Stewart Burton, Volunteer contributor
February 23, 2024

When is the correct time to tell someone that you have a criminal record, who you have just started dating?

I'm 51 years old now, my only record dates back to the day before my 18th birthday. Three years in prison and at least double that, 6 years or more, before my mental health stopped being on a knife edge.

I've never reoffended, I've carried the weight of guilt even so. 

Always remembered those souls affected by my crimes, armed robberies carried out in a way to cause fear. I'm sorry for what I've done.

Managed to hide my record for years, told no one, and didn't have to. That is until the disclosure system started. The guilt came back along with the mental health issues.

Had to lie to one of my partners and her family when I was refused a visa to spend Christmas with them in America. A lie that eroded that relationship quickly.

I can't hide my record now, I wrote a bloody book about it, got a website too.

Have been dating this extraordinary woman for 3 years. She knew of my record and story right from the start.

She's a few years younger than me, so she had kept quiet about us until just recently. And then this Christmas I was invited to stay with her parents in Germany.

This is it, our relationship is going to take a huge step forward.

Then she told me, she'd been lying to her parents about me. She calmly asked if I could tell the same lies.

I did as she asked. I had a wonderful time and got on well with both of her parents.

To know that she was embarrassed about my past, after 3 years she was still embarrassed about me.

That hurts. 

I'm me, I'm so much more than my past, more than my record. My past doesn't define me, I chose to define myself by learning from my past.

That makes me a survivor, a statistical anomaly, and a hero in my two teenage boys' eyes. 

I hate being alone, but when I got home I waited a week, and then I left her. 

I told her how I felt, and I set her record straight.

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Cookie Policy for more information.