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Every Wednesday afternoon I [a mother] find a seat in a windowless basement room, in a circle of 25 people. The chairs are metal, hard and cold, and the level of discomfort far more than physical. There are eight teenage boys and two therapists, and all the rest of us are parents and grandparents. [...]

I am sick for hours beforehand and a day or more afterwards, unable to sleep in peace, to eat, to hold a casual conversation. These boys, including my son, are sex offenders. We, as their parents, are complicit in crimes hard to explain or define. Recently I asked my 14-year-old son what he's learned from the painful events of the last year, and he said, "I've learned sex is bad. I don't want to think about it anymore."

Several months ago, a school counselor called me at work and told me he needed to speak to me right away. [...] What he told me was more unexpected than sudden death - that my son had confessed to molesting our other son, who is several years younger. [...] The day after we found out, the police came to his school without warning and arrested him. [...] He was jailed for three weeks. [...] Between my two sons, there was kissing, there was touching, there was oral contact ("sodomy"). There was a lot of looking. There was no penetration, no force, no threats. [...] My youngest son confessed in tears that he'd enjoyed it, and was very sorry he'd gotten his brother in so much trouble. [...]

I know why the boy who raped is here [therapy program], I know why the boy who penetrated a baby is here. I'm not sure why the boy who touched his sister's genitals once, one single afternoon, is here - but I see that all are tarred with the same brush. All are child molesters in the world's eyes now, and it's an unforgivable sin, an irrevocable name. [...]

I get into a discussion of the death penalty with a friend of mine, a friend who loves both my children and knows nothing of what has happened to us in the past year. "But surely, some people should die," she says, with great heat. "Child molesters should die, don't you think?" Maybe I don't know anything anymore. [...]

Our son was sentenced to "time served," a closely supervised probation until he reaches the age of 18, and two years of therapy. [...]

He [youngest son] has been interviewed over and over and over, and has offered no new memories, no new disclosures, no new details. He openly worries about being "taken away." [...] He believes now, somewhere deep, that his pleasure in being touched was itself bad, that because that touch was forbidden, he himself is bad, that the disruptions and upsets of the last year are somehow his fault, the fault of his finding pleasure. It doesn't matter how many times we or anyone tell him different. Now I'm afraid to caress him, afraid to go to the bathroom at night because he might waken and see me in a state of half-dress, afraid to tuck him in and kiss him when he's asleep, lest he have a dreamy memory of being touched in bed. He has been asked now, over and over, by many strangers, if his father or mother ever did a "bad touch." He wakes up on the weekend and runs into our room and jumps in bed to cuddle as he always has, and we recoil, afraid. [...]

"Secrets are bad." So say the therapists. "Secrets hurt people." Our son tells the same story over and over again, to one stranger after another, on command. For many months, nothing has changed, nothing new has come forth. For this reason he is perceived as being more recalcitrant than the other boys, "frozen" in his denial. Because I believe him, I am in denial, too. [...]

And then the young, attractive, female therapist makes him tell her - and us, who don't want to know - his sexual fantasies, how often he masturbates, whether he ejaculates when he does, what he thinks about when he touches himself. He stares at the floor and whispers his answers. And I am outraged. What has happened, I want to scream. What has happened to him? [...] "I'll tell you this," says an older man [from a group of parents with an 'abusive' son] who rarely speaks. "My wife died in a car wreck. This has been worse."

source: Article 'Molested!'; Nambla Bulletin 18.1; April 1997 and; 28 February 1997