Thursday, January 14, 2010

Good things about today

All the animals are well, including the primates.

My late Christmas gift is here--a sewing machine. I have not sewn in many years, and am looking forward to starting again.

I had a day off.

I've made several new friends over the last few months.

Invitations to do good things are coming in.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Soul report

Soul's tumor was cancer. The margins were clean. If it was the only one, he will be OK. If there are others we haven't found yet, he won't be. We won't know unless or until the next one shows up--or until he eventually dies of something else.

Really, I don't know anything today that I didn't know yesterday, or anything I didn't know before we found the lump. I knew that all lives end, and that the lives of dogs are shorter than those of humans. I knew I'd most likely outlive Soul.

What I know today is a little more about how he might die, and that it may be even sooner than I thought. It's surprisingly hard to take.

My job remains the same: to take responsibility for my life and live it as well as I can, loving and giving care to those around me.

Teach us to number our days, O Lord.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One day at a time, and a prayer request for Soul

With a lot of 12-step work and prayer, we are putting things back together. It's good. Growth is slow, mostly steady. Our days must look pretty uneventful from the outside, yet we are quietly doing the hardest work of our lives.

Christmas was simple and peaceful.

Early tomorrow morning, our dog Soul will have a tumor removed and sent for analysis. Please pray for Soul. He is a good dog and he's only 8. Heart is a very quiet dog tonight because there's no one to play with (cats don't count). She follows me from room to room, looking worried. Come to think of it, my spouse and I are doing that with each other, too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Doing better

I tell you what, intensive 12-step work is the best. It really does change things.

A couple of years ago, I would have scorned talk of codependence, but it's what I have--and codependence is not caring too much: caring is something else entirely.

I'm stronger and moving in the directions I need to go. My marriage is healing, too.

Blessed Advent to all who read this.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Freedom to destroy?

Over the past few weeks, I've watched news stories about two young women whose lives were destroyed by rapists. Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped and kept in captivity for almost 20 years: Brooke Wilberger was raped and murdered. One got home alive, and one will be buried soon.

They have these things in common:
They were snatched by strangers.
They were raped.
The men who committed the crimes were repeat offenders.

Those men, Phillip Garrido and Joel Patrick Courtney, had already served time for sex crimes. They were known to have committed particularly ugly crimes, noted for their lack of empathy. People around them knew they were dangerous.

One study on the Department of Justice website (link) included these findings:

Within 3 years following their release, 5.3% of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime.

On average the 9,691 sex offenders served 3 1/2 years of their 8-year sentence.

Compared to non-sex offenders released from State prisons, released sex offenders were 4 times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime.

The 9,691 released sex offenders included 4,295 men who were in prison for child molesting.

These numbers are even more chilling when we recall that most sex crimes go unreported, and not all reported crimes end in arrests. For more information on that, check this link.

The same article lists the factors that point to higher recidivism rates:

In the 1998 Hanson and Bussiere study, these characteristics were grouped into demographics, criminal lifestyle, sexual criminal history, sexual deviancy, and various clinical characteristics. Regarding demographics, being young and single were consistently found to be related, albeit weakly, to subsequent sexual offending. With regard to sex offense history, sex offenders were more likely to recidivate if they had prior sex offenses, male victims, victimized strangers or extra-familial victims, begun sexually offending at an early age, and/or engaged in diverse sex crimes.

The factors that were found through this analysis to have the strongest relationship with sexual offense recidivism were those in the sexual deviance category: sexual interest in children, deviant sexual preferences, and sexual interest in boys. Failure to complete treatment was also found to be a moderate predictor of sexual recidivism. Having general psychological problems was not related to sexual offense recidivism, but having a personality disorder was related. Being sexually abused as a child was not related to repeat sexual offending.

Again, this is from the Department of Justice website.

According to Dianna Rodgers, LCSW, adjunct professor at the University of Oregon, "Rarely is an offender caught the first time he offends. Chances are, he had quite a juvenile record of assaultive behavior with some sexual component to it." Another Rodgers quote: "Typically, violent offenders require escalating violence to satiate their escalating needs. Respites between episodes get shorter, the offenders take greater risks, and unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a sadistic rapist to eventually murder."

The facts are out there. Courtney's first arrest was for an assault that chilled the investigators because it was without empathy. The charges were reduced; he served more time for violating parole than for the actual crime.

As a society, we seem to believe that these crimes can't be predicted and these men can't be stopped--yet we know what the signs are, we know the profile of their actions, and we continue, individually and as a society, not to report them, not to look at their patterns of behavior, not to read the signs, not to keep them imprisoned. They go free. Their victims are dead or traumatized.

Why do we value the lives of girls and women so little?

Health care reform

As I watched my marriage spiral downward, I considered my choices. There weren't a lot of them. Family? None. Friends? None who could take me in. Job market? Not good. Still, I might have risked going out on my own a lot more quickly if there hadn't been this question:

Health care?

You see, my job never had health coverage. My spouse's did. I was covered as long as we were married. If we divorced, I lost my coverage for the medications and care that quite literally keep me alive.

Over the counter, the medications I need cost over $200 a month. That's a lot if you have nothing. If I had been trying to pay for them out of my job, I could not have covered both medications and rent. COBRA coverage, which was affordable on an entry-level income when I left my first spouse more than 20 years ago, is no longer even close to affordable now.

I was more fortunate than a lot of women. I wasn't being beaten, raped, or threatened by my spouse. But if I had been, I would still have faced that choice. It's a choice no one should have to make. Everyone should have access to health care through a single payer system.

"Death panels," you say? We have them now, but they work for health insurance companies. Denying people the care they need so that executives can have petting zoos and supporting a system that makes health insurance and care inaccessible to people who need it is as destructive as a "death panel" could ever be--even if they existed.

If that makes me a "socialist," this month's right-wing scare word, then everyone on Medicare is a socialist. What's that? You worked hard and paid taxes, so you should have health care? Why, yes, I agree! I just want to extend that basic human right to those who are too young to work,or have jobs that can't or won't provide insurance, or are out of work, and who aren't old enough to be eligible for Medicare.