Yesterday's facebook episode is the thought behind this entry. It has brought about many emotions and thoughts and I'll use this entry to express what happened and some thoughts on it all. It involves gossip, lies, judgements, assumptions and teamwork or the lack of.
First of all, I belong to a variety of different groups for prison wives or family members in general on facebook. Each group has many of the same members and each group has it's own unique benefit to me. They all bring something different to the table and although I'm more active in some than others, I do look to all of them for support. As the wife of a registered sex offender I have specific groups for just that and I do depend on them quite heavily as a source of support for my exact situation. I always find it and I have to give a shout out to them because I have never felt judged as part of those specific groups for sex offenders or their families. The other groups I belong to are general support groups for families or wives/girlfriends of inmates in general, not necessarily sex offenders. In those groups it shouldn't matter what a person's crime is, we are all there because for whatever reason, our loved one is in prison. I've seen lots of support within these groups and I've seen lots of bashing and judgements. It amazes me how some can think that their crime is less than someone else's. A crime is a crime and to me is irrelevant. I don't ever ask what someone's crime is. If they want to tell, they will but to me it has no bearing on how I offer support. I don't care what anyone's crime is or how horrible it is. That "criminal" still deserves to be treated humanely and so do the family members who love and support them. In these groups we should all be here to support one another, not compare who's crime is worse or judge someone based on their loved ones crime.
So yesterday I had made a comment on a post within one of these general groups and someone from that group stated that I shouldn't even be part of that group. When I asked why I should be excluded we exchanged private messages where she informed me that someone on my "friend" list had told her all about DJ's crime and even made statements about me and how I support him and went so far as to tell lies about how I knew about and "condoned" his crime. Supposedly this person who was telling all of this made it clear that her man was "innocent" and that DJ is "guilty" and she had supposedly told others too. So this person who thought I should be excluded from a group was basing that opinion off of the fact that she couldn't get past DJ's crime and that she doesn't like to associate with people "like us". I'm so sick of hearing sex offenders and their families as "our kind" or "people like us". We are still humans!!!! Anyway, we went on to discuss that it really shouldn't matter what the crime is, this group is a place for us all to come to support one another because in the end, we are all prison wives who are supporting our husbands/boyfriends or loved ones and we all deserve support. Who are any of us to judge? It was also stated that who are we to determine guilt or innocence? Ultimately all of our men are "guilty" or they wouldn't be in prison.
This whole conversation prompted me to make and share a status update within most of my groups. Here is what I posted:
Well, due to an interesting conversation this afternoon I now have a new idea for a blog entry so stay tuned. But in the meantime, if you feel the need to bash DJ or myself because you think you are better than us, then please unfriend me! If you think just because your boyfriend or husband is "innocent" instead of "guilty" and that makes it ok for you to spread gossip about us then I feel sorry for you! I will never judge you or your man because I simply don't judge people PERIOD!!! I don't give a flying f*ck what anyone's crime is, they deserve to be treated humanely and so do the family members who stand by them. Also, guilty or innocent, our men are behind bars and we are out here doing time right along with them and instead of bashing one another, we should be supporting each other. But, if shining the spotlight on DJ and I makes you feel so much more superior and because you can say he's "guilty" and your man is "innocent" and that makes you feel better, well go right ahead! it matters not what anyone says because I will always stand up for and beside my DJ. Only a select few people know the details and those details are irrelevant. DJ is an incredible man whom I'm lucky enough to call my husband and who i will proudly shout out to the entire world who he IS and not the label society and others have placed upon him.
This post caused an avalanche of support from many and most wanted to know who this person was who did this. I did not and would not publicly out her although she did publicly oust herself. She states she did not spread gossip or lies and was upset that I would not have come to her directly. Truth is, I did not have the chance to go to her directly before this all started snowballing and at this point, it's not even about what she may or may not have said. It's about the fact that as prison wives we should all be banding together. As a loved one of a registered sex offender we should be supporting one another and trying to make sure the laws are changed so everyone is protected. This is a huge problem with society's label. They see "sex offender" and assume that person is horrible. They don't stop to think about the fact that there are many different circumstances that can lead a person into wearing that label. They don't stop to realize that some innocent people are labeled as such. they don't stop to realize all the collateral damage that is done to the families of sex offenders, guilty or not. They see the word "sex offender" and assume child molester or whatever and they want to judge or disassociate themselves from "our kind". I am a firm believer that people are not bad people. People do bad things and make bad choices but that does not make them bad. Yes there are those out there who committ sick acts against others. There are those out there who do hideous things but that does not mean they aren't capable of change and of getting help. Not all do get help or change but they are all capable. And even those who don't change still have family members who love them. Just because we stand by our loved ones and continue to love and support them does not mean we condone their bad behaviors. I for one will never condone DJ's bad behavior or choice but I know how much he has suffered and how deeply he hurts and that he has changed and will never re-offend. I get that others don't know him like I do and I don't expect anyone to trust him or I without us earning that trust. I do however expect to be given a fair shot at being allowed to earn that trust. Everyone deserves a 2nd chance. I feel sorry for those who don't believe that because the reality is that someday they will make a mistake and need someone to give them a 2nd chance. We are all human and make mistakes and we all deserve 2nd chances.
All in all, I wouldn't wish this life on anyone. But my point about all of this is that we should be supporting one another, not judging or condemning each other for our loved ones crimes. No matter the crime, innocent or guilty, we are all in the same boat. We should be supporting one another through this difficult period in our lives, not trying to tear each other apart or make our situation more or less right or wrong based on someone else. We are all "guilty" or we wouldn't be here and we are all doing time together, our loved ones behind bars and for us outside those walls. Let's all stand together and continue to be the strong individuals we are. If we stand together our strength will multiply, our voices will be heard and positive change will eventually occur. Show compassion for your fellow neighbors, love out loud and be thankful for all your blessings.