Sex offenders: everyone has an opinion -- from my inbox
Our world: 7 out of 10 girls, 4 out of 10 boys are sexually abused by age 16. In North America, sexual abuse takes place in 1 out of 3 homes.
Google Alert has been
busy on my account the past few weeks. Every night it leaves me a report of
each blog, forum, article or letter on the internet where my name has been
bandied about.Why? Well, I am tracking response to my book, but lately, that activity has taken a back seat to the response to my recently published articles on sex offenders and the sex offender registry.
Never has a series of articles created as much interest, or as much correspondence.
It seemed to me, the emails, comments, snippets from blogs -- all of it was as much a part of the picture as anything researched and written. Join me as we take a look at some of the opinions expressed by my readers.
And yes, I know the third article isn't published yet. There have been a few developments that we're waiting out. Soon ... soon.
Correspondence from law enforcement from all over the country was both supportive and critical, with more of the former than the latter, surprisingly enough.
“We’ve made it very difficult for this population to find housing. It’s almost as if we’re purging the city of all registrants. RSO’s with permanent addresses are required to register annually but transients have to check in every 30 days and provide us with a general idea of where to find them. We see an increase in drug and alcohol use and petty crimes when they’re forced to the streets – hardly helpful. The situation is an absolute mess.” – Oregon.
“The problem of sexual abuse was swept under the rug nicely until we were required to report the facts on a public website. Only then did the management of sex offenders finally become a high priority unfortunately after the passing of several high profile murders committed by RSOs. There’s still room for continued improvement of the management of sex offenders which includes the tweaking or plugging of loopholes created by the flurry of SO legislation. Local ordinances and residential restrictions are simply annoying and basically detract from the real problem of sexual abuse.” – Florida.
“You’re right, Ms. Martin, when you state it is necessary to control the dangerous predatory sex offender, but that it is equally necessary to be careful who we brand with that label. That’s the problem. Current politics now mandate an ever widening scope of the RSO laws, which has so diluted the registry from its original intent – control of the dangerous predator – it is impossible for anyone to see the dangerous ones for the crowd.” – Michigan.
“You’d think that when offenders come in to register, there would be some kind of risk assessment, counseling, even just a few minutes of talk – there isn’t. Here in (name of city deleted, population 1.2 million) we have only five officers dedicated to the sexual assault unit – one sergeant, two detectives to investigate crimes and two code-compliance officers who staff the office where more than 100 people come to register every week. Instead of spending money trying to enforce residency requirements that evidence suggests don’t work, we should find a risk-assessment counselor for the police department.” -- California
Some excellent research papers, well worth reading for anyone who TRULY wants an understanding of the issues
- Harvard Ash Kennedy School: articles and researchs studies
A collection of the top studies and papers from both a social work and legal perspective relating to sex offender management.
- Research and Studies
A listing of the major studies and research projects as related to the sex offender laws, registries and the effects in society from across the nation.
Most social workers wrote offering confirmation on my statistical information, and offers of assistance, authored articles, anecdotal evidence and opinions.
“I read your article and found it well done and informative, although as you can see the issue is very complicated and it is difficult to even make sense of the laws and what they mean. I’m not sure I’ll have time for an interview but feel free to cite any of my articles.” -- Dr. Jill Levenson (see link to right.)
“Most of us in this field, like you, are more anxious to get help to the victims than we are to punish the offenders. Unfortunately, we now see fewer cases coming forward, fewer complaints made. Whereas once we were able to work with the family as a whole, work with both victim and offender in a healing process, particularly beneficial to the victim, that opportunity has become very rare. Imagine the effect on the victim when the family is destroyed, the offender, often a close family member is removed, demonized and pilloried in public. As if the abuse and the destruction of the family was not enough, the victim now hears the taunts on a daily basis at school, from friends, "Your dad's a sex offender." The victim is re-victimized many times over. We used to see a reasonable level of family reunification -- now we do not see as much. The family cannot deal with the effects of registration on top of all the other issues. Often, the surviving members of the family will move away, hoping to escape, but the result is removal of the support system of extended family, friends and the comfort of connections. I've often asked myself, is all this destruction worth what we gain -- but I've asked it quietly, not wanting to bring all this anger down on my own head. However, you've brought much of what I've privately thought out in the open.” – Julie Segal, MSW
‘Based on my forty years in child protection social work, I’d like to see a stepping back from this issue. I’d like to see priorities put into place. What is our first agenda? Protection for potential victims – then let’s put together a program that best ensures that. We should spend our resources on those most likely to present a danger. Secondly, we need to study the adverse effects of this registry on our society and they are vast. Though it is apparently in poor fashion to say so, not everyone on it deserves this punishment.” – Dr. Miriam Levine
“We only have so much money, and that money’s now gone to enforcing housing restrictions, and tracking devices. We’ve wiped out early prevention and education programs that we used to have 15 and 20 years ago where we taught kids about healthy touch and bad touch and how to report it. We’ve wiped out funding for mental-health services for families that are economically distressed, which is a factor that may lead someone to cross a boundary that they wouldn’t have crossed before. Ninety-plus percent of sex crimes committed each year are first-time offenses by people who aren’t already known to the police. It’s a statistic that turns public policy on its head—why put all the attention on the guys we already know about?” – B. Killeen, MSW
“There are agencies out there that have demonstrated that if you do a good public health, public awareness campaign, including a hotline for people who are afraid they might hurt a child… you can actually reduce the incidence of sexual assault in your community. Why wouldn’t we spend money on that? And instead, we’re busy spending how many millions of dollars registering and tracking many who are statistically just not going to do it again. And destroying so many families along the way.” -- Daniel Harvey, BSW
“I also agree we have sensationalized the idea of sex crimes in the media beyond any semblance of reality. Reality is difficult enough, and so is police work, without such a Hollywood image. As we are fast approaching a million registered names nationally, people may ask, “Have we really so many monsters in our midst?” You are very correct when you say yes, most of them are in our own homes. The true violent predatory pedophile is not so wide spread, and like you, like all of us, I would like to see a predators registry. One that could not possibly include the young man in his twenties in a dalliance with an underage girl – a crime so widespread we’d need a registry the size of New York City’s yellow pages to include them all. One that is differentiated from incest abuse crimes, at least until we can ascertain the underlying pathology. No, we need one devoted entirely to predators (Level three offenders in many states.) This way, we can all devote all our energies to watching and controlling them, without such dilution of our forces.” – Dr. Miriam Levine
90% (at least) of sexual abuse of our children is perpetrated by relatives, family members, extended family members and to a lesser degree, close family friend
As always, victims of sex offenders continue to correspond with me as they have since I posted my first article on the subject of child sex abuse, years ago. The issues surround the sex offenders registry are no exception.
“No sex-offender registry or neighborhood watch could have kept a babysitter from molesting me when I was 6. He was maybe 16 or 17, the brother of our regular babysitter who filled in whenever his sister was busy. I don’t remember how many times it happened, but I know it was more than once. Years later, I found out that he molested my sister, who was 8, and my best friend, who lived across the street.
At some point I told my mom what happened, but I don’t know what words I used. At 6, “penis,” “vagina” and “sex” weren’t part of my vocabulary. Whatever I said, my mom didn’t believe me—at least that’s what she told me. Looking back, I think she knew I was telling the truth, but she just didn’t know how to respond. And then I simply forgot that it ever happened—until my first serious relationship in high school.... A year later I ended up in counseling for severe anxiety and depression. There was a box on a questionnaire asking if I’d ever been the victim of sexual abuse, and that opened the door.
A couple of weeks ago, I threw the babysitter’s name into a national
sexual-offender registry. A match came up, but the photo was a guy from Texas
who happened to have the same name. I doubt the babysitter went on to become a
habitual child molester—statistics suggest that he didn’t. I think it was a
case of a sexually confused teen who made a bad decision. All this hype and
hoopla – what good does it do when most sex crimes are committed by names not
on the list?” -- Kelly -- via forwarded email
“I followed this debate with interest, and somehow I felt like a child who
was raped, lying in pain and agony on a bed in the hospital, listening to the
adults talking over my head about laws broken and not broken by whom and not
whom, sins committed by which party or not, and in the meantime I am dying. I
need to point this out – the tendency of the people in power (or those who have
the power to make a difference) to launch on the judicial and academic aspects
of a subject, and so they create a big distance between the hot core (cause)
and the cold skin (effect). We see this daily in courts, churches and even in
schools where rules are being disobeyed and offenders have to be judged and
punished by a governing body. Somewhere between the cause and the effect
victims as well as offenders find themselves in serious trouble, and the core
remains a perfect breeding place for future victims and offenders. Lex asinus
est. (The law is an ass.)” -- Martie See her article Sexual Abuse - a survivors memoirs
- Counter Punch: Paul Shannon: It's Time to Reform Sex Offender Laws
America's Best Political Newsletter. One of the best articles on this subject I've found. "Even as we speak of older and older youth as children in need of protection, younger and younger children are treated as adults when accused of sex offenses."
“Does anyone really think the victims give a rat’s ass about the law, or what society does in retribution? They say they’re doing it for the kids – and I say bull shit! These laws are about making society feel better about itself, so it can say – oh, we’ve done our best. There isn’t an ounce of evidence that suggests the registry has done anything to stop one single crime.
But it has destroyed a lot of lives and families – mine is one. When I was eleven, my mom died of breast cancer. My dad had a hard time with that. He lost his job and he used to drink a lot back then. He doesn’t now. He was abused by my Grandpa a lot – this I know because the old son of a bitch is still alive and my dad never would let me be alone around him. I was sexually 'abused' by my father for a short time when I was twelve. I told someone I thought I could trust, but that person told her mother, who called the police. And when Dad went to jail, he made it clear to the child welfare services I wasn’t to go to my grandparents and why. It’s hard for people to understand, but I love my Dad, and I know he loves me. I know he’s sorry. He came back from prison a broken man and the child services people wouldn’t let me live with him, thinking I should be better off with my fourth foster family. I am now eighteen and live with him because they can’t stop me. He’s my dad.
He will never hurt anyone. People print fliers with his picture on it and pass them around. We get threatening phone calls. Twice someone painted graffiti on our house. There’s a crazy lady who follows Dad around when he goes out, pointing at him shouting he’s a child molester and there’s nothing we can do to stop her, because the police treat Dad like he’s garbage and won’t give him the time of day let alone protect him. He can’t get steady work. He hardly goes out of the house. He’s waiting to die.
What was his real crime? Heart broken, depressed, sorry, lonely and drunk, he climbed into bed with me and caressed me. It happened twice. It wasn’t right, but it didn’t deserve what we both have to pay. If I can forgive him, what's it to you? None of your business if you ask me.” -- Jen via my website
The self-appointed activists, the crusaders and the vigilantes
What can we say about some of these people? A few, I do believe, are acting with the best of intentions, and for what they see as a betterment of society. One thing they all have in common is no matter what facts you pile up in front of them, they know better. The more you explain you are not supporting pedophiles, the more they ignore your words. As you try to reason that not all registered offenders are pedophiles … Well, here – have a read and judge for yourself.
“How can you support pedophiles? Here you are writing and saying they are unfairly treated by the system, as if anything could be too bad for these diseased, perverted individuals. What kind of a woman are you? Don’t you have kids of your own? You think it’s okay for grown adults to have sex with children, and we as a society shouldn’t do anything about it. Under the bridges is too good for them. Everyone on that list should do the world a favor and kill themselves. And you, too.” Email from momagainstperverts
"I’m sure you are a decent woman. I read your articles about your work with abused children and I thought, yes this woman must have a heart. Then I read now you worried about the offenders, so I got to ask what happened to you to make you do such a about face. Every one of these low lives represents some hurt little angel, and you worried about them? These laws are good. Used to be mothers take their little angels to the park and there’d be some weird guy looking at the kids. But the police couldn’t make them leave. Now they can. If just one child is saved from being hurt, who cares about possibly hurting the feelings of some lowlife child molesting man. You need to get your priorities straight, woman.” Email from str8talker
“The purpose of Megan's Law is to notify the public. Perhaps you prefer that the public sit in the dark and simply trust our government to keep our children safe. Regardless of how much information you prefer to have before you make an informed decision about your safety or how much information I feel I need to know before I decide to allow a man to befriend my children it is clearly outrageous to make a bold statement about the registry based on half truths and misinform the public. It appears you've been clouded by rhetoric. Your best bet would be to stick to the facts. Blurring half truths and misinformation is counterproductive in my opinion.” Comment from FLRSOinfo left on article.
“ … obvious that being less than hardlined on this issue has gotten us where we are today, the abused have grown up to be abusers, perhaps it would be your preference if society stepped back to the days when child sexual abuse was a dirty little secret and we threw our hands up. Well how well did that work out for us? I think there is a middle ground, I believe only when the truth is told, the protocol is exposed and the ineptness of the systems overseeing this problem is truly brought to light can people make well informed fair decisions, I read your hub and all I get is you think we should throw the "baby out with the bathwater" becuase its not fair to all involved. This issue is a domino where one aspect is directly dependant on another.. .Try living as one of the "in the trenches" real child advocates (without fancy credentials) who attempts to clean up their neighborhoods as you precious LE "sources" keeps dumping them in and hopes the neighbors don't notice or make noise about it so they don't have to do more paperwork. Try violating a violent offender who was dropped in your neighborhood again because the PO didn't check the "residency restrictions" before she gave the ok and the rent was doable. Try calling down police chief's in your city because they couldn't be bothered to notify the surrounding neighbors that a convicted Predator with a horrendous history just moved in (as they are required to do by law).Try understanding how a guy who served less than 2/3 of his original sentence for kidnapping and rape can be free to walk the streets and be "released from supervision" Try walking in those shoes for one lousy day when a person like myself has to position herself between the bad guys and the cops who resent you when you demand they enforce the most basic of Laws that have already been written with the Blood of our kids. Yea, my heart bleeds for your disturbing e-mails…” – comments left (and emailed) by valigator
“Signs, notifications and registrations are nice, but nothing beats a nice one-way trip to the gas chamber. I don't consider it a deterrent, but more of a way to get one more jerk off the streets.Sex offenders are the worst kind of murderers because they don't kill your body, they go straight for your innocence. Once that's gone you'll always be a little dead inside. People who do stuff like that should not be allowed to live in the same society as the rest of us. Their rights went away the second they started preying on others. So shove your injustice up your ### and if one or two innocent people get caught up in the gears, that’s just the price we have to pay to make our society safe.” – email from TexasLee
And one the other hand, activists working for the civil rights of offenders:
“I am very active with the legislature and in educating them as to the facts of research and the harm that residency restrictions cause. I have been doing this for 7 years. So it has been7 years of pretty much dedicating my life to grass roots effort to educate the public, media, and Legislators. Of fighting for effective laws to protect children and reduce the already low recidivism of registered sex offenders by giving them what the professionals say they need. It has been 7 years of listening to one devastating story after another as men who will never offend again try and try to make a life for themselves and their families only to fail in a system that is set up to ensure their failure. It was this session of our Legislature that showed me that nothing will change for the better in Florida without court cases. We must take these civil rights violations to the courts. The problem is, and our legislators know this and count on this, registered sex offenders have no money. We have a group of registered offenders and family members ready to fight...can we find someone who has the intestinal and financial fortitude to take on the good ole' boy system in Florida pro bono? We can try to get some money together to help with costs, but we need attorneys willing to fight to uphold the constitution for everyone, not just a chosen few. We have over a million and a half people whose lives are being destroyed in this country by insane laws based on a falsehood of high recidivism rates. We will be growing up a generation of children of these offenders who hate this government and what it has done to their families. Can you help publicize our efforts?” – section of an email forwarded by Jamie
“I really, really hate sex offenders. Really. Yes my opinion is biased because the word conjurs up child molesters, rapists, kiddie porn makers, etc. I know the majority don't do that, I know most are lumped in for less perverse reasons but still..... Yeah – I hear you. No one "likes" a sex offense or the person that has committed it. People can and DO change. Especially sex offenders. The general re offense rate REALLY is from 1-13%. No lie. There are some offenders that will not be able to change. That is what risk assessments are for. We have to stop lumping them all together in these laws or we will have to start a new registry and put those few of us who are NOT a registered sex offender on it because that list will be shorter. Thanks for giving a voice to those few of us who are still sane.” – email sent by Loralee
Families of Sex Offenders
I received many emails from the families of RSOs, many of them under the mistaken idea I might have information and knowledge about their situation I do not, or looking for support. I did do some research and offered some choices. So if any of you out there don't know where to begin, you're welcome to email me and I can send you the short list of resources I put together -- but I'm no expert. Please!
“Thank you for writing about the difficulties of sex offender registration. The public needs to know about some of these issues but very few speak up. We have so vilified, so demonized a large group of people, lumping in anyone who has done anything related to sex and subjected them to the worst of stereotypes. My son is one of those young men caught up in this nightmare, and all I can say is unless it happens to you, you have no idea of the injustice this country is capable of. Please, keep up the good work.” – email sent by gina
“Dear lmmartin, A family member is on probation and now registered on the sex offenders registry. It is a "romeo/juliet" type situation. Single offense. NO history. NO violence. NO danger to children/others, etc. But he and family must bear the same restrictions as if was a predator. Anyway. With no experience w/such things, are there support groups for families where you can get help and advice on how to cope with the restrictions, etc?” – email from May
“I must tell you Ms. Martin, your response to my email was a breakthrough. Do you remember asking, "Since when can you actually be arrested because of what someone said? Don’t you need real evidence? How could they arrest your son with only an accusation?" This simple (yet legally complex) statement suddenly made me realize why everyone out there sees everyone in our position as a monster. I was given a vision of the judicial system as those outside of our special circle see it. The music played, the clouds parted and the white robed judges descended from heaven, law books in hand. We are seen groveling in our sick and filthy guilt at their feet. Simply put, as the public sees it, none of us would be arrested if we hadn't done something "really bad" or convicted if we were not proven guilty "beyond a shadow of a doubt." And if you believe that, then I guess you’ll believe just about anything…. I won’t hold it against you. You are new here…” name withheld on request – an excerpt from an ongoing correspondence.
The "Sex offender" witch-hunt is arguably the most shameful and barbaric and bizarre outrage of the 20th (and now the 21std) century. The very idea that people who kidnap and torture and murder little children and then eat them for breakfast should legally be treated as more or less the same as people who consensually make love with each other even though they are not ""legally entitled" to touch each other's bodies, is one of the foremost reasons that "The Law" is nowadays regarded by so many people with such utter contempt. Wait until it is your young brother, son, cousin, best friend who is considered subhuman, despicable and vile for behavior as old as humanity… The government climbing into our beds in case there’s more than four years difference in age; and we allow people’s lives to be destroyed over this. Well God Bless America! Land of more people in prison (% wise) than any other country in the world.” – email from callmebob.
- Family Impact Study -- by Dr. Jill Levenson
For those that want to read about some of the 'unintended consequences' of this ever widening ripple effect of the sex offender registry.
“…The monitoring system - we call it Hal, like in 2001 Space Odyssey (hey, you have to be able to laugh right?) consists of an ankle bracelet and an MTD, which is a big black box that has to go everywhere he goes. If he gets too far away from the MTD it will start to beep and a message appears that says “bracelet gone”, then he gets a call from the monitoring center. They ask where he is and why the alarm went off. This info gets logged somewhere, we don’t know where. Sometimes the MTD starts beeping and displays a message that says “warning go outside”. This means that it has lost its signal to the satellite; this is equipment malfunction and is no fault of his. It happens all the time, whether it be the grocery store, Target, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, home, the car, at work, my Dad’s garage, sometimes even when he’s outside in the yard. Occasionally an operator from the monitoring center will call if the signal is lost for an extended period of time at which point they will tell him that he has to walk the MTD outside for 15 minutes so that the unit can regain its signal. There have been a couple occasions where he has had to drive around an abandoned parking lot for an hour or more at the on-call Probation Officers direction. This happened last Christmas, he had to drive around for two hours while we had friends and family visiting from out of town. You can see how these types of issues would make it very hard to even maintain a job. No employer is going to put up with any employee having to drop what they are doing to go walk around for 15 minutes or more so that your GPS unit can try to find the satellite. He had a good job as a hairdresser, which is what he’s done for the last 18 years but, he and his employer both decided that it just wasn’t working out. He has been home now for 16 months and has been through three different jobs. How is someone supposed to live if they aren’t able to work? …” – an excerpt from a letter from M___ who has been describing life with an RSO for me.
What is served by considering all persons under eighteen as a "child" for protection purposes, and then under the Adam Walsh Act propose that children as young as fourteen should be prosecuted and registered? We now see cases where persons as young as twelve and thirteen, are in the unique position of being both victim and offender in the same incident.(Utah)
Is this a form of insanity?
And of course, the Sex Offenders themselves
Of course, many registered sex offenders have written to me, many thanking me for trying to present a balanced view of the issues. Others, mistakenly taking me for an advocate for sex offenders, asked for my help.I am not an advocate for offenders. Still others just seemed to want to tell me their life stories.
But these articles which seem to have elicited such a mixed and highly emotional response, asked only one question: do we serve society's interests by lumping all offenses that have anything to do with sex under one umbrella and treating all the same?
So, from all the letters I received from the offenders I picked the one that best seems to reflect that question.
Let me tell you what is about to happen to you. Your suggestion there may be injustice in the sex offenders registry will bring the wrath of the gods upon your head. They will descend upon you demanding to know why you want to protect pedophiles, how you could have become so mentally deranged as to offer understanding and support to something so low as a convicted and registered sex offender. Don’t you know we are all defilers of innocent children?
Any effort you make to present the other side means you have been duped by us, influenced by us into stupidly believing in our pathetic attempts to portray ourselves as human beings. They know the truth you see. They know we are all horribly guilty of the worst crimes imaginable, and you are an idiot for listening to us. We deserve the gutter we find ourselves in. We deserve it.
If we tell you our stories, they are automatically lies. We are all liars. Our stories of horror and terror, of being caught up in a legal system that long ago abandoned any semblance of justice, of helplessness, impotence and despair, no don’t listen; we are crying tales of ‘poor me’ – despicable wretches that we are. Of having to choose between a plea bargain or the financial ruin of our families; facing 20 years if we go to trial and only a few months if we plea, having both the prosecutor and the defense attorney work at you until you cave (a win-win for both lawyers) and do as they wish, not understanding the registry means the nightmare goes on forever.
Of the struggle to survive jail where the very label sex offender means you are an acceptable target for those who feel vastly superior and self-righteous, even in that hell-hole of murderers, thieves, violent rapists, muggers… And that is just the beginning.
Back home to a family who has stood by you throughout this nightmare – if you are lucky – only to find your very presence is destroying their lives. Your parents, your spouse, your children, everyone who loves you now has to share your humiliation. If your family lives in one of the “no-go, no-sleep zones” they move, and all landlords are just dying to rent to a convicted sex offender. No job. No money. Nothing to offer.
But my dear lmmartin, if we tell you our truth, we are only ‘moaning poor me’ when in fact we should be sitting in a jail cell for the rest of our worthless lives, grateful society isn’t yet so hysterical it demands our executions.
What’s that, you ask? What was my crime? Well, here we run into another paradox. You see, if I tell you the truth of the matter, I am ‘minimizing’ my crime. And this, according to popular myth means I am at risk to re-offend. Furthermore, as is already established, we are all liars. I am – I lied in court when I took my plea. That’s right: lied under oath. Lied about my intent. I had to, but it was the only way out – according to my lawyer. You see, you can’t take a plea without admitting your guilt. So, what do I do?
Here’s what I pled to: lewd and lascivious act with a child under 16. I pled guilty to that to avoid a charge of statutory rape. Twenty years versus thirty-six months in prison. Ten years registration. Would you throw the dice?
Yes, I had sex with a girl of fifteen. Guilty – guilty, guilty, guilty.
Now, I am such a danger to society I am not allowed a life. I spend all my days plotting how to get my hands on another under-age girl, yes I do. I will stalk them at school, at the library, at bus stops, in parks, at the beach which is why I can’t go there.
Strangely enough, I am allowed to go where I first met this girl – a sports bar. She was drinking a glass of wine, and I’m sure the bartender carded her. He carded me. I had just turned twenty-one a few weeks ago, so service in a bar was a new experience.
She was pretty, well-built, nicely dressed and she liked me. Wow! Not like this happened to me every day. I bought her another glass of wine. We talked. One thing led to another, as it will when you’re young. She invited me to her apartment, which turned out to be her older sister’s apartment – where her father found us later.
I had a good-faith basis to believe her of age, you say? One would think so, but I’m afraid no, not in this day and age. Nope, meeting a pretty girl in an adult setting isn’t enough anymore.
Apparently, like the bartender involved who was charged with providing alcohol to a minor, we must ask for a birth certificate, not a driver’s license or other ID before either serving wine or having sex. And the judge doesn’t want to hear anything else.
“No tolerance,” he said. “No tolerance for those who abuse our children.”
And then, just when seven of my ten years on the registry were done, the Adam Walsh Act changed everything, and boom! Retroactively my term of registration was changed to twenty-five years. So now, instead of this horror ending soon, it will continue until I am a middle aged man.
I will never have a normal life.
If you think my story is unusual, you are wrong.
If you think it is a pack of lies made up to make me look good, and cover up the fact I am truly a monster who preys on little girls and deserve this life of ostracism, you are typical.
And you, lmmartin, will be blasted in the blogs as a friend of the fiends, patsy of the perverts, maven of the molesters, darling of the depraved, sweetheart of the sex offenders. It’s already happening – I googled.
And yes, many of us RSOs will write to you. So seldom do we hear a voice of reason, of understanding, or sanity, of course we flock to bask in the light of someone who listens. Some of us are guilty of horrible crimes against children; some are guilty of horrible crimes against adults, but many of us are not – newsflash folks!
Thank you for your attempt to show both sides of the issues. If I can be any assistance, please let me know.
Ken Tanner from Indiana – go ahead, look me up.
For the record
I am neither an apologist nor an advocate for those that sexually molest children.
I spent thirty years of my life working in child protection, defending and protecting the victims of child abuse -- of which sexual abuse is only one of the many abuses practiced against children. We seem to have lost sight of that very important fact.
I have assisted in the prosecution of a number of abusers of children -- many guilty of sexual abuse. I know the difference between a child abuser and a pedophile, something most people choose to overlook or refuse to understand.
I have been professionally involved with children my entire adult life, and understand the natural sexuality of the child -- which we should never allow to be perverted or appropriated by an adult, but nor should we punish its exploration in an age appropriate manner. The current move to prosecute children of twelve and thirteen for sexual activity is in itself an abuse. And an obscenity.
Most child sex abuse, like most forms of child abuse, takes place within the family circle (including it's extended form) and most forms of incest abuse are not driven by pedophilia, but by control and domination issues. Incest abusers are general family specific and unlikely to offend outside of the family. Intervention is usually successful and over three-quarters of the victims and perpetrators of incest abuse are reunited.
True pedophiles are not likely to respond to treatment. Pedophilia is a specific aberration and before bandying the term about, an understanding of the definition is a good idea.
More than most of those writing angry emails to me or blogs about me because of these articles, I am intimately familiar with the trauma and effects of sexual abuse on the victims. I've lost count of how many hundreds of sexually abused children I've counseled, how many of our 'throw away' children I've fostered, how many abusers I've hated. Rape of the Innocents -- yes. But this doesn't blind me to injustice when I see it, or rob me of compassion for those living it.
I was also a victim. First, a victim of an abusive home, of an unstable parent with emotional issues, of cruelty, violent punishment and emotional abuse. I remember being beaten with a belt for indulging in sex play with my little friends as all children do. This set me up as vulnerable to the kind of adult we all love to hate. A member of our 'inner circle' abused me. Those memories of touching, poking, prodding and finally violation (though not sexual intercourse -- it was a saliva soaked cigar, I believe) are hazy. I might have been six at first. What seemed so strange was that it went on right under my parents' noses. And I wouldn't have dreamed of telling them -- I would have expected to be punished for it. Such was the state of things. It ended as I grew older. I once asked my younger sister if he'd touched her. She said no.
At the age of fourteen, while on vacation in the beautiful region of Salmon Arm in British Columbia, I was violently raped -- by a grown man, one of those stranger danger encounters. I didn't tell my parents about that either, believing they would have blamed me and been angry with me. I explained my scrapes and bruises as having fallen while out hiking. No one questioned it.
By the time I was fifteen, I needed someone kind, someone loving almost as badly as I needed oxygen. I found it. My boyfriend was a student at a vocational college, shy, quiet and decent. He was also twenty. He was good to me and for me. He had as much to do with me being a functioning woman now as anyone else in my life. Yet, today's laws would have him go to prison and register for twenty-five years. And that would have been a real tragedy.
I don't believe the maxim so often repeated "if it saves just one child from abuse then it's all worth while." I don't think our men should be sacrificed in numbers to save one child. Children are part of our society, and we should do all we can for them but not at the expense of other members. Men were once little boys. I think we should all be equally precious, regardless of age or gender. No, I don't think that injustice is acceptable under any circumstances, nor for any 'good cause.'
So, there you have it. I hope this answers your questions as to 'who the hell I think I am' or 'God only knows what motivates her.'
Folks, if ever there was a time to step back, take a deep breath and a good look at what we're doing, this is it.
More by this Author
- 42McNeil Island - facility for dangerous sex offenders -- Oprah April 12 2010 -- response to a request by Sablirab
On April 12, 2010, Oprah presented a documentary by Lisa Ling on the McNeil Island faciility for Level 3 sex offenders. Hubber Sablirab asked me to write a hub giving my opinion on this program, knowing of my history as...
For thirty years I worked in child protection. It became a driving force of my life. Today I share a small part of this experience.
An exploration of 'voice' in writing. Today's discussion: writing from the child's perspective and the challenge of writing in the child's voice.