Granted MANY survivors acted out their abuse while it was going on out of pure confusion.
I did this between the age of about 40 to 46, and I had fantasies about doing it from the day my abuse stopped at 16. It was confusion, and it did have it's roots in my own abuse. That much I have learned since entering therapy.
Over the last few years I have trained as a counsellor, and have made great efforts to learn about sexual abuse and its effects on adults - especially males. Part of that learning has been to find out out how offenders work and and think, although I don't proffess to be an expert.
But one thing that has struck me is that many offenders, mainly the 'one-off' offenders, share the same behaviours that I did, behaviours that I have successfuly overcome, as have many other survivors that I know of.
Is there any reason why a one time offender shouldn't be capable of recovery to a position of never offending again?
Of course it's not 100% certain, I might under extreme duress act out again, but I somehow doubt it. The chances are probably on par with me winning the lottery or becoming a mass murderer, and I can live with those odds.
Ken makes the point that it's far better to deal with an offender that we know about than one who comes here and keeps their background a secret, and I agree 100% with that view.
In my recovery I have found through experience that being honest and open with others has been the most powerful tool I possess.
Sharing the horrible facts that I have had brief and sordid sexual encounters with unknown men, with all the risks entailed, has been the catalyst for me stopping that behaviour.
If that same catalyst is available to someone who is at risk of continuing their offending behavior then I personally feel we have a duty to help in any way we can.
'We' are survivors; and we have righteous hatred towards abusers, trust me- I hate mine. But I don't have a consuming hatred that obstructs my recovery by overwhelming it.
Places like MS, and the support some of us recieve from loved ones and friends, can provide much of that catalyst, 'WE' provide the basis of that catalyst for other people.
Should we squander such a remarkable resource by not sharing it with the widest possible range of people?
Do we want to see an end to continuing abuse in those generations that follow us? You bet we do! So are our views and experiences, and it's a huge range of experience that we can offer- should it be restricted solely to non offending survivors when we could help an offending survivor overcome their problems and maybe protect one more child?
We all know the statistics show that most abusers are themselves victims - and that the majority of those those abused don't become abusers.
So we know that people like us are more likely to become abusers as adults, and we also know that we as survivors can change our lives and overcome our dysfunctional behaviours with good support and the right help.
We do this through therapy and the support of whoever cares, whether it's family, friends or an online community.
The important part in my experience is the support we receive, it makes a huge difference. MS and organisations like it can, and do, provide support for people who might not have the structure of family and friends available to them. Or maybe they just feel more comfortable in the relative anonimity of being online? Whatever, 'support' is essential, and to deny someone support will entail a big risk of regression. Is that a risk 'we' want to take with someone who could possibly re-offend?
I don't advocate opening up MS to all offenders, that's NOT what MS is about. But my personal view is that if a survivor who is also an offender - a 'low grade' ( and that's NOT meant to minimise any offence ) offender who is also in an offenders programme / therapy etc, or someone who admits to being at risk of offending, deserves a chance here at MS.
I would also add that if push comes to shove then I would side with asking all known offenders to leave if it became an all or nothing choice, but I don't think we will arrive at that position.
A big part of this dilemma comes down to 'forgiveness', and it's a fact that some survivors can forgive and some will never reach that place, and nothing I or anyone else says is likely to change those views easily. It's something the individual must choose for themselves.
I said earlier in this post that I hate my abusers, and I do hate them, but I'm not consumed by that hatred, neither am I consumed with hatred and vengance for perp's in general. Yes, lock them up and throw the keys away if they are recalcitrent and unlikely to respond to any treatment. But once they are under lock and key, or being treated in such a way that success is a good probability, then they are of little concern to me because they are IN the system and unlikely to re-offend. It's someone elses responsibility to a degree, hopefully 'someone' who's qualified and experienced at either containing or recovering that offender.
But if 'I' can offer some support and the benefit of my experience then I believe I should do so.
We as survivors do have experiences that we wish we didn't have, but how many offenders have the opportunity to hear our experiences first hand and learn from them?
I would also say that I believe that survivors should not live in a closed and limited environment where everything is made comfortable and safe for them.
We all live in the real world where people deal with uncomfortable situations, and they DO deal with them.
Don't we deserve that option, don't we wish we could find our way through lifes problems without descending into a crisis? I know I do, but it's something we have to learn as survivors because we're generally used to living in perpetual crisis.
It's easy to hide away from what we don't like, turn the TV off when Michael Jackson is on the news etc. But what do we gain from retreating and hiding? I firmly believe that we slow down our healing if hide and retreat.
It's NOT about forgiving, it's about dealing with OUR personal demons, and if we can deal with them then we can deal with anything.
Anyway, that's my personal view and NOT necessarily the views of MS.