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Kat’s Blog: Reframing the Message Begins With You

In a recent chat with a registrant he referred to himself as a “S.O.” /”sex offender”.

I was sort of stunned.

After all the previous discussions we’d had about not giving in to anyone’s labels, about standing up for who you know yourself to be, how, I asked, can you refer to yourself as an S.O.?

It seems I had caught this person on a bad day, he had just exited a weekly sex offender treatment group where everyone was referred to as a “sex offender” or simply “S.O.” by those facilitating the group. That is NOT how a treatment group is supposed to function. Group settings are supposed to be helpful and supportive, not a place where who you are is defined by a label you are given. The sad part is, after an hour of facilitators drilling that label into your brain, it’s hard to shake that label even when you walk out the treatment center door. It rolls around in your head until that’s how you start to identify yourself. An “S.O.”

I asked the person if that was the way he saw himself, just an “S.O.”, and nothing more.

I kind of knew the answer before I asked. I knew that this person had a supportive circle of family and friends and that he was well-educated. On a normal day, this person said he actually felt, well, pretty normal. On a normal day, under normal circumstances he would never refer to himself as an “S.O.”

But “sex offender group treatment” days aren’t “normal days”. Every time this person left group he felt like crap. He felt like nothing more than a label. You’re not even referred to as a “registrant” in group, you and everyone else, no matter what your offense, is just an S.O. And you are reminded throughout group that you and you alone are responsible for having received this label. You got yourself into this mess and you must suffer the consequences. It’s no one else’s fault. Just you.

This isn’t treatment. I’m not sure what this is, badgering, belittling, brow-beating, berating. I just know it’s not treatment.

For those of you who have reported actually having had good experiences in your treatment groups, consider yourselves very fortunate. I’ve heard far more negative stories than positive about group treatment.

It used to be that medical professionals referred to patients as “the gallbladder in Rm 2 or the chest wound in Rm 5”. Patients over-heard these professionals and they complained. They were people after all, not illnesses. The medical profession finally realized over the years that saying things like that de-humanizes people, they were treating a diagnosis rather than a person. They eventually learned to do better, it took time, but now medical professionals are taught to see the person first and to treat the diagnosis second.

That’s what “sex offender treatment” professionals need to do to. They need to see registrants as people first, human beings with thoughts and feelings and then treat the individual’s issues, not treat some vast encompassing label.

And that‘s what you need to do too.

You need to help reframe the way the world sees you.

Do you allow society to treat you like a “S.O” first and as a human being second? Do you keep walking out of that group every week feeling like crap, with the weight of a “S.O.” label slung around your neck?

Or do you reframe how the world sees you, take your own inventory, appreciate your unique abilities and accept your own human flaws. Can you find the strength in you to hold your head high and make your way in the world in spite of the labels that other try to define you by?

While it’s true that the law may regard you as a “registrant”, you can choose to see yourself as a deserving human being who can still live a good life above and beyond that label.

You also have the right to the same dignity and respect from your treatment providers that they would want for themselves, you may need to remind them that you prefer to be recognized by your name and not by a label.

Try not to ever let anyone make you feel like crap. If they do, try to just let it go, you have better things to do than to carry that weight around with you.

This is your life. Reframe how you view yourself and society will eventually catch up.

 

Join the discussion

  1. Dustin

    I made this very point in my “treatment” group a few months ago. Surprisingly, the only resistance I got was from another member. He appears to have swallowed the state line that he remains a danger and is responsible not only for his own offense and victim, but virtually every other victim of sex crime, past, present and future.

    Probably not doing myself any favors, but I refuse to accept that. Currently in the process of fighting the “treatment” requirement as a whole, to include polygraphs. Most tell me it’ll be easier to smile and nod and agree with everything they tell me and (hopefully*) I’ll get out of “treatment” sooner. I refuse to accept that as well.

    I treat the entire system as state-sponsored bullying, and react to it the same way I did when I was a kid. They never ease up when you cave in to them, they only get worse. Nothing will change unless and until someone is willing to fall on a few swords. If that’s what it takes, that’s what I’ll do.

    *Should point out that there are numerous providers that won’t let anyone complete their programs until just before a sentence is expired.

    • wonderin

      The whole “treatment” system is BS! They make you go through it, claiming it will help you and society but keep you on the registry because *you’re never cured*, regardless.
      However, remember “Cool Hand Luke” and how things ended up for him.

    • Will Allen

      It is 100% BS that only people who are convicted of $EX crimes are required to go to probation/parole therapy for years upon years. Complete BS. It is nothing but people getting money, simply and only because they can. That’s it. Legalized theft.

      Having said that, I feel like just about anyone could benefit from some good therapy. But probation/parole therapy is not it.

      I do wonder if I might have found it acceptable if all people who committed any serious crime were required to have therapy. Maybe. At least everyone would be forced to do it. But it simply cannot be justified in any way by anyone with a working brain that I would “need” years of therapy and life-long, career criminals just don’t. So it’s invalid. Just like the Registries. So people must pay.

  2. Facts should matter

    It’s not so much the label, it’s the discrimination, harassment and vilification that goes along WITH it by proxy of association. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really matter what we call, or refer to ourselves because the media and society will never humanize the individual behind the nomenclature. (Oh.. he’s a “GOOD” registrant? Let him babysit your kids then!) Society has a long, long way to work through these enormous issues. They actually think it’s perfectly normal and just for anyone with a sex offense to be maligned, bad-mouthed and castigated online.

  3. Timothy

    Human needs are never subservient to machine need no matter how much some ” need” the information there and in the macuine.

    HN>MN = null.

  4. Bob

    Speaking about reframing, it’s not treatment, it is containment.

    There is no support, that has to be found elsewhere.

    There is no confidentiality.

    The polygraph has questions related to probation. The officer can mandate what is asked. Which btw, no other treatment modality uses as a means of addressing a patients denial.

    Treatment also has an end. No treatment has a maintenance phase that lasts for as long as legally possible.

    There are “successful discharges”, not “sucessful completions”

    There are tools of dubious origin, with risk models based on biased unclear data, used to contain us.

    • Mr I know what I'm talking about

      I recently met a man who thinks he knows life and believes criminals have a much higher tendency to re offend and I told him there is no proof of that and there are very good reasons / explainations for offending and re offending and he said yes its all about choice, what a fool !! This man thinks everyone must fit his cookie mold of a model human forget laws and society are abusive forget disadvantages forget even if you do everything just right in life it still does not always work out ! Hat I’m getting at is …WHAT IS REHABILITATE, OR CORRECTIONS OR SO CALLED DRUGS TO HELP MENTAL …PEOPLE NEED LOVE, JOY, PEACE THEN MOVE FORWARD WITH OTHER IDEAS…GO AHEAD AND TRY AND REFUTE, CHALLENGE OR CALL OUT FLAWS OR WRONGS OR REVAMP SYSTEM OR CHANGE WHAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED IN A

  5. Will Allen

    Another great writing, Kat.

    I don’t let people call me “$EX offender”. Some people do it innocently and they don’t mean harm by it, usually because they haven’t put much thought into it. But I’ve come to the realization that “people” who do it maliciously aren’t really decent people and that I’m just so much better than they are. People who support the Registries are idiotic rubes, for the most part. Not worthy of any significant consideration.

  6. New Person

    Every time I turn in my schedule into the college police department, I refer to myself as a 290 so the clerks all know what to do with my paperwork. I’m always ashamed to identify myself. I have a court document stating that my case is dismissed, but I’m no different. All 290s are the same b/c that’s all we’re referred to as.

    It’s a constant reminder that I can’t move up in station.

  7. Facts should matter

    The entire toxic boondoggle that is Megan’s Law needs to go.

    There will be NO peace or playing nice until then.

    Instead of trying to rebrand ourselves with a euphemism, we should be attacking what society and the media refers to us as – perverts, predators and pedofiles. It’s done purposefully to dehumanize and vilify an entire group of people! You don’t deem someone sexually dangerous and pathologize them just because they have a sex offense. It’s done exclusively to promote fear propaganda and “child safety” rhetoric.

  8. Mike

    What i want to know is why does everyone go the wrong way with the laws on sex offenders, what we should be doing is getting all of the studies that have been done by EVERY state in the United States because every single states study shows that the recidivism rate is 4.7 and below AND the U.S. government did a study and there results came in under 4.5 Plus the guy who the lawmakers went by on a report he made (he didn’t no research) has since retracted his paper and statement which had said recidivism rate was 80% an higher (that’s why they enacted these laws) so we all need to get these studies and band together with Janice and lawyers and bring this before the legislature and the media because the government don’t want to change the law or they would have done so, think about it the government did there own study that shows recidivism was below 4.5 an yet no change? Lets get this done the law was made because of that report years ago and now the studies all of individual states an government did all agree the rate is below 5% so the law was made on a false statement!

    • Will Allen

      The rate is that low because the Registries are working.

      That is what the Nazis will tell you. So the recidivism rate does not matter. What does matter is that the Registries increase crime and do not prevent any.

      • R M

        @Will: I know you know but when you say “That is what the Nazis will tell you.”… we respond that the recidivism rate has NOT gone down since the registry.

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