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Category: Sex Offenders

How Do we Fix Our Broken People?

Sexual Abuse is accepted across the world as being the most under-reported crime and here in Ireland we are no different. With our current population and our seriously outdated statistics, we can estimate that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced some form of sexual abuse in their past. That means there are at least 900 thousand citizens currently living with the impacts of abuse.

Now take into account that the abusers are out there too. Based on these figures we also must realise that for every victim there is an abuser. We would all like to think that we would recognise a child abuser if we saw one. That we can pick them out of the crowd based on their creepy look or their odd behaviour. But those stereotypes are simply that, stereotypes. The fact is, child abusers are not monsters, they don’t walk around with signs saying ‘abuser’.  They are able to include themselves in our lives and our children’s lives because we trust them.

An abuser can have many victims but let’s take a conservative figure of an abuser abusing 2 victims, that means there are 4.5 hundred thousand sexual predators living amongst us.

As horrific as these statistics are, we reckon that at best, half of our population are directly impacted by abuse and all of our population, suffer the secondary impacts of abuse victims and perpetrators living within our communities.

Unlocking the Memories

As victims of child sexual abuse, we understand just how difficult it is for victims to open the doors they hid their memories of abuse behind.  However, without unlocking your memories of abuse, those memories will be the fuel that drives you forward or keeps you stuck. Though those memories or emotions can be on an unconscious level, they are most likely the force behind every decision, relationship and dream you have for yourself and those around you. Until you are able to open those doors and look into the dark spaces you will continue to live your life as a victim, which not only affects you but all those around you.

Tell me Why?

Offenders can only continue with their behaviour if they remain in the dark about the impact of their actions on their victims. As a victim myself, I wanted to know why my father did what he did, and I desperately wanted him to understand the damage he did to me and be truly sorry.  It wouldn’t have taken away the pain of what was done but, if I had any chance of understanding the ‘why me?’ element of the abuse, it might have helped me heal a little and find forgiveness for myself sooner.

A Reason to Look?

Why would an abuser look? We need to give them a reason to explore the why and how they do what they do.  Seeing into their dark places will provide them with the answers to the questions they hide from themselves.

How we view rapist, sex offenders and paedophiles as less than human, monster’s or creatures that deserve neither compassion nor understanding serves no one and certainly is not helping to stop their offending.  They, like victims need answers if we are ever to stop abuse.  Simply placing them behind bars is not the answer. Offenders absolutely need to be punished and suffer the consequences for their actions and the lives they have destroyed. Their punishment will allow the victims to feel vindicated, heard and most importantly believed.

Make it Stop

Surly we all want abuse to stop, for suffering from this act to stop. We have no choice but to find solutions to stop abuse, to show those who commit these atrocities that they need to stop. You will never change anything if you do not understand why you do it and what impact you are having on someone’s life.

If that is to happen we have to stop seeing sex offenders as separate to us, but rather people within our communities that are damaged and need repairing. Probably more importantly we need to have support and help available throughout the country to prevent abusers ever getting to the point of action. There has to be a better way as clearly what we are currently doing is not working.

New Measures

Today 6th June 2018 the government announced that it is considering new measures, including electronic tagging, to tighten restrictions on sex offenders after they are released from prison. The tag would be dependent on the risks that sex offenders pose on the community. The released sex offenders will also be required to be finger printed, photographed and register with gardaí within 3 days of their release from jail and provide any change of address.

A New Approach

We must stop with our reactive response and begin by treating the cause and not simply the symptoms.  We don’t even do that adequately enough, the scant service provision and cost of attending therapy along with long waiting lists further inflict pain and suffering on the victims of these crimes.

We must begin by providing balanced solutions that help all those impacted, victims and perpetrators alike. We must stretch ourselves and see past the behaviour that destroys lives and look at the person behind them. Only viewing sexual abuse from one angle will not change the outcomes. The ones committing these crimes are the only ones that can provide the answers that we need. We need to provide treatments that will prevent these heinous crimes occurring in the first place.

 

 “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done,

you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.”

W.L.Bateman

 

Isn’t it time we fixed all our broken people.

Paula Kavanagh- 6th June 2018

 

Young Offenders – What are we to do?

In the Irish Examiner 17th February 2018, Seán Mc Cárthaigh reported that Juveniles committed 45% of sex offences in 2016 and that Juvenile offenders were responsible for almost half of all sexual offences recorded by Gardaí in 2016.

I have to say that when I first heard the statistics on young offenders I was in total shock and disbelief.  Having come from a background of Childhood Sexual Abuse I simply found it impossible to absorb or even consider.  I really didn’t know how to come to terms with this information.  I was baffled to think that young people could be part of what I previously considered the adult arena of crimes of a sexual nature, and yet here we are.  Things are worse that anyone could have imagined.  How did we get here? And what can we do about it?

It was also reported that sexual offences are one of the few crime categories where offending rates by young people are on the rise with an increase of 39% from those figures reported in 2015.

Does no one find it frightening that this report is not on the front page of every newspaper or shown on every news station. Is it because we don’t care?  Maybe it’s because we just don’t want to think about it, or perhaps it is because we do not have any idea what to do with these children.

It is heart breaking to think of a child being sexually abused and the only thing worse than that is discovering it was by another child.  Imagine for one moment getting the news your child is an abuser……. where can you go? ……. who can you tell?… who would help you or your child?  What hopes have you now for your child’s future?

YOUNG ABUSERS

The vast majority of young people who sexually abuse are male. There are said to be two ‘peak’ ages for male sexual offenders to abuse. One being around 14 years and the second being in the mid-to-late 30’s.  Recent Australian figures suggest that 23% of young people who are in treatment for their sexually abusive behaviours are aged 10-12 years and 70% are 15 years or younger.

What should terrify us is that without intervention it is likely these teenagers will adapt to a life of paedophilia by the time they reach adulthood, as most paedophiles begin to act on their sexual desires before they are 18.  However, there is a strong possibility that their lives could be turned around with the proper interventions, saving many children from having the life we had.

VICTIMS FIRST

There is a possibility that these children who committed rape were victims of abuse themselves. I have heard of so many cases where a sexual predator claims they were abused themselves. To be honest, my first thoughts are usually ‘so what’, so was I and I didn’t sexually abuse anyone.  This must not and cannot be seen as an excuse to carry out the behaviours that will leave its victims with lifelong impacts.

However, there are many factors that can lead to inappropriate sexual behaviour and they all must be investigated and considered.  Making sure that the victims in these cases are supported is our priority. We must then explore how to also help the perpetrators, or we will never stop child abuse.

WHY HELP THEM

Although this is the year of the woman, we believe it is also time to consider how men process their emotions and their experience of sexual abuse.  It is not news women process differently than men and this begins at a very young age.  It is also far more common to hear of men acting out their pain in a more physical way.

It is our belief that prisons are filled with men who have committed crimes as a direct result of their experience of childhood abuse.  We need to help victims of abuse regardless of their gender.

I am not trying to excuse nor condone their behaviour in any way. But if it is not addressed I have no doubt we will be dealing with the issue of juvenile sexual abuse for generations to come.

OUR RESPONSIBILITY

We have a duty to discover where these young offenders learned that sexual assault is okay. We need to understand how and what treatment they need to interrupt their behaviours before it’s too late. Simply locking them up is not stopping the problem just ensuring these children become more damaged and furthermore go on to damage others.

I feel we have a responsibility to look past the behaviour and deeper into the why our young children are acting out. It is time to get serious about changing things around sexual crimes. To do this we need to open up to the possibility that a lot of those that abuse children can be helped. We have to be willing to discover what works and encourage our young children to come forward and seek help prior to acting on their urges.  I firmly believe a lot of these young people can be reached before it is too late. It is our responsibility to do all we can before we lose more children to the impacts of abuse.  When abuse occurs, there are no winners.

Are our families and communities so damaged that we cannot hear the cries for help from our children? Children need nurturing and with the growing pressure on parents to both work to make ends meet and our lack of affordable childcare, more and more children become vulnerable to negative influences.

The crime of children abusing other children is only a symptom, not the cause.  It represents a much broader problem. These children who abuse are growing in numbers and will not go away on their own.  We must consider what needs they have that are not being met and address them, sooner rather than later.

 

Joyce 19th February 2018

To Catch a Paedophile

I have watched many videos posted on Facebook where a trap is set for a sexual predator.  I am really torn as to how I feel about this and wonder if others feel the same.  Although as a victim of abuse for most of my childhood, I have more reasons than most to want these people caught and stopped in their tracks. I still feel uncomfortable with the way it is being done.

I do not doubt the intentions of the group setting the traps.  They are going above and beyond to protect children, but their methods are something I still struggle with.

What does it say about our justice system when ordinary parents can pin these predators down with a bit of effort and very little resources and, yet the Gardaí are unable to do the same.

As far as I am concerned it highlights the complete lack of will of the government to give sexual crimes the attention they deserve and tackle this issue which is widespread.

Appropriate Platform

I do agree that these incidents should be logged, videoed and handed over to police. I do not however, feel social media is an appropriate forum for this material.  To me it screams vigilantism and incites violence, it also doesn’t consider the impact this action has on the predator’s innocent family members.

In one of these videos the trapped predator was a 19-year-old boy and to be honest this broke my heart.  Although I don’t condone his behaviour, surely there must be a better way to deal with this.  The boy looked really troubled which although I know would go hand in hand with being caught, I read it deeper.  He looked genuinely confused.

Being caught on social media is not an intervention it is a trap. If young predators are not treated correctly a lot more victims will appear before us in the future. Teenagers are already at a difficult stage in their development, if you add to that, confusion over their sexual identity they are most likely already psychologically on overload.   Because the entrapment being posted on social media this child has had all his prospects for any kind of future removed. He will be ridiculed possibly beaten or worse still, killed.  What are we creating? What is the benefit to society of destroying a child instead of reaching out and offering him some help.  It may very well be that we are creating bigger problems which will impact our society well into the future.

Young Offenders

The reality is that for several years there has been a spurt in the amount of young people responsible for sexual abuse.  This is frightening and what does it tell us about our systems of response to sexual abuse in this country.

Could it be that these young people are victims acting out? Or could they be continuing learned behaviour?  It is not right that we just wipe our hands of them? I know if it was my son I would go to the end of the earth to help him understand and change his behaviour.  Ignoring this issue will ensure that we will have to continue to deal with sexual abuse for generations. It is a fact that many adult perpetrators began sexually abusing when they were under the age of 18.  If we could have reached them then, god knows how much pain we could have stopped.

Young people who have never shared their pain are at risk of becoming lifelong predators. Can you remember those teenage years in your own life, the utter confusion that enshrouds you? Now imagine if you also had a sexual interest in younger children how would you express that and to who. It is very understandably a huge obstacle to reaching out to someone for help.

Shame is the most debilitating emotion for anyone never mind a child. The attitude of most people when it comes to perpetrators is to murder, castrate or severely punish them. Where would you turn for help as an adult never mind a child.

Frustration

What is wrong with this country that our own justice system cannot address this issue appropriately and consistently. It is no wonder people are pushed to take the law into their own hands. While I totally understand the frustration, people have with the law. In these cases where these groups set a trap and then advertise where the person lives, works or socialises. No matter how justified we may feel about taking that action it just doesn’t sit right with me. I imagine if the case ever did make it to trial the perpetrator would get off on the grounds that he has already been tried and convicted on social media. Add to that the fact there are no child victims as decoys are used, nothing will have resulted other than the possibility of destroying innocent family members and the possible harm or death of the perpetrator.

Finding Another Way

When my father was sent to prison for the abuse of his daughters we were all delighted.  However, if we were in a country that decided he deserved the death penalty none of us would have been happy with that.  At the time we felt death would be too easy for him and as death would have meant his suffering ends.  In our eyes living would be a lot more painful for him.

There must be a better way to deal with this problem.  I have no idea what that is, but I feel this action is only further endangering families, parents, past victims and survivors of abuse, and may drive someone to do something life changing.

One suggestion could be to set up a designated task force for sex crimes alone.   The task force should be awarded extra powers to ensure when known predators are caught they immediately are removed from society and placed in a treatment facility or incarcerated so no more children are in danger while they await a court hearing and or sentencing.

It would be more productive to stand together and fight for the rights of our children and demand the government takes this crime seriously with immediate action.

Unfortunately, people tend not to get involved or act until abuse affects their own lives, it pains me that they don’t realise how much it does affect everyone. We strongly believe angry outbursts, addiction and anti-social behaviour are just some of the ways abuse manifests in our society.  For some victims it’s their only tool to express their pain. The ripple effect caused by abuse ultimately contributes directly or indirectly to how our communities function.

Sexual abuse can be hard to think about and harder to discuss, but it’s important to address these issues and educate yourself so you can teach your child what to watch out for. Every discussion on the subject of sexual abuse along with every time you listen – you are protecting your child from sexual abuse.  We  have to find a way to discuss the subject openly if we ever want to eliminate it from our lives.

 

Joyce- 15th January 2017

Sex Offenders-Not in My Back Yard

On Monday 18th December 2017 Irish Independent Correspondent Conor Feehan reported how a local community are seeking the eviction of convicted sex offender, Michael Murray from his rented accommodation in South Dublin.

Members of the local community have placed posters of Michael on the lampposts in the area where he lives with the words ‘Warning – Rapist About.’

Murray was jailed in 1996 for raping four women and sexually assaulting two others in south Dublin during a six-day reign of terror in September 1995.

What Should We Do With Sexual Offenders?

As a survivor of sexual abuse, the following opinions might seem strange but it has come about through personal healing and education.

So, what are we to do with those individuals that are convicted of sexual offences. Do we put them on an island and leave them to fend for themselves? Do we take them out and shoot them? Do we castrate them?

If you even look at the headlines and how we describe offenders and their crimes, the language used when talking about them is unhelpful and can even be quite dangerous.

A Sense of Security

Sex offenders registers were first established in the early 1990’s in the US and have since been introduced by multiple jurisdictions as a way to make communities feel safe. They are designed to keep people informed about where convicted sex offenders live within communities.   However, it must be said that sexual crimes are the most underreported crimes across the globe and those that are reported have such a low conviction rate that we must understand that the majority of those who perpetrate sexual crimes are successfully living amongst us having never been convicted of a sexual crime.

We must be very clear that isolating those who are sex offenders can be a very dangerous road to travel.  If we think that we can treat all sex offenders the same and that it is safer to remove them from society without any focus on rehabilitation we are not protecting our children or communities.

Abusers, rapists and child molesters do not look like the monsters portrayed by the media. They are individuals who live in communities. According to Abel and Marrow, 83% of child sexual abuse seems to occur in domestic settings by men who are typically married, religious, holding a good job, well educated, and in positions of trust.  They also point out that 93% of typical abusers have a sexual interest in adults as well as children and as such are unlikely to cause suspicion in our homes or within our communities.

Safe Communities

It is natural to want to live in a community that is safe. Often marginalised groups within society are portrayed in the media as being different and this can cause suspicion and fear of what we do not understand. But it is only when we are willing to become informed about those other groups that we will even begin to find ways of living together.

We need to consider each case on its own merit and recognise that different categories of abuse and abusers require a carefully tailored response to avoid destroying lives unnecessarily.

Sexual Crimes and The Law

I also think that in Ireland, and also across the globe, there is inconsistency in sentencing and often members of the legal system that are charged with dealing with sex offenders are likely to have received little or no education as to the true impacts of such horrendous crimes. This results in mixed messages about what we think and feel about sexual offences and its millions of victims.

However, I also feel we must also temper any punishment with appropriate treatment programmes that will assist those individuals to understand their behaviour and put interventions in place to encourage them to seek professional help prior to committing any crimes and also for those who have abused to prevent them from continuing to abuse, hurt and devastate the lives of their victims.

The Paedophile Voice

When we were researching for our latest book, ‘Why Go Back?’ we spoke to  Todd Nickerson, from Tennessee, who is a non-acting paedophile. He contacted us having read our first book ‘Click, Click.’ We may not agree with all of Todd’s opinions, but we found if encouraging that he was open to reading and educated himself on the damage the actions of those who abuse can cause. Below is a statement that Todd made when trying to explain about who are paedophiles that don’t offend.

Todd said:

Not many of us are willing to share our story, for good reason.  To confess a sexual attraction to children is to lay claim to the most reviled status on the planet, one that effectively ends any chance you have of living a normal life.  Yet, I’m not the monster you think me to be.

I’ve never touched a child sexually in my life and never will, nor do I use child pornography.  But alas, I could never hurt a child.  No matter what, some small part of me still holds out hope that things will go back to normal, or as close to normal as a celibate paedophile with little prospect of a future can get.  Besides, like I said earlier, I just couldn’t allow myself to foist this abomination onto another human being.  

 The following information was drawn from Channel 4’s ‘The Paedophile Next Door’ November 25th 2014

The programme was a radical and controversial documentary which explored a new approach to protecting children and interviewed a non-offending paedophile on camera.

In the programme, they discussed how predatory paedophiles operate at every level within society abusing children with impunity. It states that child abuse had reached epidemic proportions ten years ago and it is only getting worse year on year.  The programme stated that a staggering number of one-quarter of a million known paedophiles exist in Britain.

The more messages we send out to paedophiles about how sick and perverted they are and just how bad a person they are, then the more they are likely to internalise that self-hatred resulting in them acting out the very behaviours we are trying to stop.

Where To Next?

It’s time to open the discussion and encourage frank exchanges about what makes someone sexually abuse another child or adult. We need to acknowledge the devastating impacts that any sexual crime leaves with its victims. We constantly underfund and undervalue the services that do exist to provide those most vulnerable with care and support.  We must be at the very least open to the possibility of funding treatment programmes for offenders.

Focusing all your attention on those very few high profile and know convicted offenders draws all the attention away from the millions of offenders that fly under the radar on a daily basis. Offenders are your brother, father, son, daughter, sister, friend, family relations)

By ‘de-monstering’ offenders we can begin to understand the underlying problem associated with offending and its resulting impacts.

It is time to admit that what we are currently doing is not working.

Paula, 18th December 2018

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