Posted by: joshjasper | August 4, 2009

The Zone

I was in the zone tonight.  You ever have that feeling when you are doing something and you just know that everything you are saying or doing is just right?  The presentation I gave tonight in Freeport was exactly that experience.  I immediately sensed that the audience was engaged in what I had to say and were holding onto every word.  Did I mention my audience was 16 men that have been convicted of rape or domestic assault?

It was that time of the year again where I travel to Freeport Illinois to participate in a victim impact panel.  My presentation has evolved over the past year, and I think it’s really close to where it needs to be.  Believe it or not, as the President of a rape crisis center, I firmly believe we can create a community free of violence.  In order to realize that vision though, we have to reach everyone in our prevention efforts, including those that have been found guilty of the very crime that we are trying to prevent.  What do you think about that?…I am curious. I must say, this type of thinking is not incredibly popular in my line of work.  More often than not, people want to lock ’em up and throw away the key.  As we all know, that line of thinking is simply not realistic.  We can certainly “lock ’em up,” but it’s naive to think that they will not walk the streets again.

I don’t necessarily feel good about my presentation because of what I specifically said, but it has more to do with the response from the audience.  Keep in mind, not only was  I asking a group of men that have been convicted of a violent crime to take responsibility for their actions, but I also focus on challenging their definitions of what it means to be a man, and how that very definition is problematic.  Guys do not typically sit around and chat about what I have to share.

Here’s the exciting part though-I could see in their eyes as I walked through the room that some of those guys were remorseful for their actions, and really did want to make a change for the better.  Guys were getting choked up when I started talking about what it means to be a man in today’s society, and how it often involves repressing your feelings, and pretending to be someone you are not.  I also make it clear throughout my presentation that although we are talking about understanding violence, we are not talking about excusing their past behaviors.

I ended my presentation tonight asking them to do one thing.  I asked each of them to leave tonight’s mandated meeting with me, and to make a choice.  Each of them now have an opportunity to make a choice that involves living a life free of committing future violence.

My hope is that they make the right choice.

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Responses

  1. Great Job Josh! Reaching outside of the box is one of the great things you do!

  2. I think it’s important to reach out to victims too. They learned this violent behavior, so in essence, they are victims too. Now I am not saying poor rapist. But it’s counterproductive to turn our backs on perpetrators. How can we expect true change if we don’t address the sources of violence? We are all victims as long as there is rape. The shockwave of one assault every 7 seconds impacts us all.


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