Periodically registrants in Sex Offender Group Therapy (you know, that “one-size-fits-all” group therapy that most registrants on supervision are mandated to attend after release from prison) are asked to fill out a screening questionnaire. The questionnaire asks about their basic mental health status. The government officials want to make sure no registrant kills themselves or someone else while on their dime. (Actually, it’s not even their dime, registrants are required to pay for this “one-size-fits-all” treatment unless they can prove they are indigent, but that’s another story.)
Registrants are asked questions about whether they are homicidal, suicidal, depressed, etc.
Let’s be honest, the registry and all it’s restrictions is enough to make anyone feel homicidal or suicidal. Many registrants isolate themselves, seldom leaving their homes for fear of accidentally crossing imaginary boundary lines into exclusionary zones and landing back in prison. While P.O.’s encourage them to “go out, meet people, have fun, live your life” the reality of that is easier said than done. There are so many places that registrants “can’t” go, so many social venues that registrants “can’t” access, meeting new people, having fun, living a life, can seem an unfathomable task.
If registrant’s need screening for anything, it may be for PTSD/Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
PTSD is a serious and potentially debilitating disorder. It can occur in people who have experienced a traumatic or stressful event according to the DSM-5/Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s online Screening Exam for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is easy to take and may be an initial self-help guide for some registrants. It can be found at ADAA.org.
There’s a very good chance that as a registrant you will answer “yes” to many of the questions. (Doesn’t necessarily mean you have PTSD, that’s for your physician to decide).
The questions deal with the emotions many registrants seem to feel “all the time”, fear, helplessness, distressing memories, flashbacks, avoidance, loss of interest, feeling detached from others, feeling as though your future has shrunk. Registrants experience sleep problems, irritability, feeling “on guard” and having exaggerated startle responses. Problems with eating, sleeping, feelings of sadness, worthlessness and a general disinterest in life, all issues that share a common thread with registrants. Registrants who are restricted in where they can go and what they can do will naturally have a diminished interest in participating in activities, this can lead to estrangement and isolation from others and an increase in other symptoms such as depression, irritability and wreckless “I just don’t care anymore” type behaviors.
These symptoms may be signs of PTSD, you’ll need to see your physician for an accurate diagnosis.
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, it might be worth it to take the screening exam on the ADAA.org website, print it off and review the results with your physician. Registrants have been through a lot. It’s not just the registry, it’s also everything that has come “before” being placed on the registry, encounters with police or FBI, attorneys, court cases, financial problems, family problems, incidents in prison, etc. All of that is traumatic, it weighs on you. Add the weight of the registry and it’s life altering restrictions and you’ve got trauma on top of trauma. It’s a lot to deal with.
Talk with your physician, if you are diagnosed with PTSD or any other mental health issues, treatment is available. Don’t isolate and suffer, get some help so you can feel better and live your best life. You’re worth it!
It’s time for the Sex Offender Treatment Counselors, the P.O.’s and the BOP (the powers that be) to address the “elephant in the room”, the registry.
If it wasn’t for the registry and it’s ridiculous restrictions, those convicted of sex offenses might actually be able to pick up the pieces and resume a normal life upon leaving prison, they might not be experiencing ongoing symptoms of fear, stress, depression, etc.
To me, it appears that the registry itself might be a giant factor as far as the cause of the negative mental health symptoms that so many registrants experience.
Maybe if there was some screening for PTSD early on, we might not get to the point where we have to ask registrants if they feel homicidal or suicidal.
Maybe if we did away with the registry, we might not have to ask at all.