I've thought for a long time about writing about this for all to see. It makes little difference now. It will /is public record and although there won't be much in the newspapers I am not living in secret pain any longer. I will write about this once and probably not again here, on this Blog. I'm not looking for sympathy or anger or anything else. I'm stating a few facts and how it affects me and my family.
For many years, something like 35 years, we have lived with a kind of cancer in our family. There's a lot more to this than I will write about right now but believe me when I say I'd rather deal with cancer any time. I've been there and I can tell you it's a lot cleaner and does not carry a social stigma. I've hinted that our family has been plagued by random sexual events that have been very destructive. Family history is a difficult thing to deal with and when it is something shameful, so much more so.
We are a very ordinary 'middle class' family. Some are wealthy, many of us professionals, others business owners or wage earners and all hard working. We all own our own homes, are respectful of others, well educated, intelligent and terribly ordinary. We are also individuals in our loves, likes, choices and lifestyles. Some of us are successful in our careers, others are wanna bees and some are wasteful financial strugglers, others are good managers. We have sound values, care deeply, and are very supportive of one another. We are a close knit family and face our highs and lows together. I'm talking about my extended family as well as our immediate family.
None of this makes it any easier for me to face the latest crisis, which is no longer a crisis since we have been dealing with it for the last few months and it will continue to bring pain for the rest of our lives. My job is to turn the pain into something positive so we can keep on living with courage, freedom and joy.
I cannot find a gentle way to say this. so here is the bare truth. Our eldest son is waiting for his final court hearing before going to prison. He is charged with raping a minor, a girl who was 15 going on 18 but that is no excuse and he accepts that. I'm not going into detail. I'm not even going to discuss whether or not our son is guilty, that would dishonour the girl. But we know our son and this single incident did not occur without a set of circumstances leading up. A set of circumstances which should never have occurred . He will go to jail and his sentence can be anything up to 8 years. We understand that it is more likely to be 4 years.
I am in full agreement that justice must be seen to be done and he must serve a sentence. I have had time to consider a justice system that locks so many offenders up at the tax-payers expense. It seems so wasteful. I know this is a serious crime. But there is a root to this crime which demands a totally different approach. My hope is that somehow my son will find a way into restoration and rehabilitation. My compassion for the girl, my anger toward our son, my anger regarding the circumstances which made him vulnerable, do not over-ride my compassion for our son who found himself as helpless as any addict.
Many people who have eating disorders and weight related issues trace the problem back to having been abused. The hardest thing for those people is to come to a place where they can see their abuser as a person who needs to be forgiven. Forgiveness does not depend on justice. Justice is always required. Forgiveness is dealing with our own attitudes and emotions so that we are not victimised, eaten up and destroyed by the perpetrator. If by any chance you too have been abused, please look for healing that brings you to a place of being willing to forgive rather than wanting to extract vengeance.
There are times when I have wished our son was never born. Then I remember what a wonderful child he was and even now he has many wonderful characteristics. He is flawed but so am I and I doubt that anyone can say they have no flaws. If they do, that in itself surely indicates the flaw of self deception. Our beloved son still has a life to live and I pray that everyday he will discover something that makes life worthwhile until he finds true freedom.
Within our family many consider that at last he is getting his just desserts. That's hard for me to hear. Vengeance heals no-one, neither the perpetrator nor the victim. We live in a world that cries out for tough penalties for criminals. That cannot always be the best solution but balancing the need for punishment with rehabilitation is always going to be difficult. There is a program or two available in New Zealand. At least one is administered through our justice system. None of these programs will address the root source.
I wish we had something like this addiction centre I came across when I was looking for some online help.
The one prayer I ask for is that others in our family will recognise sexual addiction for what it is and become open to freedom from the past. We need a climate where the chains of sexual addiction can be broken and the damage healed. We are all hurting. Some so much that they cannot/will not talk. Anger eats them up. I have no hope of healthy family relationships without God.
Criminal behaviour, like any other behaviour grows in a nurturing climate. There has been evidence, well researched evidence for decades, that exposure to pornography at pivotal ages can lead to addiction. Our son had access to pornographic magazines in his pre-teen and early teen years. Surveys of prison inmates has lead to a discovery that a high percentage had early exposure to pornography. Not all became criminals in the sexual area but all received some early input about the value of individuals. Pornography is destructive. It damages an individuals perception of personal value be it their own or another persons value and dignity.
There are other routes to sexual crime but this is by far the most common. Today addiction to internet pornography is rampant. This is horrifying if you understand the connection between thinking, visualising and acting.
How I really feel about all this.... The shock and shame is behind me. The questions are ever before me. Family gatherings take utmost courage. I look at everyone else playing happy families and while I can rejoice with them I cannot deny the pain that rises up from within me. Having a son commit a sexual crime seems worse than death because it strikes at the core of a person. It's dirty.
I am learning how to live through this. No-one else can fully appreciate how it is although I'm sure some of you will empathise. I poured myself into my family. I gave them, individually, all I had and all I knew. I prayed for them and still do. I trusted them to God. I still think that I did more to educate, develop and bring my children up as 'whole' healthy and well integrated people than my siblings did with their children. My children are the ones who appear to have the greatest number of issues or problems. Bitterness could too easily take root here. I made a heap of mistakes and guilt could overtake if I didn't understand the power of confession and forgiveness.
My faith has taken a battering over the years but this was the one that brought me to my senses and my knees..
It's not God who engineers bad situations.
It's not God, who is pure goodness,
who fills our minds with evil.
It is God who give us a way through.
I am finding mine.
If I weren't, there is no way
I would have the courage to write this in my Blog.
Why am I publishing this?
It helps explain why I have become an erratic Blogger.
It's part of who I am, now and into the future.
This is an unfinished story and maybe somewhere there is another parent who needs to know they are not alone.
My faith in God is real and active.
I want my readers to know that God has the answer at the worst of times.
Some call faith in Jesus a crutch.
At least I'm not trying to do this alone.
If God is my crutch,
He is my strength and my courage too.
I cannot walk without Him.
He is my life giver.
I look into the Father's eyes
and there I find peace
peace beyond measure
in a world where there is no peace.
My heart is at rest.