I HOPE to have your readers rethink some of their comments and feelings toward 'naming and shaming' sexual predators of children.
You see, I am a woman who many years ago had a number of illicit experiences with someone who is considered a paedophile by any definition.
You will probably note that is a funny way of putting it.
I don't consider myself a survivor or victim. That is my approach and it works for me.
I am a smart and successful professional woman with what anyone would consider a successful marriage and family.
I have not allowed these experiences to define who I am. I accept what happened and get help if needed and thankfully as years pass that help is required less and less.
I feel I need to speak out because every time you print/publicise (which obviously needs to happen) alleged attacks there are the usual peanut gallery responses - 'name and shame', 'give me 10 minutes with him' and 'if it were my child….'.
Even listening to the radio there was Derryn Hinch saying 'if you don't support naming and shaming you are supporting paedophiles.' It seems everyone needs this to happen.
Well I don't. I'm most certainly not 'for paedophiles', as Mr Hinch would suggest, and I'm not here to be dragged through it all again.
The naming and shaming of paedophiles brings shame not only to the paedophile but to every child he/she has been connected with even if they hadn't yet become a target.
People knowing the identity of the perpetrator makes the target feel as if he/she can be equally identified.
Even in Bundaberg, large enough to be considered a city, the fear and isolation of the threat of 'everyone knowing' when you already carry the shame is more than enough for targets not to speak out.
There is also the implicit innocence of people not named as being a paedophile. Suddenly one neighbour is the root of all evil but the other one is okay.
'Knowing' allows us to let our guard down, even subconsciously.
No loving parent that I am aware of would knowingly send their children into harm's way but all of a sudden we know that we don't go into those houses marked on a map but friends and family are okay….. That breeds complicity.
Finally there are the comments regarding what extremely loving parents would do given the opportunity to these offenders.
I remember being so concerned about tearing my family apart over my experience that it prevented me opening my mouth for far too long.
My parents never said anything about retribution to these people but still I knew they wouldn't stand for it.
I felt I knew that my parents would fight for me (which they did but not in the way I feared). I worried that there would be violence and it would be all over me and my own tight family would be shredded with fear of jail for my parents and then where would that leave me? Kids are smart.
Even when you don't think they can hear or read your comments they are perceptive. Even while I was considering writing this letter my child asked me why I was sad.
My child is too young for me to divulge any of this information to but the answer to that is feel that fantastic parents are letting their children down unknowingly by making an avenue that should be safe into one of terror.
A burden young children should not need to bare.
I do believe the courts are fatally flawed and do victims a huge injustice. Sentences do not follow what the community standards dictate but what is the price of trust, innocence, self-worth and children's futures?
I also choose to believe that jail is not a happy place full of endless opportunity. I pay quite a bit of tax and do shudder at the thought that it is going to feed and clothe these people. I'm not sure given the price paid by children any sentence would be adequate.
If this helps one family change a little of how they word things or become more aware this letter will have had some meaning.
If one child takes one less experience of abuse before he/she opens their little, innocent mouths then I would have done what I set out to achieve by this insight.
Please don't think of the criminal when vilifying the crime, think of the repercussions of the target.
They have already been through enough and shown more courage than most can muster.
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