Often I hear something to the effect of, "Why should you get to go on and live your life, when your victim has to deal with what you've done for the rest of hers?" This is an absurd question, for several reasons:
- It pre-supposes that my victim cannot recover from the trauma I inflicted, that she is, in some sense, "damaged for life". I do not argue that, in some respect, what I've done has changed how she lives her life. But, victims of trauma do not remain victims, unless they choose to, or are forced to remain so by a public that needs a victim to justify continuing revenge and punishment. Each of us bears the trauma of events in our lives, from car accidents to dog bites to broken bones and near-drownings. Those traumas have made us who we are, and while they may have changed how we approach certain situations, we have moved beyond them.
- It presumes that punishment dictated by the criminal justice system is inadequate. That the laws of the State, passed by the People, do not deal a harsh enough punishment. That the trauma of sexual assault is quintessentially different than the trauma of being a victim of any other crime, and therefore, must be dealt with more severely.
- It relies upon the false assumption that sex offenders cannot control themselves, and that it is just a matter of time before they re-offend. This flies in the face of numerous studies that show that sexual offenders have the second lowest specific-recidivism (committing the same crime again) rate of any class of criminal - the only group with a lower rate of specific-recidivism are people convicted of murder.
- It is supported by the belief that the laws regarding sex offenders will protect you or your loved ones. While there is a sub-set of sex offenders who will re-offend (as there is any any group of criminals), the studies show that 95% of all sex offenses are committed by someone not on the sex offender registry. Think about that for a moment - you are 20 times more likely to be the victim of a sexual assault committed by someone who isn't me or or one of my fellow registrants.
- Related to this belief is the assumption that these laws have reduced the overall rate of sex offenses, when studies show that the rate has remained constant over a period covering 10 years before and 10 years after the enactment of the various laws.
- It classifies people like me as an animal or sub-human. It is easy to justify the mistreatment and denial of rights of a class of citizen once we make the determination that they are less than human. It is the basis for slavery, the slaughter of Native Americans, the atrocities committed against the Jews, and segregation.
- It assumes that I do not feel some measure of guilt and remorse over my actions.