My confession won’t be too liked, but I need to say it. I have been a sex offender counselor for the past ten years, and here are some recommendations if a sex offender ever moves into your community:
1. Simply be kind. Period. It makes these men feel like they belong and aren’t automatically hated, which in turn can lead to confidence and deter future crime. They are diverse and are interesting to talk to after they get comfortable. Be the neighbor who takes him a pie or cake to welcome him to the community rather than those who condemn him and spread notifications that his very being there is unwanted. It makes him feel unwanted and no one wants to feel that way. Do not feed rumors or say hateful things or threaten him with bodily harm or property damage.
2. Invite him to dinners, neighborhood functions, barbecues, church events. The more social interaction he has, the more good he is going to feel. I had a client who said he got a hug from a neighbor. It was his first hug by anybody in 4, yes 4, years. He cried tears of joy afterwards at that litle human contact gesture. Once you get to know your a sex offender, offer them a hug. Write them a birthday card or even throw them a birthday party or dinner. If you feel any romantic feelings with one, don’t hold it from him. Most of my clients are absolutely terrified to initiate any kind of romantic contact for fear of being thought of as someone who wants sex all the time. Yes, they all have sexual feelings. Everyone does. If they get the courage to ask for a date, do not humiliate them, even if you do not want the date; let him down kindly. For example, I hear a lot of clients say women reply with, “Who would want to date you? You are a nobody.”
3. Support their efforts to improve themselves. Do not belittle their ideas, whether it be aspirations for a college education, a job, or opening a business. I had a very intelligent, 20 year old client. He got accepted to M.I.T., one of the most prestigious colleges. He was so happy, showing me his acceptance lettter. He was glowing. A few days later, he got his rejection letter from that college due to the fact he was on the sex offender registry. Two days later, he was dead of suicide. He was studying medical research and disease genetics. He told me he was determined to find a cure for cance in memory of his little sister who died from cancer at the age of 10. What if he would have succeeded? Also, never encourage anyone to committ suicide because of their past. You might tell a sex offender online to kill himself, but would you do it if they were sitting next to you, crying, just wanting (or privately praying) someone would hug and love them?
Sex offenders are human, please treat them like that. Most just want a second chance at a good life. I do believe if neighbors and communites made them feel welcome, they would thrive and never do another sex crime with appropriate counseling, social support, and love.