All the "shunning" in the world won't help someone heal [Letter]

My "sex offender house mate" is my fiancee

I knew my husband was going to kill me, I just didn't know when.

By Shana Rowan

Mr. Looney, I take serious offense to the entirety of your post "Shun the Sex Offender." If you are going to use my life as the basis for shunning sex offenders from society, at least make sure you understand the the situation first.

A life driven by vindictiveness and revenge is a sad, angry life and one I do not envy.My "sex offender house mate" is my fiancee. We have known each other for over 10 years, before he was arrested. He is the kindest, gentlest, most considerate individual I have ever met in my life. He has endured unspeakable abuse from virtually every person who was ever supposed to protect him, or help him, or teach him.

Despite that, he is doing everything he can to become a better person and loves me in a way that no one ever has. In fact, his presence is likely the only reason I am alive.

As a victim of severe domestic violence, I was at a point several years ago where I knew my husband was going to kill me, I just didn't know when. My fiancee is the only reason I was able to gather the courage I needed to leave. Without him, I am absolutely certain I would be dead right now.

When I explained that he committed his crime in the midst of being severely abused, it wasn't mean as an excuse. It is the truth, and it is extremely relevant to what eventually occurred. Had he merely been an abused child, whose mother physically, emotionally and sexually abused him, and did not teach him or show him any of the basic concepts and skills that we learn as children, you would likely agree that he could possibly "would suffer a lifetime" because of it.

But because at age 12 - an age where we are ALL awkward, confused, and battling feelings and urges we don't understand - he made a choice out of desperation, lack of options and hopelessness - he is now worthy of societal shunning?

He was not an adult man who preyed on a child - he was a desperate CHILD himself who had no one to help him, and who no one stood up for. At what point does someone go from being a terrified kid experiencing something awful and scary all alone, to scum that deserves lifelong punishment? And why does all the good that he has accomplished since then go unnoticed? Do I deserve a life without the most wonderful person in the world, because he made a mistake many years ago?

I'm curious - did you bother to read any of the recidivism studies I provided (Letter: You were dead wrong about sex offender recidivism rates)? I'm not "boasting" about those statistics - they are simply the truth. It's not just one study, it's not just five. The research indicating low recidivism is boundless. And no, low re-offense rates are not due to the registry or to restrictive legislation.

In fact, many studies indicate that the endless restrictions faced by registrants when they re-enter society - where they can live, where they can work, if they can even find work - not to mention the public humiliation, privacy invasion, and threat of vigilante justice - the "shunning" you suggest - actually lead to higher re-offense rates. Where is the incentive for them to become contributing citizens?

Myself and others like me - those fighting for laws that reflect facts, not emotion, and raise awareness among people like you - do not support sex crime. We do not condone it. We do not believe it shouldn't be punished. We do believe that people who commit sex crimes should be treated just as "well" as other criminals upon their release, and given the same opportunities that our constitution says they have. We believe in this not just for the registrants, but for their families. Even if you can't change your opinion of sex offenders, you cannot deny the existence of their loved ones.

You cannot deny that they suffer dearly as a result of these laws and the massive misconceptions held by the public, as evidenced by your post. I am living, breathing proof that these laws hurt more than they help. And yes, I've been a victim myself. But you know what? My recovery, just like victims of any type of violent crime, should not and is not based on the punishment of someone else. All the "shunning" in the world won't help someone heal.

A life driven by vindictiveness and revenge is a sad, angry life and one I do not envy.

Sincerely,

Shana Rowan
Oneida, NY
www.endsexcrime.org
www.iloveasexoffender.blogspot.com

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