Monday, September 10, 2012

This is no Place for Complacency

A message to Dawn

This weekend, I attended the annual RSOL (Reform Sex Offender Laws) Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I traveled by car with two other members of ATAT (Arkansas Time After Time).

Now that the conference is over, I find myself reflecting and contemplating from the back seat of the car as we drive back to Arkansas.

Thanks to our movement's vigilante enemies, they drew attention to the conference from law enforcement and media in the city of Albuquerque. At first, there was public concern posed by the media as they tried to explain why we were coming to their city and what we were trying to do. But, as media began to ask questions, they began to understand and they began to help us get our message out there. As a result of this media exposure, we had a last minute surge in attendees of local sex offenders and their families. We are all cheering a huge thank you to our vigliante enemies. They actually did us a huge favor.

As i recall everything that happened this weekend, many things stick out in my mind. Of course, the education I received on how to lobby for changes to the law is what I was hoping for, and my expectations were far exceeded, and I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed Norm Pattis' entertaining presentation... But, just as important were the small things that reached far into my soul and touched me on such a deep emotional level.

Many tears were shed and many hugs were given as we all heard story after story of oppression, discrimination, harrassment, vigilantism, etc. During the closing cermony, Derek Logue gave us a preview of a documentay he is currently producing featuring Leslie Blanton and how her loving husband was brutally murdered by someone who was targeting sex offenders. There was not a dry eye in the audience.

Even with all these significant things going on, I continued and still continue to recall dinner Thursday night. For some reason this particular event is the most significant for me. We went to Sadie's, the Mexican restaurant next door, and shared a meal with a woman named Renate and her lovely daughter-in-law, Dawn. Renate had come to the conference, but we learned that Dawn was not attending and that she was just in Albuquerque on vacation. It surprised me when I learned that the sex offender in Renate's life was her son, who is also Dawn's husband.  Why wasn't Dawn attending the conference?

She explained that she and her family were just trying to live their lives and she didn't feel that the laws affected her family all that much. She admitted she felt things were going okay in their lives, and she didn't possess the same motivation to fight as her mother-in-law has. Dawn even feels that the registry should exist because she has four children and feels it is important to know who her neighbors are.  I can certainly understand that, but...

I love how Derek Logue responded to her, and I am attempting to quote here,

"95% of all new sex crimes are committed by someone who is not on the registry. That makes the registry 95% ineffective in preventing sex crimes. If I gave you a toy to give to your kids that had a 95% failure rate, would you still give it to them?"

Dawn's response was, "Of course not."

We did not see Dawn the next morning, but we did hear from Renate that she was beginning to come around.

As I see it, we have over 700,000 familes on the sex offender registry. And, how many are activating for change? I would guess and say less than  1000 in the whole country.  That pretty much means the rest are just complacent and have accepted the fact that in our country of freedom, their rights have been stripped away. Since when is this okay? Human rights are for human beings. Do you cease being a human being once you're labeled a sex offender?

I was once complacent too. I recall quite vividly how my husband and I were accepting of his requirements and restrictions until he was assessed in 2007 and the state raised his level of risk, even though he had committed no new crimes.

I finally realized then that it would not end there. I suddenly inherently knew that if we accepted this new level of diminished rights, the state would continue to increase our punishment until there was nothing left to strip away. I guess you can say I could see the writing on the wall and if I wanted things to ever get back to normal, I was going to have to stand up and speak out; to quote, "do something."

So, my message to Dawn is this: Are you willing to give up more of your rights? Because, I can tell you from first hand experience, if you are complacent about what is happening to you and your family, then you will soon see that what I am saying will come true. We basically have two choices: Accept that you will eventually lose every right you and your family has or you can stop the tide now if you stand up and fight.  If you don't refuse to accept further punishment, you will surely suffer for it.

This is the same message I am sending to all the other families out there who are suffering the effects of the registry who want to hide and hope that this will just go away.

The thing is, this will not just go away. Getting our rights restored is going to take years of advocating, and not just by a few, but by thousands. If you are waiting for others to go to bat for you, the other team will win and the game will be over. When the game is over, it will be too late.

I know I've harped on this before, but I absolutely cannot stress the importance of this enough: Get involved! The only way we can win is if we ALL get our message out there, talk to as many people as you can, join your state's RSOL group. Join SOSEN so you talk with and collaborate with other advocates. Find us on facebook. Email, write, or better yet, visit with your state's lawmakers. Testify against/for bills before legislative hearings. Network with other activists. Join or start a support group. Attend meetings or conferences.

In other words, let the tide of advocacy wash over you and take over your life, as it has mine. It is so worth it, trust me, because what we are doing is RIGHT, and we all know it. No matter what you did, you are not your past, and as I've said before, everyone deserves a second chance. We all need each other and we all need to do our part. Don't wait for the rescue boat to come and save you from the flood of injustice, because it may never come...

I hope Dawn doesn't feel that I'm picking on her. The truth is, I am excited for her, because my gut tells me she is about to step across the threshold and go from being complacent to being an advocate. She will soon realize that she MUST do this, maybe not for herself, maybe not for husband, maybe not even for her kids, but she will, I can sense it. It is only a matter of time. My heart goes out to her and her family, just like it does for every registered family on the list. I would not be the least surprised to see Dawn's smiling face at the conference next year.

At least I hope I do...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Man Kills Man He Suspects of Sexually Abusing His Child

The above link takes you to an article I hope will eventually make the national news.  Read the article and pass it along.  This happened very near to my home and I am very bothered by the fact that this man, Andrew James Cody, decided to take matters into his own hands and take another person's life because he suspected the victim was sexually abusing his daughter.

There is a lot of missing info from the article.

WAS the man actually abusing Andrew James Cody's daughter?  Is there proof?

Did he or the daughter know the man that was allegedly abusing the child?

Isn't it possible that Andrew James Cody was mad at the man for some other reason and figured out a way he could get away with murder?

Because, my friends, if Andrew James Cody is exonerated from his crime that he admitted to the killing, then what kind of message does this send to Americans?  That all they have to do is claim that the victim molested their child and that they, too, can get away with murder?

All Andrew James Cody had to do was call the authorities.  Even without proof of the abuse, the man would have been sent to prison and once he got out, he would have spent his life on the sex offender registry, which as well all know, is even worse than prison. 

Now, because Andrew James Cody took the man's life, we'll never know if the abuse actually happened, and Andrew James Cody will likely go to prison himself, leaving a little girl with no father. 

Andrew James Cody has a lot of supporters out there saying he did what other daddies should do!  Can you believe that?  These people need to educate themselves.  Murder is NEVER okay!  NEVER EVER EVER!!!

If Andrew James Cody does not go to prison for his crime, then we will see a whole lot more murders of people on the registry and even innocent people, too, because all one has to do in defense is claim that the person was molesting a child.

What is this world coming to???  We cannot allow this to happen!!!

I tried leaving comments on the article but found the login to be extremely difficult.  I did manage to leave a post, to which someone named Stephanie ASSUMED I could NOT be a victim to child sexual abuse!  Imagine that!  Hah!

Murder is murder, no matter what.  Andrew James Cody needs to go prison for a very long time.


Monday, May 21, 2012

A Rose by Any other Name

This post is primarily in response to Rosie (  Rather than clogging up her comment section, I decided to post my final response here.  The YouTube video Rosie made in response to the Paula Gloria show where Derek Logue, Ken Kish and myself were guests, has been pulled or set to private.  In the video, Rosie made comments referring to both Derek and Ken as pedophiles.  She barely even mentioned me because I didn't fit the profile she was trying to expose.  Her statements about Derek and Ken were quite derogatory and advocates in our movement began to respond to Rosie with similar retaliation.  While I don't think it does anyone any good to retaliate the way my fellow advocates have done, I can understand why they did.  When you publicly attack someone with a YouTube video, you shouldn't be surprised if you get back what you dish out.

In my response to her blog post, I brought to light how she failed to mention me.  It wasn't that I was looking for attention, but I was upset that she stated in one of her responses to a comment, and I quote: "I just don't think that pedophiles should be heading the movement."  I wanted to let her know that she is wrong in that statement, that there are many non-RSO's heading up the movement and as far as I know, NONE of our advocates are "pedophiles".  In fact, I know of several non-RSO's and even VICTIMS who are advocates.  Rosie responds in another post:

"Do you have data on how many victims/survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of someone on the registry are involved in the movement to abolish the SOR? I do know of cases with the Romeo and Juliette situation where this occurs, but I am asking about a child under the age of consent that was sexually abused by an adult over the age of 18 and at least 5 years older then the sexual offender? Are Ken, Derek or your husbands victims/survivors involved with the movement to abolish the registry?"

Many of our advocates are the very type Rosie is describing, including myself.  I was a victim of child sexual abuse to a family member from the age of 13 - 15.  After the abuse ended, I set out on my own to find older men to seduce and trust me when I tell you I succeeded.  Not once did I receive a refusal from an older man because of my age.  I grew up in Florida where the age of consent is 18.  For three years I basically CREATED sex offenders (unknowingly, of course).  If I had known what kind of trouble I could have caused for those men, I would have certainly not pursued them.  During those three years of sexual activity, I was never once forced or groomed or anything.  I sought these men out and I willingly engaged in sexual activity with them.  If you want to stick your head in the sand and think young girls aren't doing this, then go ahead, but I KNOW it happens, and by the way the laws are set up, every time this happens, these sexually active girls are considered VICTIMS and the men they seduce are considered criminals.  I say bull----!  Age is irrelevant.  One of the men I seduced was 25 years older than me.  He was no more a criminal in my mind then the guys that were the same age as me.  So, when Rosie says there aren't any victims out there advocating for reform, she is very badly mistaken.  Many of our advocates work from behind the scenes.  MOST of our advocates do.  Most of them don't want to stick their necks out and for good reason.  Rosie is just but one vigilante out there that would seek to cause harm by exposing people.  The "victims" we have in our advocacy groups know this.

Rosie wanted to know what my hubby's victim would say?  Well, funny she should ask because recently my hubby's victim and I have been messaging each other on Facebook and although she wants to be left alone to live her life, she had this to say: 

(I blocked out names and places to protect her identity)

Does my hubby's victim sound like a victim?  I will let you, the Reader, decide.

In Rosie's blog post she says:

"There is no known cure for pedophilia. I know the theory that most offenders are first time offenders and not on the registry. This doesn't mean they didn't offend it means they hadn't gotten caught yet. Most pedophiles offend between 100 to 400 times before they are caught."

I responded with, "And where do you get that pedophiles cannot be cured or that they each have hundreds of victims? Where are your facts?"  In response to that, Rosie posted info from the DSM IV on Pedophilia which neither says there is no cure or that pedophiles each have hundreds of victims.  In fact, the info doesn't even dispute the definition of pedophilia as shown on Wikipedia:

As a medical diagnosis, pedophilia, or paedophilia, is defined as a psychiatric disorder in adults or late adolescents (persons age 16 or older) typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children (generally age 13 years or younger, though onset of puberty may vary). The prepubescent child must be at least five years younger than the adolescent before the attraction can be diagnosed as pedophilia.

What the definition says is that pedophilia must be medically diagnosed.  One cannot just ASSUME someone is a pedophile just because they engage in sexual activity with an underage person.  Rosie made the assumption that both Derek and Ken are pedophiles.  Dr. Drew made the assumption that I was married to a pedophile.  Using the word "pedophile" about someone when there is no medical diagnosis of pedophilia is grossly incorrect and defamatory.  Personally, I consider the word derogatory, just like the N word is a derogatory term for an African American and the F----t word is a derogatory term for a gay man.  When people like Dr. Drew and Rosie use the term "pedophile" about anyone with a sex crime against an underage person, they lose credibility in my book.  If Rosie wants to be taken seriously in her work to protect children against sexual abuse, all I am suggesting is that she use politically correct words when she is posting information about people.  What Rosie did with that video was in very poor taste and I'm not surprised at the backlash she received.  Such a shame, really, because I have always had a lot of respect for Rosie and how she has handled herself on the web, that video really surprised me, coming from her.  At least Rosie is open-minded enough to say that the sex offender registry needs to be reformed, which is more than I can say for so many other vigilantes out there.  I do hope that Rosie will at least consider an apology to both Derek and Ken, neither of which are pedophiles.  I feel that they both deserve an apology.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Paula Gloria and Friends: Three Shows for the Price of One!

Hi all!

My flight to NYC was uneventful and when you travel by plane, "uneventful" means very good.  I arrived last Friday afternoon and promptly checked into the Super 8 Motel in Long Island City.  Once I checked in and unpacked, I met Derek Logue, author of Once Fallen, in the small motel lobby.  From there, we walked ten blocks to the Broadway Subway station and I had my very first subway experience.  It wasn't as scary or as crowded as I expected.  Several minutes later, we arrived at our destination and entered an elevator and popped right up onto a crowded and busy street in Manhattan.  Immediately, I was overcome with sensory overload, the sounds, the smells and the sights.  We made our way southward and managed to obtain two free passes into the 9/11 Memorial, which was top on my list of places to see.  As we looked at the beautiful fountains of the monument and the negative space of where the twin towers once stood, I couldn't help but get choked up while thinking of all that was lost on that unforgettable day.

After visiting the memorial, we hurriedly headed north to make our dinner engagement with Ken Kish, Paula Gloria and her husband, Joe Barton.  On the way, we found ourselves in Chinatown, attempting and failing miserably at hailing a cab.  Finally, we found a subway station and after getting on the wrong subway train first, finally made it to our destination, some twenty minutes late.

The restaurant was full and loud, but we found our group and joined them at the table.  Menus were passed around and as I looked over the choices, I noticed many words on the menu were either in English or French.  I ordered the "Sausages Du Jour", which was described as "chicken sausages with mashed potatoes and haricot verts".  Derek ordered something different that also came with haricot verts. Even though the place was quite loud, I overheard Derek asking the waitress what haricot verts were and I listened as she very eloquently described, "They are a slender green vegetable."  Thinking it must be something unusual and exotic, I was looking forward to experiencing something new.

When our dishes were served, I saw the chicken sausages, the mashed potatoes and I recognized the slender green vegetables immediately.  I looked over at Derek and said, "Oh!  They're green beans!"  We both chuckled, finding it very amusing how the waitress described them as a slender green vegetable when all she needed to say was "green beans."

After dinner, we walked around Manhattan a bit and enjoyed visiting with Ken.  We talked about the upcoming show and marvelled at the things we saw in the city.  Finally, Derek and I hopped into a cab and made our way back to the Super 8.

In the morning, Derek and I met for the continental breakfast in the tiny lobby and donning my suit and tennis shoes, we walked around Central Park.  The park was very pretty, lots of flowers all in bloom, especially tulips.  We saw hundreds of people either jogging, walking, riding bikes, pedi-cabs or horse-drawn carriages.  We saw numerous musicians and artists throughout the park, and even saw a homeless person or two.

Eventually, we found our way to a hotdog vendor and found the studio where the Paula Gloria show was going to be recorded.  I changed from my tennis shoes into my dress shoes, and Paula introduced us to two other show hosts, Joe Friendly, of Truth for a Change and Harold Channer of Conversations with Harold.  Initially, it was planned we would have the studio for four hours with Paula, but these other two hosts asked if we could be guests on their shows as well, and so we actually wound up doing three shows instead of one.

I was seated between Derek and Ken and I knew that it was likely they would dominate the conversation, but I managed to get a few good points in here and there.  I was comfortable and relaxed and it was incredibly refreshing to be treated with respect, compassion and understanding, by all three hosts.

After the shows, we had dinner together with Ken, Paula and her husband, at an Indian restaurant and after dinner, Derek and I took the subway to Times Square.  Once again, we emerged from the station right into the heart of Times Square.  It is such a shock to the senses to suddenly and drastically be immersed into something so overwhelming without being able to "see it coming".  The visual element was overwhelming between the constant gigantic video screens with their high density and fast paced imagery.  Everywhere I looked, there was something to see and there were more people there than anywhere else in the city.  It was intensely energizing and amazing.

At one point, we found ourselves visiting the over-sized gigantic Hershey's store where I found an equally over-sized package of Reeses' Peanut Butter cups, a full pound each.  They were huge, maybe 5" across by 2" thick.  I just HAD to get them for my husband and young daughter, Maddie, both huge Reeses' fans.

We eventually made it to Rockeller Center and enjoyed watching the ice skaters on the outdoor rink and seeing the trees all lit up in tiny blue twinkling lights.  I found an ice cream man selling ice cream out of an ice cream truck and bought myself a delicious vanilla cone.  Exhausted, we finally made our way back to the subway and arrived back at the Broadway station and from there walked the ten blocks back to the motel.

All in all, I'd estimate that I walked a good 18 miles on both Friday and Saturday, walking pretty much non-stop for at least six hours both days.  That was more walking that I'd ever done in such a short time.  Thank God I brought along my tennis shoes!

Sunday morning, I again met Derek for breakfast before taking a cab back to the airport.  I had packed light but with several souvenirs crammed into my carry-on bag, I wasn't worried about being able to bring anything on the plane.  When I left Little Rock, I had packed six bottles of SlimFast in my bag which airport security had quickly confiscated and thrown in the trash.  Leaving NYC, I made sure nothing in my bag was liquid and proceeded confidently through security.  After I went through the body scanner, I waited on the other side for my bag to come through on the conveyor belt.  When nothing came through the x-ray machine, I looked up and noticed two young women studying the x-ray machine monitor as one was tracing her fingers around two large round objects on the monitor, saying to the other woman, "I think those are those large Reeses' peanut butter cups!"

I laughed and told them that's what they were, impressed that they could tell from an x-ray!  One of them said they had to open the bag anyway to check.  When she found the Reeses' she clutched the package to her chest and laughingly told me I couldn't take them on the plane, but I knew she was joking and as she put them back, I said, "I bet you see a lot of those." and she said, "We see a LOT of crazy and unusual things, things I can't even tell you about!"  As I walked away, I tried to imagine some of things they might have seen and chuckled.

I arrived safe and sound in Little Rock, found my vehicle in the parking lot and stopped by to visit my daughter, Charlotte, at her apartment, before driving the last leg of the trip home, which was another two hours.  I used most of that time "attending" a SOSEN staff meeting via my cell phone.

It was great to get home.  My family was eagerly waiting for me, and I arrived to find signs on both the front door and my computer welcoming me home.  As much fun as it was to visit New York City, the best part was coming home to my loving family.

The Paula Gloria, Joe Friendly and Harold Channer shows will be broadcast beginning tomorrow and Monday on Manhattan Neighborhood Network's public access television all over NYC, to some 600,000 homes and the shows will be posted on YouTube.  To see when the shows will be broadcast, check the schedule on

For now, we have a sneak preview ready for you, click on:

As the shows become available on YouTube, I'll be posting links to those as well.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Upcoming Appearance on the Paula Gloria Show in NYC

Hi all,

I've been meaning to post this for some time, but tasks and projects have kept me from making it here...

I wanted to let you know ~ in case you don't already ~ that I will be going to New York City April 20 - 22 to do an appearance on the Paula Gloria Show.  Paula has a YouTube channel with over 900 videos, over 4,000 subscribers and over 3 million views.  Paula is working with Ken Kish, author of Despised Things, to put together a show featuring three authors of sex offender related books.  I have been invited to appear along with Derek Logue, author of Once Fallen.

I am excited about the trip but must cover my own travel and meal expenses.  My flight is $443.20 on Southwest Airlines (where they herd you in like cattle) and my motel is $236.06 for two nights in a Super 8 motel.  Lavish and luxurious it's not, but as long as there is a bed ~ and hopefully with clean sheets ~ I'll be okay.

Fortunately, Derek has booked a room at the same motel so that we can commute back and forth to the studio and also do some sight seeing together.  I have never been to NYC and admit to feeling intimidated.  My 23 year old daughter has been twice, but both times with a group of people.  She says not to carry a purse.  Wow.  Coming from such a rural area where people leave their doors unlocked at night and going to such a crime riddled big city where one has to leave their purse at home will likely be a bit of a shock to my senses.

Still, I am willing to go.  I am hoping to get to promote my book, after all, the show will be focused on a panel of three authors, so there is a good chance, but I'm also hoping to raise awareness to the sex offender issues and tell viewers that organizations like SOSEN exist to offer support for families of sex offenders.

I have put out a call on the SOSEN forum asking for donations for the trip from over 200 members.  So far, I'm sad to report, only a very small handful of people have contributed towards my travel expenses, and of those, four donations came from board members themselves.  This is unbelievable to me because so many people complain that there aren't enough people doing anything about the laws and here I am trying to do something good and very few seem to care.

Everyone is there chiming in with their big ideas on what should be done, but when they see that it takes money to accomplish these lofty goals, they shut and keep their wallets closed.  I know that the economy is not doing that great, I know that folks are struggling but I suspect that if folks can afford a computer and internet connection they should be able to cough up even five bucks for a good cause.

After all, I'm not doing this for me or my family.  My life is pretty good. My family's life is pretty good. No one harrasses us, no one bullies my child, the local law enforcement agency treats us well. They never do check ups on my hubby, they never even did community notifications (no, I was proactive, and did it FOR them). The principal at school knows him and knows he is not a threat, so he is welcome to come to school, even alone, to pick up our daughter and such. Truly, at this time, the only affect the registry has on us at this moment is that he is stuck with the job he has. But, at least he IS employed and we are making ends meet, but barely.

We live in a trailer, not some big fancy mansion.  I am self employed and work long hours for little pay.  We rarely eat out and do a lot of our shopping at Savers or Goodwill.  We have a small TV and old cars.  We grow a garden to save money on food.  When we want to do landscaping, we go out into the woods in search of plants to dig up.  This is our life.

$700+ to blow on a 2 day trip is a lot of money for me.  But, if I need to foot the entire bill, I will.  But so far, SOSEN members have contributed a whopping $200 towards my travel expenses and for that I am eternally grateful.

Won't you consider adding to the pot?  Please, use the Paypal button on the SOSEN home page at to make your TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation.  Even $5 would help, but if you donate $50 or more, I will personally send you an autographed copy of my book.  Okeedokee?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Next Appearance - NYC on the Paula Gloria Show

Hello all,

I have been invited to appear as a guest on the Paula Gloria Show, which is an internet show broacasted on YouTube.  The show currently has over 4,000 subscribers and has 911 videos uploaded to date.  Paula Gloria is quite the YouTube guru and her videos are top notch and high quality.  I highly recommend this channel:

The show I have been invited to appear on will feature a panel of authors and activists advocating for sex offender law reform.  At this time, there are two other authors slated for the show beside myself, Ken Kish, author of Despised Things and Derek Logue, author of Once Fallen.  I have read Once Fallen and am currently reading Despised Things.  Both are excellent books.  This show is really Ken Kish's project and I am so very honored and delighted to have been asked to participate.

There may also be an appearance by Shana Rowan, a young woman and fellow activist making huge waves in the NY legislation advocating for changes to sex offender laws.  Shana is a dynamite woman who has many youtube videos herself and I look forward to meeting her, Ken, Derek and Paula.

The show is set to record on April 21, 2012 and we will have the studio for several hours. I am sure the show will be a huge hit as Paula Gloria is excellent at exposing corruption and problems in American politics, among other things.

For me, this will be surely be a turning point from my experience with the Dr. Drew show.  Since then, I have been reluctant to have anything to do with the media.  I have learned to be much more cautious with whom I do interviews with.

I am very excited about the show, but I will have to cover my own expenses to travel to NYC.  I have posted a call for donations thread on SOSEN, but if you are not a member but would like to contribute towards the expenses, please just send me an email at lynn.gilmore13[at] and I'll assist you with that.

Thank you!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The King of the Playground

Last night, two of my fellow female ATAT steering committee members and I attended a public meeting at a police station in Conway, Arkansas, on a program called, "Sex Offender Concerns in Neighborhoods."

The program was facilitated by Paula Stitz, Sex Offender Manager at the Arkansas Crime Information Center and Sergeant Glen Cooper, of the Conway Police Department.  Ms. Stitz and Sergeant Cooper each had about a 20-minute long program which included a power point presentation on two large screens.

This was my very first time meeting Ms. Stitz in person, although I have had dealings with her in the past, so I was a bit apprehensive.

Approximately 15 to 20 people were in attendance including news media from Fox News and THV.

Upon arrival, we noticed a television camera pointed at Ms. Stitz (photo above) as she was talking, and after we sat down, the camera panned the audience once or twice before the cameraman put the camera away.

We came prepared with several different brochures and materials from ATAT, (Arkansas Time After Time), SOSEN (Sex Offender Solutions and Education Network), and W.A.R. (Women Against Registry).

We listened and watched as Ms. Stitz presented her program first.  She was dressed in a light beige business jacket and skirt and couldn't seem to stand still as she talked.  She spoke confidently and elloquently, and talked about the points that were on the screen.

A couple of things I took notice of...

1) While talking about hands-off crimes such as child porn or other internet crimes, Ms. Stitz actually stated that "most sex offenders who are convicted of these crimes have a tendancy to go on to commit other crimes."

2) On Ms. Stitz "FACTS" page on screen, it stated:  "75% to 85% of sex crimes are committed by family members or with someone the victim knows and trusts," to which she added, "sex offenders love to state this stat."

3) There was NEVER any mention of recidivism rates during Ms. Stitz's presentation or Sergeant Cooper's.

During her entire presenation, Ms. Stitz peppered the program with her own thoughts and feelings on each topic.  On the screen, on the "MYTHS" page, there was one statement that said, "I can just 'tell' when someone is a sex offender," which of course she said that sex offenders look and act just like everyone else, but then added, that after years of working in the field, that SHE could tell.

When one of my friends mentioned that she was part of an advocacy group, Ms. Stitz asked her which group, and my friend mentioned Arkansas Time After Time.  Paula said, "Oh, Robert Comb's organization," turning her back to us.  I quickly added that Robert is just one of our members, that we have many members beside Robert.

At one point, Ms. Stitz did state that some sex offenders would benefit from therapy, but "not from clergy or church people,"as she put it, but rather from a certified professional.  No argument there, but I got the feeling that she felt it would only work in a controlled environment such as civil committment.

Ms. Stitz made many statements that were controversial, including one where she said that in cases where sex offenders have only committed one crime, "it just means they have gotten smarter and just haven't gotten caught yet."

I realize that over the years, Ms. Stitz MUST have seen some heinous acts by some horrible people, but to consider that every single person convicted of a sex offense IS a threat to society is just flat out biased and factually incorrect, especially when one considers the FACT that recidivism rates are less than 5% across the U.S.

And according to the Dept. of Justic, the percentage of crimes within families or with someone the victim knows is NOT 75% to 85% as she stated, bur 97%, but I will agree that sex offenders AND their families love to state that fact.  Such fact renders the sex offender registry USELESS!!!

After Ms. Stitz's program, Sergeant Cooper gave his portion of the presentation.  He demonstrated how to use the ACIC website and showed things such as the sex offender registration form, and offender rap sheets, etc...  Sergeant Cooper gave a very professional and unbiased presentation, which is what Ms. Stitz should have done.  He showed us a map of Conway with all the 2000 foot off-limit zons to level 3 and level 4 offenders.  Needless to say, there wasn't much left of Conway for those offenders to live in.

When one of my co-steering committee members asked him if he had experience with offenders finding it difficult to find jobs or housing due to the restrictions, he declined to comment.  She asked him how many offenders were sitting in prison awaiting release but were not being released because they didn't have appropriate housing, and again, he didn't answer, saying something about the ACIC having that information.  Funny, because I thought it was basically public knowledge:  That there are more than 500 such offenders awaiting release from Arkansas prisons right now.

I did notice at the bottom of the offender rap sheets Sergeant Cooper showed on screen was this quote:  "We believe the only person who wins if community notification ends is the sex offender, since sex offenders derive their power through secrecy."

Wow....  Right there is the one statement that makes the reason why advocating for sex offender law reform so incredibly difficult.

Overall, the general message one gets from a meeting like this is "Be afraid, be very afraid."  Continued fear mongering at its best.

As soon as the program was over, two women got up and headed for the door and the newsperson stopped them to talk to them, but that was it.  The media didn't talk to anyone else excect for Paula and Sergeant Cooper.

After the meeting, there was a brief period of time when people could talk with one another or ask questions of Ms. Stitz and Sergeant Cooper.  There was also a survey form to fill out.  One steering committe member got up and headed for the presentors; another turned around and began talking with the lady behind her.

I started filling out the form.

Almost immediately, I heard a loud shrill voice screaming at my friend, "I just heard you say that it is OK to look at child porn!" and knowing my friend, I know damn well she didn't say THAT.  The woman went on to say that anyone who ever looks at child porn WILL go on to commit hands-on crimes, and even said that they always begin committing their crimes as young as 14 years old.  I turned to come to my friend's defense and asked the woman, "And what if that same 14 year old turns around and initiates contact with someone older than them, why are they then a victim and the older person is charged?" to which she replied, "Well, it's not a perfect system."

BINGO!  And, THAT, my friends, is why we're here.

But, the lady went on.  She attacked my friend and I could see that my friend was getting nowhere fast.  I then said to my friend, "You can't change the mind of someone with a closed mind," and the woman then got irate with me, screaming at me that she did NOT have a closed mind, and said she had a degree in pyschology and that she was a social worker.

I have no doubt in my mind that she is either a victim, a family member of a victim, or has seen some horendous things, and for that, I am sorry for her because clearly her vision is so clouded that she cannot think rationally. She may as well have had CRAZY written across her forehead.

I am good friends with two professional psychologists and neither would ever make such broad statements about sex offenders.  While both are not exactly on our side, they can at least view each case objectively and treat each case as an individual case and I appreciate their ability to do their job as well as they do.

I returned to finish the survey form and then went over to see if my other friend needed any back up.  She was standing alone with Paula Stitz and talking with her.  Both were talking in a professional manner and seemed to be "agreeing to disagree."

When I mentioned we were all there to represent ATAT, again Paula said, "Robert Comb's organization" and again I had to remind her that Robert was just one person; that the group had many members.  Paula then said some very unsavory things about Robert and told us she that she knows him better than we do, but we already knew that Paula has a personal vendetta against Mr. Comb's.  The fact that she used his photo on the slide show of maybe five offenders during the presentation was NOT lost on us and we know it was a direct dig at Mr. Combs just in case he happened to be in attendance.

Thankfully, he was not.

We continued talking, but it was clear that we were getting nowhere.  My friend reminded Ms. Stitz that we all have the same goals to make communities safer and that's when I suggested that we would like to work with law enforcement.  Ms. Stitz flatly said, "Well, THAT will NEVER happen!"

I was astounded by the comment.  Why wouldn't she want help that was offered that might help her do her job more effectively?  When I asked why, she said, "I will never work with people who advocate for sex offenders," and turned and stomped off.  As she turned, I said, "We're not advocating for sex offenders!  We are advocating for FAMILIES of sex offenders!"

But, it was over.  She left.  It was clear that Ms. Stitz is king of her playground and she does NOT like to be challenged.

So there ya have it, a play by play.

Do I feel defeated?  Yeah, you bet.  Do I feel like giving up?  Hell no!  Every time something like this happens, it just makes me want to dig in my heels deeper or bite down a little harder. 

The only positive I can really come up with was there were about 15 QUIET souls in that room.  Maybe they were there because someone in their neighborhood is a sex offender.  Or, maybe, they were there because a loved one is a sex offender.  Maybe, just maybe, we had an impact on them in some way.  Maybe, just maybe, we'll recruit more people into our advocacy work.

A girl can dream...  Oh yeah, she can.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gray Areas and Grays Matter

I just received and published a comment by Rosie, who responded to my post, "The Victimization of Victims". What Rosie had to say was very interesting and I understand her points completely. I know it may not seem like it, but I do. I appreciate that Rosie didn't attack me, rather she made her points in a very sensible and calm manner and I am glad she posted, because I want to encourage people to respond regardless of what side of the fence they sit on, as long as they do so in a respectful manner.

I try, REALLY hard to see things from ALL sides. Those that know me know that I can be a good referee or moderator between two sides, because I have the ability to step into someone else's shoes and see their side of things.

However, since being thrust into the life as the wife of a registered sex offender, I am aware that trying to see things from both sides of the sex offender issue has been more challenging.

Before I met my husband, I was just like most of America. I assumed that ALL sex offenders were child molesters and rapists. It wasn't until this touched my life when I learned the truth. If you've read my book, then you know that when I met my husband, his crime was five years old and he was NOT then a "registered sex offender." My belief that all sex offenders were child molesters and rapists remained intact, then. Since I knew what he had done; engaging in a consensual act with an underage girl, I didn't consider that "rape" or "child molestation", and in my mind, I still don't. Perhaps I was wrong to do so, but I was mirroring my own experiences as a young teenage girl who sought out older men, to the experience of my husband's victim. In truth, I don't know what she was thinking or feeling at the time of the incident and it was very wrong for me to assume I knew. For that, I am genuinely and terribly sorry.

The truth is every case is different. As Rosie pointed out, I said,

"Most sexual abuse victims are abused by family members or someone close to them. If the victims are given a choice as to the method to end the abuse, they would likely choose to handle the abuse within the family, in a positive manner, or with a professional counselor."

What I should have said was:

"Most sexual abuse victims are abused by family members or someone close to them. If the victims are given a choice as to the method to end the abuse, SOME would likely choose to handle the abuse within the family, in a positive manner, or with a professional counselor."

In my case, all it took to end the abuse was to report it to my mother. The minute I did, the abuse ended. But, in some cases, as Rosie points out, there are NO family members to report the abuse to that would make it end. In those cases, I would certainly encourage the abused to report the abuse to the police because the bottom line is that the abuse MUST STOP. Even better, it should never even begin!

In my case, if my mother had reported the abuse to the police, my abuser would have been arrested, most likely sent to jail (this was 1978, so who really knows?) and our family would have been ripped apart. I considered all this when my mother asked me, "What do you want me to do?" We had suffered enough, and I believed - and still do - that if my abuser had been arrested and sent to prison and our family ripped apart, that things would get much worse than they already were. One of the things a child needs most is stability, and I could envision my entire life being shattered into pieces and the thought of that terrified me most of all. I do think a lot of abuse goes unreported because many victims fear the same things I did. I do believe that victims should be given CHOICES if they want the abuser to be arrested, charged, imprisioned, etc., as well as they should be given a CHOICE if they want to offer any statements or testimony either for or against the abuser. I know of many women who are labeled victims who want to scream to the world that they are NOT victims and they want their abuser freed but their voices are not heard. I am not saying that victims should be forced to make statements or testify, I am saying for those that want to, should be allowed to. Trust me when I tell you: Many DO want their voices heard! I get emails frequently from such women.

In response to Rosie's assumption that I am a supporter of pedophiles, I can tell you honestly that I am most certainly NOT! I would never support anyone persuing a child for sexual gratification. The very idea of it disgusts me. Pedophilia, as defined by wikipedia: As a medical diagnosis, pedophilia (or paedophilia) is defined as a psychiatric disorder in adults or late adolescents (persons age 16 or older) typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children (generally age 13 years or younger, though onset of puberty may vary). The child must be at least five years younger in the case of adolescent pedophiles (16 or older) to be termed pedophilia.

My husband was NEVER a pedophile. If he was, I would NOT have married him, period. His victim was, in fact, 15 1/2 years old. She was well developed and could have easily passed for someone much older than she was. Am I making excuses for him? I suppose some would think I am, but I think I am making excuses more for myself. When I was 15 1/2, I was sexually active. I was seeking the attentions of older men, and I found it. Often. While I was a victim of child sex abuse by a family member for two years (ages 12 - 14), I do NOT consider myself as a victim to the men I engaged in consensual sex with as 15 year old. Were any of those men seeking me? No, not really, but opportunities for them presented themselves and they always, ALWAYS, welcomed those opportunities. Was I groomed in those incidences? No way. BUT, I do think that if I hadn't been abused earlier in my life that I might have valued my virginity and had some self-respect not to pursue those men. In other words, I fully believe the abuse I experienced earlier lead to my promiscuity as a teenage girl.

I will never be convinced that ALL young girls who are seducing older men are "victims", not from THAT anyway. Perhaps they are victims in other areas. We try to teach our young girls morals and to respect their bodies and to wait until marriage, etc... But, when they don't listen, when they go off and have sex, who is really to blame? The men who had sex with them? The girl? Or the parents? Or could it be, no one at all? I don't have the answer. I just know it is not all black and white, that there are a LOT of gray areas, and there are many, many things that can lead a young girl to willingly engage in sexual activity.

Anyone who thinks teenage girls aren't seeking sex are sticking their heads in the sand. Why on Earth would God create us to procreate at such a young age? After all, with puberty comes menstration which we all know means girls are physically able to bear children. For millions of years, kids began having sex with the onset of puberty. Only in recent times has this become an issue and become criminalized activity. We are criminalizing that which we are biologically programmed to do. While there are men in prison who are truly pedophiles, the prisons are FULL of young men who were only responding to normal and natural hormonal impulses, that was not in any way, a form of pedophilia.

Getting back to the topic of child sex abuse, and particularly when it comes to within the family, this is not something I would EVER support or approve of. But, like I said, every case is different and each case needs to be handled differently. Same with sex crimes. Each case needs to be handled differently. When a system can label someone peeing on the side of the road the same as someone who viciously rapes and murders a small child, there is something terribly wrong with that system. And, THAT, my friends, is what we advocates for reforming of laws pertaining to sexual crimes, are trying to change.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Victimization of Victims

Here I am, with another blog post.  I guess, on average, I post maybe once a month, which isn't a lot.  I'm just not one of those people that blog every day or on some kind of regular basis.   I don't want to waste your time -- or mine -- with small talk... you know...  blah, blah, blah.  I never wanted this to be a blahg.  I gotta have something to say. 

I have been thinking about this topic for quite some time. That's what I do. Something gets stuck in my head and sits there, simmering, or maybe festering, like a splinter in my finger that I spend days just hoping it will fall out. It won't fall out. I know I have to do what I don't want to do, and dig it out with a needle.

OK, so this is not that graphic, but I know that this thought just won't go away until I deal with it and talk about it, so here goes.

So I've been advocating for changes to sex offender laws, for what, the last five years, and prior to that, I've been sitting on the side of sex offenders since meeting my husband in 2001.

It's like football. You have two teams: Sex Offenders vs. People Who Hate Sex Offenders. They are battling it out on the field, trying to get possession of the ball and make a touchdown. I don't like football, but there I am, sitting in the bleachers rooting for my team, the underdogs. Who is on the other side rooting for the other team? Victims, that's who. I hate that word. I hate that there even has to BE victims, but there are. And, since Americans have become so victim-oriented, their numbers are growing by the thousands, daily. Victims of everything from boiling hot coffee in the McDonald's drive-thru to victims of horrific crimes such as forced rape and murder. Almost every American is a victim of something.

So, there they are, thousands of them, millions of them, all sitting in the bleachers on the other side chanting their cheers and rooting for their team, which appears to be winning. And, all the while I am rooting for my team, a small still voice says, "they want you to sit on the other side, too." Because, as I have shared before, I am also a victim of child sex abuse.

Only thing is, I'm not. Not any more. And that, my friends, is my point. Ever since my appearance on the Dr. Drew show, when he so luridly suggested I was attracted to pedophiles (excuse me while I vomit), I have been looking within myself and wondering why on earth would someone -- a supposed doctor -- suggest such a thing? That statement really struck a nerve because it was just so plainly WRONG.

Looking back upon my young life and those tender years while I was being molested by a family member, I never once thought of myself as a victim. Not then, and not any time since, and yet, in truth, I was, I really was. I have to acknowledge that fact. I believe the reason I felt I wasn't a victim was because I encouraged the abuse. It wasn't the sex I was seeking, but the closeness and intimacy that comes with it, and as wrong as it was, the relationship I had with the adult who committed the molestation was one out of love. He never forced me, he always approached our encounters with love and affection -- something that was lacking in my life and something that I desparately wanted and needed.

Was I groomed? Yeah, I guess I was. As an adult, I can see that. I never really had considered that before now. I don't think he intentionally set out to groom me and pursue me sexually, I think it was just something that happened, but the bottom line is he should have known better and should not have done it.

After I told my mother about the nature of our relationship, she promptly sent me to counseling. She did NOT report the abuse to the police (thank God) and she did everything she could to ensure that there would be no more sexual contact between me and this person, which was 100% successful. What she did was, in my mind no doubt whatsoever, the absolute BEST thing she could have done for our family. No other course of action would have rendered better results.

Most sexual abuse victims are abused by family members or someone close to them. If the victims are given a choice as to the method to end the abuse, they would likely choose to handle the abuse within the family, in a positive manner, or with a professional counselor. Perhaps they are traumatized enough by the abuse OR by it being discovered, that they fear that punishing the abuser and sending them to prison would result in even more trauma. They don't want their family ripped apart; or their lives turned upsidedown. All they want is the abuse to stop, to get help, and learn to heal. Counseling for both the abuser and the abused is truthfully all that is really necessary in most cases. I am so grateful that this was the course of action for my own abuse.  Boy, do I consider myself lucky.  If law enforcement considered the feelings of the victim, there wouldn't be so much fear to report the abuse, and let's face it:  Reporting the abuse, even if only to a family member, is the first step in making it stop.

Now, in instances of violence or forced sexual contact, that would surely warrant a more serious approach, and if it would make the life of the abused better, prison would certainly be a viable option. But, often, too many times, victims are not asked for their opinions or questioned in any way. I know of many cases of sex offenders who are now married to their victims, and how those victims declare as loudly as they can that they are NOT a victim, and yet no one listens to them.

Why are we afraid to speak to victims and to listen to them? Here, we have the best resource at our fingertips to determine how best to handle the offender. If a victim is hurt or angry, then that should be factored into the punishment of the offender. If the victim is declaring consensual contact and/or how they love the offender, etc, then why can't that be considered in the case against the offender? Why does every person whoever engaged in consensual contact be punished the same as a violent offender?

Instead of talking to these victims, we tiptoe around them like they are fragile antique china, ready to shatter into a million pieces at the mere mention of their sexual abuse. Why? Because we don't want to victimize victims.

If offenders are made to undergo a lengthy process of assessments, evaluations and questioning, why aren't the victims?  If the case goes to court, victims (unless too young to comprehend) should be asked to testify.  After all, the accused person's life is on the line, and they should be afforded every chance to prove their innocence.  If victims were questioned, perhaps more false allegations would be discovered.  Too many offenders are rotting in prison for something they did not do.  If false accusers realize the seriousness of their allegations, they might think twice before reporting false accusations.

No system would be perfect, I am sure many victims truly are victimized by being questioned, but even Jaycee Lee Dugard healed enough to tell her story.  If she can do it, others can, too.  Telling their story can be a part of the healing process, and every story needs to be considered.

If a victim is truly traumatized by the abuse, then sure, I understand the hesitancy to talk with them about it, but many are not. Many do not consider themselves victims at all. Many, such as myself, want to scream to the world, "I am NOT a victim." Some were, once, but are not NOW. Some never were victims at all. Their voices are silenced as if they are just as fragile as victims who have suffered the worst forms of abuse or violence.

Being a victim does not define who they are or who they will be come. Just because someone was a victim once does not mean that they have to spend the rest of their lives as a victim. I am tired of people telling me that I am a victim and being made to feel like I am still a victim. That is total bullshit. I WAS a victim. I own it. You can't change it. I am NOT a victim now! And because I am NOT a victim now, I will never believe that once someone is a sex offender, they have to BE a sex offender the rest of their life. I believe that they WERE a sex offender. Being a sex offender does not have to define what a person is, who they are, or who they will be in life. The notion that "once a sex offender, always a sex offender" is the biggest load of crap since "once a victim, always a victim".

I wonder about my husband's victim. I don't know much about her, admittedly, and here lately, I've been thinking I would like to talk with her. I want to know how she feels, how she REALLY feels. Does she feel like a victim? In the past, I've always felt like she just wanted to be left alone and I assumed that it was because she was embarrassed about what happened. The stories I've heard by other members of the community that knew her then have not painted her in the best light. I was told she had something of a reputation. I guess I did, too, at that young age, and so I have always identified with her in that way... but, maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe there are other reasons for her wanting to be left alone.

Maybe her story is completely different than my husband's, and if that is the case, then I would be totally open to listening to her. Never before have I been interested in listening to her. But, then, I never felt the need or never felt ready. I feel open to it now, no matter what she would have to say. I want to know if she considered herself a victim and if she still considers herself a victim. I want to tell her it's OK if she does. I want to tell her that I would understand, and I do believe I would understand...  I feel like I want her voice to finally be heard, good or bad.

But, meanwile, just don't label me a victim.

When you label someone a victim, then you are expecting them to feel like a victim. And, if they don't want to feel like a victim, then you are making them feel like something is wrong with them, something like "being attracted to pedophiles" for example. When you label someone a victim, then THAT is the thing that is victimizing them all over again. Every time someone says to me "I am sorry you are a victim", they are victimizing me again. Before they said it, I WAS a victim. After they said it, they make me a victim again. I am sure I am not the only one that feels like I am being victimized by people telling me I am a victim.

I have never felt more victimized in my whole life than I have in these last few years. If you want to think of me as a victim, then consider me a victim of these stupid laws instead. I AM a victim to these laws, in many, many ways. Many of my rights as an American citizen have been violated, not by my husband, but by the American legislation. THAT'S what gets my feathers ruffled; my hackles raised. I have never been convicted of any crime, but I am treated as a criminal.

OK... so go ahead, label me a victim.  I'm still gonna root for the same team.