All in Who Are The Offenders
Extending far beyond the boundaries of accusation and the punishment is a world where prevention strategies can be developed, where the proclivities and appetites of sexual beings can be examined and discussed, where the would-be offenders can be counseled or corrected before the crime is committed.
“There are basically two types of treatment,” said Sean, a former sex offender. "The first assumes offenders are fundamentally screwed up and that treatment providers are tasked with breaking you down, and confronting your denial," he said.
The second type of treatment approaches the issue from a different angle, Sean continued. “It assumes offenders are human. We have darkness and light in us, but we are basically worthwhile.” From that vantage point, he was asked to examine himself thoroughly, including his formative years. “I had to discover what was lacking so that I chose to meet my needs in unhealthy ways.”
"Barbara" is a woman imprisoned for almost 10 years for raping her son. She tells her story here on air for the first time. You will be surprised, and perhaps impressed, with her honesty. You may find yourself changing your mind about "just who all these sex offenders are.
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?
Wholeness is missing in our national thrall with sexual abuse, and this book can add a couple of dimensions to the puzzle, opening the potential for growth, more safety and public health.
The pathology of this thinking aims the offender in the direction of action: “I must take what I want.” Unfortunately, this thinking derives from a selective reading of Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species (competition is the basis for positive change). Sadly, too, this thinking underpins the practice of Capitalism.
The couple were arrested after the captive housemate managed to alert police about her situation and the sexual abuse that had continued for more than 3 years. While treatment for these two offenders may provide little hope for success, that's no reason to doubt the valuable contribution that sex offender treatment has on the majority of people convicted of lesser crimes.
Prison artists take it upon themselves to heal and grow. They get little or no encouragement from the "system". What a model those men and women are for a society creating its own life sentence with obesity, hypertension and substance abuse.
A former Oregon Governor admitted to sexually abusing a teenaged neighbor of his for at least a year, while he was mayor of Portland in the 1970s. The victim died at age 49 a few years ago, after a history of substance abuse and mental illness.
No criminal charges derived from these actions. The lesson? If you’re a powerful male, you can afford the best defense and the criminal justice system will mostly look the other way.
Breaking bread with those who broke the law is healing - for them and for us. The men are hungry for human contact from outside the walls. In fact, research has shown that such visits help prisoners cope, establishing hope, inspiration and peaceful behavior. Out of those gatherings comes real human connection - both mental and emotional.
How do people live as "high risk" sex offenders in the world? Some barely do, but life is so precious that they will become virtual hermits in order for that privilege.
This story is about one who graduated from my treatment, but even after more than a decade of clean conduct, he continues to live a solitary life, just to avoid potential conflict, discrimination and harassment.
I mentioned to her that sex offender treatment was different for women than men. She then said something I truly did not expect, “I think there are more women sex offenders than people imagine. Women just aren’t thought of as sex abusers,” she said. “And the crimes they commit are pretty hard to detect and quantify,” she added.
Arthur (not his real name) went off the tracks after serving in the Armed Forces. No job, and few marketable job skills, he satisfied his need for money and sex by holding up a drug store and raping the clerk at gunpoint. He was sentenced to more than 10 years in state prison.
Incest is usually a family matter, with the victims sexually abused by a family member or person close to the family. It is one of the most common, and least reported crime.
Victims of incest often shoulder the blame, shame and trauma for years, maybe decades, after the assault. Reporting it, and finding treatment both for the victim and the offender are very important. Reporting it is the only way in which we can break the cycle so prevalent in our culture.
Offenders are a lot like you or me. They span all age groups, gender identification and religious preference. Some are wealthy and others poor. Some are intellectually and/or developmentally disabled.
In the U.S., the majority of sex offenders are white men. That doesn’t mean that there are none from other backgrounds and cultures. The thing they have in common: all of them make mistakes. Most of those I’ve worked with regret their actions and make needed behavioral changes.