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  #1  
Old 08-04-2017, 01:56 PM
infinityjay infinityjay is offline
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Default New to this. Confused and worried

Hello..I came across this site trying to search for information on how to juggle all the uncertainty that is having a loved one in prison. Recently, my father was sentenced to 22 years for a sexual offense with a minor. It has been an ongoing process trying to wrap my head around him being capable of such a thing. Growing up he was an excellent father, when I had children he became an excellent grandfather to my now 6 and 9 year old. Young enough to not fully understand but old enough to know he is gone and miss him. Trying to figure out how to cope with the added layer of helping my kids through their confusion/grief has been absolute hell.

Currently my children know that he has been sent to prison for breaking the law and that they will be adults before he is allowed to leave. They don't understand and are constantly asking me questions I don't have for sure answers to. Will they be able to talk to him? write him? visit him? For right now I told them we won't know any of the rules until he gets settled and moved. It breaks my heart.

Regardless of the answers, I'm still trying to figure out how I want to handle it. Part of me wishes I could just hate him and ban him from our lives. The other part focuses on the father that I know, love, and have always respected. It makes it hard to decide how to make decisions moving forward and my #1 priority is trying to get through this without screwing my kids up.

If anyone has been down a similar road before, I'd love to hear from you and how you handled it.
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Old 08-04-2017, 03:14 PM
onparoleinTO onparoleinTO is offline
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Hi infinity. You've come to the right place. If you look back through the threads on this forum you'll find a number of others who have been through something very similar, some of whom, I'm sure, would be happy to share their experiences with you. You might also look in the 'loving a sex offender' forum, since the SO charge creates many additional complications. If you find posts from others that speak to you, try sending those posters a personal message (but look at the dates, as you may find some posts that are quite old so the posters are no longer using this site).

I'm on the other end - the father/grandfather who was jailed. If that's useful to you, ask away. The grief, anger, confusion - lots of us get that and many of us are on here to try to help others work through it, ideally with less pain than we had.
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Old 08-04-2017, 03:54 PM
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Welcome to PTO, infinityjay. I'm very sorry you need us, and very glad you found us.

First off, you're in the absolute worst part of the mess. I just want to put that out there. My Dad was arrested and the bit between his arrest and when he finally landed in his home institution was pure hell. To add children to the mix would be beyond awful.

Yes, the desire to just walk away is strong. Very strong. It takes a lot of internal strength to go through the process and come out the other side. That is an option now. It will continue to be an option for the rest of your life. It was actually an option before your Dad was arrested, but you probably never had need to even consider it.

But it won't change anything, if you walk away. The big question is can you look yourself in the mirror and believe you are a decent human being if you walk away. I'll add to that that many people do walk away and they do feel that they're still decent human beings. It depends entirely on the situation. For instance, if your father's victim was one of your children, you might feel a lot differently than if his crime/victim was not someone you knew. It would also depend on the crime, if it was long-term/ongoing or a one-time event, if it was "hands on" or electronic, etc. There is no shame in walking away.

As for your kids, if they weren't the victim, they should be able to write to him at the very least. Visitation will vary from state to state, and sometimes from institution to institution. But your answer to your kids right now is spot on "We don't know yet." That leaves everything open until you have a little more certainty going on. I wouldn't want to tell them one thing only to find out the system says "no" later on and disappoint them again.

As for how to wrap your mind around it, I used several techniques. My father's crime was long-term, repeat sexual abuse of a minor, hands-on. One thing I did was remind myself that for years, he did this thing that he kept secret. I kept company with him during those years, oblivious to what was going on, yet it was still going on. It was his secret and he managed to keep it. What would people think of you if they knew your deepest, darkest secret? Would it change their opinion of you? We all have secrets, some are just more shocking than others.

And none of what my father did negates any of the other things he did. He taught me to fish. He taught me to change my own oil. He was well respected by those he worked with. He served his country almost at the cost of his own life. He earned a bronze star with a V for valor and two oak leaf clusters (in other words, he saved a man's life, then went on to show courage on the field of battle worthy of earning the medal two more times). He saved numerous lives while he was in the military and he saved a couple other lives when he was doing whitewater rescue. Did his crimes negate those people's lives? No. Most are probably still alive, and are alive because of his actions.

Your father's actions don't negate or eliminate or terminate the good things he did in his life. Like most people, he is a complicated mish-mash of good and bad things. We all are. He may be a very good person who did a bad thing. Most of us have done something bad at some point in our lives. It's a matter of degrees.

I love(d) my father (he died of lung cancer a few years ago). I was the only member of my family who stayed in contact with him. I do not judge the other members who ceased speaking to him. It was not easy at first, though most of the difficulty lie in that he lashed out at me with his anger. That changed over time while he was inside, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

The most difficult part for me was trust. I did not trust my Dad anymore. I used to trust him, but couldn't any longer. I never did learn to trust him again, not even on his death bed. That may or may not be true for you.

Each parent/child relationship is different, so you will have to muddle through to find what fits for you and your relationship. My father was an alcoholic, and that complicated our relationship, to put it mildly.

Feel free to ask me any question you like, and I will do my best to answer it. I am here to try to help those who need support try to sort through things. PM or in a public post, either is fine.

I'll second what onparoleinTO said - check out the "Loving a Sex Offender" forum. It saved my sanity (in combination with my State forum). Hearing from people who've "been there, done that" is HUGELY helpful, especially with something like this where you can't exactly go sit with your neighbor and ask them how they dealt with it - though you'll be surprised at how many people have loved ones incarcerated for sex offenses.

Much support and a big ear to talk to from me.
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Old 08-05-2017, 12:14 PM
Curt'swife8 Curt'swife8 is offline
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I am sorry that you are going through this kind of pain! I cannot relate to coping with his particular offense and I know that is coloring your thought processes. I will say though that maintaining relationships with loved ones can be healthy for both sets of people: those incarcerated and those loving someone who is incarcerated. As GingerM stated, his offense doesn't negate all of the positive things he has done! Love can heal. Good luck to you and to your family!
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Old 08-05-2017, 02:39 PM
infinityjay infinityjay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GingerM View Post
Welcome to PTO, infinityjay. I'm very sorry you need us, and very glad you found us.

First off, you're in the absolute worst part of the mess. I just want to put that out there. My Dad was arrested and the bit between his arrest and when he finally landed in his home institution was pure hell. To add children to the mix would be beyond awful.

Yes, the desire to just walk away is strong. Very strong. It takes a lot of internal strength to go through the process and come out the other side. That is an option now. It will continue to be an option for the rest of your life. It was actually an option before your Dad was arrested, but you probably never had need to even consider it.

But it won't change anything, if you walk away. The big question is can you look yourself in the mirror and believe you are a decent human being if you walk away. I'll add to that that many people do walk away and they do feel that they're still decent human beings. It depends entirely on the situation. For instance, if your father's victim was one of your children, you might feel a lot differently than if his crime/victim was not someone you knew. It would also depend on the crime, if it was long-term/ongoing or a one-time event, if it was "hands on" or electronic, etc. There is no shame in walking away.

As for your kids, if they weren't the victim, they should be able to write to him at the very least. Visitation will vary from state to state, and sometimes from institution to institution. But your answer to your kids right now is spot on "We don't know yet." That leaves everything open until you have a little more certainty going on. I wouldn't want to tell them one thing only to find out the system says "no" later on and disappoint them again.

As for how to wrap your mind around it, I used several techniques. My father's crime was long-term, repeat sexual abuse of a minor, hands-on. One thing I did was remind myself that for years, he did this thing that he kept secret. I kept company with him during those years, oblivious to what was going on, yet it was still going on. It was his secret and he managed to keep it. What would people think of you if they knew your deepest, darkest secret? Would it change their opinion of you? We all have secrets, some are just more shocking than others.

And none of what my father did negates any of the other things he did. He taught me to fish. He taught me to change my own oil. He was well respected by those he worked with. He served his country almost at the cost of his own life. He earned a bronze star with a V for valor and two oak leaf clusters (in other words, he saved a man's life, then went on to show courage on the field of battle worthy of earning the medal two more times). He saved numerous lives while he was in the military and he saved a couple other lives when he was doing whitewater rescue. Did his crimes negate those people's lives? No. Most are probably still alive, and are alive because of his actions.

Your father's actions don't negate or eliminate or terminate the good things he did in his life. Like most people, he is a complicated mish-mash of good and bad things. We all are. He may be a very good person who did a bad thing. Most of us have done something bad at some point in our lives. It's a matter of degrees.

I love(d) my father (he died of lung cancer a few years ago). I was the only member of my family who stayed in contact with him. I do not judge the other members who ceased speaking to him. It was not easy at first, though most of the difficulty lie in that he lashed out at me with his anger. That changed over time while he was inside, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

The most difficult part for me was trust. I did not trust my Dad anymore. I used to trust him, but couldn't any longer. I never did learn to trust him again, not even on his death bed. That may or may not be true for you.

Each parent/child relationship is different, so you will have to muddle through to find what fits for you and your relationship. My father was an alcoholic, and that complicated our relationship, to put it mildly.

Feel free to ask me any question you like, and I will do my best to answer it. I am here to try to help those who need support try to sort through things. PM or in a public post, either is fine.

I'll second what onparoleinTO said - check out the "Loving a Sex Offender" forum. It saved my sanity (in combination with my State forum). Hearing from people who've "been there, done that" is HUGELY helpful, especially with something like this where you can't exactly go sit with your neighbor and ask them how they dealt with it - though you'll be surprised at how many people have loved ones incarcerated for sex offenses.

Much support and a big ear to talk to from me.
Thank you so much for these words. They bring me a little more comfort. His mother recently passed on top of all this and I've been sitting here debating rather or not to write him about it (I've been filling his place regarding the responsibilities with that) and if I do, if I should even mention the kids and what they've been up to, or leave them out of it. You can say her passing re-stirred the confusion. Having you remind me that his mistake doesn't terminate the good he did makes that decision a little easier.

I did first go to the "loving a sex offender" board but the titles seem to relate more to life after prison and i wasnt sure it was the right place. I will go back and see what I can find.
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Old 08-05-2017, 08:42 PM
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I did first go to the "loving a sex offender" board but the titles seem to relate more to life after prison and i wasnt sure it was the right place. I will go back and see what I can find.
For reasons we have never been able to figure out, that forum formats funny. If you scroll down far enough, you'll see posts by people who are just entering this journey in the main body of the forum.

Also, this thread can help you try to get it to reformat so it's easier to read: http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=412738

I'm glad I could be of help. The best you can do is the best you can do. There is no "one size fits all" answer to this thorny issue. I went into it wanting only to be able to look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and say "I am still a decent human being." Because I had no control over the actions or behaviors of anyone other than myself. Each day that I could do that was a win in my books.
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