Posted by randy on February 1, 2013
A week ago I posted an article I wrote on standing up for victims and breaking free from the auto response of defending the accused. That part went over okay. The part that people got stuck on and pushed back hard on was this:
“So here is a new reality check: We must find a way to accept that people who do offend are more than the crime. The result becomes one where both the perpetrator and the victim can be held within the community.
Offenders should always be held accountable for their behavior while still being part of the community with safe parameters. The victim can be supported and held in love for the maximum opportunity for a return to health. If we can accomplish this, healing becomes possible for everyone, including the community itself.”
A lot of you obviously don’t like that idea and cannot go there. You don’t have to! As I read your comments and had some new cases come up this week that are close to home, I totally understand the anger at this concept. One of the cases was a minister I knew, that on one hand was an amazing spiritual leader known and loved by thousands. On the other hand, it turns out he was a serial perpetrator of kids. Does one validate the other or conversely invalidate the other? He was in fact both. I think it is important we recognize he was both and then each of us decide how we feel about all he did.
I’m sure lots of people think my abuser was, and is, a great guy who just made a mistake. Not me. He was a great man to many including me at one point in time. For now I don’t much care about the good he did, what impacted my life was his crime and perversion. That’s what’s important to me. I just want to unwind his tentacles so I can reclaim my good memories without his distortions.
But this is not about forgiving or forgetting or whether offenders are thought of as good or bad. I know some feel offenders should be castrated, locked up with people that will abuse them and then shoot them. I must admit I have had those thoughts too, but I do not believe the long term solution to child sex abuse lies in that direction (except in rare cases!). I believe that often the crime is not reported because the victim does not want to “destroy” the life of a family member, or someone close to them. A couple of points I want to clarify here. I think the victim should ALWAYS be consulted and approve sentencing. Next is the victim need never see or speak to the offender again, nor should they be under any expectation to forgive, nor should the community.
What I am saying is for us to heal our communities we need to find space for everyone, even those we dislike, despise, or even just disagree with. There are some we need to keep locked away for everyone’s protection, but once an offender has answered for their crime and paid whatever penalty the law imposed, it is incumbent on society to find a place for them, with safe parameters. You can choose to not break bread with them if you don’t want to. That’s fine.
So I want to make clear that I feel my number one responsibility is to support survivors in their recovery and seeking justice. The close second is to find effective solutions for prevention of child sex abuse so there are less victims to start with. So as you are able, please explore possible solutions with me and keep letting me know how all this makes you feel. I hope you have a good day today and find something to make you laugh.