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The knock: the families torn apart by an arrest over child abuse images | News

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This episode includes discussion of the sexual abuse of children.

It was a Sunday evening in the summer of 2016 when the knock came on Emma’s front door. Her ex-husband had just dropped their children off, and she thought he had left something behind. Instead, she saw him surrounded by police officers.

She didn’t know it then – but her ex-husband Ben was being arrested for downloading indecent images of children. About 850 men are arrested across England and Wales on that charge each month. This story is about what happens to the families left devastated by that news.

We hear from Emma about her family’s struggle to survive the bombshell of the arrest – from the search that evening to working out how to tell her children, the long wait for trial, and deciding to move house over fears of reprisal. And Rachel Humphreys speaks to Harriet Grant, who met Emma after she got an email which began: “Please could you give a voice to the children of child sex offenders?” Harriet tells Rachel of the trauma suffered by families like Emma and her children. And she says: “The way that she told her story about the events that followed … it’s a privilege to be able to talk to someone about that direct experience.”

Emma and Ben’s names have been changed. You can also read Harriet’s article, The knock that tears families apart: ‘They were at the door, telling me he had accessed indecent images of children’.

•In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email or In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at

• Information and support for anyone affected by rape or sexual abuse issues is available from the following organisations. In the UK, Rape Crisis offers support on 0808 802 9999. In the US, Rainn offers support on 800-656-4673. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). Other international helplines can be found at

•In the UK, if you are worried that a child you know is at risk of abuse or you need some advice, contact the NSPCC at their website or on their helpline, 0808 800 5000.

Cracks appear in a front door behind a brass knocker.

Photograph: GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images

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