman from Sydney, Australia, became suspicious that her husband could be cheating on her, she discovered something much worse. Going through his computer one night in 2014, searching for evidence that her partner of seven years was courting women online, she found his profile on a “moral free” porn website and saw that he had left a string of disturbing sexual comments along with uploaded pictures of (clothed) pre-pubescent girls — including a family friend. Completely distraught, she called a friend who told her to pack her bags and call the police.
After a thorough investigation, police discovered that her partner, Phillip John Vellio, possessed hundreds of images and video showing young children and teenagers engaged in sex acts. He was convicted of two counts of possessing child abuse material. Mouatt’s world had imploded. “Everything was destroyed. I lost my friends, I was taken to [court] by [some members of his family] who didn’t want me to get a cent. I lost my home, my car. I’ve lost my trust in other people. I’ve had to rebuild a whole life.”
Mouatt is not alone. The partners of sex offenders are usually not seen as “victims” and tend to be overlooked in the aftermath, even when they often suffer severe mental health issues and face stigmatization from friends and family. Mouatt found herself moved back in with her parents, suffering from chronic fatigue and fighting over financial issues with her in-laws. She said she was only able to fight through her ordeal and not give up thanks to a therapeutic counselor provided to her. “I wouldn’t be here without it,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald. Now, two years later, she finally feels strong enough to speak out about her situation, as she has began rebuilding her life, studying psychology and volunteering to help other victims. “What hurts the most is that I went through so much and very, very few people thanked me,” she said. “I did the right thing and I was punished. There was no good that came from it. My life blew apart from that phone call and the only thing that got me through was hanging on to knowing that I’d done the right thing.”
Read the full story at The Sydney Morning Herald.