Responses and Dialogue after a Meeting
Following a support and dialogue group, a participant shares his thoughts. He was a child pornography user and a virtual predator who never sought direct contact with minors:
I wanted to say I’m sorry for the grim and harsh tones I had while telling my story during the meeting. I hope I didn’t have a negative impact on the others, victims and pedophiles both. Their stories had really shaken me. I felt dirty in comparison to the hopeless and condemned love of B the scriptwriter. Guilty before M who was exploited as a child to produce photos that I could have watched myself. Cowardly while listening to the two youths who are confronting early their addiction to child pornography. Responsible for showing to S and his mother the aberrations that can happen when you lock yourself up alone with your secrets. I felt the need to throw up my story like the horrific mess I perceive it to be. I put into it the anger and despair I thought I saw in the young woman who sat next to you and who had to leave early.
I’m becoming aware of all I still have to do to reconcile the two “me”s in myself and to speak of them as a whole. I’ve essentially only described the destructive process I had created and that lead me to become a “cyber rapist” of sorts. I still disgust myself to such a degree that I can’t express it, as it looks too much like self-pity. Despite the kind looks around me, I still have trouble accepting the good in me and letting it grow.
I have to learn to talk about my “day me”, like A does, the me who is the loving father of my two kids. Who has been my mother’s rock for so many years. And also to talk of the beautiful humanity of my wife who, despite the lies and horrors I committed, still tries to build with me and the kids a bright future for all of us.
Participating to the support and dialogue group is very beneficial to me. Listening to me and telling me all of your stories help me mesure my responsibility, question myself, share my emotions. And especially you, Latifa, your smile, your open arms and the love you irradiate really pull me toward a future filled with light.
I hope I didn’t damage the group or the individuals, and I’m very sorry I expressed myself so coldly. Since you gave me a hand up, I have the responsibility during the meetings to do the same for others and pull them up. I hope I didn’t crush anyone with the violence of my words, that’s not what I wanted.
I write all this to you here even though we will talk on the phone tomorrow because I don’t know in how weak a mental state I will be then.
Thank you a billion times for all you bring to us all.
Response and support from a participant to the same meeting, a pedophile ex-offender suffering from an inadequate reinsertion after his prison term:
Yours is a poignant testimony, R, and I can tell you that you are a great guy ! It may seem out of place coming from someone who was condemned for breaking the law, but you don’t deserve this suffering. Why do you say that you need to learn how to share? You expressed yourself with great honesty during the group with Latifa and the others, and never in any hurtful way. There are mistakes we may make sometimes in our lives. But a man (and a woman, just to not have all the Feminists on me, even though…) without faults does not exist. A friend of mine, a priest, told me one day while I was in prison: « A man is greater than his actions ».
First of all you have to become aware of the fact that you have a family who believes in you. A wife and kids. There aren’t two Rs, just one, and even though right now you have to face your errors, this cannot in any way keep you from going on SERENELY with your life. I didn’t feel any violence in your words. I talked about difficult topics myself, but I surely wasn’t there to hurt anyone or to lie to myself.
The groups Latifa organises don’t aim at self-flagellation. They are meetings that might seem to some “self-righteous” people an insult to the politically correct, just like obscurantism has always brought people to burn the witches and heretics of their century… N H wrote to me, while I was in prison: « The justice system cannot afford to understand people, because if it did it would not be able to judge them ». In quoting this thought from Robert Badinter, he wanted to tell me that life is not as simple as we might hope. Circumstances, prejudice, social or religious conventions bring us to believe right what is wrong and viceversa. I was condemned for one of the worst accusations there is, I know where the truth lies. Still, I have to bear that unfair sentence (as it didn’t just condemn me for what I actually did, but also for things I didn’t do) all my life.
Every day I believe I can see the sun coming up again, but the darkness falls again just a few hours later. I’m cold, I tremble and cry. My mistakes brought me in a land without any discernment nor JUSTICE. And there is nothing I can do about it. I know that every time I try to voice the truth, out of the mouths of all the people that believe their judgement was correct will come the word “denial”, like the blade of a modern inquisition.
I still try to go on living, especially, just as you say it yourself, R, thanks to Latifa, to her work, her courage, her determination, her convictions coming from her own suffering she managed to pull through. And as for you, your life isn’t at a close at all. Thanks to your family and your determination, it can work its way to happiness. Paul Boese said that forgiveness doesn’t erase the past, it broadens the future. So yours is now before you, wide open.
By the way, my best wishes to everyone I met during the group. All suffering, sometimes for reasons completely at the other end of the spectrum, but all managing to turn this unexpected meeting in a moment of exemplary humanism.
Thank you, dear Latifa.
Support from one of the victims participating to the group (male).
I didn’t feel any violence or horror in your sharing, I was just proud that we’re part of the same humanity, and thinking that if everyone had the same courage you have in bringing your inner monster out in the open, it would be destroyed since this monstruous part each of us has inside blossoms in the shadows, its natural habitat. So thank you for your beautiful and great courage. Thank you for your capacity to observe your two “me”s at a distance like an enthomologist. That distance shows you are already pulling free of them. You are traversing a valley of solitude, but we are all here, behind the scenes, to support you and help you when you feel you need it.
Victims (or at least victims who pulled or are pulling through) don’t need to hear “censored” speeches that keep them in their suposed frailty. They definitely don’t want to be “handled with care”. It is just the truth, as harsh and grim as it may be, that interests them. The truth, not to mend a prejudice, but for justice. Because I believe everything must be districated to avoid adding evil to evil as Camus said. I believe our true nature lies in solidarity, that we are at once the bricks and the mortar. And that victims who pulled through, just as much as offenders who pulled through, can be the best masons in the world.
Fare well, R, my brother in tears.