(Weekly Update #218)
Dear Members and Advocates,
How are you doing today?
That’s not a rhetorical question. Literally, how are you doing today? I know you’re reading a weekly update email and there’s nobody to respond to, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want you to ask yourself that question and if it makes you feel better, stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself the question as if it were someone else asking you. Then take a moment to really think about what answer you would give.
Last week I was forced to ask myself that question. I had just written a personally emotional update about a sad event that occurred in our registrant family; the death of a homeless registrant. Several who read the update posed the question to me. Sure, I guess I’m ok. I wasn’t the one hit by the car, I didn’t really know the guy, there’s no justification for feeling “not ok”. But I wasn’t feeling ok about it and it took a lot of introspection to realize why. I went into a lot of the reasons last week, so I won’t rehash, but when something happens to someone on the registry, when a new bill is introduced, when a new law is passed, when a decision comes out in a legal challenge or simply when I learn of another member in crisis, it feels like an old wound is reopened.
A very respected treatment provider recently conducted a study on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the registrant community. I’ll defer to the study when it comes out for the findings, but there is little doubt that all of us are struggling with PTSD. I think it’s worse though. PTSD implies that you are in a period of “post-trauma”, but that’s simply not the case for us. If a soldier goes off to Iraq and returns, it’s not uncommon for them to experience PTSD. They were in a traumatic situation, they spent a period of time in an intense “fight or flight” mode, but now they returned home and they are in a safe environment where they are mentally able to deal with the trauma they went through. If the soldier were sill in Iraq and they sought to sort out their emotions while waiting for the next missile attack, I’m not sure how effective any form of treatment would be.
Similarly, even though our sentences expired years or decades ago, we are still subject to check-ins, reporting, address verifications, compliance stings, vigilantes, increasing restrictions, etc. where any technical violation, even an unknowing one, puts you right back in jail. We are never “safe” in our homes, careers or even our communities, because you never know when a law or ordinance will change or “someone will find out”. While it’s unquestionable that former inmates have PTSD, when the offense is in your past, you have now moved beyond it and are in a “safe” place to examine your mental health, PTSD can be dealt with. But when you are always walking through a proverbial jungle never knowing when or from which angle you will be confronted (whether by new law or vigilante), it’s very hard to consider yourself “post trauma”. I feel like I’m suffering from PTSD but the acronym stands for persistent traumatic stress disorder.
The registry is traumatic. Living under the draconian restrictions and ever expanding rules under the constant threat of a third-degree felony is a persistent traumatic existence. Without any end in sight, and not knowing what harsher (they never get better, only worse) restriction will be passed in the next legislative session I imagine that the answer to my question, how are you doing, can’t ever be great. I’m never really feel at peace, I never really feel safe. I never really feel OK. While I might have moments where I enjoy a good meal with family or watch a good movie on television, I don’t feel right for any reasonable amount of time and sometimes I have trouble foreseeing that ever returning in my life. That’s too bad.
I know with everything in me that one day things will change and that’s what keeps me going. I also realize that the volunteer work I do for FAC is the only way that things will change. Not just me personally, but the 5 or 6 fellow board members and volunteers who have dedicated their lives to change as well. As a volunteer for FAC, I’ve dedicated a substantial portion of my life over the past decade to helping people who are in bad situations. I’m in a bad situation, but I’m not in as bad a situation as others. If you are able to read this update, you might be in a bad situation but you’re not in as bad a situation as someone who cannot afford a computer or smartphone or who can’t have access to one. I’m not doing well today, but I know that there are others who are doing worse than I. As upsetting as it is to hear about homeless registrants (picking just one cause in our portfolio of daily fires erupting within the FAC family), it would be more upsetting to do nothing about it. So I try, and it doesn’t always work, but at the end of the day I can, in good conscience, say that I’ve done something to make someone’s life better and that helps make me feel alright.
I want the good people who volunteer for FAC, the attorneys who represent registrants, the good treatment providers and even the good members of law enforcement and probation who strive to help our population succeed and become productive members of society know they are appreciated. You have no idea how meaningful and important your service is to humanity. Thank you.
I want all of you reading this who are able to write a letter, make a phone call, stuff an envelope, read from a script at a commission meeting, make a donation, or have any time or skills that you would like to put behind our cause, to step up. We desperately need volunteers to help with every aspect of our organization. If you can commit yourself to a couple of hours a week, or as needed, we sincerely need the help. Please contact [email protected] and let our membership committee know that you’d like to help. I promise you it will make a difference and it just might make you feel better.
Finally, if you’re not doing well, let’s support each other. If you’re feeling alone and isolated, if you are feeling hopeless, if you feel like a deer in headlights not knowing where to begin, we also want you to become involved. We receive calls all the time from someone who is living in isolation, whose family abandoned them, who is not ok. Unsurprisingly, we get calls from many other people each month who feel the exact way! Can’t these guys get together for a coffee or something? We desperately need to set up support groups, but we need volunteers to organize them. So step up!
The feelings that some of you are experiencing are shared by many among us. If you are not doing well, there are hundreds more among us who are not doing well. If you have ideas, there are hundreds among us who can help you implement them. If you are asking yourself why FAC doesn’t do X, Y, or Z, it is because you have not joined a committee to take on that task and we are simply overwhelmed with the day to day. If you want to make a change, you can make a change, but the first step is on you and that is getting involved!
Let’s have a great and productive week!
Te Florida Action Committee
See Calendar of Events – Keep up with Meet-and-Greets in your area, Support groups, Membership Calls, and other events. For questions, contact [email protected] or call 833-273-7325,Option 1.
Click Here for Calendar, and double click on the event to view details and RSVP instructions
July 23- Meet and Greet in Ft Myers
July 30 – Meet-and Greet in Bradenton
July 30 – Meet-and-Greet in Brooksville
Aug 6 – Meet-and-Greet in Apopka
Aug 20 – Meet-and-Greet in Daytona
Aug 26 – Women Only Meet-and-Greet – Fort Lauderdale
Aug 27 – Meet and Greet in Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood
Become a County Coordinator. The only requirement is your desire to HELP us organize your county. If you are interested in joining the County Coordinator Team, leave message at 833-273-7325, Option 1, or email [email protected]
SOME HEADLINES FROM THIS WEEKread more
In response to the Frank Report post, Children of Parents on Sex Offender Registry Are Collateral Damage of Registry, numerous people commented. Some were strongly in favor of keeping the sex registry in place to protect children and others. Several others oppose it…read more
Even while recognizing the defendant’s only sexual offense happened 25 years ago, that he had served his prison sentence, and that he had the cognitive abilities of a second grader, the federal appeals court based in Denver declined to order a lesser sentence for…read more
The FDLE has replied to FAC’s request for clarification on domestic travel. Several members have been MISINFORMED by their registration offices that anytime they leave the state of Florida they are required to report. The FDLE’s website also had this incorrect…read more
The number of sex victims who opt for restorative mediation with the suspect is increasing rapidly. Last year, the number of victims who wanted to talk to them doubled: from 120 to 231. And this year too, the Perspectief Recovery Mediation Foundation sees the demand…read more