“I’m a child rapist” — a story in four parts: Part IV

Part IV: Heroes

My story has many heroes. First is my daughter who made this all possible. Without her courage to speak up and report my abuse, we would not be here today. She was 13 years old when she spoke up, and I cannot say often enough how very courageous she was in doing so. She has worked hard and long on her recovery and our family’s recovery, and I’m happy and proud to say that she didn’t give up on us, or on me. Today we are reconciled; she and her two children, my grandchildren, live with us in our shared home.

Then there is my wife of almost 30 years. At the beginning, she asked me three questions: (1) Did you do this?  (2) Do you want/will you get help? and (3) Do you want to keep our family together? I answered yes to all three, and she was all in from that point forward. Through thick and thin, high and low, come hell or high water — and there were plenty of both — she stood by me, us, and our family. Over the years many have tried to tear us apart, many have looked down their noses at her, asking how in God’s name could she stand by me. She believed in us, and as long as I continued to answer the three questions yes, she promised to try – no guarantees of course, but try and try she did.

Next, there is my son, who was six years old at the time of my conviction. During my probation, he lost his father living with him for five important, formative years until he was eleven years old. Afterward, he spent his middle and high school years, traumatic enough by themselves, the son of a convicted sex offender. There were many school occasions and parties where he didn’t receive invitations, and many times where friends suddenly couldn’t be his friends any longer.

My extended family and friends never abandoned my family or me and were there for us all the way.

The final heroes are our trusted therapists; we were able to find both individual and family counseling that was tremendously helpful. They came alongside and offered us help, inspiration, and hope throughout our family’s restoration journey. My therapist was a lifesaver in this story. Without one-on-one counseling, accountability, and his edifying relationship, I would still be lost today. Mere words cannot express my appreciation enough.

I can say honestly at the time, going through this, for all of us, it felt like it would never end, that we would never survive, couldn’t survive. The cost was just too much, the guilt and shame too much to bear; we just couldn’t. Looking back now some 18 years later, with us all being back together and reconciled, I think to myself, “Hell yeah, we could! We did!” And if we made it, so can you, but there has to be a better way. There has to be a more nurturing, edifying, restorative way!

Throughout this journey, I’ve learned many things; one of the most important, however, is the difference between justice, mercy, and grace. Along the way, I learned a succinct way to describe the difference.

  • Justice is when you get what you deserve;
  • Mercy is when you don’t get what you deserve,
  • and Grace is when you get what you don’t deserve.

My life and that of my family have been full of equal parts of all three, and for this, I’m ever so grateful; however, I feel like we may be the exception rather than the rule. I feel like there are so many more families out there who wish for mercy, pray for grace but see only justice. And while justice is important, the nature of justice is more important. Should justice be only a basal, normative response to a complex issue, rooted in doling out the most punishment possible to satisfy the victims and condemning offenders to ostracism, endless punishment, and dehumanizing public shaming? There is nothing restorative in our justice system today, and unfortunately, everyone loses, and not just the offenders but the victims as well, and certainly the families.

As for my family and me, we will continue to embrace the restorative justice way. We will, where possible, focus on the harm caused on all sides rather than just what the criminal statute demands. We will continue to stand up, speak out, and lean into the hard and messy conversations. We will strive to make the topic of sexual violence and victimization less taboo and give all, both offenders and those who are offended against, the opportunity to share, grow, and survive together.

Addendum from “Joe”: I would like to thank everyone who read my story and took the time to offer comments. I am humbled that almost all comments were positive and supporting. I encourage each of you to advocate for the concepts of forgiveness, reconciliation, and restorative justice whenever and wherever you have the chance.

See also: Part I – Part II – Part III

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This topic contains 14 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Sandy Rozek Sandy Rozek 1 month, 1 week ago.

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  • #55464 Reply
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    admin

    Part IV: Heroes My story has many heroes. First is my daughter who made this all possible. Without her courage to speak up and report my abuse, we wou
    [See the full post at: “I’m a child rapist” — a story in four parts: Part IV]

  • #55471 Reply
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    Dan

    I’m an offender and nearing the end of probation I think the only reason I made it was with the help of my family and a new therapist group . My previous only set you up for failure and called themselves therapist. Very poor excuse for therapy by any means.
    Thank you for your experiences and help it shows there is an ending and a happy one

  • #55478 Reply
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    allie

    I am very proud of you and thankful to you for sharing your story. My so got arrested for child pornography. My granddaughter his daughter was 5 at the time. She is now 8 going on 9. She is having a real hard time at school and I’m not sure if the mothers of the other children found out about my sons conviction by viewing the registry and said something to my granddaughters friends, that are really are not friends because they treat her awful, or if there is some other reason that she just don’t fit in. I guess what I’m trying to say is this registry is hurting a lot of innocent children that don’t deserve it. Doesn’t any of these lawmakers realize that and stop this nightmare from continuing. My husband and I love our son and continue to support him as well as every other offender out there. God bless you.

  • #55485 Reply
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    Connie

    Thank you for having the courage to share your story. The heart break that sexual addiction causes is more painful then anyone can imagine. I hope you continue in being active in helping others break this addiction. Thank God for groups that truly help eg. Pure Desire groups, and materials like the “Conquer series” and “Seven Pillars of Freedom”. There is hope

  • #55494 Reply
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    James

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and the world and for giving society a different pattern from which to form more effective responses to sexual harm – a model which seeks to restore both the offender and the victim, and one which ultimately leaves society better off for it.

    Be blessed!
    James

  • #55495 Reply
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    James

    By the way, if NARSOL would provide some easy way to link the current part to the previous ones, it may help those just now joining the conversation.

    Thanks!

    • #55552 Reply
      Sandy Rozek
      Sandy Rozek
      Admin

      Done.

  • #55511 Reply
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    Lacona

    Thanks so very much for the courage to share so openly! What a blessing to all of you that you stayed together and didn’t give up on each other and on your family. May this be a great inspiration to others to do the same.

    Many blessings to all of you,
    Lacona

  • #55515 Reply
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    David Higham

    Joe,
    I would like to thank you for telling your story it was very interesting ,It is story’s like your who can make people on the registry and also dealing with being a sex offender to never give up the fight that is what the justice system wants.The politicians who keep making these stupid laws think that all people on the registry is weak and won’t fight back but it is story’s like yours that give sex offenders the courage to fight back I wish that more people who have story’s about being on the registry would tell there story weather it is good or bad again thanks for your story.

  • #55526 Reply
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    Steve

    Awesome share, and thankful you are willing to do so. The easy path is to break up the family, get divorced, and not face the situation head-on. I’m sure the rewards of determined change have been bountiful.

  • #55523 Reply
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    Mary Sue Molnar

    Do you have all parts of this story in printable form? I would like to share this with a few people. I loved reading this story. It gives me hope that maybe one day other families will be able to heal instead of hate. Thanks you for sharing.

    • #55539 Reply
      Sandy Rozek
      Sandy Rozek
      Admin

      Hey, Mary Sue! Our wonderful webmaster has just accomplished that; there is now a print-option icon at the bottom of each post, under the comments. Enjoy!

  • #55546 Reply
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    Mp

    Your family support is so heartwarming. I can only imagine how difficult it has been. We are all broken, some more than others and that your wife and children understood that and that they worked hard for all of you is wonderful. I have to say, including myself, I know 5 families now that have had to deal with a situation similar to yours to CP. In all cases the families stood by their loved one. And none of these families came about by my awareness now to this subject. This is just people/family I know. Now we just have to get “society” to understand this and your speaking out helps that cause. Thank you.

  • #55560 Reply
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    Michael

    Thank you for sharing your story. I know how hard it is to accept what we have done and the harm that we have caused. My crime was invasion of privacy with no minors involved, but I am in the same boat and looked at in the same way as anyone in the registry regardless. I was attacked by someone with a knife because he assumed I was guilty of something I wasn’t because of being on the registry. I was designated an SVP so scary notifications go out to 25 neighbors and am the only case of its kind in PA. I know pure never ending fear and have even made an attempt on my own life with an entire bottle of pills. I found out what the last of humans freedoms is though; to find purpose in any given set of circumstances. I no longer life my life for myself any more, but rather for others. Since I no longer have the freedom to enjoy things or progress any more, I can use whatever I have to help others in need instead. Even I found my silver lining I suppose.

  • #55582 Reply
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    John

    Wow! Just, WOW! In reading your story, I felt like I was reading my own (only I am 3 years removed from sentencing). My wife probably will not be able to stick it out but she has been with me thusfar (arrested 2014) so you will never hear me complain. Like you I have two young boys (age 5 and 11) who, thankfully, have not be “outed” [yet].

    It seems so obvious that the crimes related to usage (i.e. possession) are medical and shouldn’t be criminalized until/unless the offender rejects treatment. Not the kind of treatment that you got Joe, from CPS, but the kind you got from your private therapist. I did the same thing and she helped me realize and deal with the SOURCE of my insecurity and attraction to kids.

    Thanks so much for coming “OUT” and speaking “UP”. We are 1 million (hu)man strong and getting stronger thanks to you, Joe.

  • #55600 Reply
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    John Rackman

    I find it difficult to understand how a victim can be a ‘hero’ for turning in her abuser. That seems to take the focus off of the fact that she was victimized in the first place. She would never be a ‘hero’ had she not been abused. That is a cost that, in retrospect, I’m sure that she wouldn’t have chosen to bear. I cannot imagine any scenario where it is excusable to state that victimizing someone did the perpetrator any real good in light of what it cost the victim. At the very least, it is in bad taste to even think so.

    I certainly agree, as a registered citizen myself, that many of the laws we registered citizens are exposed post incarceration/sentence are needless and can be quite harmful to us in more ways than I can possibly state here. The registry itself is needless. However, because of the human cost of our actions, there is a thin line between what is necessary for the greater good versus what is excessive punishment. I am glad that the conversation on such topics is becoming more mainstream, but you have to keep in mind that not all stories end the way that yours did. In fact, most do not. There are countless lives forever negatively affected by what we did. we have to account for that when all things are considered.

    I do not think it takes courage to speak up. It should be common place. Registrants often do not wish to draw attention to themselves because they fear being ostracized even further. Unfortunately, until we all speak up, being ostracized will be the norm. What a lot of us did was not positive in the least; being viewed as having done something bad then comes with the territory. We should expect no less, but how else do we expect the general populace to understand the realities if we don’t speak out?

  • #55589 Reply
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    Lois

    Thanks so much for putting your very human story out there. I am tempted to send it to certain legislators in my state who seem driven to pass laws that limit civil rights of registrants without understanding the psychological, social (and financial) costs on individuals and families, much less the greater community. Kudos to you!

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