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Bitterness, hatred, and lifelong repercussions — is there a better way?

By Sandy . . . Messages of hate and revenge and eternal punishment for Brett Kavanaugh are filling the media outlets and creating excessive unrest in our country.

I have just heard an audio of an interview on The Daily, a PBS podcast, titled, “A High School Assault.” It is brief, slightly over twenty minutes, and in it a very soft-spoken and articulate young woman describes a time in her life that led to an assault somewhat similar to that described by Christine Ford.

In it the young woman wonders why a brief episode so many years ago has haunted Ms. Ford all these years while her own at the hands of a young man in her school, whom she does not name, has not had the same effect on her. At the end she reveals the answer. Finding her several years after the incident, he apologized to her and begged her to forgive him for his abominable behavior.

Her words describing that are so powerful. She says that she is eternally grateful to him for giving her the opportunity to forgive him, and that has made all the difference.

This is not to suggest that such a happy outcome is likely for the Ford-Kavanaugh situation. He maintains his lack of culpability in the situation that she describes, and that is a possibility.

This is to suggest that there may be a better way to restore healing to victims, a way that focuses on reconciliation and peace for those involved in even violent sexual assaults. Experts now recognize that, in almost all cases, those who commit such acts need and crave healing as much as do their victims.

As the majority of these assaults occur between people who have close, often familial, relationships, this type of restorative justice could dramatically shift attitudes and outcomes. The current attitude is that justice for the victim necessitates hanging the perpetrator from the highest tree and leaving him twisting there forever. This leaves victims, perpetrators, families, and society still broken and hurting and puts an enormous strain on state and national resources.

Nor is this to suggest that no judicial punishment should occur when victims press charges, but the excessively long sentences meted out in many cases, followed by lengthy periods of supervision followed by lengthy, often lifetime, sex offender registration do not heal victims. What heals victims is having the opportunity to hear their abusers or assaulters tell them they are sorry and ask to be forgiven and having the power given to them to forgive.

A reasonable sentence followed by a reasonable period of supervision in which therapy and treatment are focused on this model would do more to heal than anything done now. Not all would benefit; not all perpetrators would ask forgiveness; not all victims would forgive. But should that become the norm rather than the rare exception, would not the guilty, the victims, and society as a whole benefit?

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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

This topic contains 7 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Sandy Rozek Sandy Rozek 2 weeks, 6 days ago.

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  • #46929 Reply

    Glen

    Well said Sandy. I’ve often felt and wished there were some reasonable way for an offender who’s owned up to their mistakes and pain they may have causes to victims in such a way that shows genuine regret. Assuming the lifelong pyschological pain and suffering by victims as a result of any sexual offense is so traumatic (I don’t dispute that at all), I do wish there were a more productive way that both the victim and offender could heal and move forward. Often times lost in the story is an offender is repeating a pattern of sexual abuse that they may have previously experienced as well. That is not to be inferred as an excuse for continued offensive behavior; merely a recognition that there are repeated cycles that need to be broken. As I learned going through all of this, our sexual interests and patterns are most determined at an early age and impacted by our own experiences. It’s not always just the victim that is carrying around lifelong pain, and in some cases bitterness. Believe it or not, there really are even offenders that upon learning how their offensive behavior hurt someone truly regret and empathize with their victims and sincerely want to change the cycle of abuse. Punishment for offensive and abusive behavior and crimes is warranted. No doubt about that here, but punishment alone wont solve this problem. I don’t know how to bring both sides together with the current attitudes against offenders and the real hurt victims have experienced. But, if any progress is to be made by either party, it seems to me a real discussion involving both sides… listening…needs to happen. Otherwise, seems all that comes of it is pain and punishment. Healing, learning, and moving forward are aspects that seem forgotten along the process. And those are aspects I think everyone benefit from.

  • #46931 Reply

    B

    I 100% agree. That, however, would require actual effort and actual research to go into policies that are made. The sex offender laws and counseling programs are an absolute JOKE and basically use the “you can’t commit crimes against people if you aren’t allowed around them” approach, which is lazy and extremely misguided.

  • #46947 Reply

    Saddles

    While I know I’ve called Sandy the Ma Barker of NARSOL in a joking way, actually Sandy I have to say this is one of the few best articles on here if not the second and that says a lot. I believe everyone is trying to understand these circumstances we all are involved in one way or another.

    Sandy are we all striving for true perfection, true understanding of morals or ethical principals in the best way we know possible, or is this some big con job for victims even if their was no victim at all. Is this all one big sess pool of inhuman debauchery today with a president that wants to be perfectly right or does this all affect the status quo of government in high or lower places.

    Sure Sandy Forgiveness is blessed but who does one bless today? Now I really don’t want to come down on anyone’s toes as that is not my character. I don’t even want to be the one that has the right answer to all of lifes problem or the one that says who is thy brothers keeper. Now as far as man’s justice one is either gonna live with it or without it. I made a statement to my PO when I got involved with all this and I said “It is what it is until it is what it ain’t, and he said to me whats that suppose to mean. Sandy don’t get me wrong Forgiveness is good but how hard is it to forgive some that betrays one in any type of relationship or encounter.

    Are Republicans more of the utopian society today or are the Demoncrats or a bunch of crooks, liars, and misfits today. I wonder who is on the low standards of human behavior today with this victim or non victim sex status. or this true justice playing bline dustice? So is there any true forgiveness for the sex offender in modern society.

    One should not down cast one group over another in this true justice of man’s virtue over another. I wonder were is forgiveness today in this political drama.

  • #46970 Reply

    Timothy

    @ Sandy,
    Some folks are damn comfortable playing the victim’s card! There is profit in it and that falls squarely on our politics and law. Mr. Cosby makes the example that AMERICA’S DAD IS A RAPIST. You can bet Ms. Alred will be tapping him soon with a civil suit in the millions. If these women take the cash they’ll also be exposing an alternate interest.
    IMHO if they are truly interested in justice they’d turn down any money. SOR agents take money for a service one should do for free! There’s another vigilante guy in Edgerton WI and a story on channel3000.com.

  • #47044 Reply

    Saddles

    Sandy may I inquire about this forgiveness. While I can understand the comments from this unrest by aqusation of this lady wanting to speak out about her event and also the ladies that commented about some of her experiences about this rape ordeals on here it is supprising. In fact this came right out of the blue for some as no one expectd this.

    Can one really understand the womans experience or view. Man cannot understand a woman’s view because they are not a woman. Its like one person said it takes two to tango. While I give credit to you Sandy that forgineness is good their is still an indepth understanding of forgiveness. Sure we all want to get well and move on in our lives.

    Can one really understand the courage of this lady standing up to this man, or this man trying to defend himself to show his true petigree as apposed to hers. Should the phrase look but don’t touch be the norm today in many situations such as this today.

    Sure we can all forgive as that is one of the keys that helps bring restoration back to a society and to human understanding. Sure women talk in their circles and so do men in situations like this but an equal relationship is equal. Yes their are good examples and bad examples but in the long run honesty is the best policy and in many cases true justice is what we are all seeking in this sex registry situation.

    Yes we all can talk about compounding justice, restorive justice, or liberty without due process but who is playing fact and fiction games in a lot of this registry game. Is all this victim without a cause, an intent to defraud, or woman with a cause. I wonder how some officers and judges or DA’s understand this liberty that is at times immorally unjust today. I can understand why you and Robin wrote that article as it gives view to many in this poltical and immoral atmosphere we all face today for this punitive ordeal that is at times seems unjust.

  • #47151 Reply

    Saddles

    @Glen and all. My probation officer dropped by to see me today and only came in the house for a minute or two and he ask me abou what I thought about the Kavenaugh thing. he mentioned about Halloween and not passing out candy and about my co-payment for my polygraph test coming up and I told him its all about the money. You know I wonder what is this thing about lying or should we be a conscience objector to a polygraph test. Is this some forgiviness money racket that one can set up twice a year or something like that.

    Whether one has a victim or not I’m sure its about the money. Sure forgiviness is good but when someone sets one up that gets a bit out of line. When he mentioned the Kavenaugh thing I said to him he’s probably a pervert just like you. I guess justice is perverted in a way or should we all invoke our inalienable rights today to put a stop to a lot of this money hungry industry of cops on the internet.

    • #47326 Reply

      Glen

      Saddles,

      It is interesting your PO would ask your oppinion about Kavanaugh…I suspect, frankly, it’s not because your opinion is valued by them but more so to guage your view and reinforce their own judgement of Kavanaugh based on what a RSO’s opinion is…

      In other words he most likely already knew what your view might be, and he justifys his own view further by yours. Just my take on it…

  • #47306 Reply

    Kristen

    “The current attitude is that justice for the victim necessitates hanging the perpetrator from the highest tree and leaving him twisting there forever. This leaves victims, perpetrators, families, and society still broken and hurting and puts an enormous strain on state and national resources.

    Nor is this to suggest that no judicial punishment should occur when victims press charges, but the excessively long sentences meted out in many cases, followed by lengthy periods of supervision followed by lengthy, often lifetime, sex offender registration do not heal victims. What heals victims is having the opportunity to hear their abusers or assaulters tell them they are sorry and ask to be forgiven and having the power given to them to forgive.”

    This is brilliant Sandy. I wish that prosecutors, judges, and people all over the world would read and ponder this. They can only hide behind the smokescreen of “the collateral damage is all the offender’s fault” for so long before it becomes devastatingly apparent that hanging them from trees for a lifetime only exponentially multiplies the pain for everyone involved. As we have sadly discovered.

    • #47327 Reply

      Glen

      Kristen,

      It’s amazing how far a genuine apology, empathy, remorse, regret. recognizing one has done wrong and turning their life around because of it can go if given the chance.

      Problem is its rarely -if ever- an option in these cases.

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