So – what can it be inside someone that can allow them to perpetrate vile actions onto another human?
I describe it to be a little bit like having an itch that is begging to be scratched, kinda like an insurmountable pressure that builds inside. The violent offenders’ actions are, to them a form of stress relief. The killer and the rapist’s actions are an attempt to relieve some massive internal pressures. Anyway that’s how I see it.
Many of them have said to me that they were so very grateful to have been finally caught – and to have been put out of some of their internal misery.
I recently witnessed an interaction between one of my rapist friends and a prison officer; an incident that brought something home to me.
I was visiting this fellah in a country gaol and he was obviously real angry about something. He had only recently been incarcerated and as he came through to the visits area he was allowing some of that anger to be vented in front of the officers. An officer pulled him up, and in a way that was designed to humiliate he told him to act differently otherwise no visit would be allowed. This fellah immediately internalized his anger, succumbing to the humiliation that the prison officer was dishing him out.
This made me think that out there on the outside this fellah could very well and so easily replay out such a scenario of humiliation; it was something well familiar to him. He could easily switch, after much practice and ease between familiar roles of victim to perpetrator.
So now let’s get back to the pressure that builds inside; that pressure that has usually come from years of being victimized, often very brutally, and humiliated by people on whom they had been dependent for their survival. People they loved dearly. Such as parents and other family members.
Some people argue that rape is not a crime about sex – that it is a game played out between victim and perpetrator where the rules are power and humiliation.
I think rape is a crime about sex. I also think that all crimes have these axioms of power and humiliation well seated into their driving motivations and justifications.
The rapist has almost invariably been “sexualized”. Somewhere along the line sex has been confused with love in a powerful juxtaposition that involves the use of humiliation and power where the perpetrator is often a parent or someone else equally important to them for their survival.
The victim consequently confuses sexual abuse with love and believes that no-one can or will love them without them acting in a sexy way (sexualization). The victim is rendered sexually damaged and most often sexually inept.
Most offenders I have spoken to are not aware of a line that they invariably crossed; that is they are unaware of a mechanism that allowed them to switch from primarily being a victim into the role of being the perpetrator.
Perpetrators invariably believe that their victims “have asked for it”, and have actively solicited the attentions of their perpetrator. As such their crime can be seen by them as having been invited and, furthermore they often feel victimized by their victims even!
A strong tool in the armory of a rapist and other sexual predators is the use of fantasy. I’m sure there are not too many of us out there who can say in absolute honesty that they never use some form of fantasy to relieve some internal personal pressure such as dreaming of what we might do when winning the lotto as an adjunct to a life of financial pressure.
The rapist too has his own personal cache of fantasies that help relieve those internal pressures. Fantasies that they have tailor made to relieve the pressures of being sexually inept and deadly afraid and scared of being sexually victimized or humiliated. Their fantasies are designed to alleviate their own chances of sexual humiliation.
So it is in this way I believe that rape and other sexual offenses are crimes that are related to sex. The victim becomes a pawn in the perpetrators game where sex is used as a tool of punishment and the victim becomes a surrogate object representing the perpetrator who originally offended against them.
There develops a rich cache of powerful and alluring fantasy where all inadequacies and deadly fears are rendered redundant. It is the pressure to play these out that results in the crimes that are committed. However, almost invariably the crime is sexually unsatisfying, only serving to further exacerbate the internal dilemmas and needs that the rapist or sexual offender is trying to express and be free of.
There can then happen a cycle of desperation where the perpetrator tries to refine the fantasy, and later the crime act itself, in a futile effort to alleviate their own inner personal agonies of self hate and un-lovability.
I’m sure most of you would find it entirely unpalatable if I were to say that these people need our love, understanding, compassion and an opportunity to heal their wounds. And I think we owe it to them to come up with effective early intervention strategies to intercept the destructive cycles that breed such aberrations within people.
In this part of the world it costs around $62,000 per year to incarcerate someone. So if an offender scores around 8 – 9 years the cost of incarceration is around half a million dollars.
I’d like to suggest that this money might be more effectively spent at the other end of the life scale – on effective early intervention programs.
John Douglas (an FBI profiler) says that it is very easy to recognize a potential serial killer by the age of ten – and that a schoolteacher could easily identify people at such risk.
I would say that we need to intervene before that age and that by the age of 4, 5 or 6 that the signs and symptoms may already be well entrenched into behaviors. For instance often fetishes have become established by this age.
I do believe that it might be possible to rehabilitate and help such people within the prison system albeit with much, much more difficulty than preventative measures taken earlier; this is not happening very much. I could comment on this more – but might leave this, too, to another time. Suffice to say that I believe not much rehabilitation happens within the prison system.
Some people may argue that there are in place a number of violent offender programs and other rehabilitation programs already being used in the prisons. I believe that most of these have very limited effectiveness for reasons that also will be discussed in other articles. Not much rehabilitation goes on in most prisons.
Effective early intervention programs could solve many societal ails; and this is a huge topic. And this is something that, I believe every single one of us needs to become actively involved in and aware of; after all we are all potential victims and perpetrators.
I do not believe that some of us are merely born evil – but even if it might be true a lot of trouble might still be averted through effective early intervention strategies.
So please – let’s all get to around to it!!!