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Sex Offender Treatment Podcast Episode cover image
From Surviving to Living
(10) SEX OFFENDER (S0) TREATMENT: Personal Growth and Transformation
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Told the program would remove barriers and open doors to privileges, I began in December 2012 with an attitude problem. The intake process began with psychological testing. Afterwards I sulked in the treatment director’s office, arms crossed, sullen. Noticing my posture the she wondered, “You look upset.”

Miserable, I explained, “I don’t understand why I need sex offender treatment. This is stupid. I am NOT a pedophile!” I glared at the wall, my face burned. I was hostile, defensive. I would do whatever it took to remove barriers for myself as a parent, but I was outraged at the barriers.

Leaning forward again the director replied, “I wonder then, why did you use sex to solve a problem?”

The director leaned over and responded, “We don’t think you are a pedophile. That’s not the purpose of the treatment.”

I removed my glare from the wall and shifted my gaze to her desk, demanding, “What am I here for then?”

Shifting back in her chair, she crossed her legs and responded, “Let me ask you a question. Why did you have sex with your son’s friend?”

“My marriage was awful. I hated my life. I wanted a divorce. I wanted…to run away from all my problems.” I fused my stare to the floor in shame.

Leaning forward again the director replied, “I wonder then, why did you use sex to solve a problem?” Surprised, I met her eyes. She appeared kind, respectful. It was a good question. My resistance slipped, a little.

Have you ever felt resistant to acknowledging personal challenges or seeking support? Does this resonate with any moments in your own life when you felt vulnerable or avoided asking for help?

Early in my incarceration I was informed prison had a step down process for visiting privileges. Inmates deemed a threat were placed on a list and visiting privileges assessed, from no visits to all privileges restored. My criminal charge placed me on this list. I was allotted non-contact visits with minors. To restore privileges I should take parenting classes and complete SO Treatment. I could then request a review.

Perhaps I rebelled at being told, “No.” I cannot claim any noble thing, only that I felt a driving force in me.

By 2013 my four younger children were living 3,000 miles away. We spoke on the phone, but I had not seen them in a long time. I completed parenting classes. Now treatment provided a goal, purpose, a finish line. I attacked it.

I did not know when I would see my children, if I would see my children. Perhaps I rebelled at being told, “No.” I cannot claim any noble thing, only that I felt a driving force in me.

This clear motivation focused me. I had gained thirty pounds in depression. March 2013 I requested a job transfer from the kitchen to the gym. I became a gym rat. Working out became a new passion. I ran, lifted weights, and sweated. I felt good, I looked good.

I completed treatment early in June and immediately appealed to visiting. WITH URGENCY!! My children would be here in less than a week.

Amazing news came in April. My children would be coming to visit in June. My children would enjoy an old-fashioned family road-trip with my parents that summer so they could come visit me. I think about that now. My parents drove from Minnesota to Washington state twice in the same month, with 4 grandchildren! What a sacrifice! Amazing!

I became laser focused. I wanted to hug my children! I completed treatment early in June and immediately appealed to visiting. WITH URGENCY!! My children would be here in less than a week. I was used to disappointment. I was so determined! I barely slept, barely ate. Agitated, I paced all night. I imagined great visits, feared the worst.

The day before my children arrived my caseworker and a Lieutenant appeared at the gym. My request was approved! I cheered with joy! I floated to my room after work and told family the great news. We would be visiting in person!

The next few days were a dream. I spent hours and hours in the visiting room. My daughter Vivi, now 6 years old, colored pictures for me. Along the wall were children’s books. Vivi loved books. She always asked me to read. After 2 years without her, the first book held a surprise.

Vivi, like all children soothed by a good book, did a trust fall.

Lifting her to my lap I opened a book and began to read. At the third page something unexpected happened. Perhaps unanticipated because I had been away so long. I forgot the details of parenting. The reminder was surprise and delight.

Vivi, like all children soothed by a good book, did a trust fall. Suddenly all of her weight was against me, my arms barely prepared to absorb her collapse, her head resting on my shoulder. I stuttered, stopped, wondering. Vivi seemed oblivious. Tightening my hold I continued, my throat tightening.

Timmy was suffering quietly. He wanted rescue. I wished to save the day, but I was no hero.

My youngest son Timmy hated to leave. Age 10, he appeared small and fragile. Timmy had a medical condition requiring daily treatment and care. Left untreated, or poorly treated, Timmy suffered painfully. Timmy was suffering now. He wanted rescue. I wished to save the day, but I was no hero.

Thomas and Lukas, Timmy’s older brothers, were 12 and 14. Thomas is a social butterfly, very charismatic. He joked with the guards, strolling around like he owned the place. Lukas supervised his brother with a lordly smile and plenty of eye rolling. We enjoyed puzzles together as we talked and shared.

The week passed quickly. Soon it was over. My heart was soothed, it sang. I felt heartbroken at its end.

Things are finally looking up”, I thought. “I can do this.

This describes self-reliance. My life was defined by self-reliance and self-determination. Perhaps a bright spot it may define the best I was capable of. If so, it’s a sad story indeed, for it doesn’t end here. God, however, is so much greater. I just had to stop relying on SELF.

Horror returned four months later. Timmy was rushed to the hospital for life saving surgery. Succumbing to fear and depression, I lost my job. My weight increased again, this time to 190 pounds on my 5 foot frame. I never saw my daughter again.

I treasure that week, but life would return to living hell again.

 “When a corrupting spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return, it finds the person swept and dusted, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits dirtier than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place. Luke 11:24-26

It would be many years before peace arrived. Don’t be sad though, keep reading! God writes a great story, with a great joy! As I write this post in 2023 Timmy sits happily here with me in my office, Tommy’s sweet dog in his lap. God is writing your story as well. I am praying for you. He has great plans for you too!

Discussion questions:

  1. Reflecting on the treatment director’s question, “Why did you use sex to solve a problem?” prompts a deeper exploration of coping mechanisms. Can you identify patterns in your own life where certain behaviors served as coping mechanisms, and what insights can be gained from examining those patterns?
  2. In the treatment director’s reassurance that the Holly is not viewed as a pedophile, consider moments in your own life when societal perceptions or labels may have affected your self-perception. How does societal judgment influence the way we view ourselves? Are you struggling with negative self-perception today? Do you need help?
  3. Explore the Holly’s motivation for seeking treatment as a parent. Are there aspects of your own role as a parent or caregiver that you feel challenged by, and how do personal challenges impact your ability to fulfill those roles? You are searching for resources and support to help you meet these challenges today?
  4. Analyze the importance of understanding the purpose of a situation, as emphasized by the treatment director. How might a deeper understanding of the underlying purpose or motives in your own life enhance your decision-making and self-awareness? Are you seeking to understand purpose and meaning in your life?
  5. Reflect on the theme of personal responsibility and accountability in the passage. Are there areas in your life where taking ownership of your actions could lead to personal growth, and how does accountability contribute to self-discovery?
  6. Consider the impact of kindness and respect in the treatment director’s approach. How can incorporating these qualities into your own interactions foster a more positive and open self-reflection, as well as deeper connections with others?
  7. Think about the treatment director’s role in shaping Holly’s perspective. How can effective communication and understanding contribute to breaking down resistance and fostering a more open dialogue in various situations?

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