Inside Edition ran a story by Maya Chung about women who stay in relationships with sex offenders.
My first thought is that I cannot remember seeing the same kind of curiosity about those mysterious people who stay in relationships with someone who stole cars or committed fraud or beat the convenience store clerk. The assumption in those cases seems to be that spouses will stay or go based on individual choices. Some people stay with car thief spouses and some leave.
Chung details a couple of relationships between sex offenders and their wives.
Josh and Susan:
"My husband came home early one day after having a big fight over the weekend and he caught Josh and me in the shower,” Susan said. “I did try to end our relationship a few times but the chemistry was just so strong that it was hard to let each other go. I didn’t mean for it to happen."
Jerry and Melissa:
She met Jerry at a charity event in 2006 – 17 years after his second offense. She said they became friends before becoming romantically involved. When he told her his status on the registry soon after they began dating, and she made a conscious decision to stay with him.
As with love stories told by other couples, some stories are boring, some are mildly interesting, some are sweet and some are a little shocking.
While it may seem surprising to many, some women are willing to go through being outwardly shunned by family and their communities in the defense of the men because to them, love trumps all.Women--and men--have always been willing to go through hell for people they love. How is this surprising?
Their experiences being in a relationship with a sex offender may be different, but these women have another thing in common: An undeniable faith in their men.Yes, being in a relationship with a registered citizen offers a different experience. A parent can lose custody of his or her children; neighbors will make terrible assumptions and gossip about them; family members cut ties.
All because a name is on a list.
Because a name is on a list, there is a real risk of prison time for missing a paperwork deadline. Most families of former lawbreakers do not have to live with that hanging over their heads.
Sex offenders are not fearsome monsters. They are people who committed crimes, made terrible choices, or got caught up in surprising circumstances. Spouses and partners can continue to love or dislike them, trust or mistrust as they choose, based on whether they are good parents, good cooks, good lovers, or based on any criteria that mean something to a specific couple.
There is no default 'Abandon Ship' setting on relationships with registered sex offenders, just as there is no default setting on relationships with adulterers or with people who cheat on taxes or with people who are boring or snore too much or are overweight.
We all see relationships that don't make sense to us. Why does he stay with her? Has he not seen what a tyrant she can be at the PTA meetings? Why does she stay with him? Does she not know that he has never in his life had a generous moment?
The reason we look at spouses and partners of sex offenders as something exotic is because the registry encourages the false idea that registered citizens are dangerous.
Abolish the registry.