Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Gift for Valentines day: Help in finding a community of Families/ finding others who 'weathered the storm' found community, survived and now reach out to help other women like us realize that they, too, are not alone at the most frightening time of our lives.

We Understand; Not the life keeps going/ keeps posting because women need a place to grow stronger after the poilce "Knock on our door:"  

There has been quite a bit of discussion lately on Not the Life, regarding finding reliable treatment, especially for wives and families. Cure-Sort has been around a long time (as attested to by the somewhat old-fashioned name: Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants.)  They are there to promote professional treatment as a means of addressing the issues of Prevention and recidvism. We need to find treatment providers who can be fair and helpful without twisting everything we say into their own belief system.

Many women find Not the Life because we feel so alone when we are thrown into the justice system. They threaten us with the loss of our children. Many times our husbands are in jail and we have no income, ir don't make enough to cover the bills And then there are Lawyers...

Many of us were sort of coccooned in our lives. We held the same prejudices as everyone else against sex offenders AND their families. We, too thought the mother's must have been (at least partially) to blame because we believed "those mother's" must have known, after all they lived right there...and then we heard the knock on our own door and found out what it's like to be tossed out of the lives we thought we were living into the reality of life on the "other side"  We find out our neighbors now consider us to be one of "Those peoeple" we too once said bad things about.  

Once a sex offender always a sex offender is not true" but how do we know when our loved one has 'changed'? How do we know he even wants to change or who he (or we) will be once we get through "all this' 
One important thing to do is to educate ourselves. CURE-SORT is another  good place to start:  

  Sex Offenders Restored through Treatment (SORT), a non-profit advocacy membership organization incorporated in Michigan and tax exempt under IRC section 501(c)(3), was founded in 1990 by a group of people dedicated to promoting professional treatment as a means for addressing the issues of prevention and recidivism. It is an issue chapter of Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (National CURE) and is referred to as CURE-SORT

CURE-SORT works to provide information, resources, contacts, and support to individuals, families, defense attorneys, treatment providers, public media, legislators, law enforcement personnel, and other professionals who work with or are interested in issues of sexual abuse and its prevention. Our website is rich with news, information about assessment, treatment, recovery and educational resources and links to related websites and stakeholders. We also publish a quarterly newsletter called CURE-SORT News and back issues are available on the website. 

In this forum we encourage group members to share news, helpful information and links that further our mission. 

If you wish to join this Google Group, there is no cost. Just send an email to with your physical mail address, a short note on your interest and in the subject line put Request to Join.


Or if you are not ready to "join" but want to find out more about CURE-SORT 
Google  and just poke around, and find out what they may have to offer you or your family.There might even be  a chapter in your state.  In any case maybe you won't feel so alone after all. 

If you do go there and poke around, come back to Not the Life and let us know what you found that was (or wasn't) helpful. We all need to know.

Take care, Janet M 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Forever Denied Redemption? #MeToo is a lot harder when you know someone personally who's been accused by another person you also love...

Matt Damon asks "There is a spectrum of Behavior Right?" The interview below raises the question: Once a Sex Offender, Always a Sex Offender?  Labeled a tarred and feathered forever? Even sex curious kids can't be helped. All of us and all of them forever denied redemption? 
I don't know about you, but I hope we are reaching a watershed moment when discussion of who isn't too big to jail for sexually assaulting someone in our home, in the workplace or in society. 
Afraid to be Targeted, Afraid to be called Liars, Enablers, we suffer in silence. It's time to talk about the injustices of the Sex Offender Registry. The continued Silencing of us all makes no child safer but actually perpetuates the abuse, like an open secret within the family, we deal with the festering sore left behind, we stand in line at the prison, or cut and run, divorce and change our name, not because we can't love a person who betrayed us and our children "like that" but simply because we can't bear to have anyone know we still have the same last name as That Person.  Is the world to remain divided between those "Too Big to Jail" and those (men and families) forever consigned to shame, blame and Life on the Sex Offender Registry?  
It's time to address the collateral consequences that silence us all. Time to address how we (the wives children and families of sex offenders )are treated when we too are betrayed by someone we loved and laced put our trust in. (Not just a 'personality' in politics or on TV but a real person who managed to put up such a good front all those years? 
Please read  Matt Damon's interview below. (and now it's your turn to comment. Not the Life I Chose is here so you can pierce the silence surrounding you own experience: 
Matt Damon: I think we’re in this watershed moment. I think it’s great. I think it’s wonderful that women are feeling empowered to tell their stories, and it’s totally necessary … I do believe that there’s a spectrum of behavior, right? And we’re going to have to figure — you know, there’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right? You know, we see somebody like Al Franken, right? — I personally would have preferred if they had an Ethics Committee investigation, you know what I mean? It’s like at what point — you know, we’re so energized to kind of get retribution, I think.
And we live in this culture of outrage and injury, and, you know, that we’re going to have to correct enough to kind of go, “Wait a minute. None of us came here perfect.” You know what I mean? … The Louis C.K. thing, I don’t know all the details. I don’t do deep dives on this, but I did see his statement, which kind of, which [was] arresting to me. When he came out and said, “I did this. I did these things. These women are all telling the truth.” And I just remember thinking, “Well, that’s the sign of somebody who — well, we can work with that” … Like, when I’m raising my kids, this constant personal responsibility is as important as anything else they learn before they go off in the world.
And the fear for me is that right now, we’re in this moment where at the moment — and I hope it doesn’t stay this way — the clearer signal to men and to younger people is, deny it. Because if you take responsibility for what you did, your life’s going to get ruined …
I mean, look, as I said, all of that behavior needs to be confronted, but there is a continuum. And on this end of the continuum where you have rape and child molestation or whatever, you know, that’s prison. Right? And that’s what needs to happen. OK? And then we can talk about rehabilitation and everything else. That’s criminal behavior, and it needs to be dealt with that way. The other stuff is just kind of shameful and gross, and I just think … I don’t know Louis C.K.. I’ve never met him. I’m a fan of his, but I don’t imagine he’s going to do those things again. You know what I mean? I imagine the price that he’s paid at this point is so beyond anything that he — I just think that we have to kind of start delineating between what these behaviors are.
PT: It’s harder, isn’t it, though, when you actually know someone who gets accused? We both know Harvey Weinstein. I’ve worked with him. But I didn’t see any of this.
MD: When you see Al Franken taking a picture putting his hands on that woman’s flak jacket and mugging for the camera, going like that, you know, that is just like a terrible joke, and it’s not funny. It’s wrong, and he shouldn’t have done that … But when you talk about Harvey and what he’s accused of, there are no pictures of that. He knew he was up to no good. There’s no witnesses. There’s no pictures. There’s no braggadocio … So they don’t belong in the same category.
PT: I think it becomes for all of us, too, that are in any way around it, even though we’re not seeing it, is, what’s our responsibility to make sure it doesn’t happen?
MD: A lot of people said, ‘Well, Harvey — everybody knew.’ As you were saying, that’s not true. Everybody knew what kind of guy he was in the sense that if you took a meeting with him, you knew that he was tough and he was a bully, and that was his reputation. And he enjoyed that reputation, because he was making the best movies out there …
[With regard to the rape allegations,] nobody who made movies for him knew … Any human being would have put a stop to that, no matter who he was. They would’ve said absolutely no. You know what I mean? … I knew I wouldn’t want him married to anyone close to me. But that was the extent of what we knew, you know? And that wasn’t a surprise to anybody. So when you hear Harvey this, Harvey that — I mean, look at the guy. Of course he’s a womanizer … I mean, I don’t hang out with him.
PT: But you can’t live his life for him. Or be responsible for his life.
MD: Right. So the question is, at what point does somebody’s behavior that you have a professional relationship with … away from the profession bother enough that you don’t want to work with them? For me, I’ve always kind of, you know, as long as nobody’s committing a crime — well, that’s your life, and you go live it. I don’t need to be spending time with you, away from my professional life, at least.

PHOTO: Matt Damon appears on Popcorn with Peter Travers at ABC News studios, Dec. 12, 2017, in New York City.Maryellen McGrath/ABC
Matt Damon appears on "Popcorn with Peter Travers" at ABC News studios, Dec. 12, 2017, in New York City.

PT: [We’ve seen] Ridley Scott, who directed you in “The Martian,” having to erase Kevin Spacey from “All the Money in the World” and having to replace him with Christopher Plummer.
MD: That was smart. That was a total business decision by Ridley. I haven’t talked to him, but … it wasn’t a creative choice for Ridley. Ridley has a big movie coming out … and nobody right now is in the mood to see a Kevin Spacey movie.
And I think he’s right about that. He’s one of the few directors who could just turn on a dime and shoot for a week a month before a movie comes out and, you know, expunge an actor. And I don’t disagree with his decision to do that. I mean, that movie, I think, will do much better without Kevin in it.
[Editor’s note: In response to the allegations against him made by Anthony Rapp, Kevin Spacey released a statement on Oct. 29, saying, in part, “I’m beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter … But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” In November a spokesperson for Spacey said he was “taking the time necessary to seek evaluation and treatment.”]
PT: When it’s in that gray area and it’s friends of yours or people that you do know, do you try to talk to them afterwards and say, “What’s going on? Can I help?”
MD: It depends on what the accusation is. It depends what’s going on. If it’s a friend of mine, I’m always talking to them. I know the real story if it’s my friend. If it’s a colleague … I don’t know … I guess it depends on the situation and the allegation and how believable I think it is.
PT: We’re going to see the change in the making of movies now with people being so aware.
MD: I also think the day of the confidentiality agreements is over. I think it’s just completely over. Ten years ago, you made a claim against me and I had a big movie coming out, OK? I have $100 million or I have a movie that is personally important to me coming out, and close to the release of that film, you say, “Matt Damon grabbed my butt and stuck his tongue down my throat.” We would then go to mediation and organize a settlement. I’d go, “I don’t want this out there. Peter’s going to go out and talk to the press and run his mouth, and it’s going to be overshadowing the opening of this movie. How much money do you want?” The lawyers would get together, and they do this cost-benefit analysis, and they’d go, “Oh, this is what it’s worth.” And I look at the number and go, “OK, I’ll pay it, but you can never talk about this again. You’re f------ lying about this, but never talk about this again.
Now … with social media, these stories get — it’s like they get gasoline poured on them. So the moment a claim is made, if you make that same claim today to me, I would be scorched earth. I’d go, “I don’t care if it costs $10 million to fight this in court with you for 10 years, you are not taking my name from me. You are not taking my name and my reputation from me. I’ve worked too hard for it. And I earned it. You can’t just blow me up like that.” So I think once a claim is made, there will no longer be settlements. That’s just my prediction, I mean, just based on what I’ve seen.
PT: Isn’t that a good thing? Women have been doing it, and they’ve been told they can’t express what happened to them.
MD: One hundred percent … I think that it’s important, especially in that, you know, we believe every woman who’s coming forward with one of these stories needs to be listened to and heard. I think one of the surprising things for me has been the extent to which my female friends, as, I think, of all the ones I’ve talked to in the last year since all this stuff started happening — I can’t think of any of them who don’t have a story at some point in their life. And most of them have more than one.
PT: I don’t know how old your daughters are, but how do you deal with them living in this world where even they, whatever ages they are, can’t escape this in the headlines?
MD: You just have to raise children with, like, self-esteem, because you’re not going to be there to make all of their decisions for them. And you have to just hope that they have enough self-respect to make the best decisions they can. I mean, the Harvey situation is particularly horrible, because, you know, those women — when you say, “Hey, let’s take a meeting in a hotel room.” I mean, we auditioned, you know, for “Good Will Hunting” in a hotel room. Like, it’s common to take meetings in a hotel room.
And this is the most powerful man in the movie business at the time, like in the ’90s, like Harvey was. That was the place to be. And if you get a thing from your agent on the letterhead of your agency that says, “Go meet Harvey Weinstein, the rainmaker, the guy that makes these great movies, at the Peninsula Hotel,” you’re going to that meeting … You don’t go into that meeting thinking something bad is going to happen to you … I don’t know who’s taking meetings in hotel rooms now. I mean, sometimes you’re in a different city and you just don’t have anywhere to meet. But, so no matter how smart my daughters are, no matter how prepared they are, there’s still those situations that that’s the nightmare kind of scenario.

VIDEO: Matt Damon on Harvey Weinstein, sexual harassment and confidentiality agreements
Matt Damon on Harvey Weinstein, sexual harassment and confidentiality agreements

PT: Do you worry about your daughters less because of the change in the industry?
MD: With social media, you know, and a Twitter account, you have the same platform as The New York Times now, so there aren’t secrets. It’s harder to do this type of thing. I would like to point out, though, that even though it feels like there’s this avalanche of men … Well here’s my optimistic spin, this is like 1 percent of the guys who are losing their careers. It’s not everybody. It just feels like it. There’s so many great men and women in the movie business. So many great people. It’s such a wonderful collection of people overall. And these rotten horrible apples are getting weeded out right now.
And that’s fine. That’s a good thing. That’s progress. But again, when we go back to talking about our own growth and development as human beings. We have to get to a place where we’re looking at one end of the spectrum and saying, “Well, let’s deal with this with some reflection and dialogue and some reconciliation, and let’s all grow together and move on.” And then I’ll think we’ll be making progress.
Watch part of Matt Damon’s interview in the video above, and tune in for the full ABC News’ “Popcorn With Peter Travers” interview on Dec. 27, on
Download the "Popcorn With Peter Travers" podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyTuneinGoogle Play Music and Stitcher.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Shame, Blame and Halloween...Thanksgiving and Christmas too...Happy Registry to You too!.

Shame and Isolation kills. In effect, families, and wives, girlfriends, sisters, and brothers of sex offenders find that they too are "on the registry " whether they choose to stay or go there are collateral consequences to loving (or hating) a sex offender.

Isolation kills. Fear keeps us up at night. Condemnation drives a wedge through our hearts and lives. Don't give up hope. Kindness heals. That's why we continue to post and answer comments left here on Not the Life.

If you are reading Not the Life, Halloween seems as good a time as any to talk about stoking fear and activating trolls and such. .

States have severe Halloween restrictions on Registrants. Giving out Halloween candy is Verboten! Break these rules and your loved one (son/ husband/ brother/juvenile sex offender) goes back to prison, not because they committed an additional (actual) sex offense but for not following all the  Halloween Restrictions to the letter.

Just because we love someone on the registry doesn't mean we support or condone Sexual Abuse. And "Once a Sex Offender, always a sex offender" is an old prejudice that simply isn't true. Recidivism rates of sex offenders are around 3-5%. Therapy works. Taking personal responsibility to stop/ to change is real.

But sometimes sexual abuse victims and the adults who love them find their way to Not the Life. Some leave hurtful comments. The rest of us on Not the Life answer their questions as best we can.

But sometimes I tell myself, "Don't feed the trolls " because their comments are clearly meant to hurt, not help.Some see Not the Life as their opportunity to dump their anger on mothers/ wives and family members past and present. No matter how sarcastic or unreasonable many trolls may seem, most of them are hurting. Some think they are protecting children by attacking the wives, mothers, and family members of people who stick by those in prison or out on the Registry. Maybe the trolls think we helped offenders molest our children? Some even target us as the mothers whom they believe conspired to allow them to be molested as children.

No matter, where their anger comes from, no one can stay frozen. We aren't (still) the women we once were. Not the wives who felt betrayed when who heard the knock at our door... back when. We too must travel a road to change. We can't run back to what we thought was our Happily Ever After. And although we feel enough regret to fuel a few remarks of our own, we refuse to accept their shame and blame. We share and reach out. We can't remain silent in the face of harms done to us or others, not Now. And not back then.

But on Halloween especially we are reminded to fear the prejudice and collateral damage that might still target us and those we love.

Law enforcement, in the form of  / Police/ Parole and Probation/ County Sheriffs, drives up in well-marked cars. Officers  knock on our door making a neighborhood display of themselves wearing  "swat gear."  They reinforce the belief that "Once a sex Offender...forever dangerous."

I open my door to them.  They enter and march around my house asking questions, poking into cupboards, issuing dire warnings. All seem intent upon showing one and all they are Protecting Children.  Around Halloween, the Dept Heads also give interviews to the local TV stations issuing DIRE WARNINGS against SEX OFFENDERS. Talking about the need to increase their budgets

No matter how 'law-abiding' It's hard not to feel especially targeted at Halloween. And Halloween feeds the trolls.

I tell myself, The Officers are just doing their job. AND I follow parole restrictions to the letter as does "my" sex offender.  I don't want to end up standing in the visitor's lines at the prison because I failed to full fill a requirement of his parole/ his Registry. 

So, I wait. I hope for Nov. 1st. I hope the neighbors were too busy to notice those Adults dressed up Swat gear who drove up and banged on our door on Halloween.

 Luckily, most Trolls only leave (verbal) pitchforks on Not the Life. (Better that, than they too knock on my door!) Collateral damage is sometimes all too real.

Sadly, some do still believe the canard "Once a Sex Offender always a Sex Offender." Some go so far as to brag "The only recovered sex offender is a dead offender."  That's a possible but unthinkable outcome of stoking rage and prejudice.

In my experience, most trolls are the still-hurting adults molested as children, victims of sexual abuse betrayed and abused in childhood. Around Halloween, I' get a little cynical.  I'm always more afraid of what might happen if a neighboring troll sees and decides to turn on us. Where can we get P&P's permission to live if we are forced out of our house?

Choosing to stay, or falling in love with someone on the Registry, (even 19 years after his conviction) has consequences. No matter what choices you made or make, I hope Not the Life is a Safe Haven where you can share openly, ask questions, see what others did and find comfort that you are not alone, and find help to make decisions about your own life now and going forward.
Anyway Vickie, Thanks for having courage.  Your comment got me thinking of all the reasons we keep Not the Life going. Not the Life is meant to be a Safe Haven we can all use and add our own experience strength and hope. One comment is read for years and helps many.

Please know there are a lot of Us out here and no matter what decisions we make (stay or go, how find the way forward)  we too are effected by  unreasonable beliefs of trolls that (sadly) do NOT serve to protect children or help anyone heal or get on with a new life whether  they be victim, offender, our children our  family members heal.) Old prejudices keep the troll's anger boiling.

We can't  be satisfied to whine "poor me" and shame and blame the  'trolls.' (not even on Halloween!)

We must find courage, to make our own choices, to share, to take responsibility, to reach out to others. To educate ourselves and find ways to heal in spite of shame, blame and the consequences of Sex Abuse and the collateral damage caused by trolls or by Life on the Registry.

Take care, Janet Mackie

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Once a sex offender always a sex offender? Will our loved one ( a husband, a son, a relative, a stranger who committed an unthinkable betrayal) be a danger forever? As the wives, ex-wives, mothers, sons and daughters and families of sex offenders tasked with important decisions re rebuilding/ balancing trust in recovery vs. the safety of those entrusted to our care, we each try to make safe and compassionate choices. And all the while we deal with the collateral consequences of abiding prejudice and misinformation as expressed in draconian laws flowing from a 1980's Supreme Court Decision that impacts laws about sex offenders and those of us stigmatized by association.

 Untouchable OpDoc from the New York Times - released today
Val Jonas, a Florida civil rights attorney, appears in a New York Times Op-Doc that details false and misleading information upon which the US Supreme Court based landmark decisions about sex-offender punishment.
New York Times Op-Doc Exposes the Flawed Science Behind Supreme Court’s sex offender cases
Revealed: how the court came to base its decisions on information that was incomplete, false and misleading
Dear Janet,
The New York Times released a documentary short for their Opinion section today. Created by the Untouchable production team, the film reveals the falsity of the Supreme Court’s claims about the "frightening and high” recidivism rate of sex offenders.
This short film (which the Times commonly refers to as an Op-Doc) features the first substantive interviews with two individuals who wrote the reports that the high court ultimately relied on in making their false assertion.
The first, neurofeedback clinician Robert Freeman-Longo, explains how his controversial work from the 1970's led him to write a 1986 article Psychology Today, that wound up quoted in a Justice Department Manual. That Manual in turn was cited by the United States Solicitor general’s office in a brief that was relied on by Justice Kennedy in writing his opinion for the court.
Obviously a Psychology Today article, which had no data and was never offered as a research paper, should not have served as the basis of a major high court decision, and Longo—who had no idea the paper every even made it to the court, decries the way the justices used it.
The second source is Barbara Schwartz, a researcher at the Department of Justice. It was Ms. Schwartz who created the report on sex-offender recidivism that the Solicitor General’s office cited to the court. But as Dr. Schwartz makes clear—the Longo article she cited should never have been seen as an authoritative source.
Finally, The Op-Doc goes on to cite the actual, scientifically valid studies on sex offender’s recidivism: And the clear consensus of all that research is that same-crime recidivism among sex offenders is in the low single-digits.
The timing of this short video release is important because in the next few weeks the United States Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a case that could finally offer them a chance to re-consider the flawed social science they’ve relied on for the past 20 years to justify a raft of restrictions imposed on those on the registry.
That case is Karsjens v. Piper Which deals with the State of Minnesota’s Civil Commitment program—one of the few places in the country where you can be locked up not for what you’ve done but for what you might do.
IN addition to the essay and Op-Doc for the times, we expect The Marshall Project to release a second short film—this one a character study of one of the main subjects of UNTOUCHABLE—a woman who has been forced to live on the registry because she had consensual sex with a younger boy when she herself was a teenager. That film is simply designed to challenge some of our assumptions of who many of the 800,000 Americans of our sex offender registries really are, explaining just how easy it has become to be swept up into the every expanding categories of those we stigmatize as sex offenders.
Our hope is that you'll find these videos to be useful in helping to inform and change public opinion. Please share them freely with lawmakers, educators and other influencers.
As always we welcome your inquiries about institutional licensing of the feature documentary, Untouchable, as well as for single screenings.
Please contact me for any further information.
Very best wishes,
Jeff Tamblyn
Outreach Coordinator

Regarding the issue of  'recidivism' I would like to note: 
Instead of the Supreme Court's "once a sex offender always a sex offender," legal stance, it is possible to believe some sex offenders can choose change/ choose self-control/ choose recovery.   

Because some (perhaps most) choose to assume real responsibility for their actions and are determined to stop themselves before they repeat past mistakes or take advantage of /or inflict sexual pain on others in future. Most do not 'recidivate.'

Likewise, the choices we make as wives and mothers need not be decided by prejudice or over- riding fear that 'once a sex offender always a sex offender means that given the chance, every sex offender will choose to forever repeat their past. 

In adopting a more reasoned approach, we free ourselves from fear and eternal 'victimhood'. We make a choice to lay aside fear and prejudice and make more reasoned choices about what's best for us and for our children.  We can demand more reasoned laws to protect the vulnerable going forward  *******

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Please consider this: Traditional Happily-Ever-After-Believers like me are raised to believe a husband just naturally knows better; I was raised to believe in Silence (not science), I was raised to believe a-good-woman's-Love, and Not-thinking-about 'it' would keep me and my children safe. Now I think it's time to overcome my shame, my fear of blame, and break the Silence that enables child sexual abuse in our homes. On 'Not the Life' we share, pool our experience, find comfort and reason to hope that in the simple act of sharing we might discover other factors,see ingrained beliefs (similar to our own) which make possible the continuation of the cycle of child sexual abuse...And maybe, in examining and sharing our own lives and finding answers, we might help not only each other,not only our own children but our children's children find better, safer lives in future generations. But it's hard work isn't it?.

 We may not be living the "Life We Chose" but nothing says we can't change and Choose a better life in Future. 

As many of you know, I've been writing a memoir about Child Sexual Abuse and how the trauma of 'it' cycled down through my family and ended up affecting not 'only' me but my choice of husband and resulted in the sexual abuse of my own children. Writing the memoir has been a process of personal discovery.  

Like so many others, at first, I didn't want to know what happened to me.  One grandmother said, "just don't think about matter what 'it' was, 'it' wasn't a nice woman's business and the women in my family were raised to be 'nice.' 

The other grandmother 'prayed about' virtually everything as a matter of survival in a marriage to the un-thoughtful man who, I now realize, molested several of her children, including my father. 

My father went on to sexually molest me and my brothers. He was also an 'un-thoughtful' husband in the style of his father. My father was perpetually resentful and angry and justified anything harmful that he did, saying "My childhood was worse than yours" 

When I began writing the memoir I was forced to look at myself. At first, I had assumed child sexual abuse in my family began when I was molested.  I thought 'it' all began with me and in order to survive my childhood, I stopped thinking about 'it.' 

After my father's funeral, I found a box of old letters and pictures and remembered stories I had been told as a child. Once I realized what happened to me was part of an ongoing cycle, I began to understand how 'it' happened but, I still had a hard time with "Why." Especially "Why didn't I see what was happening to my own children?"

Why had I married a 'strangely familiar' man (who I found out had been molested himself)? Why Oh why had I 'not seen' what he was doing and saying to gaslight me so he could continue molesting my children?

Why did I think divorce would protect me from repeating the same mistake twice?  Why didn't realize I had to change my own perspective on my own beliefs that made me vulnerable and hence my children to sexual abuse.  

I was raised, as many younger women are raised today, to be a 'Happily-Ever-After-Believer' In my mother's and grandmother's time, 'nice' women didn't even believe divorce was possible, they thought divorce for any reason was a sin, not against 'man,' but against God. I believed in divorce as a last ditch effort, but I thought just dumping the 'molester' and changing my (our) last name would protect me and my children.

Problem is, that without understanding how our own belief-system about a 'woman's place' makes us vulnerable, we and our children remain at risk of repeating the cycle and, if our belief-system remains unexamined,  we will unwittingly teach these beliefs to our children and grandchildren's generations. 

In my time, social convention and religion conspired to extend the belief that if a woman just 'prayed about' the state of her un-thoughtful marriage, turned 'it' over to God and waited...all would eventually be well. 

Meanwhile, she should figure out how to love her husband enough that he would see how much she loved him and 'do right the right thing.' Some of us still believe that a good woman's love has the power to 'love him into loving me' and protecting our children We go to great length to demonstrate we love him enough to 'change his ways,' but fail to see we much become different people ourselves if we hope to break the pattern, the cycle that perpetuates child sexual abuse.

Silence, love, and not-knowing are the mantra's taught us as a 'nice' respectable women. We are the 'nice' women who cannot imagine the police will ever come knocking on our door...until they do.  

1) Belief in Silence (before and after the fact) may distract the neighbors, deter the lynch mob once 'it' comes out but there is a lot of 'it' going on and silence doesn't  help us understand the how or the why of the cycle of child sexual abuse: silence does nothing to help us prevent or heal 'it.' either. We don't need to heal back into who were were before (just with a new partner) We need to do the work to be different not simply better-than. 

2) There are a 'lot' of 'us' out here (even in nice neighborhoods.)  , When 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys report they too were sexually abused in childhood; when upwards of 800,000 offender names (and by extension at least that many families) are listed on Sex Offender Registries nation wide, the continuing belief in the magical power of silence, 'a good woman's place' may make us feel like we are at least doing something. And not and not-knowing actually facilitates abuse of all sorts. 

Until we have to face the fact that we were betrayed;  until we (maybe) have to look at ourselves and ask what factors of my belief system contributed to my actually 'not-knowing.' 

Or maybe we choose to just cut and run...trusting that without change on our part, the next marriage/ relationship will automatically be better-than this one? I have come to believe that, What is required of us (as the betrayed party) is not to insist that we are the forever betrayed victims but that we examine our own beliefs, change, become different than we used to be so that our relationships will also be different.  

We need to re-write our futures by re-thinking our roles in marriage and motherhood and voting for gender-role equality...and that is hard work. 

In Inferior, acclaimed science writer Angela Saini weaves together a fascinating—and sorely necessary—new science of women. As Saini takes readers on a journey to uncover science’s failure to understand women, she finds that we’re still living with the legacy of an establishment that’s just beginning to recover from centuries of entrenched exclusion and prejudice. Sexist assumptions are stubbornly persistent: even in recent years, researchers have insisted that women are choosy and monogamous while men are naturally promiscuous, or that the way men’s and women’s brains are wired confirms long-discredited gender stereotypes.

As Saini reveals, however, groundbreaking research is finally rediscovering women’s bodies and minds. Inferior investigates the gender wars in biology, psychology, and anthropology, and delves into cutting-edge scientific studies to uncover a fascinating new portrait of women’s brains, bodies, and role in human evolution. 


Friday, July 14, 2017

Welcoming the Wives of Sex Offenders: Validating each other and Finding Courage to Break the Silence surrounding Sexual Abuse

Women, Wives, and Mothers seek out Not the Life I Chose so they (we) can share candidly about our lives, and maybe gain perspective on lives harmed by sexual abuse of one kind or another.  Men, (many of them male survivors), as well as women, wives, and mothers, girls and boys, need this safe space to speak openly about the pain and bewilderment we all feel but are too often afraid to express for fear of reprisal.

Almost more than the abuse itself, we need to be able to set aside shame, blame, and isolation to openly examine our pain in the company of trusted others who know what we are going through because they too felt the same way.

So long as we struggle on in silence, so long as the only sharing allowed  is to recount specific details, 'gory details,' police reports,  approved accounts of our 'victimization'  so we can be labeled the 'Forever victims' and the others labeled  forever 'perps' ("Once a sex offender always a perpetrator" is the line that energizes those same lynch mobs that isolate and silence every one of us)

So long as we allow fear to silence us, we deny ourselves perspective and fail to recognize the 'cycle' of training and belief which leaves each vulnerable to passing down the cycle of abuse to our children and our children's children. Male survivors are especially afraid to disclose their childhood abuse for fear they will be seen as 'sissy-boys.' Investigators, mothers, victims, all fail to broaden the perspective to include male survivors of child sexual abuse even if that Male Survivor is also a 'molester.' We don't believe Sex Offenders Recover. But then what SO dares speak out? Even if SO recidivism is below 3%, who dares openly speak of trusting in the recovery of a sex offender (except maybe here on Not the Life?)

Mired in the moment, dealing with the "Knock at the door" answering police questions about our husbands, our boyfriends, our sex-curious sons, we can't bear to look deeper. We can barely keep our own noses. Yet shame, blame, and the after-effects of sexual abuse don't magically disappear with divorce, or even with our decision to 'stay.'

I keep posting on Not the Life, hoping t keep this space open for myself and for others. Not the life is a place to unpack our (sometimes before ignored) real lives, a place to gain enough perspective to reorganize and go on. To find a "new life' we have to also unpack the traumas of childhood. Maybe not here exactly, maybe here we only find the courage to speak openly, but going on has to include unpacking the traumas and attitudes of childhood.  To do so we need to hear other voices from other rooms. We must reach out in real time so that not only our own children but our children's children can grow up safe from the cycle of sexual abuse.

To do that we must include the voices of the male survivors currently denied the right to speak right along with the rest of us dealing with the after effects of the "Knock on the Door".

Sunday, June 25, 2017

I recommend Reading Roller Coaster to Hell and Back by Paul Hanley. It's a memoir of sexual abuse written from a male survivor's perspective, a male survivor, who, untreated as a child, went on to act out his conflicts and be labeled a 'Sex Offender' himself. His story is of a "Survivor who found looking Truth-in-the-face to be his only path to Recovery. It's a hard read but I believe Paul's memoir is well worth your time.It's honesty offers each of us here on Not the Life new hope with it's helpful new perspective on sexual abuse and the ongoing collateral damage those of us on Not the Life experience every day.

Roller Coaster to Hell and Back is indeed a TRUE STORY OF SEXUAL ABUSE AND NEW HOPE. This is one of the (nearly non-existent,) Memoirs written by Male Survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Mr. Hanley not only describes the damaging effects of being sexually abused as a young child by his stepfather BUT Mr. Hanley has the courage to set aside the secrecy and shame imposed upon Male Survivors and go on to describe his painful journey from being a young male who was sexually abused, to himself becoming an Abuser and then,  finally a Survivor intent upon stopping the cycle of sexual abuse by telling of his own survival. He shows us the cycle of sexual abuse by revealing how the conflicts his abuse engendered in him as an abused male child, ultimately led him to act out his sexual conflicts, thus repeating the cycle of sexual abuse on an adult woman once he himself reached adulthood. 

Mr.Hanley's memoir does NOT seek to use his story to engender sympathy for himself as a "Sex Offender' but he uses his journey to point the way To Recovery, to becoming a Recovered Sex Offender as well a Male Survivor of childhood sexual abuse. He describes the brutally hard work of Sex Offender Group Treatment as well as the Individual Therapy and 12 Step-Work he chose to do not only to ensure his own recovery but to ensure the protection and safety of others. He also discusses his experiences 'on the Registry' 

This Memoir does indeed give new hope. Roller Coaster should be read by Male Survivors, by those 'forever' labeled Sex Offenders, Therapists and Judges and By the families and friends of those affected by child sexual abuse.
(Above is the review I placed on Amazon. If you choose, you may buy a hard copy of Mr. Hanley's book or you can download a copy (for free) on your Kindle. Either way, please post your own comments here on Not the Life and let others hear your own reaction to the memoir.)