I never thought I’d ever sit down with an offender and speak to him frankly and have him freely answer my questions. When I spoke to him I told him I didn’t need to know why but I did need to know if he understood what he put his son through. I needed to know if he understood the amount of damage he caused by his actions. I also asked if he’s repentant and if so what did he do to get to that point? It’s not enough to say you’re sorry or repentant; you have to act, move forward and away from those behaviors. What steps were taken to show repentance?
He answered my questions with honesty and I appreciate that but here’s the thing, when he told me his father molested him I felt nothing for him. Dr. D asked if I understood the connection between his victimization and subsequent status as an offender. I understand the connection. I understand that he molested his own son around the age he was when his father molested him. I understand he was trying to destroy the child he used to be, the helpless little thing with no choices in life. I understand that but I DON”T CARE. Save the psychology of it for someone else! For me, once he offended, my ability to care about his personal demons dropped to near zero.
I understand how his history affected his actions but as I told Dr. D, I am no stronger and no weaker than anyone else and I made the choice not to offend. Why couldn’t he? Why couldn’t my mother? They made a choice and did so with the same human strength I have. So when they decided to offend all bets were off. Because they are offenders it hampers my ability to fully sympathize and empathize. I know my mother’s history. I know what she went through and I DON”T CARE. I don’t care because she herself became an offender. All bets are off.
This “man” said something interesting to me. He said that society doesn’t forgive sex offenders. I told him a sex offense is an offense against society itself but society is made up of individuals. If forgiveness is going to come it’ll come from individuals not the group.
His actions have offended us all. His presence alone traumatizes survivors and threatens feelings of safety and security for families around him. It brings back what was done to us and his presence alone sparks fear in what he could do to others. He doesn’t have to say anything for his past offense to continue to damage lives. The original victim isn’t the only sufferer, all of society is. He won’t meet us all at the same time which means he’s got to go through explanations and rejection for the rest of his life. Just because his legal offense took place 20 years ago doesn’t mean he is square with society. We as individuals are now forced to look at him and know what he did then come to terms with it somehow. Our healing from his presence is on our time, not his. That’s exactly what I told him. It’s our healing on our time. This “man” is right, society doesn’t forgive sex offenders but individuals do. Even is an individual offers this he’ll still never be “one of us”. He’ll never be fully trusted or depended upon. All that changed the day he decided to abandon right for wrong.
I have to admit; the hour long conversation I had with was both healing and upsetting. The opportunity presented itself and something in me just went for it. Here’s the thing, I have one more talk that I’m going to have with him. I have one more question. I need to know how he got to the point where offending became possible. How did he reach the point where he could put his hands on his son? What was the process and finally the turning point from thought to actions? I want to know that.
I should mention, not once did this “man” blame his son or even come close to making an excuse for his actions. He was open and honest about his “past”. While I myself can sit in a room with him and talk I don’t believe there will ever be a time when I can sit in a room with my mother and talk. I could never get my questions answered by her. I think talking to him gives me an idea of what her answers to the same questions are. When it boils down to it, that’s why I’m talking to him, because I can’t talk to my mother.
J of A
My Conversation with a Sex Offender – Monday, August 08, 2011