When someone we love is accused/guilty of a crime and/or arrested or sentenced to some period of time in jail or prison it is not ONLY the person involved in or accused of a crime or that is arrested, it is the entire network of family and friends belonging to that person.
For some families this is the first time in generations that a member of the family (guilty or innocent) has been arrested in the memory of the family. Other times, being accused of a crime or being arrested is something that is not unknown. Possibly there has been or is abuse or dysfunction in the family.
We may spend an inordinate amount of time and money and/or therapy trying to figure out “what happened,” “Why did this happen in our family!?” “Could I have prevented this situation if I had just done something differently?” But YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Even though you may not even know someone who has ever committed a crime worse than jaywalking prior to this event, or you may have “seen it coming”– it doesn’t matter what your individual family’s situation is. Right this moment there are 2.5 MILLION people in jail or prison in the US and they all have parents, children, friends, spouses who are as caught up in this as they are.
This blog is intended for those people who are suffering from the trauma and emotional pain of having a member of their family who is behaving or has behaved in a dysfunctional manner, whether they are currently incarcerated, have never been incarcerated, or whether they are on the outside after incarceration.
I think parents, family, and spouses of people who become offenders can have as difficult a time with (click on the colored text for more information) grieving over this loss of expectations as people who lose a loved one to death. If your loved one died, the community of your family and friends would come to your support with hugs and casseroles of food, prayers and cards. If your loved one goes to prison or jail, though, the neighbors don’t know what to say. Many times the community lays blame on the family of the offender as well. Children are taunted in school about their offending parent, parents are shamed and blamed for raising a law breaker.
My youngest son, Patrick Alexander, is in prison for a cold blooded murder of a 17 year old girl, so I personally know the pain that comes from giving birth to an offender who has no remorse. It took me decades to resolve the shame and pain, because I had no mentor to help me learn to cope with this most painful event. No one to say “I have been there, I understand.”
Not all criminals came from “broken homes” or from families who failed to do their best to bring up their child in a nurturing environment. Not all abusers were abused, and not all sexual predators were molested as
PEOPLE HAVE CHOICES
As people who love these people, we must learn to decide who is fixable and who is not. It is a painful process, but a necessary one if we want to get out of the “spin cycle” that the repeated offending behaviors of our loved ones have made of our lives. I hope you find answers here and some comfort as well. Just remember that because you can’t or don’t want to discuss your family member’s situation with even your friends, you are still never alone.