For the past year or so, I have taken a break from my work in advocating for reform in policies around people with sexual offenses. Lots of things sent me in that direction – work, business, discouragement. I have been mulling around how to get back in to this work and debating where I should pick back up, and really if picking back up is even feasible. After last night, I’m ready to give it a try..
My husband and I attended our local high school football game. As we were leaving the game, a local police officer pulled my husband aside saying he wished to speak with him. My immediate thought was that he was going to interrogate him, pretty much give him up the road for being at the game (although my husband has permission yet doesn’t need to because he isn’t on the registry any more.) I stood to the side for just a moment, but moved in to the conversation when I could tell by the body language that something different was occurring. When I stepped up, the police officer said he wanted to ask for my husband’s forgiveness because he had misjudged him by things he had “seen or heard.” He didn’t elaborate, but I knew he meant the sex offender registry and perhaps gossip from others who know nothing about my husband except the scant information that was provided on the Internet – not enough to know the whole picture but clearly enough to fuel the rumor mill.
It was a refreshing turn of events. Since my husband was removed from the registry several years ago, the issues surrounding the registry for us have been pushed aside by our daily lives. But I recognize from that one conversation that we are never truly free from those issues, nor the registry itself. I was also reminded in that moment that my advocacy and the example set by my husband and our family is so desperately needed. His story – our story – is an important one to be told so that others, who more than anything want to be productive members of society, can experience the handshake of another person who has the courage to say “I was wrong about you.”