BlockedUnblock FollowFollowing Writer, mother, lover, friend. Purveyor of hilarious jokes. I love cats, I love books, and I love hard. They tell you their story. Do you decide to have an open heart and listen? Do you let them further into your life, do you go down the rabbit hole with them?
Would you date a registered sex offender? I am not joking here. But that thought is exactly what I am proposing for us to reconsider. Do we know the nature of the offense? Do you go down the rabbit hole with them? Not all registered sex offenders are pedophiles. Not all sex offenders are child molesters or guilty of incest. Not all sex offenders are violent rapists. Not all sex offenders are even rapists. You can live next to a convicted murderer and never even know it — but the same is not true with a convicted sexual offender, no matter how benign or unjust their conviction may have actually been.
Before I go any further, I will state this for the record: For the sex offenders who are guilty of heinous, horrific crimes against humanity, they deserve to rot in hell for the rest of eternity.
I have no sympathy for people who violate children and steal their innocence. I have no sympathy for rapists who premeditate their crimes and violently attack their victims.
However — you can be branded as a sex offender for life for urinating in public. What if you are homeless and you have no where else to urinate except for — humiliatingly — behind a building? That is not a sexual offense. You can be branded as a sex offender for life if you are a teenage boy and your girlfriend sent you an inappropriate picture of herself, and you forgot to delete it off of your phone because you are a teenage boy who forgets a lot of stuff.
If these two individuals get caught with that picture in their phones, no matter how innocuous the intent may have been between two young people who do not have any understanding of the current laws that are in place, they can be branded as sex offenders. Is this really necessary? Should they be reprimanded and punished in some way so that they learn their lesson?
I have two sons, trust me, I have talked ad nauseum with them about these issues. In fact, when my 22 year old son turned 18, I forbade him to date any girl who was not 18 or older. Alex was a friend of mine many years ago.
I met him in a group therapy when we were both trying to put our lives back together after getting DUIs. Alex and I became extremely close friends very quickly because we supported each other through our legal troubles and attempts at sobriety. He was a single parent like I was, and we bonded over trying to become better parents for our children. He was an amazing father, so completely devoted to his daughter, and he was one of the best friends I ever had.
He went to a party one night and ended up drinking a lot of beer with his buddies. Later on some young women showed up and drank beer with the guys. Everyone was over 21 at this party. Alex ended up having consensual sex with one of the young women. I will reiterate — it was consensual sex. I know this because Alex told me the next day after the party that he had relapsed, but that he had met a woman he really liked, and she seemed to like him back too.
They had hooked up had sex , exchanged numbers, and although Alex was disappointed he had relapsed, he was excited about the new woman he had met. This young woman actually had a long-term boyfriend she had not told Alex about. The boyfriend had caught her cheating with Alex. The young woman chose to explain her way out of the cheating by saying Alex had raped her at the party.
He did not rape her. Alex was one of the kindest, most gentle souls I had ever met, and he was excited about this new lady. Alex was happy someone had come into his life to make him feel good about himself again. He was even tossing around the word girlfriend… But it was all a lie. Alex ended up being convicted of rape despite the fact that the sex had been consensual. He had to register as a sex offender, and will continue to have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
He had to live in shitty motels because he was no longer allowed to live with his family, due to the fact that there were young children in the family home his daughter and his nieces. He was not allowed to see his young daughter or his nieces for an entire year.
I was not allowed to go visit Alex in the shitty motels because he was not allowed to be alone with a woman in his motel room. We eventually lost touch because it was just too hard for Alex to continue talking to me or to even text me without fear of violating some very strict probation rule. I would ask you — is this fair? If you are a woman, would you consider dating Alex after you listened to his story and heard what actually happened to him?
But sometimes, the other side of the story does have some validation to it. I met Jacob online. We began messaging and realized that we kinda liked each other. Okay, kinda liked each other a lot! Our communications moved from messaging online to texting and then to talking on the phone. Everything was going great, and we had an amazing connection.
Two weeks into getting to know each other, Jacob sent me an email one night. He texted me before I opened the email that he was terrified for me to read it. As a young and probably slightly dumb 21 year old, Jacob had gotten blackout drunk at a party and attempted to have sex with a woman who was also at the party.
But, Jacob tried to have sex with a woman who was not consenting to have sex. Jacob went on in the email to describe that he woke up out of the blackout hours later because he was being beaten and kicked on the ground outside.
He had no memory of what had happened, and he had no memory of how he even got outside. All he knew at the time was that he had gotten extremely drunk and had done a very bad thing and that he was in some serious shit for what he did. Jacob ended up serving time in prison for the offense that he committed that night. He has been a registered sex offender for over twenty years now, and he will be for the rest of his life. He thought I should know, and he found the courage to be very upfront with me very early on in our getting-to-know-each-other-phase about what he had done.
He was extremely remorseful in the email for what had happened. He wished he could go back in time and change the events of that night, because that young woman did not deserve what he had done to her.
I actually cried when I read the email because of the pain I could feel in his words, the pain he still felt about hurting another person. He told me that he is gentle and kind and a good person, and has never been in any other kind of trouble since.
He also told me that every where he lives, and once a year, he still has to register as a sex offender, 23 years after this event happened. He said if I chose to never contact him again, that he would respect that and leave me alone. There is something else here to consider… As a recovering alcoholic myself, I thought about all the horrible shit I had done too when I was drinking.
Hell, I have two DUIs. I am so incredibly lucky that I never hurt anyone, or worse, killed anyone when I drank and drove about a million times. But I have also had to find a way to forgive myself.
I cannot undo the past. I mean countless numbers of men have done this to me in my lifetime. I have been in situations where the men took it too far, did not listen to me saying no, did things to me that when I sobered up made me feel violated.
I was never raped in these drunken situations, but I have been that woman who had to keep saying no and had to push the dude off of me. And I did not deserve any of it, no woman on the planet ever deserves that. Even if she is intoxicated or dressed provocatively, or both, like myself about a hundred thousand times in my life.
No woman should ever be violated if she says NO. I am not on board with that not-listening-to-us-saying-no shit, even if you are drunk. Intoxication is never an excuse that you violated someone.
Can I forgive myself for being a reckless drunk who did some very bad and illegal things? Does another who expresses deep remorse too for what he has done in his life deserve my forgiveness? Yes, I believe he does. Of course this is all circumstantial, because the circumstances matter.
The remorse for it matters. The courage to tell me upfront matters. Will I date Jacob the registered sex offender? Will I have an open mind to it?