Step father video taping step daughter

by G
(Springfield, MO)

I am so "stuck" in what happened to me/my family/my daughter 5 years ago. My oldest child, Nicole, now 24 years old, is not my ex-husband's child. I had her before Jim and I moved in together. Nicole was 4 years old when Jim and I started living together. Jim and I had two children, married a year after our second child was born and had (what I truly believed to be) a happy marriage and life. We were together for 15 years. I found out on 04/04/2004 that Jim had been secretly videotaping Nicole via a webcam sitting on top of the computer in her bedroom. She would go to take a shower and come back to her room to get dressed. That is what he videotaped - Nicole dressing and undressing in her bedroom. We never really determined for certain, but we believe he had been doing this for years, ie. since Nicole was about 11 or 12 years old. Which completely sickens me. I could show you photographs of my child at 11 and 12 years old and she was NOT a woman or anything near that. She hadn't started developing at all at that age. when I look at pictures of her at 11 or 12 she just looks like a child, seriously.


Anyway, the FBI was investigating Jim's business and began looking at the computer in his office, that is when the videos of Nicole were found. also found on his computer were thousands, yes thousands, of other pictures of child pornography. I was told by the FBI about the child pornography pictures first, not about Nicole, I don't think they had found it yet, and I just did not believe it. Jim told me that he had bought some computer thing at Best Buy that downloaded all these porn sites nightly and he didn't know there were pictures of child pornography on his computer. He thought it was just pornography. I believed him. I actually defended him to a child welfare person who came to my house. (My children were never removed from my home.)

Then on 04/04/2004 I was told about the pictures of Nicole. I was just blindsided and devastated. I got the kids together within the hour and left. Our family died that day, Jim is in jail now and Nicole was stunned and very upset - her father is a strong presence in her life (thank God) but still she spent years with Jim as her step father, thought of him as a father figure and the father of her brother and sister. She - like me - trusted him completely.

My question - I can't seem to get over this. A part of me loves Jim, which makes me sick. But I promised God and him and myself that I would be with him for better or worse, in sickness and in health, etc. I am having a hard time internally that I haven't lived up to my promise. Don't get me wrong, I don't want him back and would never, ever get back together with him. My children come first, before him, before me, before everyone.

Nicole is doing well. :) My other two children have had a harder time getting past this than Nicole has (or she's good at hiding it). Jake and Holly are teenagers who have to deal with a father in federal prison, his total sentence was 20 years, for money laundering and conspiracy, he got 5 years (concurrent) for video taping Nicole and possessing child pornography. They visit him in jail about every 6 months or so and he calls them on a weekly basis.

That's another part of this hurt, he has a lot of money and when I left him we went from having everything we ever wanted to just barely getting by. We are doing better now, but honestly just moderate. I was able to get my bachelors degree in psychology with the help of a Pell grant, thank you God. So my earning ability increased and we do okay, but certainly nothing like we used to live. And he still lives that way. He is able to make calls from his federal prison weekly, give the children large, expensive birthday and Christmas presents, but pays no child support. he is smart, has hidden his assets well. :(

Sometimes I want to punch him. Sometimes I still love him, we had good times together as a family, I thought we had a good family. Nicole hates it that I even allow Jake and Holly to see him. But how can I not? I grew up without a father, I would never press that upon my children. And they love him, he is their father. Of course, I am frightened that if he ever gets out that he will come after me. He blamed me for this whole thing. Said it was all my fault that he wasn't allowed to see his children after he was charged and before he went to jail. Crazy.

I don't trust myself or my impressions of other people. How on earth could I have been so, so wrong about someone?

Help... I feel so depressed most of the time. I contemplate suicide, but would never do that. I have two children still at home to take care of so that is not an option. I really just want to run away.

Have seen my physician, am taking Lexapro (20 mg daily).


Ben's Answer:

One of the most damaging effects of an experience like this is that it causes you to not trust yourself, your perceptions, or your instincts about people.

But usually, if you deal with all of your feelings, get it all out in therapy, you find that after the raw emotion is cleared away, you begin to see things more clearly again. Our intuition is always at work - and it is never wrong. But it is easy to ignore it, second guess it, question it, doubt it. Emotions can easily take over and we can "listen to the heart" - believing that our emotions are the best guide, while we might actually be ignoring that small inner voice or gut feeling that is telling us something is out of place.

Many predators are extremely slick and can be charming and very likeable. "Fine upstanding citizens," religious leaders, mayors and other highly esteemed figures. There is nothing wrong with you for getting fooled by such a person. And just because he did such perverted and hurtful things doesn't mean there were no good times between you. If he was doing these things out in the open for all to see, I'm sure you never would have stayed with him for all that time.

But the guilt about leaving him and breaking your vows? You didn't break anything. You rescued yourself and your kids. And this guy has the nerve to hide his assets after what he's done to his family?? And blame you? Outrageous! These are the signs of a true sociopath. If he had any conscience he'd be begging for your forgiveness.

I highly suggest you see a therapist weekly, if you're not already. An antidepressant alone is not going to make all this disappear. And I've found nothing better than EFT to resolve trauma, and let go of the past. You need to forgive yourself.

Take Care,
Ben Schwarcz

Comments for Step father video taping step daughter

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Oct 04, 2017
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It's still fresh. NEW
by: Rachel

My "FATHER" if I even call him that , has been married to my step mom for 15 years...My little step sister was a BABY when we met them . ..well two nights ago while taking a shower she noticed a camera looking directly at her ... she got out the shower and took the phone to our older sister. While looking through the phone they found over 150 videos of my little sister dressing and undressing herself. They then told my step mom and she went to calm down . Once she confronted him he INSTANTLY started crying and apologizing. Long story short the police was called and they couldn't do anything because that was his house and he can just say that he was putting surveillance cameras up so that he can be "safe".

NOW he's playing the victim . He's saying he's going to kill himself and that nobody no longer loves him .....but hasn't said one thing about my sister who is now SCARRED FOR LIFE . She hasn't talked in days ,she destroyed her room , she can't sleep and she feels unsafe. My step mom is DONE. I'm traumatized and I wasn't the victim.... there's no going back from here.

Sep 04, 2017
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Same thing..
by: Anonymous

I just recently found my husband's old phone, it doesn't have service but he still carries it in his bags while hes away at work.. (Gone weeks @ a time) he had told me that i didnt need to clean this bag and to leave the phone cigarettes in there.. I decided to check the phone, what i found still has me in shock! There were 2 separate videos of my 14 year old undressing to get into the shower! Plus numerous screenshots of certain parts of her in the video! He recorded them from outside (and underneath) the door! I confronted him about it and all he could do was apologize! He said he had gotten curious and let the curiosity get the best of him! The videos were taken 5 months ago and before i confronted him i checked every where else i could think of for more pics or videos... He said he never had done it before and it wont happen again? But how can i trust that?! Him and my kids are my world! (He's my daughter's stepdad)and we have a 4 yr old son. Fortunately my daughter has no idea. Is there anyway to save my marriage? My head tells me no but my heart is shattered! Please give me the advice i need that my heart wont accept.

Ben's Response:
I know this is devastating and very hard to come to terms with. Your head seems to be clear about this. The feeling of heartbreak is normal. This behavior is illegal. He needs to get some help. It's a violation and betrayal of your daughter, and you, and can easily lead to worse and more damaging behaviors if not confronted. Sweeping this kind of thing under the rug will not provide any chance of rebuilding real trust in the relationship. It would simply be denial. Getting some professional intervention is a far better choice. It may lead to legal issues for him, but ultimately, if he takes responsibility for his behavior and poor judgment it is more likely to reflect better on him. Making the right choice and taking some concrete action may still be painful, but will give your heart more peace.

If you address this with a professional therapist, it may be preferable to avoid involving your daughter in the process since she apparently does not know. Unless there are things that have happened that she has not revealed to you. Your therapist will hopefully give you good direction in this decision.

I wish you courage and peace,
Ben


Jun 27, 2016
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Feeling lost
by: Anonymous

This happened to my family 5 days ago. The life I pictured for myself and family is shattered to pieces and I have know idea how to pick myself up and be strong for all of us. I met my husband 3 years ago, he was amazing to my kids, was outgoing, a hard worker. He did all he could to make sure we were happy. We just got married 7 months ago. And last Wednesday my son came to me with a disturbing accusation my daughter had disclosed to him. I questioned my 11 y/o daughter and she claimed there was a camera in a bottle set up in her bathroom. I was confused and not sure what to make of the story but, I still questioned my husband about the camera. He claimed he did not know what she was talking about. Something told me to keep looking further. I found the GoPro I had purchased for him 2 years ago. I imported those images I discovered a video of my daughter getting into her shower 6 months ago. And the second was just a week ago where he tried to fit the camera in a bottle and place it in her bathroom. The very same bottle she had just described to me. I'm so lost with emotion. First and foremost I'm a mother and I'm going to protect my children the very best I know how. But, I can't see how a man that claimed we were his world can do this. I did turn in the video to the authorities and he has since been charged. He's apologized over and over, he went as far as wanting to end his own life, he did seek counseling, and turned himself into the authorities and confessed. I'm wondering will he ever change if he seeks help? Is it possible for us to be together? I don't think I can ever trust him with my daughter around. I just don't know what to do or think.

Ben's response:

This is a devastating thing for any family, but you are definitely not alone. It is difficult to ever regain trust in a situation involving any kind of sexual abuse or boundary violation of this sort. It's good that you had the courage to choose your kids emotional well being first. And it's good that he is taking responsibility and is getting counseling.

I think it's important that you also get counseling with a therapist who is very experienced working with families and sexual abuse as well as sexual addictions. Having some sessions together might also be good at some point, if possible, at least to get some closure, to be able to express your feelings, and to try to understand the issues that led him to this behavior.

There are times when a family can heal, with family therapy, after sexual abuse has occurred. But this is a difficult and emotional process. And I would expect it to be more difficult with a step parent who has not had a long term bond with the child. Above all, it is important that you protect your kids and respect their feelings.

I wish you peace and healing.

Ben Schwarcz

Mar 17, 2016
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Happened too me at 16 I am now 24
by: Anonymous

my mother had me before she met my father. I call him dad to this day because he is the only father I ever knew. I never met my real dad and I wasn't even told my "dad" wasn't my biological father until after I opened up about him tapping me to my mother. I'm not sure why he chose to come out with this hurtful secret at this point. I'm sure part of it was to take the attention off what he did. Either way after reading your story I am happy you were there for ur daughter. My mom didn't believe me. And being it happened at such a young age it took a huge toll on my behaviors. My father left my mother about two years ago. And to this day I won't mention that day to my mom. I don't know if I even want to hear her say she believes me any more. She should have believed me from day one. Not almost ten years later. Peace and love to you and ur family.

Nov 03, 2015
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me too.
by: Destiny

This same thing just happened to me 5 days ago, although I am 14. I always found cell phones in my room. Three times this happened. The first time I found it, it was lying in my stuffed animals ( I was about in 6th grade) the second time i found one, it was put in my old flower vase that my boyfriend had got me to ask me to the dance, i was in 7th grade. Now I am a freshman and i was getting ready for a date when i sat in my chair and saw a hole in the wall, i poked at it with a pencil and saw that it was a cellphone, the same on i had found.
And this time it wasn't accident it was in an unfinished part of my wall (we built my room) it was duct taped to my wall behind a super large bookshelf, i don't know what happened but i had a sudden burst of strength that made me able to move it but i did, and i went back to my room cried and realized i had to tell my mom. I came through the house screaming mom and he tried to stop me and asked me what was wrong, but I tried to push though him and he pushed me back, but i became stronger and shoved him hard and my mom came in and i told her what i found and he ran to the book shelf and said its a listening thing, but we both know its not, i mean the camera was in my room not the end of the phone where it should be if we was just listening.
But my mom started screaming at him kicked him out and went to work or she would get fired, she said she did that because if were leaving we need money since hes the money maker, but she went to work called a couple of buff guys to stay with me and my brothers, she told me if he tries to get back in call the cops, and he came to my window and said , "Destiny please let me in i won't look at you or speak to you." And i knew he wanted to delete stuff off the laptop so i didn't say anything back. And i called the cops, they showed up, and talked to them first and i ran outside and my stepdad said i don't know talk to my daughter and that made me really mad because he had the nerve to call me his DAUGHTER. I don't think so. I told the officer everything. I always thought he was checking me out a differently way then a normal dad would to make sure his daughter was dressed correctly, and i was very upset. He confessed to putting tapes in the bathroom and my room, but he would tell my mom or them what is on it but we both know what is. And he just went in front of the judge to get paper work to check the phones. but i hope he goes to prison, he claimed that he was only watching for a year but i found phones in 6th grade, lies... and my best friends have showered and changed there too so they also have the right to press charges too. I honestly feel bad for my mother because the man she loved betrayed her, and i've never seen her cry like this. plus my real dad was an abuser to her and she has been through so much, from cancer to this. And its not right and i'm honestly worried about her.

Ben's Reply:
Destiny, what you did took a huge amount of courage, telling your mom, confronting your step dad, and calling the police. Your mom is going to need some emotional support. There are therapists that can help her. Also therapists that work with families, that you could both talk to together. Your mom should see if her work provides any health benefits for seeing a therapist. Some employers also have a separate service called EAP (Employee Assistance Program) to see a licensed therapist for free (for at least a few visits). Another good option can be using a counseling hotline - many are free and anonymous. If he is charged with a crime, it may also be possible that part of his punishment includes paying for therapy for the family. In California there is a state fund called Victims of Crime, that provides funds for therapy to the victim and their family. There also may be low fee counseling clinics that could be a resource for you. It's normal for a parent to cry when betrayed this way, but very important that she not have to cope with this alone. There is support out there if you look for it, so don't give up. It's important for both of you.

Take Care,
Ben

Oct 13, 2014
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July 14th
by: Anonymous

So I wrote the response back in July 14th- and it is now Oct. 13th...We have moved out- me and my girls.. and are looking into the divorce process- the investigation has not been completed and court got pushed into Nov. Closure feels so far from us. Things with him have become strange- he shows and says things that make me feel like I am being followed.. he started hitting on my friends... and even text me his defense- on houw he plans to attempt to get custody of our two year old- claiming I am unfit... I am not worried the least about it... but it is truly sad how he was the one who wronged us as a family and continually does...How do I heal? How do I find that closure I need? How do I understand what has happened? I am empty inside- he really took more then just the things that are visible from us as a family with his stupid act of taping my child- his step daughter... I can't grasp it- I can't make sense of it... I fear for my two year old- I hate that he is with her at times.. I wish I knew he was seeking help... and I know he can't do that until he admits what he did... his pride is too great or something.. to admit it. Anyone else out there that has gone thru the court system after something like this- what can be expected- will he go to jail? I was holding off on the divorce due to cost issues.. and thinking if custody will eventually get handed to me.. then why put forth the money for a lawyer and go thru it now? Does anyone know any advice that will help?

Ben's reply:

I'm glad you are moving forward and trying to assert yourself. It sounds very hard. What is apparent is that it doesn't sound like
he is showing any remorse. That will only strengthen your case. This is a child abuse case. In California it would likely be prosecuted as such, and he would not have any right to have unsupervised visits with your 2 year old. I can't give you legal advice, but I can say that there are definitely free legal aid services as well as lawyers who will take "pro bono" cases. I would strongly suggest that you utilize all resources available to get support in this. The important thing is to protect your kids, and yourself.

As for your own emotional pain in trying to understand why he would do this - his behavior sounds sociopathic. And you can't waste your time trying to put yourself in his shoes and understand his motives. It will only drive you crazy. You thought he was someone different than he turned out to be. Get support. Get mad. Grieve the loss... forgive yourself for choosing the wrong guy. You can't wait around for him to admit to what he did. You are not the only person to go through this. I have a friend who is a psychologist in a prison for sex offenders and it's full of guys just like your husband. They actually have it pretty good there - a beautiful campus-like setting -minimum security - lots of classes and therapy and rehabilitation. Some get rehabilitated and turn out to be very decent people. A few of them don't. You don't have any control of that. You just have to take care of yourself and your family.

Wishing you the best.

Ben

Jul 14, 2014
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I am in a similar boat
by: Anonymous

Recently - my 12 year daughter found a video camera hidden in the bathroom. It was put there by my husband -her step father. After she discovered it she told me that very day- the camera was gone but the place and steps he took to hide it were there- I approached him with this discovery- He changed his reasoning five times. At one point stating it was to tape me- but due to the time line of when the camera was found- his lie soon shifted to "I was doing a prank" - I am so confused and outraged by what this, prank or not has done to our family. My little girl is going thru emotional conflict- this guy we both love very much and he was our protector - now all trust is gone. The police recently got a warrant and took all computers, cameras- etc... from the house. I am waiting to see what or if they find anything else. He says the camera never taped and it was a first time thing. Regardless still it is creepy, confusing, and disturbing. I can't believe we are dealing with this. It is said that in the mean time- it is an invasion of privacy and chances are he will face some jail time. I guess I am writing here to say that although this is devastating to my family... the important thing is the camera was found and I can do what needs to be done to protect my daughter before something terrible happened, or happens. However as a wife- I am completely unsure of where to go from here- this guy was my best friend... and now I feel I don't even know him. We have a 2 year old daughter together and so I guess here we go taking the first steps of the beginning of the end of what once was a truly beautiful family... and all four of us - our world is forever changed all because of what... a stupid choice he made. IS it a sickness? I can't wait until time heals. I can't wait for that day when I feel at ease, and at peace. I mean he disturbed the two most important things in life- family and home.

Ben's reply:
This is very traumatic and sad for the whole family. Unfortunately far too common a situation. And yes, I would call this a sickness. But as adults we are still responsible for our choices and actions. This kind of behavior is often very much like a serious addiction and can override common sense and good judgment.

Wishing you healing and peace.
Ben

Dec 31, 2013
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I know your pain
by: Marie

I just to had found out that my husband had been secretly videotaping my 15 year old daughter and I'm sick to my stomach. My daughter found it placed in her bedroom too as she was getting out of the shower it was running video while she was naked. We had caught the situation soon and I am glad this was not going on long or did not progress to something even more devastating. I am still walking around in disbelief and can't justify why he would do this. He says he is at fault it was wrong and did this to see what my daughter is always doing not the intention to see her naked. But then why would you set a video up in her bedroom when you knew #1 she was in the shower #2 its her bedroom where she will probably be naked after her shower getting dressed #3 their would be no concern for what my daughter does, she is strait A student, does not do drugs, smoke, or drink or have a boyfriend so what would he be trying to see, he never mentioned to me, his wife, that he is concerned for her and her activities. He also ruined his entire life as we share a young child together. We also had a loving marriage, so I thought, and a lovely home and environment for all the kids.

I truly know your frustration, anger, madness, and lack of trust in everyman out there in the world because of a serious act like this. He was a good step dad and father figure to the my children and that is what makes this so hard to understand and exempt. At the same time I too still love my soon to be ex-husband and father of my youngest born. The guilt I have for failing to protect my daughter is overwhelming and I do not know if it will ever go away, as she lives with the pain of this the most. I am now considered by my husband as the one that gave up on our marriage because I do not want to go to counseling to fix this. To me their is no fixing this. When he involved one of the children he crossed the line. His life has turned completely upside down for a stupid decision that he made, the child he adored and spent every moment that he could with will pay forever with the lack of daddy time. This whole situation is unthinkable and I truly grieve for your devastation too.

This truly is devastating, and I'm sorry for your loss.
- Wishing you Peace,
Ben

Feb 11, 2011
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brave woman
by: Anonymous

i have to say your really brave what you did was fantastic and amazing for your children as soon as you found out about what he as doing you threw him out do not feel depressed feel happy that you saw it in time and you did something about it before it got too late your children are safe now and they will be thanking you when they are older they will be happy they have a mother like you this will be a fresh start for you enjoy it will get better for you it will take time life has only just begun for you look after youself and ur children you be happy tc

May 31, 2010
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Clarification
by: Anonymous

Ben, What does EFT stand for? I'm sure it's obvious to others but I am in almost the exact position.

Ben's Reply:
EFT stands for "Emotional Freedom Techniques" - also often referred to as "Meridian Tapping," it is the technique that I use more than any other in my therapy and coaching work with clients. EFT is a method that rapidly resolves emotional problems and stress-related physical problems - often very rapidly, compared to other psychological techniques. There is information about EFT and Meridian Tapping on the website.

-Ben

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