Finding out that your grandfather, brother, father, partner, or any other relative has been convicted of a sex offense can be one of the most devastating experiences you have to go through. The effects of the offence can be far-reaching even going beyond the victims and the offender.
The offender’s innocent family members go through a lot when this happens and are sometimes punished and shunned by the entire community for a crime that they are not guilty of.
For instance, let us assume that you are a child who has been raised by a kind, loyal, and loving father. Then you find out that he has been convicted of a sex offense.
He is arrested, charged, and now a court case is started. To start with, your friends, the media, and the entire community will not give you a breathing space. How do you cope?
The fears and worries
Since you love your relatives, you will of course be worried about them. You know that the tag of a sex offender will never leave them because, for instance, some states such as Florida register sex offenders for life.
People can even do a sexual offender search in Florida’s database and see all the people who have been convicted of a sex offense before. You need to find ways of handling the fears and worries for the well-being of yourself as well as your family. But how do you do that?
Taking care of yourself and your family
Most of the time, people tend to put themselves last when dealing with the offending behavior of their relatives or loved ones. Most of them feel that they should remain strong for the offender.
However, it is important for them to note that their lives matter as well and they do not need to put themselves in situations where they feel like they are on their own.
Finding ways to distract yourself and your families
One of the most difficult things to do is filling time especially when your relative is convicted of a sex offense. You do not even think about relaxing or finding time for yourself.
But by taking small steps towards healing, you might find yourself in a better place. It might even be a few minutes of a walk to help handle the stress. Some of the things you can engage in, even though they are not quick fixes, include;
Taking your family outside the house
You need to come up with a plan of getting your family outside the house. There are many places you can go to. For instance, look at the favorite places you often visit as a family, a place where you do not expect to meet people who know you.
You can even go out into the garden, the shopping center, the church, or even a game park. The most important thing you need is to go outside instead of staying indoors all the time.
Talking to a person
You also need to find a person that can listen to you because communication is important when managing stress. This could be another family member, a friend, or a professional who is neutral to the case.
Make sure that this is a person you feel free talking to and who makes you feel better. If you are not able to talk, you can use other modes of communication such as sending emails or even text messages.
Switching off your phone
Even though it might be difficult to put off your phone, you need to consider doing it. This is not only important in helping you avoid calls and messages from people asking you about the offender but also in helping you avoid distractions when watching a movie, your favorite program, or reading a book.
Engaging in positive relationships
Even though some people might judge or even punish you for the offense of your relative, some will stand with you and help you get through the entire experience.
These are the people you could meet in a bid to maintain a healthy relationship even during turbulent times. You could meet over a cup of coffee or even for a walk together.
List things you would like to do
There are things that you have always wanted to do but never been able to or never had the time to do them.
You can make a list of these things, then make sure that you are tackling at least one of them every day. The bottom line is to try to keep yourself busy.
Dealing with the stress that comes when a relative is convicted of a sex offense is not easy. Most families have broken up and others are left in situations that are difficult to handle. However, following the guidelines discussed above, families can cope easily.
Alicia Saville did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.