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.) 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

a gift for us on Mother's day: Transforming after we hear the knock on the door: Post Traumatic Growth (Re-Posted from a 2014 post here on Not the Life.)

Post traumatic growth, (PTG) the other side of the coin from PTSD, Post traumatic Stress Disorder...PTG is not simply resilience but transformation.    Resilience may be when we've been blindsided and we just stagger on pretending.  But PTG?  Post traumatic Growth is when we Didn't give up. Didn't capitulate. PTG is Transform.  (You know like one of those little transformer toys you stepped on in your bare feet because your kid "forgot" to put it away. OnlyPTG is much, much better. And of course we will be way cuter than those things when we transform!)

PTG happens after we are rocked to the foundations.. After The Life we thought we had chosen, Implodes. When we  are betrayed in such a fundamental way that we can't just simply stagger on.  The pieces no longer fit when we try to pull the Life We Chose all back together. . So we choose to move beyond, choose to struggle and create a new life of our own instead of living the patterns once laid out for us by others.

We are transformed because we Choose to Create a different Life after the implosion,

But that  transformation depends on fundamental choices we make now. How we choose to continue will effect the rest of our lives...and perhaps more importantly, the rest of our children's lives.

1) First we have to decide upon our  fundamental response

    #A) we can close over the wound,  hide the shrapnel, develop gangrene, actually commit suicide instead of just wishing we could, or we can solve that problem and just go dead inside from Betrayal..       # B) Pick ourselves up and stagger on pretending that nothing fundamental just happened. We'll deal with the PTSD later.
    # C) Grieve what has ended. Give ourselves time to  grow our (new) selves back. Better than ever.  PTG. Transformer toy but way better because we are in charge of our transformation.

2) After that fundamental choice there are other choices to be made, especially if we chose #B) or #C) above.  We need to find friends willing to "understand." women willing to "be there" for us.
We need gather our team, our tribe. Like Evie says, we need to find ourselves in "good company"

We need (hopefully) three who will listen, offer inspiration, point out the bigger picture, explain "boat maintenance" help us row our kids out of harm's way,  row toward a better shore. We need women with whom we can discuss our and their transformation.

Some of our "advisers" may already be personal friends who stuck by us, they might be counselors,We might discover "sisters" out there in blogisphere, just other woman who know  about betrayal. We need sounding boards able to listen and sympathize without trying to take over. Friends we trust to tell stories of where they've been. What worked and what didn't, for them. And then we need to help someone else who  just heard the knock at the door.

It's our choice but we need them, They need us. Nobody really goes it alone.

In her book Sleeping With a Stranger, How I survived Marriage to a Child Molester, Patricia Wiklund highly recommends we find what she calls an "Administrator" who can accompany us to meetings, hearings etc. and keep track of  appointments for us in the first stages, when we feel overwhelmed. Later they'll bring the wine and  celebrate our successes with us. (And help us fend off those "Villagers with Flaming Pitch-forks" when necessary.)

These friends are the sympathetic women  Evie  referred to  in her "Pulling Back the Curtain of Shame" blog post. .

3) Rule # 3 is NEVER  Quit on Ourselves. (Remember we did not Choose #A to begin with and there is no going back now. We have already come too far to give up on ourselves and our children.)   Persevere. Look at Betrayal from a whole different angle ( Remember Evie's blog about how she is now actually grateful to the young girl who reported Jake? The girl Evie  said she once hated as the reason people found out and her world imploded... back then?)

Keep on keeping on. There will be other "new" angles No one can transform our lives  for you. Why should they? I'm not saying there won't be times when all we want to do is   just climb in bed and pull covers over our heads. The world will NOT go away  just because we  wish  it would. Wine does not take care of everything. Eating by the light of the refrigerator won't cut it. Besides we have to fit into our clothes. We have to "interview our interviewer" and clinch our future tomorrow.

4)  In some  ways we need to  take our time.  It's not time to "forget and forgive" just because someone else tells us we ought to. We need to Recognize our strengths.  Reward our own bravery. Remember PTG? Perhaps we can't wish away the whole world but with perseverance we can transform  our world and ourselves with it.

Steal one of your kid's transformer toys. Make that little plastic transformer a reminder. Carry it around in your purse. Don't we know that every Heroine has a Talisman and a Smile and a Sword? My talisman is a little plastic figure hanging off my file cabinet.  She's a  little Red Headed Disney Princess dressed in a long blue dress and cross bow  ...Just as a reminder that there is a before and after....


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Speaking of REAL Apologies , Making REAL amends is more than "What do you want? I said I'm sorry (sorry I got caught out)."(not the 'sorry you feel that way sort of non-apology that just expects the person we harmed "to get over it" This is hurting me more than I ever harmed you?) There are 3 Components to a Real Apology:one that CAN HEAL BOTH THE PERSON WE HARMED AND HEAL US TOO.

Recently there have been a couple of people who 'commented' on Not the Life who weren't commenting but just relieving themselves of 'emotional overload" by attacking others here on the Blog. Even when they (sort or) acknowledged/ apologized realizing they might have gone just a tad too far in 'expressing their anger/ resentment (might dumped stuff  on us maybe because they were angry, resentful but too afraid to say their stuff to the people/ authorities / family members/ prison guards/ social workers/ neighbors and mothers and maybe even the "Offender who was arrested when they knocked on our door and the whole world feel apart ? All the people we/ they ARE  actually enraged at. (I do know the feeling, the rage and resentment that build up...It's NOT fair but if we attack each other?)

Some folks let their anger get away from them. They chose us to dump on us,  they troll Not the Life. Say WE we're 'not entirely honest" and Question others on Not the Life instead of actually apologizing for dumping their rage on others here instead of telling us their stories.)  Why? Maybe because they got hurt and thought we were a safe place to dump their anger and resentment. After all how dare the wives and families of Sex Offenders complain and who could we complain to anyway except each other?  So that left them free to rail and rant and hurt us and themselves here on Not the Life even though they were just hurt and MAD period and they had months/ years of 'unfairness' to dump. (Welcome to our world? I know the hurt. I lash out sometimes and need to go back and really apologize.  I've been dumped on before and this certainly won't be the last time but a REAL apology certainly helps both me and as well as the person who chose to harm me as it turns out.)

SO I want to talk about Real Apologies (not the yes but kind we all hear and offer so often) 

The 3 Components come from a book REVISIONING ACTIVISM bringing depth, dialogue, and diversity to individual and social change by David Bedrick J.D. He seems to think that those of us experiencing prejudice and injustice in the 'outside' world can learn to be the better person ( can learn to apologize and heal each other and maybe even begin to heal ourselves of the anger and resentment that led us to take advantage/ bully/ attack others when we actually recognize our part in causing harm, work through our anger and then be able to offer a real apology to those we have harmed

So here goes: 

Part 1) A clear statement of the offending action ( thus demonstrating that s/he knew what s/he had done and taken responsibility for causing harm.) A non-apology sounds like this: "I'm sorry you feel that way." which implies the offender has not done anything offensive and the problem is just in the eye of the offender  OR that vague old standby: " I'm deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance" as though no person actually committed 'actions' and thus there's no one need for them to understand what led to their own actions,  take responsibility for changing and responsibility for not harming others in the same way in future.

Part 2) An expression of deep empathy for the person they offended. A valuable apology needs to consider the point of view and experience of the person they offended  NOT just I'm sorry YOU feel that way ( suck it up/ get over it..Can't you see I'm apologizing that you feel offended?)

Part 3) A deep and honest understanding of your own motivations for 'doing' the offending action...without this willingness to admit what you get out of harming the people you harmed/ offended  you will continue to apologize and apologize and continuing re-committing the actions that caused the offense.

What David Bedrick's "How to Apologize" chapter envisions is that by taking responsibility for and understanding our actions caused harm, by empathizing with those our actions/ words/ nasty looks harmed and by having courage to understanding what we got out of dumping/ disrespecting taking advantage of them in word/ deed we might just become a better persons than we used to be you know, back when we dumped on everyone around us because we felt so sorry for ourselves.

Making REAL amends is more than  "What do you want? I said I'm sorry (sorry I got caught out)."

Real apologies take work, and humility and they are healing. They allow us to go on. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

7 Myths and 7 Facts about the sexual abuse of boys continued:. .

Continued:  7 Myths and 7 Facts About the sexual abuse of Boys recently published on Not the Life I Chose and on Wind Harp Tree:

7 Myths and 7 Facts about the sexual abuse of boys and the men they become

The following is adapted and expanded from an online piece by Kenneth Singer M.S.W. The list of myths and facts along with many more resources may be also be found online. 

I have, before, focused on the 1 in 4 women who have been routinely abused and silenced because I am female and was researching and writing about my own personal story before I realized I was included  in America's gender Apartheid. Although as forbidden as it is to talk about the incesting of females it is infinitely harder for males to speak out about their own experiences as molested children. While mothers reluctantly recognize that males molest female children society focuses on stranger danger.

As a society and as mothers we are far more reluctant to acknowledge that the present male power structure encourages bullying and protects bullies almost as a "male child raising" practice which in which mothers participate. Mothers too believe the myths of "masculinity" and are afraid their son might be made into a homosexual if raised wrong or if over-powered and molested.   We see boys-will-be-boys behavior as the proving ground of male power, fitting victorious males to be Kings of the Hill, Titans of Industry, rich members eligible for membership in the 1%:   venture/vulture/hedge-fund Capitalist and perhaps, like Mitt, even run for president of the ruling white classes, certainly a good catch for a submissive wife.

(Hence the cat calls of sissy-boy, the runs-like-a-girl taunts heard but ignored on every Junior High sports field. Hence the pressure to keep secret  the long run of  sexually molested males bullied, even gang-raped into submission to "masculine" opponents. Or more subtly, the devastating grooming of children by priests in power positions  free to molest and then draw the cloak of secrecy over  themselves while we still teach the sanctity of "Traditional Marriage," preaching submission as the only role for women and nuns. Such behavior is as endemic in "polite" society as in the church or Mitt's prep school. Since 2006, the archdiocese of Los Angeles has paid more than $700 million to settle clergy abuse law suits by hundreds of victims. A victim might sue a church but what male or female child victim can hope to successfully force change by suing the entire Patriarchal system?)

It is abundantly clear that 1 in 6 boys are routinely molested by adults. They are abused and silenced by Societal norms that deny that a "real" boy could be molested in the first place. To be molested a boy must already have been not "actually" masculine at all, must have been in need of a "Hair Cut" all along. Yet the perpetrators in my life were also molested as children. In the blog Not the Life I Chose  which I now co-blog with Evie Pruett, Evie reveals that her ex-husband too reported being molested as a child after his arrest. But is being molested a free pass to sympathy or merely an inevitable destiny to secretly molest others? Traditional wisdom says: Once molested always a child molester? Once a child molester inevitably a child molester...and for always, cast with your family from membership in the "middle class" indelibly cast down into the fringes of society forever: an inevitable degression. Why would anyone ever dare report, ever ask for help? Ever speak truth aloud?

The great myth of inevitable digression persists: every male molested as a child shall grow up a perpetrator. Every woman married to a child molester, every family, every parent of a molested child shall be cast out if the truth be comes known. But the real truth is revealed in even a simple survey of the males in my family, reveals that the majority of  those molested do not in turn molest others although they live with the fear others may reject them because they were molested. Women too molest children, I was molested. I do not molest children. But the fear persists and silences many male and female. While some children are so harmed by being molested that they make the choice to molest others, prejudice and punishment and silence, being unalterably tarred, is not an adequate response to rampant epidemic.

First the 7 Facts: 

Fact #1) Boys and men can be used or abused and it has nothing to do with how masculine they are. (Just as my father claimed that it was my fault that as a 7 year old I "sexually attracted" his terrifying attentions, male children are told they somehow sexually attracted the "masculine men" who abused them.)

Fact # 2) If a boy liked the attention he was getting or got sexually aroused during grooming behaviors (grooming is termed "teaching her about sex"when focused on females) or even sometimes wanted the attention or sexual contact this does not mean that he wanted or liked being manipulated or abused.

Fact # 3) Sexual abuse harms boys and girls in ways that are similar and different, but is equally harmful.

Fact # 4) The sexual abuse of boys has nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the abuser. (Evies husband's psychiatric evaluation (Not the Life I Chose) revealed tellingly that he was sexually attracted to no particular gender. My own father does not seem to have been focused in his abusing.  He was a sexual omnivore focused not upon any other human being but upon himself and finding victims to gratify his own sexualurgencies.)

Fact # 5) A boy abused by a male is not necessarily gay nor has he been abused because he is gay, nor can the abuse make him gay. (although there are books and articles written by "experts" that persist in referring to male on male sexual abuse as "Homosexual." referring for example to the sexual abuse of  alter boys in the catholic Church as "Homosexual" abuse.  see Belief,   What's Really Behind the Catholic Church's Sexual Abuse Problem? by Harriet Fraad who says since the sexual abuse of males makes then homosexual it "engenders a  homoerotic internal culture that attracts homosexual men to the priesthood."  .....

Please note: Although Ms Fraad does says that one quarter of those victimized are female, she does not go on to extrapolate from the myth that sexual abuse makes them females attracted to nunneries!)

Fact # 6) Girls and women can sexually abuse boys. These boys are not "lucky" but are exploited and harmed. (Mic Hunter's book Abused boys, the Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse  is one of the few books I came across in my research that discusses the affects of a mothers abusing sons and females abusing boys.)

Fact # 7) Although nearly 16% of all boys are sexually abused most do not go on to sexually abuse others. (Just as although nearly 25% of all girls are sexually abused, most do not not go on to sexually abuse as adults.)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

7 Myths and 7 facts about the sexual abuse of boys because we seem to forget that boys/ our sons (sometimes our husbands) are/ were molested too

I have adapted the following from a post on my own blog after I spoke to my son who asked me, "Doesn't it matter what happens to the boys who are molested." Evie asked if I would republish this blog on Not the Life I Chose. You can find the original here

Many of us in this blog's community have three challenging roles to fill simultaneously: 1) as spouses and ex-spouses of sex offenders; 2) as women; and 3) as mothers of molested children. And before "the knock on the door" came, we knew almost nothing about the facts of the situation we are now facing.

But I'll bet the issues around getting our children back and about dealing with their therapy and their issues as survivors of child sex abuse are really our #1 issue for a long time. At least it is the  #1 issue I grieve over in the middle of the night, even after all these years.

When I read that Chandra's son tried to hang himself and very narrowly succeeded (several days in ICU) I felt like crying with her.  I hope this information about the sexual abuse of boys is of some help.


As usual, myths before facts:

Myth # 1) Boys can't be sexually used or abused and if one is he can never be a "real" man. (Males aren't victims is central to masculine gender socialization. Successful males are depicted as never being vulnerable, either physically or emotionally. Hence the male mantra, "Never complain. Never explain.")

Myth #2) If a boy experienced sexual arousal during abuse, he wanted and/or enjoyed it. (When I was young they used to say if a woman survived rape, she just hadn't fought her attacker (or her date-rape hard enough. Ergo she had "wanted it." Her rapists had just been giving her what she had implicitly or explicitly asked for.)

This myth continues that if a boy ever did even partly want the sexual experience which he had been groomed into then the boy not his attacker was at fault.

(As an aside...Isn't it interesting how society allows the attacker to turn responsibility on it's head? No matter that a boy is groomed into arousal, he not his molester is at fault. No matter that a young girl is raped, the attack is still about a young child betrayed by a more powerful person who has selfishly exploited the child for their own adult sexual gratification.

The gender myth is that the girl sexually attracted her male abuser. (For did not the blameless Mary, Mother of "God" somehow attract attention, was visited which she did immaculately submit sometime in the night. And the young girl who was thus impregnated was only "saved" from an inevitable stoning by irate neighbors when a very old man, the much venerated Saint Joseph, agreed to take her as his child bride. Once married, child brides cannot be victims if a  wedding ensues.  Wed they are respectable mothers submissively grateful to the husbands who saved them and their child from a scarlet letter, a life of shame... It is indeed confusing because on the flip side of this gender myth, patriarchal wisdom maintains that young boys cannot but be to blame for submitting and thereby causing their forever destruction as :Masculine" men now fit only to live on the fringes.)

Myth #3) Sexual abuse is less harmful to boys than to girls.

Yet the real and lasting harm caused by sexual abuse of children, male and female mostly depends on things not determined by victim gender. The harm flows from a) the abusers identity, b) the duration of the abuse and c) whether the child told anyone at the time and if so, whether the child was believed and helped.

Many boys suffer because adults who could believe them and help are reluctant or refuse to even acknowledge that boys can be harmed by what happened. This increases the harm, especially the shame felt by boys and men and leads many males to believe that the "masculine" thing is to tough it out on their own.

Myth #4) Most sexual abuse of boys is committed by homosexual males.

People who sexually abuse or exploit boys are not expressing homosexuality any more than people who use and abuse girls are engaging in heterosexual behavior. They are deeply confused individuals, who for various reasons, desire to sexually use and abuse children (among others) and have seen or created opportunity and then acted upon their desire.

Myth #5) Boys abused by males must be gay or will become gay.

Some males fear that due to their experiences as boys, they must "really" be homosexual, or that they can't be "real men." Also many boys abused by men believe (or are told by their abusers) that something about them attracted their abuser and will attract other males.

On the flip side of gender, my father told me something about me attracted him (therefore "it" was obviously my fault) but sick as it was, my molest fell into a more socially acceptable male-female context. I don't know if he told the males he molested that something about them had attracted the abuse he heaped upon them. I don't know if he was told something about him attracted his molesters either.)

One of the great tragedies of childhood sexual abuse is how it robs a person's natural right to discover his or her own sexuality in his or her own time. By definition child sexual abuse is about adult power. It has nothing to do with a child's preferences or desires. It is about adult advantage and gratification.

Myth #6) If a female used or abused a boy, "He got lucky." and if he does not feel that way there is something wrong with him.

This definition of "Masculinity" says that "real" males can't be sexually abused but that sexual experiences with girls or women, especially older ones is evidence that he's "a real man."a case of preferring to focus on the sexual aspect and not on the abusive one. (and I cannot resist adding: who hasn't seen old movies in which fathers hire sex workers to "educate" young sons? Although, now, both prostitution and sex trafficking seems to be a less openly approved educational methods. Perhaps access to internet porn in the privacy of home is the new thing.) In any case the sexual exploitation and betrayal by a more powerful person, male or female, is Abuse not an educational experience.

In reality, premature, coerced or otherwise abusive or exploitative experiences are never positive whether they are imposed by an older sister, sister of a friend, babysitter, neighbor, aunt, mother or any female in a position of power over a boy. Whether the victim is a boy or a girl, to be used as a sexual object by a more powerful person, male or female, is never a good thing and can cause lasting harm.

Myth #7) Boys who are sexually abused will (inevitably) go on to abuse others. This myth is especially dangerous because it creates terrible fear in boys and men. They may not only fear becoming abusers themselves, but fear that if others find out they were abused they will believe those who were abused as children are themselves automatically a danger to children.  Boys and men who tell of being abused often are viewed more as potential perpetrators than as men in need of support.

Believing these Myths  is understandable but dangerous and harmful:

   * These are myths that everyone absorbs growing up and men (and women) who continue to believe them are harmed by them.

   * As long as societies believe these myths and continue to teach them to children, many men harmed by unwanted or abusive sexual experiences won't seek or get the recognition their abuse needs and deserves.

   * So long as boys and men harmed by unwanted or abusive sexual experiences believe these myths they will feel ashamed and be less likely to seek whatever knowledge, understanding or help they need to achieve the lives they want and deserve.

   * So long as boys, men and society as a whole believes these myths and males don't get the help they need, males are more likely to join the minority who end up hurting others.

   * So long as these myths are believed it increases the power of another devastating myth: That it was the child's fault.

It is never the fault of the child in a sexual situation... although some people are skilled at getting those they use and abuse to take on a responsibility that is always, and only, their own.

For any man harmed by unwanted or abusive sexual experiences...and for anyone who wants to support him...recognizing and becoming free of these myths is necessary to overcoming the effects of the abuse and to achieving the life he wants and deserves.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Shame, Blame, and Fear: What "Think" doesn't seem to realize about browbeating and blaming the women brave enough to post on Not the Life:

Recently "Think" posted several times on Not the Life. (commenting on the post "Elizabeth I Chose")

Think asked,"Am I missing something here?"  

Well, to answer your question, "Yes, I think you are." 

Not the Life is meant to be a safe place where all women/ sexual abuse survivors can share experience, strength, and hope. 
We share our stories (something which "Think" neglected to do) so others will know what happened to us and so we can make decisions about what choices to make next. It is a place to reach out, tell our stories, without fear. We have been browbeaten by experts. Trolls are unwelcome on Not the Life I Chose because this is a SAFE space.

Every woman's choice shared here is to be respected. Not denigrated. No browbeating no silencing anyone's story. Not allowed here on Not the Life. Maybe one person's choice is different than someone else's but it takes great courage to speak out and tell honestly what happened to us and to our loved ones. 

Until now most of us thought we were alone in this. We thought no one would understand (or even listen to us) as we made painful choices, worked through the anger and betrayal we felt and made choices we knew many would not agree with but which we on Not the Life Support because we too had to make painful decisions and we know what it takes to make such decisions (no matter which decision any one of us reached)  On not the life it's the speaking out the telling of our silenced stories that gives us all a chance to know we are not alone and frees us to move into a better future...

No one sharing their story here on Not the Life deserves to be labeled "child predator (no matter what you may think.) No one here deserves to be threatened "when you are older, your child will cut all contact with you." even if that's what someone you know did...perhaps out of past unresolved anger, fear or shame?  

No One here on Not the Life wants to continue the cycle of child sexual abuse into another generation, that's why mothers search the web to find some safe place share our stories, where we can know we are not alone and share our decisions going forward (whatever those decisions might be) without fear of condemnation.  

We are all here for each other and we are here for you if you want to share your story. We share our stories and our painful choices as a way of knowing we are not alone in this. It's a way to find healing choices for us and for our children and families going  forward. Please think before you decide to hide your own story while pointing fingers and condemning us.  

Please, also tell us your story. It's Okay. we won't judge, shame, blame or browbeat you. We are open to learning from the choices you have made.  So share your personal journey with us just as we share ours with each other and with you on Not the Life.