Can you help resolve this greater good vs. protecting my child?

Please help – I have an internal conflict that I can’t resolve. I’ve been married almost 20 years. About 9 months ago I discovered that my husband has been cheating on me with prostitutes since at least 2003 (probably longer), and with an old flame (who is married) since 2006. I filed for divorce, facing the fact that the marriage is unsalvageable, and my heart is broken. My conflict is this: my entire life (since childhood) has been about protecting others, especially children and those who are very vulnerable. It’s the reason I went into social work as a profession. Many of the “escorts” my husband slept with were underage. My heart tells me that I have to share what I know with the authorities to try to protect these young girls from men like my husband. But to do that risks that my husband would be arrested and my 13 y/o son would then know. I don’t want him to know what his dad does, I can’t imagine the damage it could do to him. But if I say nothing and do nothing, knowing that my husband continues to pay to have sex with teenage girls, how can I live with the damage he is causing to them? Isn’t it a sin for me to have this knowledge and do nothing to try to intervene to help them? If I know that a man is using young girls for sex and do nothing about it, am I not contributing to the problem?

Please help – I don’t know what God wants me to do with this burden and the stress is affecting my health. I can’t sleep, I cry all the time, my hair is falling out. How do I balance out the greater good vs. doing what’s best for my son? And if I do nothing, how can I live with that?

Dear friend,

Certainly, your son would be crushed to learn such facts about his father. But this doesn’t mean that such knowledge would destroy him. Sooner or later, he is going to find out that his father is not the up-right man that he thinks he is. You can’t protect him from life. But you can be there for him if and when he should learn the facts.

But an unknown number of young girls (many who have NO one to be there for them) are going to be physically, emotionally and sexually abused. It would seem that you need to report your husband and put your son in the Lord’s nail scarred hands. The Lord loves him more than even you do. You need to serve the truth. In doing so, you will be serving the Truth; and you will have no reason to worry.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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