In Puritan America, a married woman’s illicit affair with a minister landed her in jail. After her release, Hester Prynne was sentenced to forever wear a big red “A” on her dress. 

Nearly 375 years later, the U.S. continues to be scandalized, tantalized and perplexed by sex, especially about sex offenders. Tough on crime, we’re still struggling to learn: 

  • Why domestic violence and incest are so under-reported by victims? 
  • Why most people think every sexual offender is a serial rapist? 
  • Why, even among therapists, many continue to believe sex-offenders to be untreatable? 
  • Why supervision after offenders’ release tends to-wards punitive rather than restorative? 

It’s time to bring the subject of sex crime out of the dark ages, time to help victims shed the shame and trauma of their experience. It’s also time to allow offenders an opportunity to show they can change, make amends and start to earn back trust and acceptance from society.

Sex Abuse, St. Valentine, and Geoffrey Chaucer

Sex Abuse, St. Valentine, and Geoffrey Chaucer

Some say that St. Valentine died for his love of a Christian god, back in Roman times, and not because he was involved in some Romeo and Juliet soap opera.

So how did this martyr come to be associated with lovers commemorating their affections with heart-shaped candies and floral bouquets? Blame the 14th Century British poet, Geoffrey Chaucer.

His Parliament of Fowls poem “explores the ideals of cosmic order, political order, and erotic desire—all dramatized in a raucous debate carried on by a parliament of birds," says Dartmouth College professor Peter Travis. The poem ends with a mention of Saint Valentine, “providing promise that, even in the depths of winter, summer is not all that far off.”

Given the history of sexual abuse dating back to before the written word, why is it surprising today that we have yet to get beyond this plague of unwanted sexual attention on women and children?

The answer, short and simple is "thinking errors." We've landed men on the Moon and other celestial bodies but have yet to abide by simple laws about not violating human bodies. Sure, there are laws against all sorts of sexual acts, but those guilty of thinking errors believe that what they're doing is somehow okay, that their stature as a man, a celebrity or a person of authority somehow excuses their urges. 

Looking back at history, it's apparent that while our social mores have evolved somewhat, the aberrant practices have not. Men still treat women as property. Parents still create permanent emotional scars in their children, by their callous, selfish pursuit of sexual gratification.

The #MeToo campaign is not going away. It is helping to shine a light on shameful behavior. Men are losing their jobs and victims are getting some support, emotional and sometimes financial. Hopefully, the conversation will lead the offenders to seek treatment, hopefully before their actions create more victims. 




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