“Why on earth would you want to do that for a living?!”
That was what my brother said to me when I was hired as an analyst 10 years ago. There's no denying ignorance is bliss but working in a field where I am actually able to get images of children being raped and sexually abused removed from the web fulfils a desire to make a positive difference in the world. We can’t make it like it never happened, if only we could, but we continue to strive to protect the victims from being re-victimised further, this means stopping images of children’s’ suffering being posted over and over again and getting to do that is the most satisfying part of the job.
We locate and source the removal of thousands of images of child sexual abuse every single week. It often feels like we are looking into a window at their abuse which is frustrating for us as we would like nothing more than to be able to rescue the victims from their pain. Many, we know, are grown up now. I still see some of the same images I did 10 years ago. Sometimes I wonder what ever became of them. I think about the long-term damage caused as a direct result of their trauma - you imagine the worst. I hope we can provide some reassurance to every victim of child sexual abuse that we are always routing to get their images removed or at the very least hidden from public view. The victims are why we do the job.
It can be an emotional rollercoaster at times. As a mum of young children, I find it hard to deal with the reality that there are also female abusers, as well as male. Children are so vulnerable, they tend to let you into their little worlds unabashedly, mine certainly do. For this to be taken advantage of is despicable. I believe a mother’s core role is to protect her young - a mother being a sexual predator is unthinkable but sadly a reality.
It was epochal when the internet became mainstream for everyone, but it appeared in our world without any notion of the consequences and repercussions of not having any laws in place. It makes me think of a real story my Mum used to tell about how her colleagues would have several drinks at work over the Christmas period and then drive home afterwards not even wearing a seatbelt! They just did back then - these are all crazy thoughts now.
Thank goodness things are changing, without the work of the IWF and likeminded organisations it’s a horrible thought of the cesspit the internet would be. The IWF is always moving forward, keeping up with new technology and coming up with new ways to prevent the spread of child sexual abuse material online. I am just an ordinary mum, sometimes I feel a bit misplaced working alongside such amazing people, however I am very proud to be a part of the fight against child sexual abuse imagery online. I am excited to see where the IWF will go in future years. I wonder if images of children being sexually abused online will be a crazy thought one day… I hope so.
Find out more about the series 'Celebrating the people that make IWF great' here.