Collateral damage — learning to live without regret: a story in seven parts

Sell Also Part II

Part I: Introduction

By Daisy . . . I have been wanting to share my story for quite some time, but I could never muster the courage to do so. After keeping it locked inside for an exhausting and difficult 15 years, I finally—and cathartically—confided in a close friend whose empathy is surpassed by that of no one else I have ever met. She ultimately convinced me to share my story with others like me in the hope that my words will act as a source of light and support as they navigate the fallout of a family member’s criminal conviction. It has taken me more than a year to put my feelings into words, but it finally feels like the right time to share it.

What is the secret that I have kept hidden for so long? I am the wife of a man who is a convicted sex offender.

That very statement has defined me as a person for nearly two decades, no matter how hard I tried to not let it do so. I am simply unintended collateral damage of our criminal justice system. I have gone unnoticed. I have drowned in anxiety, depression, and PTSD to the point that I have nearly been destroyed as a human being, while just hanging on by that tenuous thread to the few good things that life has to offer.

If you were to meet me on the street, you would think that I’m a very positive, happy-go-lucky person who has a good life. I laugh a lot. I smile. I joke. I value warmth, empathy, and understanding. I feel the emotion of love very intensely—especially for my husband, whom I love relentlessly and unconditionally. But, on the inside, I am like a building that has been completely leveled by a massive earthquake, which I have painstakingly tried to rebuild brick-by-brick. This has left me feeling hollow and sad with an absolute dearth of confidence. I have become defined by my soul-shaking grief. Even today, I am in mourning. I am grieving the loss of what amounts to freedom—an incontrovertible, necessary freedom that you expect to acquire naturally as you move from childhood to adulthood. My husband has been given an indelible mark, an unremovable label, a scarlet letter—and I feel it vicariously. I cannot help feeling it, and I’m positive that there are others out there who feel the same. I am the result and the consequence of having defenselessly witnessed the process that nearly destroyed my husband’s life and my own.

Family members of convicted sex offenders seem to live their lives just under the radar as we have very few options for emotional and community support. We are simply supposed to “just deal with it” somehow; we are supposed to just live with our shame, embarrassment, and sadness. That can be an exceedingly difficult task. If there are hundreds of thousands of convicted sex offenders on the sex offender registry, then there must be millions of family members standing quietly and powerlessly by as they watch the lives of their loved ones—and possibly their own lives—completely unravel. My personal story focuses on the difficult terrain that those family members must navigate, which is always uphill and always a battle. However, I can tell you that there is a silver lining, no matter how ephemeral and unreachable it might seem to be. I’m now in the 16th year of my journey, and I’m doing my best to see the sunlight through the clouds while attempting to live a meaningful, impactful, and authentic life without (too much) regret.

Sell Also Part II

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This topic contains 23 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Avatar Tyrus Young 1 month, 1 week ago.

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  • #55905 Reply
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    admin

    Part I: Introduction By Daisy . . . I have been wanting to share my story for quite some time, but I could never muster the courage to do so. After ke
    [See the full post at: Collateral damage — learning to live without regret: a story in seven parts]

  • #55907 Reply
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    Timothy

    Sex offenders live their lives the same way pre-war European Jews in the 1930s.
    Of course Mr. Scalia understood by recall the Nazi’s USE of the ” registration regime” as it unfolded similarly (concerning individual liberty) in American Society and structure before his death. Let us confront those who’d ignore history and their are many. He claimed to be a ” textualist” yet blatantly disavowed punitive and retribution intent inherent in ” was in prison for” in statute text.

    NARSOL needs to be on top confronting those in authority armed with the correlating plight of those who suffered before from popular “registration”.
    I intend do so to a jury of 12 here in Rock County Wisconsin in the very near future. The problem is The press refuses to report The true use of the registration databases.

    The American public needs to comprehend that Hitler and the Matzo democratic socialists were NOT armed with the power of the electronic database. Such an unnatural Agenda would necessarily need tending in a society of free men. Free men are paid to maintain machines.

    • #55955 Reply
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      obvious answers

      You are correct. Something else people fail to realize is America designed Hitlers registry scheme and even funded it. It was an American project right from the start. What the registry is now is nothing more then a continuation of its original demonic purpose. America “wasn’t the good guys” our history likes to paint our government as. America didn’t disavow Germany because it was doing terrible things to humanity. History proves Americans paid for and asked for much of the experimentation on humans to take place.. All the freezing Jews, Christians and “criminals” tortures? they were paid for by the American military programs to develop better equipment for Arial combat soldiers.. America only disavowed Germany when it became to large and threatened Americas world power domination schemes. ..When one really learns their own history then they can learn why the registry is so dangerous..Where the registry will go again. And the only way to stop it….. (spoiler alert) dont count on the supreme court, whom forgot babies and blacks are humans, and there for protected under the “all humankind” statement to come to the rescue of anything.. Also dont expect that you have many years left to stand up and do something.. Look at where it has went in 20 short years…I give it 5 more and we will be close to seeing cattle cars again if not already seeing them.. Some may argue the “civil incarcerations” are already the start of cattle car days..

  • #55912 Reply
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    Donna

    This is just how I feel! Thank you Daisy for these words.

  • #55917 Reply
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    Lorraine Hodge

    Everyone says “I know how you feel”, but unless you have lived with all the “labels” and continuous punishment of being on the registry with all the requirements and humiliation, you can’t possibly know how someone feels. All you can ask of anyone is support and understanding. Unfortunately the general public has no sympathy for anyone convicted of a sex crime. They don’t see a sex offender as a human being who regrets what they have done. Who wants nothing more than to have a job so they can support themselves and their family. Be able to work where they are qualified work. Live where they want without harrassment.
    Therapy is a joke. Any therapist I have met says, “a sex offender CANNOT be rehabilitated.” Whats the point of therapy if the “therapist” doesn’t think you can be helped? I guess because there is no registry for all other crimes, those who commit them can change and be rehabed!! Yet the recidivism rate is a lot higher for other crimes than it is for people on the sex offender registry.
    Wifes, girlfriends, children, mothers, fathers, brothers and all relatives go through everything that the registrant goes through. No way one can live a calm and peaceful life.
    I pray to God that someday there will be no registry for anyone. Someday, someone will wake up and realize registries don’t work.

    • #55927 Reply
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      Andy Hudak III

      Lorraine-
      I am unsure as to where you live, or whether you will be helped or feel a little more hopeful when you read my comments, but here goes.
      There are MANY therapists that may respond in the way you describe. On the other hand, there are thousands that do not.
      Many of the latter are members of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. (Check out ATSA.org, and you will see lots of info that many people like myself have been disseminating for decades towards changing public policy.
      In Montana, where I am from, our Legislators will be taking a serious look at the impacts of the registry, and hopefully begin to make some long overdue changes.
      MOST importantly, we are active in many state legislatures towards educating them on changing our laws to reflect the positive stories that MOST people convicted of a sex offense represent.
      The majority of clients that we support in treatment not only demonstrate using their pain, (from realizing how their betrayal hurt others), as a motivation to learn what they need to learn to walk a path of redemption, but also often surpass (in growth) by far, many of those in our culture that condemn them, and/or isolate their family members…like Daisy sadly describes in this article.
      For myself, I often end up genuinely admiring how many of my clients, and their families, use the relationship skills that I teach, to heal from their own childhood neglect and abuse impacts, and become positive members of our communities. They, in essence demonstrate the principle that “Poop, processed well, is the source of almost all beauty and food that feeds our people and planet!” : )
      We educate our Legislatures across the country about how when we screen out the MAJORITY of people that offend, (Low and moderate risk), and support their recovery, their , and their family’s journey represent what I once titled in an op ed “The Good News About Sex Offenders”.
      In spite of the fact that change proceeds at a frustratingly glacial pace, I just wanted both you and Daisy to know that there IS hope!

    • #55963 Reply
      Charlie
      Charlie

      Hi Lorraine, I’ll agree and disagree with one of your points. I’m a therapist and I can attest that not ALL agree that sexual offenders can’t be rehabilitated. Those who have drank the Koolaid of sex offender treatment and make their living from it are definitely indoctrinated into a false belief. But, an unbiased therapist would know better. Behavior can always be modified. The error is coming from pop culture and Hollywood more than from therapists. Than Law and Order SVU for 20 plus years of public reeducation into the myth of incurable.
      I know those who work on behalf of the state system all sing the same tune and work from the same playbook. But they don’t represent the mainstream of the counseling profession. Psychology politics has screwed this one up like alcoholism and other so called diseases for the money and the group acceptance of group think. Don’t be fooled by them. All behavior has a purpose, and when the purpose is no longer needed, the behavior can be extinguished.

  • #55918 Reply
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    David Kennerly

    Daisy, a really lovely and poignant message. I know your anguish and hopelessness, too having been a Registrant for twenty-five years, precisely. [Shouldn’t I be getting a quarter-century ribbon or somesuch?]

    The one thing that has been missing for many of us has been a sense of community and belonging. However, that is changing and rather quickly. You’ve obviously discovered NARSOL which is a great resource for essential information as well as a resource for connecting with others who share a pain with which you have been unjustifiably burdened.

    I look forward to reading the next installment.

  • #55925 Reply
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    Ernest B Tucker

    This is absolutely true. My wife couldn’t take it, so she left. I am now totally alone. I am blessed that I am a crippled old man and retired. The only interaction I have with people is at the so group therapy. That’s the only saving grace about being forced to go be condemned and castigated. I pray for those that are trying to change this daily.

  • #55928 Reply
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    Andy Hudak III

    Thank you for your heartfelt and inspiring comments, Daisy.
    I will also look forward to your next post.
    (Check out my note to Lorraine, as I had you in mind as well!)

  • #55929 Reply
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    Brenda Jones

    Daisy (and others reading), please remember that NARSOL launched the Fearless project precisely to fill that gap… that need for an understanding, nonjudgemental community. Groups are forming around the country, following an established stucture so that wherever one goes, he or she will find familiarity and a sense of homecoming. They are private and for registrants and adult family members ONLY.
    To see if there is a group near you, or to get help starting a group, reach out to narsol.org/contact and we will get you connected or help you get started.

  • #55933 Reply
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    Wifeofarso

    Very good 1 st page Loraine , you hit it right on , this how I feel too ;( as a wife of a registered sex offender I’ve loved almost 12 years and dealing with the pain of the registry my hub on past ten years ;( everything changed like a blink of an eye ;( all our lives have ;( I look forward to reading rest your story , Gbu

  • #55943 Reply
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    Wearethepeople

    Nice job Daisy! We all need your story! I wrote a book because of what happened to me. I am the Collateral Damage!

  • #55946 Reply
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    David Higham

    This introduction of your story is very appealing to me I am on the registry have been for the past six years everyone that my wife and I knew before this horrible nightmare has stood side by side with the both of us.When this first happened I had told my wife to leave me but she said absolutely not I will be beside you all the way and she has never wavered the secret to our happiness is we have stayed close to the people who have stayed by outsides people that we met who had a problem with our situation we just stood up to them and informed them of they did not like our situation to leave that we never asked them to associate with us anyways so from reading your first article all I can say to you is stay strong and don’t give into the bullies once they realize that you will not back down they will leave you alone.

  • #55952 Reply
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    Mike

    I looked at a few pictures on line being abused myself by an older half brother at age 7 he was 14
    This went on for years .my father physically abused me as he was a marine Navy seal Chicago diver in lake Michigan. I had horrible ptsd from both of these people. My father died alone and cried and told me he loved me right before he dieshedied

  • #55951 Reply
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    Matt

    Our society has, always has, and possibly always will cling to hate and anything they are allowed to hate with no repercussions. The concept of “sex offender”, a relatively new term coined to define anyone who violates any current or new law regarding sex, is universally added into the “Its ok to hate, harm, and wish for their death and/or torture” category. It’s sad that the human race needs something to hate with such evil intentions, that they race to jump on the next hate fad. I for one have no desires to have sexual relations with prepubescent youths, yet am wise enough to know that it was the norm in most of the human races history to think it makes someone an evil monster deserving of death or even a life of misery. Society can change norms at anytime, and a new category of hated people stripped of their freedoms will emerge. Yet no one talks about this and I have to ask why? Accept the norms, I don’t disagree. But the fact that’s it’s a new norm, that for thousands and thousands of years was the complete opposite, would explain its not an uncommon thing, possibly a dark part of humanity in more people than we realize, and we should question whether our hatred is deserved. I’ll stop my comment here as I doubt the level of truth I could offer would be welcomed by most others.

  • #55962 Reply
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    Donna S

    Daisy you have written something that I could have written, just not as well. In my case it is my son. But our pain is our pain. My son has been on the registry 12 years and I worry about him so much. I would gladly take him into my home but that is not possible given where we live. We are surrounded by young families with parents who are not exactly open minded when it comes to sex offenders. I have seen more than one family chased from this town because a husband or son is on the registry. I, too, have one good friend that I can talk to about this and I am grateful to her. I have another friend who I opened up to because she has a family with many different issues and I thought she might be compassionate and understanding. I was wrong. I wish there were self help groups for family members of offenders but as far as I can tell there are not. And you are right there must be millions of us. I am sorry for what you are going through and hope that someday this nightmare will be over.

    • #55970 Reply
      Charlie
      Charlie
      Moderator

      Hi Donna, the good news there is a support group for families AND for those on the registry. It’s called Fearless, and it’s a brainchild of NARSOL! Check out https://narsol.org/projects/support/fearless/
      And the email NARSOL and they can put you in touch with Brenda or myself. If there is no group near you, consider forming one. No experience or expertise is needed to launch a Fearless support group. And then you will have that wish fulfilled. Having a group of folks who know exactly what it’s like to live under the impacts of the registry is a huge benefit. Help yourself, and help others who feel like you to get this special level of community support. I’ll help you in any way I can. I launched one myself in he tidewater area of Virginia and it was both simple to do and rewarding to experience.

  • #55975 Reply
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    Anita Tarlton

    Thank you, Daisy.
    You described my life as well. I dearly love my husband; his one incident that resulted in his “Scarlet Letter” happened several years before we met.
    There is always apprehension when we meet new “potential” friends. There are those who see only a label, and don’t bother to get to know the man he is today. That’s their loss — but I can’t help feeling resentful of a label that defines us by one incident.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to reading the rest of it.

  • #55978 Reply
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    Paul Hanley

    Daisy thanks for sharing this powerful story. I have been a registrant for 25 years. I have long maintained that it’s often the loved ones of registrants who get hurt most by our wrongheaded registration schemes – you are often shamed by society more than we are. My own theory is that it’s because of what I call the “Incurable Dogma” – that “Sex offenders cannot be cured.” If I cannot be cured (even though my crime was my choice, so that my choice NOT to offend is as good as a cure), then society can simply write me off while saying I “couldn’t help it – that’s just the way he is.” But a loved one sticks by us by choice, and this really gets under the craw of the haters. That’s my theory, anyway. I look forward to reading the next installment!

  • #55982 Reply
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    Saddles

    Daisy actually you should be proud of yourself and yes speaking out is good. Yes we all at times have to have someone to lean on. Now I know we all worry about this ordeal that a lot of men and also women and families go thru. weather convicted or not as it can tear you up inside. Even the tramatic shock of all this can tear one up.

    Brendsa Jones and a whole group of people have made it possible to counsel or to interact and help in all this combat of this sex registry that many go thru. Listing and understand is is one of the keys and that goes true for married couples or any relationship.

    Sure me and my sister have our ups and downs but she’s their with her love. Even my sister had her battles. After collage graduation and getting married in the 70’s. her and her husband started out working to grow their marriage. She studied accounting in collage and worked at a bank in the mid to late 70. She was working the teller window one evening when a car pulled up and a man with a gun told her to give me the money.

    Tramatic yes, well they are trained to give them the money. We were discussing that today and she said I think it was 10 thousand I gave them. That was a tramatic shock to here as she didn’t have anyone to talk to to compair this to.

    Now I enjoy NARSOL and reasching out and helping others is good. The old steryotype of you do the crime and you pay the time is a bit much in many of these ordeals when their is no crime or a victimless crime. Sure therapy is good in many endeavors to help understand but I believe Standing by your man is good as Tammy Wynette said.

    Sure support groups are good and even an AA group a victims’ right group are good and so Brenda Jones and all at NARSOL are there to help and strive in this for all. Even their love ones’.

  • #56002 Reply
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    Mike

    Hello, my belief is the government knows the truth and that truth is that sex offenders are not the high danger they try to say they are because for one the government has done many studies before megans law and there own study shows recidivism rates are below 5% plus that proof is on the governments own website plus anyone can change anyone! Here’s the other thing if the government truly believes that sex offenders are a high and frieghtening danger then why would they be allowed to walk the streets? Because they know thats a lie, that sex offenders have the second lowest recidivism rate, and all of that proof is out for all to get and read on the governments own website just for starters, plus people talk about rehabilitation, how can anyone be rehabilitated if there not allowed to, like aloowed to work to be able to sustain a place to live and food to eat an to support there family just for starters, what i don’t understand is go to grade school n high school i was taught to learn from our past because if we dont we are doomed to repeat it!

  • #56105 Reply
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    Janna T

    Daisy,

    Thank you for telling your story. I have been wanting to share mine also, I have considered writing a book but just can’t figure out how to start. My husband & I had been married 10 years when he molested his niece. Our lives fell apart. He is still on probation, or as I say, WE are still on probation. I have felt from day one that I have been charged with this crime and I am also facing the consequences. I chose to stay with my husband because of our Pastor at church. It was his counseling us thru the first year and teaching me about Foregiveness that convinced me to stay in my marriage. It has not been easy but I have also decided to help other registrants. I am now a NARSOL contact in my state. My husband did complete a treatment program that was the BEST thing for him. He has taken full responsibility for his actions from day one & even taught me things that he learned from his treatment program. I am looking forward to the rest of your story.

    Thank you

  • #56136 Reply
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    Tyrus Young

    Daisy,

    Through excellent writing, I can feel your pain and heartbreak. I think most of us can identify with the challenges you were forced to endure. However, pleased feel blessed that the government has not decided to interfere with your marriage. Unfortunately, some of us have not been so lucky.

    I have been on the registry for over 21 years. Thirteen years ago I met a wonderful woman at church. We dated, she was informed of my registration and cause of it, and accepted me for who I was, and we married later that year. She was from Japan but we figured that once married, she could receive her green card and permanent residency. Unfortunately, it was 2006 and the AWA was passed. There is a provision in there that states that anyone convicted of an offense against a minor cannot sponsor ANYONE… parent, spouse, sibling, etc. After fighting USCIS for 8 years,our petition for my wife’s green card was denied and she was forced to move back to Japan in 2014. We have had to live apart since then. It is getting harder and harder for me to travel internationally and she has been unable to return to the US, even temporarily.

    Their reasons are facetious. Apparently, I have to prove that I pose “no risk” to her. Now if my crime was against a minor (she was of legal age, but under 18 years old), what danger do I pose to my wife who is 60+ years old? I have no problem with the law forbidding the sponsorship of minors… that is a reasonable precaution, but to apply it to someone that is not in that category is overbearing and blatantly punitive. What risk… I pled to a charge that I touched the young woman… who had entered my bedroom and crawled into bed without asking… started touching… then complained that I touched her when she was asleep (thus not giving consent). That is a risk for my wife? As that would be asinine to even give as a reason, the government is accusing people in our position of being capable of all levels of abuse and denying petitions.

    Doesn’t my wife have constitutional rights… wasn’t she essentially deported for a crime that I pled out to? When will the government… through unconstitutional laws, ineffective registries and manipulating media misinformation … going to quit victimizing rehabilitated individuals, their families and friends?

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