Collateral Damage: Injury inflicted on someone other than an intended target. Specifically, civilian casualties of a military operation. The earliest known use of the term was in1947.
Until I had a family member on the registry, I’d never been referred to as “collateral damage”, then all of a sudden, that’s what I was informed I had become.
When I was a newbie to this registry nation, some of the more senior advocates suggested that family and friends of registrants are considered “collateral damage.” “We’re not ON the registry, but we are HURT by it just the same” I was told.
At the time, I didn’t think much about the phrase, I assumed that if I went purely by the definition, as the family member of a registrant then I guess I was sort of injured by the registry, even though I wasn’t the registry’s main target. If the registrant lived in my home then it was my home address that was listed on the public registry. It was not only me but everyone else living in my home that felt “violated” during intensive routine searches by P.O.’s and the registry police. Fall decorations were now off limits at my home towards the end of October and the safety of my home was put at risk when I had to keep lights off on Halloween.
OK I thought, they must be right, I guess I am, we are, collateral damage of the registry.
Over the next few years I continued to hear the term “collateral damage” used by advocates referring to family and friends of registrants.
But recently I heard the term again and I realized I don’t think I like it, I don’t want to be labeled as “damaged”.
Those in charge of the registry view our situation as “too bad, so sad that family and friends of registrants are negatively impacted by the registry.” Their attitude is “blame the registrant, not us.”
No, I don’t think so, unlike the registry, placing blame is not a sporting event I want to participate in.
Nor do I want to view myself or my family or friends as collateral damage. When I think of “collateral damage” I think of those killed or maimed during the course of a war. Those who probably aren’t going to be able to get back up to fight. Things that are “damaged” are usually thought of as less than, the damaged discount fruits and veggies on sale at the market, the damaged sale items at retail stores, clearance stuff missing buttons, having broken zippers, etc.
But that’s not who I am, that’s not who my family and friends are. We are not “damaged”.
On the contrary, fighting against the registry has made many of us stronger and more resilient. We may have battle scars and battle fatigue, but we are not collateral damage. We have been knocked down but we’ve also gotten back up to continue the fight.
We are family and friends standing shoulder to shoulder with our loved ones who are struggling under the weight of the registry. We are all in this battle together. But we are not “collateral damage.”
Recently I heard someone refer to themselves as a “Collateral Consequence”, I like that term so much better. We are the “result” of the registry, not broken, not damaged, just the result.