Warning: This article includes details of child abuse.
It was February 2016 and Victorian MP Dr Rachel Carling-Jenkins, now 42, felt something was “not quite right” in her marriage to husband, telecommunications technician Gary Jenkins, now 46.
Like many women who’ve experienced something similar, Carling-Jenkins thought he was having an affair.
They had married in their 20s. They were both Christians. And Jenkins helped his wife raise her son, Terry, from a previous relationship.
But Carling-Jenkins couldn’t shake this feeling of insecurity, which was niggling at her constantly. Was he sick? Was he depressed? Was he seeing someone else?
In a bid to find the truth she, with Terry’s helped, logged onto her husband’s computer. What they stumbled across was much, much worse than any mutually-consensual affair.
“I saw a number of icons on the screen, and I could see small images … some were photos and some were videos and I started to click on them to see what it was,” the MP told SBS’ Insight on last night’s program.
“They were all of children and all of little girls. I saw child rape.”
She said she immediately became “hysterical” but common sense soon kicked in. She was forced to report her partner of more than 10 years to police and cut off all ties with him and his family.
In September last year, Carling-Jenkins fronted parliament to explain how her former husband had been convicted and jailed for four months for possessing child sex abuse images.
He is now a registered sex offender, Seven News reports, and will have to check in with police for the next eight years.
“In this discovery, I personally viewed deeply distressing images which have caused me immediate and ongoing anguish,” she said at the time, BBC reports.
“My marriage ended instantly and I left home the day I made that discovery and I have not returned to the family home since, except to pick up belongings.”
LISTEN: Aly Raisman speaks to Mia Freedman about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar. Post continues below.
Now, two years on from the discovery and despite justice being served, Carling-Jenkins says she still thinks of the real victims in this situation: The children.
“The thing that I will find the hardest now is the images of the children that I saw,” she told Insight.
“I see a little girl with particular colour hair or a particular look on her face, that will trigger some of the images that I saw and that’s something I think will take a lot longer to work through.”
If this article brings up issues that affect you or someone you know, please call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
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