Not Just One Victim? Nothing is ever black and white!

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…

9 comments for “Not Just One Victim? Nothing is ever black and white!

  1. Charlie
    January 18, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Forgive! What a strange word in today’s world. The world today would rather promote hatred while calling itself Christian.

  2. Jean
    January 18, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    My daughter is a victim of abuse by someone we knew and trusted. She didn’t want to disclose, but finally did so the abuse would stop. She only wanted the abuser to stop and get help so he wouldn’t do it again. She would have preferred no prison time. This was something she told the victim advocate and the prosecution, whom both ignored her and said that she was too young to understand or know what she wanted (mind you, she was old enough to drive, old enough to make decisions on which parent to reside with if in a custody battle, old enough to have a job – you get my drift). They pushed and made her feel threatened that if she didn’t testify that they would make sure she regretted it.

    That experience made her feel more like a victim than the abuse she actually suffered. All because she was a “victim and would never recover”, that they had her best interest at heart.

    She regrets ever getting up on the stand. She feels like no one, besides our family actually listened to what she wanted and advocated for her. She feels like the person who abused her (who has been seeking treatment, and has shown remorse) has learned their lesson, and will never reoffend. Because of this, she has gone to speak with our legislators, telling them her story, and how none of these laws have done anything to protect her, nor the other 95%. She advocates for laws based on facts and research, and feels like the registry is a modern day Scarlett Letter.

    • Teach
      January 28, 2016 at 6:16 pm

      Jean what a heartwarming story. Your daughter is most certainly a woman of strength and kindness. You and your daughter have my greatest respect.

  3. Paul
    January 19, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    From our station/position in life, society to us can feel a lot like the archetype of Javert from Les Mis, the bureaucratic, vengeful, ruthless person who walk through fire in order to feel they have achieved justice. Javert didn’t care that Jean Valijean had only stolen a loaf of bread. And this archetypal mentality has been embedded in our consciousness since the days of Hammurabi and Yahweh, is what creates the mindset to prosecute at any cost, regardless of the circumstances. We still equate justice with vengeance. Javert represents all those who would see to it that the registry remains in existence. Javert represents the victim advocates, prosecutors and law enforcement who would prosecute cases where the actual victim would prefer to leave it alone.

    I’m not saying victims come forward. I’m not saying they should be too intimidated to speak out against the accusers, if the accusation are true. What I am saying is that our culture promotes a “prosecute at all costs” mentality which if taken too far leads to tyranny.

    • January 27, 2016 at 5:18 am

      Yours is a clever way of thkinnig about it.

  4. Alan Davis
    January 20, 2016 at 9:10 am

    I seriously believe that the registry has now become such a penality to families, that more often than not, offenses that occur within the immediate family are no longer reported. The public has become so aware of the impact of all the restrictions, shame, and unemployability related to having a family member registered, that many families make the conscious decision to not report. The risky outcome of this, however, is that in some cases, the abuse may be continued and might even be perpetrated on other or additional victims.

    This kind of intra-family abuse or inappropriate sexual conduct has likely been around since the fall of mankind, but up until the advent of the registry, it was either swept under the rug as the “family shame” or was addressed through the use of therapy, which for many not only stopped the offending but reintegrated the family.

    Unfortunately, that approach which used to be very successful is no longer available to most families due to Mandatory Reporting.

    • Paul
      January 20, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Alan is right. The registry defeats the very purpose of its original intent. Since the majority of abuse takes place intra-family, it deters reporting and gives others a false sense of security. I always envision drills from the 1950’s where people had to get under their desks to avoid the effects of nuclear fallout. Quite a precautionary measure to take in the midst of an atomic bomb which would wipe out an entire city before one even had time to get under a desk. Ah…the things people believe or do to give themselves a false sense of security. It never ceases to amaze me. I hope that with due time, the registry will seem as illogical and far fetched as the aforementioned nuclear drill.

      • Scott
        January 24, 2016 at 4:37 am

        In my opinion, people these days are way to insecure and rely too much on the press of the button. They never really think things through when it comes to taking action and coming to a medium for both sides. We should always be Just and Be Fair for both sides more so as a reconciliation and Forgiveness.

        Throwing people in jail for crimes is not always the best answer especially on the First offense. We cannot let such young people be the fall guy to untreated sex offenses. People as we know it, know what happens to those with such charges in prisons and it isn,t by any means a walk in the park.

        We may never know what brought them to offend and we never know what they endured during childhood. We CANNOT allow our past be blame for such actions but we can be supportive in families and from friends we know to deter anything like this from happening again with proper measures and education. Not just for the sake of One individual but for every human being.

        The registry itself should not even exist. Why?? Because it is a haven for gangs and for the unneighborly neighbors who like to make trouble.

        Let’s not just be aware of the registered offender, but also for those who may be offending and haven,t been caught yet. Who might that be??, Why take a chance??

        maybe every family should practice protocol to the Safe Sanctuary safety measures they have/use in churches??

  5. kayt
    January 21, 2016 at 10:17 am

    I hope that the article, ‘Not Just One Victim? Nothing is ever black and white!’ goes a long way – and I encourage everyone who reads the article and related posts to add their own point of view.

    To the writers above – great points, great writing!

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