Unable to show any intimacy in the wake of the tragic loss of her
daughter, Kate McCann was worried that her family might fall apart
Happier days: Kate and Gerry McCann before Madeleine was
kidnapped (Transworld Publishers)
After Madeleine was taken from us, my sexual desire plummeted to zero.
Our sex life is not something I would normally be inclined to share and
yet it is such an integral part of most marriages that it doesnít feel
right not to acknowledge this.
Iím sure other couples who have been through traumatic experiences will
have suffered similarly, and perhaps it will reassure them to know that
they are not alone. To those fortunate enough not to have encountered
such heartache, I hope it gives an insight into just how deep the wounds
Apart from our general state of shock and distress, and the fact that I
couldnít concentrate on anything but Madeleine, there were two reasons
for this, I believe. The first was my inability to permit myself any
pleasure, whether it was reading a book or making love with my husband.
The second stemmed from the revulsion stirred up by my fear that
Madeleine had suffered the worst fate we could imagine: falling into the
hands of a paedophile.
For a while after she was stolen, paedophiles were all we could think
about, and it made us sick, ate away at us. The idea of a monster like
this touching my daughter, stroking her, defiling her perfect little
body, just killed me, over and over again. It didnít make any difference
that this might not be the explanation for Madeleineís abduction (and,
please God, it isnít); the fact that it was a possibility was enough to
prevent me from shutting it out of my mind. Tortured as I was by these
nauseating images, itís probably not surprising that even the thought of
sex repulsed me.
I would lie in bed, hating the person who had done this to us; the
person who had taken away our little girl and terrified her; the person
who had caused these problems for me and the man I loved. I hated him. I
wanted to kill him. I wanted to inflict the maximum pain possible on him
for heaping all this misery on my family. I was angry and bitter and I
wanted it all to go away. I wanted my old life back.
I would lie in bed, hating the person who had done this; the person who
had taken away our little girl I worried about Gerry and me. I worried
that if I couldnít get our sex life back on track our whole relationship
would break down. I know there is more to a relationship than sex, but
it is still an important element. It was vital that we stayed together
and stayed strong for our family. Gerry was incredibly understanding and
supportive. He never made me feel guilty, he never pushed me and he
never got sulky. In fact, sometimes he would apologise to me.
Invariably, he would put a big, reassuring arm around me and tell me
that he loved me and not to worry.
I was determined not to be beaten by this, not to accept it as just one
of the unfortunate side effects of this tragedy.
Gerry and I talked about it a little, but mostly I analysed the problem
in my head. I also discussed it with Alan Pike, a trauma psychologist
who had been helping us. He assured me that, like my ability to relax or
enjoy a meal, it would gradually return and that I shouldnít fret about
it too much. But I did. I even considered seeking specialist help.
Deep down, though, I knew there were only two solutions: bringing
Madeleine back or conquering my mental block. Since the first was not
within my control, it was up to me to try to train my mind and my
thought processes. So that is what I applied myself to doing.
I took a cognitive approach, concentrating hard on what Gerry means to
me, as a husband and as a friend; on the love we have for each other and
the three beautiful children we created together; on our unity as a
couple and as a family of five. It seems to have worked. If my mind ever
starts to wander down dark alleys, I fight against that, focusing on
what I have that is good and important. And I tell myself that I cannot,
and will not, allow this evil person to destroy anything else in our