Saturday, May 5, 2018

STEREOTYPING THAT DEHUMANIZES: Not the Life I Chose. Not the Label I Chose either. After the police knocked on my door. I became 'one of those women' who loved a sex offender; one of those women who visited a sex offender in prison; one of those women who lived right there so I must have known? At least that's what implicit bias and my (new) labels said

Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment

By Gwenda Willis, PhD, Alissa Ackerman, PhD, & David Prescott, LICSW

The joint MASOC/MATSA conference took place earlier this month in Marlborough, Massachusetts. In a presentation on establishing person-first language across the fields of sexual abuse treatment and prevention, we (Gwen and Alissa) began our session introducing ourselves by several of the labels we hold. Gwen introduced herself as New Zealander, wife, friend, colleague, researcher, clinical psychologist, ATSA member and advocate. Alissa followed with mother, wife, lesbian, friend, colleague, professor, ATSA member, public speaker, advocate, and survivor, among others.

In this interactive presentation, we prompted attendees to explore the labels they use to describe themselves and the people they work with.  Like us, attendees were spouses, parents, clinicians and advocates.  Some were animal lovers and some were music lovers. All participants used positive labels to describe who they are. Next, we asked participants to describe who they work with and we explored which of these might not be self-selected by the very people we work with. Overwhelmingly, the labels we used to describe the individuals we work with were those that our clients might not use to describe themselves. Some of these labels included “victim”, “ex-prisoner”, “sexually violent person” and “offender”.

Importantly, there was agreement that use of such labels in our field is widespread: beyond their use in everyday conversation, such language is rife in the names of treatment programs, agencies, professional organisations and academic publications.  The American Psychological Association (APA), The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and most professional organizations even tangentially related to our field articulate the need for person-first language in their Codes of Ethics, and yet in our field, we tend not to honor this need. Do we have an ethical dilemma? 

As part of our presentation, we considered core ethical principles of helping professionals including respect for human dignity, professional integrity and beneficence and non-maleficence.  We discussed how the “victim” and “survivor” labels might be self-selected by some people and not others, despite similar lived experiences.  Similarly, we acknowledged that some individuals with pedophilic interests self-identify as “pedophiles” while other individuals with pedophilic interests would find the “pedophile” label repulsive. 

We cannot assume which labels people want to use to describe themselves and if we truly honor human dignity, we must call people by what they prefer to be called. It is a matter of basic respect. For example, in our introductions, Alissa used the label “lesbian” to describe herself, while Gwen did not, despite both of us being married to same-sex spouses.

Discussion turned to the inaccuracies that normative labels such as “offender” and “abuser” portray – that anyone assigned such a label has the same (i.e., high) risk of reoffending.  As professionals working to address misperceptions about sexual abuse we highlighted the importance of communicating accurately about individuals who have abused, in the hope that they will have opportunities to live safe, fulfilling and offense-free lives. We turned to labels with scientific validity, including “psychopath” and “pedophile”, and conversation returned to their potential to stigmatises and ostracise.  Finally, we explored how labels might hinder the work we do to promote desistance from offending as well as healing from sexual abuse: What messages do the “offender” and “victim” labels communicate?  Possibly that this is how we see you. In the criminological literature, labelling theory suggests that the individuals internalize the labels we use to describe them and often live their lives accordingly.

How might we transcend potentially stigmatizing labels?  We introduced person-first language as an alternative to potentially stigmatizing language, which separates the person (e.g., man, woman, young person, individual, child) from a condition, disorder or behavior (e.g., individual adjudicated for a sexual offense, people who have committed crimes of a sexual nature). 

Labels are commonplace in every-day communication, and when self-selected they can aid communication.  However, assigned to us, labels have potential to stigmatises and harm.  As highlighted by Brene Brown (2017):

“The sorting we do to ourselves and to one another is, at best, unintentional and reflexive.  At worst, it is stereotyping that dehumanizes.  The paradox is that we all love the ready-made filing system, so handy when we want to quickly categorize people, but we resent it when we’re the ones getting filed away” (p. 48)

Person-first language avoids making assumptions about how someone wants to be labeled.  Additional exploration of issues raised in this blog and guidance on person-first language can be found in the 6th edition of the APA Publication Manual (American Psychological Association, 2010) and in Willis (in press).

In some quarters, the push towards person-first language has existed for years. It has occurred in other areas of psychology and human service (Willis, in press) as well as the field of treating adolescents who have sexually abused. Although it has long been known that adolescents can change dramatically over time, it is also worth remembering that adults can, and very often do, change as well. Further, the contexts in which they live their lives can change dramatically as well Now that our field knows what it does about building desistance and managing risk, it is clear that the use of labels has now outlived its usefulness. Indeed, it can cause harm.


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Brown, B. (2017). Braving the Wilderness. New York, NY: Random House.

Willis, G. M. (in press). Why call someone by what we don’t want them to be? The ethics of labelling in forensic/correctional psychology. Psychology, Crime & Law doi: 10.1080/1068316X.2017.1421640

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

I promise to get back to posting regularly in support of all the women who visit Not the Life in hopes of finding other women who have heard the knock on the door and are trying to make sense of a life they too Didn't Choose.but are trying to understand

I  haven't posted regularly because I've been finishing up my own memoir, The Sex Offender's Legacy, Silenced Lives. In the memoir I connect the dots between my own childhood sexual abuse by my father (which I thought began with me) and the generational transmission of sexual abuse down through 4 generations of my family beginning with my grandfather, my father, myself, my brothers, my sons and daughter  but ending now (if I can do anything to prevent the future by speaking out/ connecting the dots.) 

Maybe you too have heard 'rumors' have heard stories in your own family? Maybe "your" sex offender told you he was molested in his own childhood.  Not everyone who experiences being molested grows up to molest nor do they marry a man strangely like their father. My brothers were molested and chose not to molest but they've struggled with the after-effects of their childhood trauma all their lives.

Wives and mothers and family members are all so silenced and so afraid of "exposure" that we keep silent. We fail to share the wider story. We don't understand that often this sexual abuse didn't begin with us or originate in our little families but often has a larger (whispered) history of family trauma. 

I'm not sure if I'd realized it would take 6 years to write, edit and begin to understand what happened in my family of origin, that I'd have had the courage to begin, let alone continue. 

It's taken a long time to overcome my fear, to blog, write and speak honestly about what I've discovered about the traumas that led up to sexual abuse in my life and cycled through my extended family. 

I decided to go ahead and aim for publication on Create Space and Kindle this year in spite of my fear that shame, blame, and finger-pointing will result because I need to understand myself and want to prevent the continuation of sexual trauma cycling down into the next generation of my family.

In the process, I hope what I write about might help you connect the dots in your own family and prevent the transmission of all this trauma onto your children's children. The choices we make now might (just might) lead to a better understand and instead of a mindset that focuses on punishment after the fact, perhaps we can begin to focus on prevention and healing for the sake of our children and their children.

Anyway, I wanted to pass on the Cure-sort resource and explain why I have not posted regularly on Not the Life (but I hereby resolve to post more regularly in future!) 

I'm not sure if I had known what it takes to dig down into my life then write, rewrite and  (now) edit a memoir, especially one on this painful topic, that I would have found the courage to even attempt to publish this memoir. 

BTW once I realized that sexual abuse didn't begin or end with me/ once I connected the dots in my life I realized the memoir is not only a very personal family story of sexual abuse but I found after the fact that it's called "transgenerational transmission of sexual abuse"  What a term for 'connecting the very personal dots that made sexual abuse more likely to continue generation after generation!

The process of writing freed me in ways I never expected. Now I hope the publication of the memoir might help all of us to better connect personal and family dots, help recovery and maybe even better protect those we love from the repetition of the trauma which deformed our own lives.

I hope. 

Take Care, Janet Mackie 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Gift for Valentines day: Help in finding a community of Families/ finding others who 'weathered the storm' found community, survived and now reach out to help other women like us realize that they, too, are not alone at the most frightening time of our lives.

We Understand; Not the life keeps going/ keeps posting because women need a place to grow stronger after the poilce "Knock on our door:"  

There has been quite a bit of discussion lately on Not the Life, regarding finding reliable treatment, especially for wives and families. Cure-Sort has been around a long time (as attested to by the somewhat old-fashioned name: Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants.)  They are there to promote professional treatment as a means of addressing the issues of Prevention and recidvism. We need to find treatment providers who can be fair and helpful without twisting everything we say into their own belief system.

Many women find Not the Life because we feel so alone when we are thrown into the justice system. They threaten us with the loss of our children. Many times our husbands are in jail and we have no income, ir don't make enough to cover the bills And then there are Lawyers...

Many of us were sort of coccooned in our lives. We held the same prejudices as everyone else against sex offenders AND their families. We, too thought the mother's must have been (at least partially) to blame because we believed "those mother's" must have known, after all they lived right there...and then we heard the knock on our own door and found out what it's like to be tossed out of the lives we thought we were living into the reality of life on the "other side"  We find out our neighbors now consider us to be one of "Those peoeple" we too once said bad things about.  

Once a sex offender always a sex offender is not true" but how do we know when our loved one has 'changed'? How do we know he even wants to change or who he (or we) will be once we get through "all this' 
One important thing to do is to educate ourselves. CURE-SORT is another  good place to start:  

  Sex Offenders Restored through Treatment (SORT), a non-profit advocacy membership organization incorporated in Michigan and tax exempt under IRC section 501(c)(3), was founded in 1990 by a group of people dedicated to promoting professional treatment as a means for addressing the issues of prevention and recidivism. It is an issue chapter of Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (National CURE) and is referred to as CURE-SORT

CURE-SORT works to provide information, resources, contacts, and support to individuals, families, defense attorneys, treatment providers, public media, legislators, law enforcement personnel, and other professionals who work with or are interested in issues of sexual abuse and its prevention. Our website is rich with news, information about assessment, treatment, recovery and educational resources and links to related websites and stakeholders. We also publish a quarterly newsletter called CURE-SORT News and back issues are available on the website. 

In this forum we encourage group members to share news, helpful information and links that further our mission. 

If you wish to join this Google Group, there is no cost. Just send an email to with your physical mail address, a short note on your interest and in the subject line put Request to Join.


Or if you are not ready to "join" but want to find out more about CURE-SORT 
Google  and just poke around, and find out what they may have to offer you or your family.There might even be  a chapter in your state.  In any case maybe you won't feel so alone after all. 

If you do go there and poke around, come back to Not the Life and let us know what you found that was (or wasn't) helpful. We all need to know.

Take care, Janet M 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Forever Denied Redemption? #MeToo is a lot harder when you know someone personally who's been accused by another person you also love...

Matt Damon asks "There is a spectrum of Behavior Right?" The interview below raises the question: Once a Sex Offender, Always a Sex Offender?  Labeled a tarred and feathered forever? Even sex curious kids can't be helped. All of us and all of them forever denied redemption? 
I don't know about you, but I hope we are reaching a watershed moment when discussion of who isn't too big to jail for sexually assaulting someone in our home, in the workplace or in society. 
Afraid to be Targeted, Afraid to be called Liars, Enablers, we suffer in silence. It's time to talk about the injustices of the Sex Offender Registry. The continued Silencing of us all makes no child safer but actually perpetuates the abuse, like an open secret within the family, we deal with the festering sore left behind, we stand in line at the prison, or cut and run, divorce and change our name, not because we can't love a person who betrayed us and our children "like that" but simply because we can't bear to have anyone know we still have the same last name as That Person.  Is the world to remain divided between those "Too Big to Jail" and those (men and families) forever consigned to shame, blame and Life on the Sex Offender Registry?  
It's time to address the collateral consequences that silence us all. Time to address how we (the wives children and families of sex offenders )are treated when we too are betrayed by someone we loved and laced put our trust in. (Not just a 'personality' in politics or on TV but a real person who managed to put up such a good front all those years? 
Please read  Matt Damon's interview below. (and now it's your turn to comment. Not the Life I Chose is here so you can pierce the silence surrounding you own experience: 
Matt Damon: I think we’re in this watershed moment. I think it’s great. I think it’s wonderful that women are feeling empowered to tell their stories, and it’s totally necessary … I do believe that there’s a spectrum of behavior, right? And we’re going to have to figure — you know, there’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right? You know, we see somebody like Al Franken, right? — I personally would have preferred if they had an Ethics Committee investigation, you know what I mean? It’s like at what point — you know, we’re so energized to kind of get retribution, I think.
And we live in this culture of outrage and injury, and, you know, that we’re going to have to correct enough to kind of go, “Wait a minute. None of us came here perfect.” You know what I mean? … The Louis C.K. thing, I don’t know all the details. I don’t do deep dives on this, but I did see his statement, which kind of, which [was] arresting to me. When he came out and said, “I did this. I did these things. These women are all telling the truth.” And I just remember thinking, “Well, that’s the sign of somebody who — well, we can work with that” … Like, when I’m raising my kids, this constant personal responsibility is as important as anything else they learn before they go off in the world.
And the fear for me is that right now, we’re in this moment where at the moment — and I hope it doesn’t stay this way — the clearer signal to men and to younger people is, deny it. Because if you take responsibility for what you did, your life’s going to get ruined …
I mean, look, as I said, all of that behavior needs to be confronted, but there is a continuum. And on this end of the continuum where you have rape and child molestation or whatever, you know, that’s prison. Right? And that’s what needs to happen. OK? And then we can talk about rehabilitation and everything else. That’s criminal behavior, and it needs to be dealt with that way. The other stuff is just kind of shameful and gross, and I just think … I don’t know Louis C.K.. I’ve never met him. I’m a fan of his, but I don’t imagine he’s going to do those things again. You know what I mean? I imagine the price that he’s paid at this point is so beyond anything that he — I just think that we have to kind of start delineating between what these behaviors are.
PT: It’s harder, isn’t it, though, when you actually know someone who gets accused? We both know Harvey Weinstein. I’ve worked with him. But I didn’t see any of this.
MD: When you see Al Franken taking a picture putting his hands on that woman’s flak jacket and mugging for the camera, going like that, you know, that is just like a terrible joke, and it’s not funny. It’s wrong, and he shouldn’t have done that … But when you talk about Harvey and what he’s accused of, there are no pictures of that. He knew he was up to no good. There’s no witnesses. There’s no pictures. There’s no braggadocio … So they don’t belong in the same category.
PT: I think it becomes for all of us, too, that are in any way around it, even though we’re not seeing it, is, what’s our responsibility to make sure it doesn’t happen?
MD: A lot of people said, ‘Well, Harvey — everybody knew.’ As you were saying, that’s not true. Everybody knew what kind of guy he was in the sense that if you took a meeting with him, you knew that he was tough and he was a bully, and that was his reputation. And he enjoyed that reputation, because he was making the best movies out there …
[With regard to the rape allegations,] nobody who made movies for him knew … Any human being would have put a stop to that, no matter who he was. They would’ve said absolutely no. You know what I mean? … I knew I wouldn’t want him married to anyone close to me. But that was the extent of what we knew, you know? And that wasn’t a surprise to anybody. So when you hear Harvey this, Harvey that — I mean, look at the guy. Of course he’s a womanizer … I mean, I don’t hang out with him.
PT: But you can’t live his life for him. Or be responsible for his life.
MD: Right. So the question is, at what point does somebody’s behavior that you have a professional relationship with … away from the profession bother enough that you don’t want to work with them? For me, I’ve always kind of, you know, as long as nobody’s committing a crime — well, that’s your life, and you go live it. I don’t need to be spending time with you, away from my professional life, at least.

PHOTO: Matt Damon appears on Popcorn with Peter Travers at ABC News studios, Dec. 12, 2017, in New York City.Maryellen McGrath/ABC
Matt Damon appears on "Popcorn with Peter Travers" at ABC News studios, Dec. 12, 2017, in New York City.

PT: [We’ve seen] Ridley Scott, who directed you in “The Martian,” having to erase Kevin Spacey from “All the Money in the World” and having to replace him with Christopher Plummer.
MD: That was smart. That was a total business decision by Ridley. I haven’t talked to him, but … it wasn’t a creative choice for Ridley. Ridley has a big movie coming out … and nobody right now is in the mood to see a Kevin Spacey movie.
And I think he’s right about that. He’s one of the few directors who could just turn on a dime and shoot for a week a month before a movie comes out and, you know, expunge an actor. And I don’t disagree with his decision to do that. I mean, that movie, I think, will do much better without Kevin in it.
[Editor’s note: In response to the allegations against him made by Anthony Rapp, Kevin Spacey released a statement on Oct. 29, saying, in part, “I’m beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter … But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” In November a spokesperson for Spacey said he was “taking the time necessary to seek evaluation and treatment.”]
PT: When it’s in that gray area and it’s friends of yours or people that you do know, do you try to talk to them afterwards and say, “What’s going on? Can I help?”
MD: It depends on what the accusation is. It depends what’s going on. If it’s a friend of mine, I’m always talking to them. I know the real story if it’s my friend. If it’s a colleague … I don’t know … I guess it depends on the situation and the allegation and how believable I think it is.
PT: We’re going to see the change in the making of movies now with people being so aware.
MD: I also think the day of the confidentiality agreements is over. I think it’s just completely over. Ten years ago, you made a claim against me and I had a big movie coming out, OK? I have $100 million or I have a movie that is personally important to me coming out, and close to the release of that film, you say, “Matt Damon grabbed my butt and stuck his tongue down my throat.” We would then go to mediation and organize a settlement. I’d go, “I don’t want this out there. Peter’s going to go out and talk to the press and run his mouth, and it’s going to be overshadowing the opening of this movie. How much money do you want?” The lawyers would get together, and they do this cost-benefit analysis, and they’d go, “Oh, this is what it’s worth.” And I look at the number and go, “OK, I’ll pay it, but you can never talk about this again. You’re f------ lying about this, but never talk about this again.
Now … with social media, these stories get — it’s like they get gasoline poured on them. So the moment a claim is made, if you make that same claim today to me, I would be scorched earth. I’d go, “I don’t care if it costs $10 million to fight this in court with you for 10 years, you are not taking my name from me. You are not taking my name and my reputation from me. I’ve worked too hard for it. And I earned it. You can’t just blow me up like that.” So I think once a claim is made, there will no longer be settlements. That’s just my prediction, I mean, just based on what I’ve seen.
PT: Isn’t that a good thing? Women have been doing it, and they’ve been told they can’t express what happened to them.
MD: One hundred percent … I think that it’s important, especially in that, you know, we believe every woman who’s coming forward with one of these stories needs to be listened to and heard. I think one of the surprising things for me has been the extent to which my female friends, as, I think, of all the ones I’ve talked to in the last year since all this stuff started happening — I can’t think of any of them who don’t have a story at some point in their life. And most of them have more than one.
PT: I don’t know how old your daughters are, but how do you deal with them living in this world where even they, whatever ages they are, can’t escape this in the headlines?
MD: You just have to raise children with, like, self-esteem, because you’re not going to be there to make all of their decisions for them. And you have to just hope that they have enough self-respect to make the best decisions they can. I mean, the Harvey situation is particularly horrible, because, you know, those women — when you say, “Hey, let’s take a meeting in a hotel room.” I mean, we auditioned, you know, for “Good Will Hunting” in a hotel room. Like, it’s common to take meetings in a hotel room.
And this is the most powerful man in the movie business at the time, like in the ’90s, like Harvey was. That was the place to be. And if you get a thing from your agent on the letterhead of your agency that says, “Go meet Harvey Weinstein, the rainmaker, the guy that makes these great movies, at the Peninsula Hotel,” you’re going to that meeting … You don’t go into that meeting thinking something bad is going to happen to you … I don’t know who’s taking meetings in hotel rooms now. I mean, sometimes you’re in a different city and you just don’t have anywhere to meet. But, so no matter how smart my daughters are, no matter how prepared they are, there’s still those situations that that’s the nightmare kind of scenario.

VIDEO: Matt Damon on Harvey Weinstein, sexual harassment and confidentiality agreements
Matt Damon on Harvey Weinstein, sexual harassment and confidentiality agreements

PT: Do you worry about your daughters less because of the change in the industry?
MD: With social media, you know, and a Twitter account, you have the same platform as The New York Times now, so there aren’t secrets. It’s harder to do this type of thing. I would like to point out, though, that even though it feels like there’s this avalanche of men … Well here’s my optimistic spin, this is like 1 percent of the guys who are losing their careers. It’s not everybody. It just feels like it. There’s so many great men and women in the movie business. So many great people. It’s such a wonderful collection of people overall. And these rotten horrible apples are getting weeded out right now.
And that’s fine. That’s a good thing. That’s progress. But again, when we go back to talking about our own growth and development as human beings. We have to get to a place where we’re looking at one end of the spectrum and saying, “Well, let’s deal with this with some reflection and dialogue and some reconciliation, and let’s all grow together and move on.” And then I’ll think we’ll be making progress.
Watch part of Matt Damon’s interview in the video above, and tune in for the full ABC News’ “Popcorn With Peter Travers” interview on Dec. 27, on
Download the "Popcorn With Peter Travers" podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyTuneinGoogle Play Music and Stitcher.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Shame, Blame and Halloween...Thanksgiving and Christmas too...Happy Registry to You too!.

Shame and Isolation kills. In effect, families, and wives, girlfriends, sisters, and brothers of sex offenders find that they too are "on the registry " whether they choose to stay or go there are collateral consequences to loving (or hating) a sex offender.

Isolation kills. Fear keeps us up at night. Condemnation drives a wedge through our hearts and lives. Don't give up hope. Kindness heals. That's why we continue to post and answer comments left here on Not the Life.

If you are reading Not the Life, Halloween seems as good a time as any to talk about stoking fear and activating trolls and such. .

States have severe Halloween restrictions on Registrants. Giving out Halloween candy is Verboten! Break these rules and your loved one (son/ husband/ brother/juvenile sex offender) goes back to prison, not because they committed an additional (actual) sex offense but for not following all the  Halloween Restrictions to the letter.

Just because we love someone on the registry doesn't mean we support or condone Sexual Abuse. And "Once a Sex Offender, always a sex offender" is an old prejudice that simply isn't true. Recidivism rates of sex offenders are around 3-5%. Therapy works. Taking personal responsibility to stop/ to change is real.

But sometimes sexual abuse victims and the adults who love them find their way to Not the Life. Some leave hurtful comments. The rest of us on Not the Life answer their questions as best we can.

But sometimes I tell myself, "Don't feed the trolls " because their comments are clearly meant to hurt, not help.Some see Not the Life as their opportunity to dump their anger on mothers/ wives and family members past and present. No matter how sarcastic or unreasonable many trolls may seem, most of them are hurting. Some think they are protecting children by attacking the wives, mothers, and family members of people who stick by those in prison or out on the Registry. Maybe the trolls think we helped offenders molest our children? Some even target us as the mothers whom they believe conspired to allow them to be molested as children.

No matter, where their anger comes from, no one can stay frozen. We aren't (still) the women we once were. Not the wives who felt betrayed when who heard the knock at our door... back when. We too must travel a road to change. We can't run back to what we thought was our Happily Ever After. And although we feel enough regret to fuel a few remarks of our own, we refuse to accept their shame and blame. We share and reach out. We can't remain silent in the face of harms done to us or others, not Now. And not back then.

But on Halloween especially we are reminded to fear the prejudice and collateral damage that might still target us and those we love.

Law enforcement, in the form of  / Police/ Parole and Probation/ County Sheriffs, drives up in well-marked cars. Officers  knock on our door making a neighborhood display of themselves wearing  "swat gear."  They reinforce the belief that "Once a sex Offender...forever dangerous."

I open my door to them.  They enter and march around my house asking questions, poking into cupboards, issuing dire warnings. All seem intent upon showing one and all they are Protecting Children.  Around Halloween, the Dept Heads also give interviews to the local TV stations issuing DIRE WARNINGS against SEX OFFENDERS. Talking about the need to increase their budgets

No matter how 'law-abiding' It's hard not to feel especially targeted at Halloween. And Halloween feeds the trolls.

I tell myself, The Officers are just doing their job. AND I follow parole restrictions to the letter as does "my" sex offender.  I don't want to end up standing in the visitor's lines at the prison because I failed to full fill a requirement of his parole/ his Registry. 

So, I wait. I hope for Nov. 1st. I hope the neighbors were too busy to notice those Adults dressed up Swat gear who drove up and banged on our door on Halloween.

 Luckily, most Trolls only leave (verbal) pitchforks on Not the Life. (Better that, than they too knock on my door!) Collateral damage is sometimes all too real.

Sadly, some do still believe the canard "Once a Sex Offender always a Sex Offender." Some go so far as to brag "The only recovered sex offender is a dead offender."  That's a possible but unthinkable outcome of stoking rage and prejudice.

In my experience, most trolls are the still-hurting adults molested as children, victims of sexual abuse betrayed and abused in childhood. Around Halloween, I' get a little cynical.  I'm always more afraid of what might happen if a neighboring troll sees and decides to turn on us. Where can we get P&P's permission to live if we are forced out of our house?

Choosing to stay, or falling in love with someone on the Registry, (even 19 years after his conviction) has consequences. No matter what choices you made or make, I hope Not the Life is a Safe Haven where you can share openly, ask questions, see what others did and find comfort that you are not alone, and find help to make decisions about your own life now and going forward.
Anyway Vickie, Thanks for having courage.  Your comment got me thinking of all the reasons we keep Not the Life going. Not the Life is meant to be a Safe Haven we can all use and add our own experience strength and hope. One comment is read for years and helps many.

Please know there are a lot of Us out here and no matter what decisions we make (stay or go, how find the way forward)  we too are effected by  unreasonable beliefs of trolls that (sadly) do NOT serve to protect children or help anyone heal or get on with a new life whether  they be victim, offender, our children our  family members heal.) Old prejudices keep the troll's anger boiling.

We can't  be satisfied to whine "poor me" and shame and blame the  'trolls.' (not even on Halloween!)

We must find courage, to make our own choices, to share, to take responsibility, to reach out to others. To educate ourselves and find ways to heal in spite of shame, blame and the consequences of Sex Abuse and the collateral damage caused by trolls or by Life on the Registry.

Take care, Janet Mackie

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Once a sex offender always a sex offender? Will our loved one ( a husband, a son, a relative, a stranger who committed an unthinkable betrayal) be a danger forever? As the wives, ex-wives, mothers, sons and daughters and families of sex offenders tasked with important decisions re rebuilding/ balancing trust in recovery vs. the safety of those entrusted to our care, we each try to make safe and compassionate choices. And all the while we deal with the collateral consequences of abiding prejudice and misinformation as expressed in draconian laws flowing from a 1980's Supreme Court Decision that impacts laws about sex offenders and those of us stigmatized by association.

 Untouchable OpDoc from the New York Times - released today
Val Jonas, a Florida civil rights attorney, appears in a New York Times Op-Doc that details false and misleading information upon which the US Supreme Court based landmark decisions about sex-offender punishment.
New York Times Op-Doc Exposes the Flawed Science Behind Supreme Court’s sex offender cases
Revealed: how the court came to base its decisions on information that was incomplete, false and misleading
Dear Janet,
The New York Times released a documentary short for their Opinion section today. Created by the Untouchable production team, the film reveals the falsity of the Supreme Court’s claims about the "frightening and high” recidivism rate of sex offenders.
This short film (which the Times commonly refers to as an Op-Doc) features the first substantive interviews with two individuals who wrote the reports that the high court ultimately relied on in making their false assertion.
The first, neurofeedback clinician Robert Freeman-Longo, explains how his controversial work from the 1970's led him to write a 1986 article Psychology Today, that wound up quoted in a Justice Department Manual. That Manual in turn was cited by the United States Solicitor general’s office in a brief that was relied on by Justice Kennedy in writing his opinion for the court.
Obviously a Psychology Today article, which had no data and was never offered as a research paper, should not have served as the basis of a major high court decision, and Longo—who had no idea the paper every even made it to the court, decries the way the justices used it.
The second source is Barbara Schwartz, a researcher at the Department of Justice. It was Ms. Schwartz who created the report on sex-offender recidivism that the Solicitor General’s office cited to the court. But as Dr. Schwartz makes clear—the Longo article she cited should never have been seen as an authoritative source.
Finally, The Op-Doc goes on to cite the actual, scientifically valid studies on sex offender’s recidivism: And the clear consensus of all that research is that same-crime recidivism among sex offenders is in the low single-digits.
The timing of this short video release is important because in the next few weeks the United States Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a case that could finally offer them a chance to re-consider the flawed social science they’ve relied on for the past 20 years to justify a raft of restrictions imposed on those on the registry.
That case is Karsjens v. Piper Which deals with the State of Minnesota’s Civil Commitment program—one of the few places in the country where you can be locked up not for what you’ve done but for what you might do.
IN addition to the essay and Op-Doc for the times, we expect The Marshall Project to release a second short film—this one a character study of one of the main subjects of UNTOUCHABLE—a woman who has been forced to live on the registry because she had consensual sex with a younger boy when she herself was a teenager. That film is simply designed to challenge some of our assumptions of who many of the 800,000 Americans of our sex offender registries really are, explaining just how easy it has become to be swept up into the every expanding categories of those we stigmatize as sex offenders.
Our hope is that you'll find these videos to be useful in helping to inform and change public opinion. Please share them freely with lawmakers, educators and other influencers.
As always we welcome your inquiries about institutional licensing of the feature documentary, Untouchable, as well as for single screenings.
Please contact me for any further information.
Very best wishes,
Jeff Tamblyn
Outreach Coordinator

Regarding the issue of  'recidivism' I would like to note: 
Instead of the Supreme Court's "once a sex offender always a sex offender," legal stance, it is possible to believe some sex offenders can choose change/ choose self-control/ choose recovery.   

Because some (perhaps most) choose to assume real responsibility for their actions and are determined to stop themselves before they repeat past mistakes or take advantage of /or inflict sexual pain on others in future. Most do not 'recidivate.'

Likewise, the choices we make as wives and mothers need not be decided by prejudice or over- riding fear that 'once a sex offender always a sex offender means that given the chance, every sex offender will choose to forever repeat their past. 

In adopting a more reasoned approach, we free ourselves from fear and eternal 'victimhood'. We make a choice to lay aside fear and prejudice and make more reasoned choices about what's best for us and for our children.  We can demand more reasoned laws to protect the vulnerable going forward  *******