Saturday, February 7, 2015


For over 2 1/2 years, one Thursday a month, I attend a group. You can call it a meeting or therapy - in this instance, the definition could be either.

We are daughters, fiances, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and children of someone who as broken the law. Our group also includes one father and one friend. Our number fluctuates as the person we represent is no longer compelled by the courts, as people end their relationships, as some folks just give up, and recently, when one of our members dies. Our members are between infancy and the lady who just passed away, who was in her nineties.

I don't think any of us come for the social experience. I don't think any of us come for frivolous reasons. I can only speak for myself when I say that I would rather be almost anywhere else, and wish to God that there was no reason for me to attend.We are black, brown, white and yellow. We are PhD's and high school drop outs. We make six figures, and we make minimum wage.

Crime in it's various forms, crosses all boundaries.

Before attending group sessions, we all had to complete 16 hours of education. We learned all the horrible things that one person is capable of doing to others. We saw examples of poor judgement, absolute stupidity, substance induced ugliness, and complete evil. I learned more than I ever wanted to know. We heard interviews with perpetrators. They ran the gamete  from someone who did something  unbelievably dumb, and whose remorse was so real that we could feel his pain, to an interview with a man who I can only describe as a complete psychopath. He was one who chilled all of us to our bones.

Some of us have also been victims. Some have come from families that were intact, and where no one was ever violated in any way. Both groups face their own challenges. For those who have never known crime, it is unconscionable that they should find themselves sitting in this room. For those of us who have been victims, it can be a sort of PTSD. We relive our own pain and confusion. We relive all the anger; the helplessness. We remember the moment our soul died.

We come for various reasons. Some are court ordered to attend. Some come as a way of supporting the person they care for during this time. Some come to know how to deal with the 'new normal' that is their life. Some of us come for very personal reasons.

I just want to be able to look at my child with love again and get past all the anger. It's possible to love someone and want to punch them in the mouth. I come because I believe he needs to know someone is in his corner. I come because when I'm not totally ticked off,  I still see a little boy who was kind, loving, and who wanted to do good in the world. I see him remembering that little boy too, and hating himself. Supporting my son is what has cost me my grandchildren. I have been told that because I haven't 'kicked him to the curb', I am "not safe" with them. Knowing all that I know now, I don't know many people who could be safer or more protective of them, but that's for another day.

For many of us, especially the mothers, grandmothers and wives, we also attend because it's pretty much all we have. All of us have experienced friends leaving, institutions walking away, and pretty much the same stigma as the person that we represent. The one difference? None of us has broken the law, yet we share in the sentence which society has imposed on us as well as our child, grandchild, husband, etc. There are women in our group who have been fired. Not for their performance, but because of their relative or connection.

This is the only safe place for most of us to speak. We live in denial, shame or sadness. The other night, a lady was asked if she takes her son to church, as that is something very important to her. She very angrily said, "NO! My church is clean. I don't want his filth anywhere near it!" Her son is no worse than any others, but her shame is so real. She is one of the people who have seen so called friends walk away from her when he got caught. I felt terrible for her, but I also felt terrible for her son. Where does your child go when no one wants them close - even their parent?

I am writing and disclosing for a reason. We are a small group, but there are thousands and thousands of others who have no where to speak - who live their lives hiding a huge part of themselves. I want them to know that they are not alone. For so long, I felt alone and as if no one really gave a crap. I have come a long way having the support of others like me and the support of this group.

Because I did something wrong when I set this blog up, comments are not possible, but I would be glad to hear from anyone in this same situation.

You can write me confidentially at kvsmm1945@gmail.com. I would honestly like to hear from you. You can't shock me, offend me, or say anything that I haven't already heard, and if I can help, I would like to.

You are not alone.