“Like anything traumatic, you’ll never forget it,” former police detective Narelle Fraser told me over the phone.
In 2012, on her 52nd birthday, Narelle was tasked with watching 1700 child sex abuse videos – the content of which was beyond the scope of human imagination.
But the job, as horrific as it was, served an important purpose. Narelle was classifying the material on a scale of one to five, five being the most horrendous, in order to have the person responsible adequately prosecuted.
A vast majority of the tape received a classification of five.
Narelle was a seasoned detective who thought she’d “pretty much seen everything…”.
But over the course of those two days, she discovered she hadn’t.
“Do you believe in evil?” I asked Narelle, given her work on hundreds of cases that dealt with child sex abuse material throughout her 22-year career.
After a lengthy pause, she replied, “Probably not…”
“I think it’s often learned behaviour. There’s something very, very wrong… they have often grown up in an abusive sort of household themselves. And so they don’t know anything different…”
Child sex abuse material, she told me, is being produced, distributed and consumed all over Australia.
“I think you would be horrified at how much child sex abuse material is being made in Australia… even maybe in your suburb. It’s frightening to see how much it’s going on,” Narelle told Mamamia.
Often, police are tipped off by computer repair shops who come across illegal material on their clients’ laptops.
“Most paedophiles or people interested in child sex abuse material, they will somehow ingratiate themselves into an area where they will have access to children. The kids may even take these people home and their parents might think they’re great people,” Narelle said.
Often, the abusers are manipulating the parents as much as they’re manipulating their victims.
In the majority of cases, Narelle found that the material was being produced by friends of the parents, or an organisation that has a great deal of access to children; within footy clubs or the church for example.
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Their victims – contrary to what many would assume – are predominantly boys.