We’ve all sometimes wondered, how did THAT happen?
How did I or my family member or my friend become tangled up in this whole “sex offender”, registry nightmare? The short answer is simple, S—t Happens. The longer answer is more complex. But the word that I often hear people use when talking about “sex offenders” sex offenses and the registry is “THAT”.
A well-meaning friend whose husband is an attorney mentioned that her husband would never handle cases like” THAT”, meaning “sex offense cases”.
When discussing a loved one’s conviction people have asked “Well how on earth did “THAT” happen?”
“They seemed like such a nice young man/woman, I can’t believe they could do something like “THAT,” the neighbor in the sex offense news story is frequently quoted as saying.
Or there’s the flip side of the news report, the other neighbor who says “he was creepy, I always knew he was capable of something like “THAT.”
I can’t begin to count the times I’ve heard complete strangers say “THAT” would never happen in my family”.
“My children would never do anything like THAT” I’m told when explaining the dangers of the internet, inadvertent downloads of pornography and teenage sexting to parents.
There are some that will say “THAT” is so unfair, when I explain to them how the registry continues to punish those who have completed their sentences.
“THAT” which many find so despicable or so unimaginable that they won’t even use real words to describe it, can and does happen.” THAT” can happen to anyone.
And “THAT’S” happening more and more.
While many may not want to talk about “THAT”, it’s a discussion that needs to happen if we want any chance of ever taking down the registry. “THAT” needs to be out in the open. We need to educate ourselves and then educate our family, friends and acquaintances so they can educate their families, friends and acquaintances. If we do nothing and allow people to continue to have the wrong idea about what “THAT” is, about who we are and the myriad of often benign offenses that can land anyone on the registry, then “THAT” continues to be a dirty word, a hushed secret spoken only amongst ourselves and only behind closed doors. If we don’t stand up and speak about “THAT” then in the eyes of the public every registrant will continue to be considered a violent predator that deserves to be locked up, shunned and kept on a public hit-list. “THAT” is what will happen if we don’t speak up.
There’s already close to one million people on the sex offender registry.
“THAT” is a lot of registrants.
We all need to do our part to change “THAT”.
Donate, stand up, speak up, write your representatives. Together we can change “THAT”.