‘Thank you, Leah. Your bravery helped keep all our children safe.’

Video by 60 Minutes

Last night, 60 minutes shared the story of a brave woman who reported her own husband for possessing child abuse material.

Take a minute to process that and put yourself in her shoes.

A woman, once happily married, made the decision to inform police that she had found inappropriate, sickening images on his personal computer, allowing them to charge him with child sex offences.

Leah Mouatt says when she noticed a change in her husband’s behaviour, she began to suspect he was having an affair with another woman. She describes the initial part of their six-year marriage as being ‘happy’ but says that in the latter stages, he became distant.

Leah Mouatt was tearful as she spoke of the discovery.  (Image via 60 Minutes.)

Fearing the worst, she waited until he was out one night, and went snooping. Having met her husband online, she first trawled internet dating sites for confirmation that he was engaging with other women. She used his login information (which she knew from his interest in car forums) to search for any sign that he was being unfaithful.

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What she found, though, was much more sinister.

Hidden in secret folders on his computer was a collection of photos of pre-pubescent girls - including some of a family friend - alongside disturbing graphic sexual comments indicating his interest in children.

“I knew quite quickly after I saw what I saw that the police had to be called” she told 60 Minutes. Together with the support of a friend, she made the difficult decision to approach the authorities.

Leah Mouatt and her husband, Phillip John Vellio. (Image via 60 Minutes.)

When hearing stories like Leah’s, our minds immediately flood with disgust, and with a guttural anger that someone would want to harm a child in such a way. But it’s important to remember when we hear news like this that there often are secondary victims - the wives and partners of these animals who happen to find out their secrets.

In a past life, it was once my profession to tell women that their husbands, or partners, were pedophiles.

I’d liken the experience to watching a wall crumble, right there in front of you. Everything she knows, everything she trusts, is being blown up by a stranger, standing there with a clipboard. In seconds, a relationship (and often a family) is destroyed because of the words coming out of your mouth.

For some, the news comes as a shock, disbelief is the only reaction. "You’re wrong, I know this man. He is my husband. He would never do anything like what you’re suggesting," they would think.

It’s not until you show them proof that they fall apart.

Phillip John Vellio.  (Image via 60 Minutes.)

For others, it’s disgust. The fact is that many are mothers themselves, and immediately the fear is that your child is somehow involved in this perverted circumstance.

That feeling of ‘what if’ never goes away, ever.

All of the times he was left alone when you popped out to the shops, when you went away for a much-needed girls weekend.

Did he?

For some, the answer is never clear. For others, it’s one that changes lives forever.

Women, like Leah, need to be commended, praised and thanked.

Can you imagine what it’s like stumbling across information so shocking, so confusing, that changes everything you thought you knew about the man you are meant to trust above all else?

This man is the one who stood beside you at the altar promising to love you ‘for better or worse’. He is the one you’ve built a life with, the one you’ve laughed with, the one you’ve made love to countless times. And then, this.

Can you think for just a moment the impact that going to the police with this information would have had? Your life would fall apart instantly, right there on the study room floor of the house you shared with that man.

Phillip John Vellio and Leigh Mouatt in happier times. (Image via 60 Minutes.)

But Leah made that choice. She made the choice to turn the man she loved in to authorities, to protect those in our society who need it the most.

As a mother, I can only say thank you.

Thank you for walking the difficult road in making sure no one else’s child suffered because of what you discovered.

Thank you for abandoning all of your hopes and dreams with someone who turned out to be nothing that you would have expected.

Thank you for looking at the information for what it was and not pushing it to the back of your brain in self-preservation, desperate to find another possible explanation.

Thank you for enduring the stress, the emotions, and the anger which came from others as a result of your actions.

To say this time would have been one of great difficulty is a huge understatement.

After hearing your story last night, I have nothing but admiration and appreciation for the hard journey you have travelled to ensure our children are safe.

From one woman to another: Thank you, Leah.

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