Thursday, March 15, 2007

Why 12 Steps Make Me Cranky

There was an article today on cnn.com about a man who was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment today for a rape he committed in 1984. The rape occurred in Virginia which has no statute of limitations on felony prosecutions. The main piece of evidence against him? His letter he wrote in 2005 confessing/apologizing to the victim as step 9 of his alcohol treatment program. Apparently he wrote her a letter, which led to an email exchange in which he stated "I want to make clear that I'm not intentionally minimizing the fact of having raped you. I did." Step 9 involves making amends to those you have harmed, although not when doing so would cause further harm. And that, I guess is the rub, I am not sure as a group I think people recovering from an addiction are in a particularly good place to make that determination. This guy is a great example. He apparently thought that making contact out of nowhere with the woman he raped over twenty years ago would not be harmful to her. According to the article she has since forgiven him (although she did support the prosecution). But forgiving him and wanting the contact in the first place are not the same thing. I am glad that he is taking accountability for his actions and that from the account he has gone on to help others, but I guess I agree with the prosecutor that the letter was a selfish act, this was about his own need for absolution not about her or her feelings or needs. I am not sure what the right answer is for a rapist who sincerely wants to make amends but I don't think unsolicited contact with the person they victimized is the answer.

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