A member of our SOSEN family recently shared some information with us and upon reading their story, I thought it was something that should be shared with other people. It got me to thinking about the victim of a crime in another light. Naturally the one thing that comes to mind for me is the difference between a victim and a survivor. A number of the victims’ advocate groups out there twist things around to the point where they would just as soon force a victim to relive the incident every day of their life and by doing so, always remain a victim. Of course there are other, and I believe better victims’ advocate organizations out there, that attempt to help the victim of crimes become survivors of so that they are not forced to look over their shoulders every day in fear for the rest of their lives.
But this SOSEN member wrote their information from an entirely different perspective; that sometimes the perpetrator of the crime can be as much of a victim as the person who was victimized by the crime. The first thing that came to my mind after reading their story was Les Misérables, and then I got contemplating the idea of how the punishment should fit the crime. Take for example the idea of a thief who stole a loaf of bread or food to feed himself or his family. In some countries this thief could have their hands cut off so that they could no the longer steal. This type of punishment is done without any thought as to how and/or why the person did the crime or the conditions that drove them to commit the crime. It also does not take into account the effect that the punishment has on the offender or his family that looked to this person for support.
I would like to think that most countries have become more civilized in their dealing with people who are involved in crimes . But then we only have to look as far as the S.O. Registry to see how inhumane and cruel a legislative and judicial system can truly be or how uncivilized a supposedly religious culture truly is.
Those who support any type of registry and all the requirements added to registrants, need to ask themselves this one question. “What if I or my loved one was added to that registry, would I think that it was unjust?”
Shared with the SOSEN family by a member
This site often describes the perils and challenges of registered offenders. Individuals have shared their story as well as the numerous articles with research on recidivism by various entities described and discussed. The rights of offenders such as rapists, pedifiles and those who have viewed child pornography are fought for. I would like to take a few moments to describe my experience with a sex offender…. as a victim.
First of all, please understand it happened many years ago. Most people in my life have no idea, my children certainly don’t know, friends don’t know, I think I’ve been rather good at not revealing this little secret to anyone, until this very moment.
I won’t go into details, but one night while I was sleeping someone broke into my home… He did his thing then he passed out IN MY HOME! I crawled out of the window and called the police (remember back when they had pay phones?). I was taken to the hospital, a battery of very intrusive tests, a counselor, then a “victim’s” advocate came and spoke to me. I was bombarded with things like,“Put this creep away,” “You’re lucky to be alive,” and more. I got driven home and was told that the police would make extra patrols through the neighborhood.
As it turns out I was friends with the man’s brother. He apologized profusely, over and over, he and his brother had been out partying, his brother was a good guy…. he said. While I didn’t know the man who hurt me, I knew his brother. He was a really nice guy, we had gone to parties together platonically, and I knew I could trust him.
The police too called me, as did the prosecuting attorney, or I think that’s who it was, honestly I don’t remember, it was someone from a legal office. I was told how important it was for me to put this guy away, to prosecute to get “closure”, a term I really wasn’t sure I understood, actually still don’t. The victim’s rights advocate came to visit me several times. She was nice, but a little suffocating, she insisted she knew how I felt… how I felt? How did I feel ?, I wasn’t even sure. I wanted to move forward. They were the supposed experts, they told me how important it was to get rid of this guy for good.
Then the phone call…. a woman’s voice… a wife… she began to cry. Although the call lasted only a few minutes, it seemed like hours. She told me she was “his” wife… he was a father, he had two young children…. “please don’t put their father in jail for one mistake”… “we have our problems, but he is a good man”…. “please… please.. don’t take him away from us.” I hung up.
I was torn, I hadn’t thought of him as a person, as a husband, a father. I only thought of how much he had scared me, how he violated me, the new “friends” I had at the victim’s advocacy office, and the prosecutor’s office had helped me over the past few weeks.
I decided not to prosecute. I called the prosecuting attorney’s office and told them I didn’t want to prosecute. Someone called back one time after that, I believe it was from the victim’s advocacy office asking if I was pressured into the decision and promising to protect me. I explained again that I didn’t want to prosecute. That was the last time I heard from them, ever.
So, you’re wondering if I would have felt protected if I put the man in prison? My answer, no.
Fast forward, do I look over my shoulder worrying about whether he is “after me” simple answer, never. Honestly, I’ve never thought about the man or the incident again. Life is such, it moves forward. At the time I didn’t know about the registry, I didn’t know that had I prosecuted, had I put this man in prison, he would have had to pay for the rest of his life.
So, if I would have prosecuted this man, he would have been sentenced to jail for some time, who knows, 2 years maybe? But that is not the end of the story, this man would have been required to register and he would most certainly been put on the sex offender registry. One mistake, one night out partying too much with a brother, one crazy night…. could have been a mistake he would have had to pay for the rest of his life.
As the victim, I will tell you, I can promise you, I would not have been able to live with myself had I prosecuted this individual, this husband, this father knowing he would pay for the rest of his life….. I am thankful that I had the heart to forgive and to move on…