Today’s post might be a bit of a rant, but it’s what’s on my mind, so I hope you bear with me… and I welcome courteous conversation if you want to comment.
I talk a lot about the effects of abuse. I’ve talked about forgiveness, moving on and I’ve talked a bit about never going back, about not taking the second chance, not using forgiveness as a weapon to make us return to an abuser….
This week the point was driven home to me more deeply than before.
For background: In the 1990’s, in Canada, there was 2 serial rapists/killers who were arrested, charged and convicted – their names were Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. KH plead guilty to a much lesser charge, claiming that PB had abused her and forced her to participate. PB was tried, convicted and sent to prison for multiple life sentences, without possibility of parole. Part of the problem is that video evidence of the murders was discovered after KH was sentenced and it was too late to change her bargain. The video evidence showed she was fully engaged in the activities and did not appear to be afraid of PB, but rather was egging him on. The reality is we’ll never know if she was coerced, brainwashed or otherwise abused into helping him. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. However, she made the choice to destroy the lives of at least 3 families, she did.
This past week, the news media released that KH has been occasionally volunteering in the school her children attend. Now, in Canada, we must pass criminal inspections to work with children, to volunteer in classrooms. The school admits they knew who she was and they stated that she was never left alone with children; yet others told the media she had attended as a parent volunteer on field trips and had even brought her dogs to visit the classroom.
I firmly believe that one of the things we have lost in society is a sense of consequence. Actions carry long term consequences. With crimes such as she committed, she should not be near children in any capacity. That’s my (very strong) opinion.
Another article I read recently was about a doctor in Alberta who is going to be able to get his license to practice medicine back after internet luring a 14-year-old girl (who actually turned out to be a police officer so he got caught!) In the article, they talk about how he’s been working construction to make ends meet. How they are going to supervise him for 5 years so he’s never working alone. How this one act doesn’t need to define his life.
Here’s the thing. It does define a life. It defines a victim’s life. It defines a perpetrators life. You can rise above it. You can choose change. You can redefine your life.
I wonder though, does the perpetrator have the right to redefine it as the same as it was before? A victim doesn’t walk away from the trauma, a part of that stays with them, no matter where they go. Does a perpetrator get to walk away from the long-term consequences? How do parents feel knowing a serial killer/rapist is volunteering with their children in school? How do patients feel knowing a convicted and registered sex offender is their doctor? What is the line we must draw?
How does a domestic violence survivor feel knowing she has to see, talk to and interact with her abuser on a regular basis, or that peers continually tell her she needs to give him a second chance?
They feel betrayed.
There is supposed to be a system to protect us from those we know to be harmful, dangerous, a risk… and yet, the system is failing. The system is purposefully putting us back in harm’s way, knowing that these people are there and in positions of trust and power.
A doctor who has to work construction because his crime prevents him from practicing medicine sounds just about right to me. A rapist/killer who isn’t allowed to volunteer in her children’s school sounds like appropriate action to protect the school and the children who pay to attend it. An abuser, who is seen as harmful to his wife and/or children and called to task, instead of supported in his delusions, sounds like it would be helpful to end domestic violence.
It makes me afraid for my children to see news reports of these criminals working to have their “normal” life. It makes me afraid for me, and for you.
There are consequences to actions. Sometimes they are short-term consequences and sometimes they are long-term consequences. When did we stop demanding and expecting long-term consequences? When did it become okay to say “oh, enough time has passed, they can have their life back.” They shouldn’t get their life back. They forfeited it when they deliberately took someone else’s life, when they caused someone else to have to follow a different path because of their unconscionable and horrific actions.
This isn’t about forgiveness. Forgiveness is something we do to obtain healing for ourselves and to facilitate the change of another person. Forgiveness does not require us to turn a blind eye to the sins of the past. We are not God. Only He can throw the sins into the deepest sea. The thief on the cross was forgiven, but he still had to face the consequences of his actions.
I pray and hope that these people have changed. That would be wonderful! Unfortunately, their actions have consequences and those consequences mean they don’t get to enjoy the normalcy of life after conviction and release from jail. It means they may not be able to enjoy doing the things they want to do. We all bear scars. We all have to face responsibility for our actions and we all have to accept the consequences of our actions.
(My computer won’t post the video of today’s song, but I hope you’ll follow the link.