Jamie Utt writes at Change From Within:
Trigger Warning: The following article has content that could prove triggering for survivors of sexual violence.
As the verdict was handed down that Jerry Sandusky, convicted child rapist and former Penn State football coach, would spend the rest of his life in prison, the twitterverse exploded!
(it’s notable that this came from a widely-followed sports reporter)
Now, I have to admit. While I consider myself on the road to understanding peace through pacifism, few things make me want to inflict violence on another more than violence against children, particularly sexual violence. It robs children of their innocence and scars them for life; any person that would inflict such violence on a child is seriously disturbed, and they deserve punishment.
But is wishing rape upon those who have committed atrocities the measure by which we should understand justice?
One of the great failures of our so-called “justice” system is that there are virtually no resources or effort put toward healing and rehabilitation. In short, restorative justice is all but absent from the U.S. understanding of justice and punishment.
Now, Jerry Sandusky did some terrible things, and for that, he should be punished. However, we also need to remember with as much empathy as we can muster that those who commit such violence against children are often doing as a result of their own trauma. Perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse are significantly more likely to have experienced similar abuse when they were children, and they are often suffering from tremendous hurt and depression as a result.
Does this excuse their abhorrent actions? Absolutely not. But does punishing violence with violence, rape with rape, help anyone or anything?
When one of my best friends told me that she was drugged and raped, I told her that I wanted to beat the shit out of the man who did that to her. Only later did I find out that such language only hurt her more. One of the first things we were told when I was trained to be a sexual assault survivor’s advocate was, “Never introduce more violence into the situation. Even if you are angry and want to act in violence, to tell a survivor this or to act on your anger can often be tremendously retraumatizing or triggering for survivors.“
Read more here.