Amplified Voices

D's Story: Mom on the List - Season 5 Episode 1

March 03, 2024 Amber & Jason - Criminal Legal Reform Advocates with Lived Experience Season 5 Episode 1
Amplified Voices
D's Story: Mom on the List - Season 5 Episode 1
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

When life presents us with a labyrinth of trials, it's the voices of the resilient that guide us through the darkness. D's life story, as featured on Amplified Voices, illuminates such a path, marked by a turbulent childhood and other struggles.  This episode promises an intimate exploration into the human spirit's capacity for endurance, highlighting D's poignant experiences with personal sacrifice, infertility, pregnancy loss, and the complexities of the foster-to-adopt system. D's raw honesty offers listeners a chance to understand the delicate balance between seeking support and preserving personal boundaries in times of crisis.

As we pivot to the legal system, the conversation  magnifies the inadequacies of an adversarial approach to harm and the stigmatization that comes with the "sex offender" label. Through the eyes of an individual who transitioned from fearful isolation under the registry's shadow to becoming a beacon of hope for others, we unveil the hurdles and triumphs that define the journey. This episode reminds us that behind labels and stigmas lie individual stories that deserve to be heard and understood. Join Amber, Jason and D on Amplified Voices to witness how courage and advocacy can reshape the narrative of struggle into one of hope and community.

D is an active member of the Florida Action Committee and a founder of  SHINE.


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Speaker 1:

Everyone has a voice, a story to tell. Some are marginalized and muted. What if there were a way to amplify those stories, to have conversations with real people in real communities, a way to help them step into the power of their lived experience? Welcome to Amplified Voices, a podcast lifting the experiences of people and families impacted by the criminal legal system. Together, we can create positive change for everyone.

Speaker 2:

Hello and welcome to another episode of Amplified Voices. I'm your host, Jason, here with my co-host, Amber. Good morning, Amber.

Speaker 3:

Good morning Jason.

Speaker 2:

Amber. Today we have a guest who would like to remain anonymous, but we're going to refer to her, for convenience, as Dee. Hello Dee.

Speaker 4:

Good morning Jason, good morning Amber, good morning Dee.

Speaker 2:

So our first question, Dee, is what we ask all of our guests, and that is could you tell us a little bit about your life before you entered the criminal legal system and what brought you into it?

Speaker 4:

Well before the criminal legal system. I had a lot of years, 46 to be exact. I grew up I'm actually a West Coast girl and I grew up in the Bay Area and had a tumultuous childhood. I had a mom and a dad and a brother, except for we had some alcoholism in the mix there and my parents did not always jive, and so there was a lot of bickering and fighting, and sometimes more than that, so it was very disruptive.

Speaker 4:

We moved a lot, mostly because of not very responsible financial decisions. So by the time I was seven years old and had moved farther north of the coast, I had moved 27 times. Wow, yeah, yep, and that in itself is just very disruptive to a young person. And we continued to move after that, just in a closer, tighter circle, so that I was generally going to the same schools from sixth grade through graduating high school. So that was a lot for me to deal with. I was the oldest, I'm a highly sensitive person and I'm also fearless and kind of tough, and so what I did was I just sucked it up.

Speaker 2:

So how many kids were in the family?

Speaker 4:

My brother and I, just the two of us.

Speaker 2:

It's the two of you and then. So you were going. Originally you were going from school to school when you were in the early years, so you were always the new kid.

Speaker 4:

Always.

Speaker 2:

And then. But you said from sixth grade up to graduating from high school you were in the same high school. Or was it different schools but different schools?

Speaker 4:

Elementary was sixth grade, but I was with the same group of kids. We moved along to all the same schools together and in fact my parents continued to move and at one point they moved me out of the district and I was at a point where I wasn't going to have it anymore and just said to them I don't care what you're doing, I'm continuing at this school district. When these schools, I'll take myself there. You guys do whatever you want to do. And so I made an ultimatum and, mysteriously, somehow they went along with it. They took me to continue to take me to, because I said I'm done, I'm not going to another school district.

Speaker 2:

But even when you're moving from school to school, you're staying within the same school but you're moving from one neighborhood to another. I remember back during those years like who your friends were, were like the closest friends of the kids in the neighborhood and you didn't really ever have that stability because you were, like we said, you were always the new kid in the not in the school, but in that neighborhood, so you're always looked at. Did you feel like an outsider everywhere you went?

Speaker 4:

Yes, and that was always, even amongst my closest friends. I was always the outlier and I was always. I always felt like that. I did go to university and I did well. I graduated in 1991 from the University of Washington and I had planned for myself. So I was, I studied languages, international studies, history and I had a political science degree. But actually this is where it took the turn. So I had everything set up, I had an internship, everything, and then I met a man.

Speaker 2:

All right Okay.

Speaker 4:

So I had actually been previously married while I was in college, and that didn't last but and I met a man and he had great ambition and he I, you know I followed him instead of following my own plan. So I took off with him, we got married and went to did his graduate school. I worked, I had a baby, who is my grown son now, and that just it, just my birth son has high functioning autism, so and I didn't always know that. I mean, I knew that but didn't know what it was called, and so that was something that was difficult. He's a delight.

Speaker 4:

I absolutely adore my son. So I'm working full time and I'm caring for my son and I'm, you know, supporting my husband who did grad school and they did a postdoc. But we're just moving along, we're not having any kind of issues or trouble Many years past. We move out of state, we relocate for work, that's everything's fine. I have to go to like part time just to be more present for my son, because persons, if you know anything about the spectrum right, very, very challenging, particularly when kids move into middle school and high school.

Speaker 3:

So but I'm still working and Well and I just want to sort of say there, to highlight it a little bit, particularly in that timeframe just because you know we have some of these things in our own family when you didn't have the tools or the language that people had put around it, it was like really difficult to navigate. You know, it's hard enough to navigate about what we know about the spectrum now right, but at that time it was exponentially harder because some of the supports didn't exist. Am I characterizing that correctly?

Speaker 4:

Oh, oh, absolutely. He wasn't diagnosed until he was age six. And prior to that actually, from the very moment I received him, you know, into this world, I knew something wasn't right and continued to go and ask, and people mostly blame me, which was incredible to me. I'm like what are you talking about? Because they didn't know, right, right. And finally I spoke to one of the foremost experts and he was like oh, you know, this is what this is, and gave me actually a load of information, was a bit much to process.

Speaker 2:

And even before you know, before you move off of that, I mean you glossed over the fact that you were getting blamed. I mean, as a parent, it's always very easy to sit back and go. You know, anything that happens with my child is my fault. How is? How did I? What did I do wrong? How come this happened? And and you know, to have that extra added guilt added on on top of everything else, that must have been very difficult.

Speaker 4:

Oh yeah, and it wasn't just that they would say those things to me. People didn't say those things to me. I mean, we had some pretty horrendous episodes with preschools, schools, doctors, etc. Because they were very unkind and they didn't want to take the time to help me figure out what was really happening with my son. But of course, I already thought those things Right. I didn't need them to reinforce my own fears that somehow this was my fault. But it was definitely. That was. That was something that was an extra challenge during those years, and other things that were challenging is during the you know couple of decades there, I discovered that I had a mental illness and and I don't mind sharing this because it's it's very important to my story I did deal with it exactly as you're supposed to. I mean, actually had been trying to get somebody to tell me what was wrong with me. I didn't know that it was a mental illness, I just knew that I was feeling strangely for a long time and I was just powering through it.

Speaker 3:

Remember, I'm tough. That's what you've been doing your whole life. Right, I'm just going to get through this and figure out.

Speaker 4:

That's me. I suck it up, I keep going, I get done what I'm supposed to do, and. But I was asking the right kind of people and the right kind of people were not able to give me any answers to. Finally somebody said, oh, this is what you're dealing with and you know we're going to help you to give me some medication, and I don't mind saying that it's bipolar disorder and I just just so people know I keep up with all the research I did have a stint working in medical research and that that particular disorder is caused by the inflammation between, in between the blood brain barrier, and so I actually have several autoimmune diseases which I didn't know that at that time.

Speaker 4:

But they cause inflammation and so it was something that I was, I probably had had for a long time. I've been asking doctors about this, not feeling right for years before they finally diagnosed me. So I had been dealing with that for a long time. So they, they, I got that, I got treated properly, I was doing all the right stuff, and then I dealt with a long bout of infertility and when we decided to do more than you know all the little advices that you get about, you know how to be fertile. I, they said we, we're going to do some treatments and you have to. In order to do those, you have to go off your medicine. So I, with the doctors permission and supervision, I did it all right. I just want that's the thing people need to know. I wasn't God, wasn't Maverick, doing stuff like oh, I'm going to go with the medicine away.

Speaker 4:

I don't do stuff like that. I I had complier, if I'm anything. So I did it all right and we did all this stuff that we needed to do and and I did eventually get pregnant, which was, I was so happy had been decades. I mean, my son was like 12 at that time, so I'd been trying a long time, wow.

Speaker 2:

Okay, long time. That's a big age gap between the two.

Speaker 4:

It's huge yeah, and I had been trying for years and years. So I got pregnant and then unfortunately had a miscarriage.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I'm sorry.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and but I sharing all this because it's actually important, it's relevant. Sure, I had a miscarriage and I was working full time at the time and I didn't even skip a beat. I just went back to work and that's because that's how I deal with everything. I was always okay. You know what. You suck it up and you get back to work and you do what you have to do. I had to send a care for I had to keep, I had to support my family, so I did what I had to do, going back. I think that was an enormous mistake, but I did it and I didn't deal with that grief, which was immense.

Speaker 3:

D. I just want to acknowledge, just take a minute to acknowledge, you know sort of some of the things that you just shared, because it does highlight, you know, things that a lot of women deal with and that we have a big stigma around in our culture that you know, pregnancy loss or miscarriage is treated not treated in the same way as losing a child, and so someone who has also experienced that in my own life, you know we women are expected to just be like, okay, that happened. You know, I'm going to go back to work, I'm just going to, you know, move on with my life, you can try again. You know all of those sort of messages. So I want to take a minute to acknowledge it and to say that I'm sorry that you experienced that.

Speaker 4:

Thank you.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's, it's really important.

Speaker 2:

Right. And then to add on to that, I mean just the idea of just not dealing with something that's so heavy is you know that's. That's just something that we we have that expectation of people like you. Get like a day to grieve, now get back to work and be productive, and you have that pressure Raise your family, raise your kid, you know, do what you got to do, manage that property, whatever it is that you're working on, and you just push that. You're going to push that aside and it's okay, I can get through it because I'm a super. I'm a super person and I've always been a super person. Look, I dealt and in your case you dealt with all that moving, all that's, all that other stuff going on before. So, but as you get older and it becomes more serious, it's incremental, it piles on right. So the the stuff that you didn't deal with from before is added on to the new stuff that gets on top of it.

Speaker 2:

So, and you've and you've talked about going off your medication and being and having this bipolar diagnosis, so you were going through quite a bit at that point.

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah, this is one of the things that there is, you know, a lot of research around how trauma and compounded trauma manifests in your body as physical illness. There's a really, really great book called the Body Keeps the Score. That is very, you know, technical and dense, but it definitely is a good read for anybody who has experienced any type of trauma. That sort of talks about ways to deal with that, what's happening in your body as those traumas sort of compound and leave you in sort of a state of fight or flight, right Like you think you're okay, but you're in a state of sort of heightened awareness and that heightened stress, you know, ends up manifesting as illness, whether it's mental or physical or otherwise.

Speaker 2:

And D. I want to add on to that the when I know I have a sense where we're going with this story because of the topic and what we're talking about, and I just want to say that Everybody responds to trauma differently, so that's correct. So when you end up, you know You're gonna, you're gonna go and there's gonna be a crime at some point in this story and people listening to it will say, well, I Lost the child and I didn't do that. I have bipolar and I didn't do that. So that's very judgmental for people because they had their reaction. They've never completely walked in your shoes.

Speaker 2:

They've never had all the things that you went through and they're not you, so they cannot possibly imagine what it is like to be you. No matter how much you tell your story and how much you share with us, it's impossible to take your entire experience and Impart that to somebody else. So I just want to acknowledge that before we even get there.

Speaker 4:

And so I was holding it together really well, considering all the stresses and and Per and previous almost etc. That were happening. And then so I the I lose that, I lose the baby, I don't take a beat, I, we move again, and that that was a huge adjustment. It was relocation to a completely different region of the country, away from family, and, but I managed that and I'm taking care of my son and I'm again again.

Speaker 2:

We talked about the isolation that you felt Early, on moving from town to town when you were younger, or school to school, or neighborhood to neighborhood, mm-hmm. And. And now, once again, you know, even you know, you've got a, you've got a spouse who, I'm assuming, is working very long hours, given the yes and so you're. You're now in a new Community with no support, with no family there. So now it's that isolating feeling all over again and you just have to, like you said, suck it up and keep going on and so this is the thing to speaking of the spouse.

Speaker 4:

So the spouse is, he, his, his Career is blowing up, he's becoming a rock star of what he does and and he was always a brilliant person and that was inevitable. But it is beginning. It's beginning to change him a lot. It was beginning that was beginning prior to making the big move and that makes I was always the person who did the lion share of the childcare, which was fine with me. I didn't really have some problem with it per se. That was just how it was in our family. But this is beginning to change the dynamic in our family and I am the person who is completely ignoring that so that my spouse was gone, sometimes as much as four months of the year not all at once, but gone a lot, sometimes more than that and and if and if he's, and if he's becoming this rock star, are you expected to go to like certain things during the year as the, as the partner to show up and look good and yes indeed, and put out you know the

Speaker 3:

routine you didn't see her face, everyone listening, she was like yes, that happens Absolutely.

Speaker 4:

That's it.

Speaker 4:

That's an extra pressure. So these things, these things are happening and I'll tell you what I did. This is so I wasn't. I found Decided that I wasn't, I didn't find it acceptable that I wasn't, didn't have this, this coterie of friends and I'm not a part. So that didn't necessarily come natural to, naturally to me, like my brother. My brother was born somebody's friend. I was not that person. It was way too intense.

Speaker 4:

Well, I mean, I'm the person who, like I said, is tough and fearless and get out of my way because I have something I got to do here. That doesn't mean that I didn't have some friends and we didn't, you know, it was just that wasn't my thing. So we move far away, but we move away from family, that I know. And I decide I Need a circle of friends. And when I decide I'm gonna do something, that's what I'm gonna do. And therefore I went about making some friends, friends who understood my son's situation. So some of them were special education teachers, friends who understood. You know, I had other friends who had children on the spectrum. I made friends in my neighborhood. I'm busy kicking ass making friends and so before long I had a good circle of friends, the.

Speaker 4:

The downside to that is Almost none of them knew any of my struggles. They, they didn't know. Yeah, I'm, I'm taking care of it. Why would I be bothering them with that stuff? I wasn't really keeping it from them, although some of them thought that I was. That was a Misunderstanding, but it did look like that from the outside.

Speaker 4:

So two things, two things. One, I am being like Superlanded out here for y'all. Okay, this is not my conversation with most people. I mean, I'm really laying it out for here, for y'all because I feel like it. It's not going to be powerful and impactful if I don't just tell you as much as I can and the truth. But that's not how I talk to everybody. So, secondly, I also I want you to remember that my spouse is becoming a rock star in his field, I mean an amazing worldwide, okay, and I can't stress this enough. And so that puts the pressure on you that you don't share your business, you don't Mm-hmm, you know area dirty laundry, you don't talk. Smack about that person.

Speaker 4:

And I had also made a commitment to myself. We'd had a time in our, our marriage before this where things were rough and we recommitted to ourselves, to each other and I said to myself that's it. We think and say positive things about the spouse period, we'll start. And so, although that was misinterpreted by some folks in my life, thinking that I either thought that I was better than them or whatever, that was how it was, that that's how I presented myself and so I'm rolling along.

Speaker 4:

So we're going to go back to the fact of the infertility and the losing the child, and I'd actually had a previous miscarriage which was very traumatic, so the second one was just opening a new wound. I still really wanted a child. We continued to try, did some other procedures. It was a no, that doesn't work, and those were hard to really hard, mm-hmm. And so then we decided to consider adoption. Okay, this is, this is very relevant.

Speaker 4:

So my very best friend was adopted and so was her sister. So I had a very positive Impression and perspective about adoption. So we go through all these classes we get into, we're into all these different programs because if you know anything about adoption, it's a different programs you know, you, that you can get into just to to adopt. And the first time that we are matched, it took a long time to be matched, I think partly because by this time we're a little bit older and we were looking for an infant. So we're in that program.

Speaker 4:

We get matched, we meet the young young woman, we get to know her well. She gives birth and I we were actually traveling. She had the baby early, so I've just, like you know, I travel 48 hours straight to get to her. I get there the day after she has the baby. I name the baby, I, I sit and hold the baby and bond with the baby. Oh, no, yeah, you know it's coming. And we were to pick up the baby like One or two days later, as she had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days Just make sure she was okay, because she came a little early. And so we show up at the hospital, my spouse and I, to pick up the baby. We have a whole room remembered, everything's ready for this baby. We know this baby because we've been waiting, this baby's been growing in our, the lovely young woman who's decided to adopt the baby to us. And at the hospital she says no, oh, we're at the hospital and I couldn't even go in and say goodbye.

Speaker 3:

Is. That is a lot to handle. It was a lot.

Speaker 4:

It was a lot and and we had, you know, we were using an agency and they're like, well, you know, they're giving me advice and we want you to, you know, take a few days, please grieve. Here's some Support groups. We would love you to, you know, put be a part of the support group and blah, blah, blah, blah. And I I did take some time. I actually asked my aunt and my cousin up, who I'm very close with, who live out of state. They come up and spent some time with me. Husband's very stoic I mean, he was clearly upset, but he's very stoic and he was going to do his thing by himself. So I called up family that I knew would could be with me for a bit, and they stayed for a couple of days. I did not ever go to a support group and I just need to reference back to the fact that I don't share my dirty laundry and I am married to a rock star and I'm not blaming him. That's just was my circumstances, that was my life.

Speaker 2:

So when you so, you were fully expecting to bring home this baby that you had come to love. You held the baby and you named the baby, you did all this and you're expecting it, and then and then you had your world just pulled out from under you. And You're not really good You've self-admittedly not really good at processing emotions. So what type of Emotions were you having at that point, or you could you even name that?

Speaker 4:

I could, I have, I was not very good at I could name them, my emotions. I could feel my emotions. I didn't. That was it. That was as far as they went.

Speaker 3:

There was no process processing, right working through. Just okay, this is it, and now I'm gonna do what I gotta do.

Speaker 4:

I've always done yes, so I I felt it there. I felt like a death had happened in my family. I felt like the. I felt exactly as I felt when I lost my babies, my, my miscarriages, and I felt I was devastated. People knew that we were going to bring this baby home and, of course, then they were all asked and then they would see you later and be like oh, congratulations, oh oops.

Speaker 2:

You talked about inflammation earlier. So I mean you and you say that there was a lot of. So there was some emotion, emotional Devastation, but how about physical? Is it? Were you actually physically hurting?

Speaker 4:

not at that time that I Knew I it's really important to know that I also, at that point I already had one of my autoimmune diseases and I and it wasn't stable even with treatment at the time and I wasn't Connecting those things. What happened with that is I let that keep on piling up and piling up and piling up until I now have five autoimmune diseases and Anytime something disruptive happens in my life and I don't deal with it immediately appropriately, I'm like in bed. So I pretty much just powered through. It is the answer. I. I mean, I was sad and I had my auntie and my cousin come and be with me and be sad with me.

Speaker 4:

But then I moved on. I did not talk it over with anybody else who had had that experience and I just moved on and I didn't skip a beat again. That's kind of my theme no bait steepen. So we immediately into another program To try to adopt and we were it. We were in line. It was an international program and we were in line and we were almost next. We were I think there were the reflection two people ahead of us in line, and and so we're getting excited about being matched with an infant, an international infant and the country closed it's international adoption program.

Speaker 2:

All right right.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, so way to get yourself all geared up again. And I still have my room, my beautiful baby room, right, right that you had lovingly chosen everything for every little items in there.

Speaker 4:

I go in there and I think about my baby and I read the books and think about it, so that was a big let down. And then we're like, okay, the years have passed, by the way, I mean a lot of years have passed and we're like, well, because I'm getting on to be I was in my mid 40s at this point, so a lot of time is passing and we said, well, we're gonna try. And this is me, because I am driving this. At this point, I need to admit that it was almost an obsession, and I think that's how I was dealing with the pain. It was so painful to me, and I will tell you that I am a Christian believer, and so I had been praying about it for an awfully long time and I kept thinking to myself Well, I'm not praying for something wrong, right? You know, people pray to win the lottery and all that kind of like. Okay, that's stupid, but I? So? Why is it that this keeps not working out for me? I don't understand, and so I was having an existential crisis. Was it not deciding I don't have my faith? But I was really disappointed in okay, every time I pray for this, actually I get tragedy. Why do I keep getting served tragedy when I'm praying for a blessing, right? So this was something really hard that I was trying to deal with and so I'm I'm at obsession at this point. So I'm still taking care of my house, my family, my husband, I have all kinds of extracurricular stuff going on, but I'm gonna. I'm gonna adopt a baby.

Speaker 4:

So we decided to go into the foster to adopt program and that was a mistake. I'll just tell you straight up it was a mistake and but I was so like highly focused, we're gonna get this done. And what we gave ourselves six months Because I knew it had been a long road and we had not been successful Never because anything we had done it was always other circumstances, but I knew that had to come to an end at a certain point it what we were not going to do another 10 years. So, because we'd actually been in the whole adoption thing for six and prior to that, several years of trying to have a baby, right. So I said six months, if we don't get matched in six months, we're done, I'm gonna walk away On the sixth month it calls up oh, we got a match for you.

Speaker 4:

Now I want to be very clear the entire time that we were trying to adopt, we wanted to adopt a baby girl and so even when we went into the foster to adopt, I said I prefer a baby and I don't really want a child, like you know, over five. And they're like, okay, and they said it's harder and we said we understand, we're giving it six months. So every time you do one of these programs, it make you take a bunch of classes, and we took the classes for Foster about. They warned you about all kinds of stuff, right, and I thought I really understood. I mean, I took this stuff seriously. They call us at the last minute.

Speaker 4:

We have a match for you, and I'm like, oh, I'm like over the moon, oh, okay, great, great, great so, but the match is 16 and a half year old young man and I'm like, oh, I don't get it. You know we're trying to adopt a baby girl or a very young. You know we're not looking. I have two boys. I have a grown man son who has his own children already right, Right, right.

Speaker 4:

And I have another very young grown man in my house. I raised two boys.

Speaker 4:

I'm like, look, we've been wanting to have a girl, oh yes, but we just think that you're, this is gonna be a great match and you should come and meet him. And blah, blah, blah, he's with another Foster family right now. So we get some information. The short story is, we get some information that's actually red flags Yep, enormous red flags.

Speaker 4:

Okay, looking back, anybody else would say, oh, my gosh, no, thank you, thank you, I hope the kid gets a placement. No, and there's some other information which I'll share in a minute. But so, but they say it in a way and I have to stress this they couch it in a way that makes you think, well, it's okay, it's gonna be all right, and we, this guy's, this is, he's a great kid, it's gonna be a great match for your family, you've already raised boys, so you know how to raise boys and just come in and meet him. But oh, and, by the way, but if you meet him, you pretty much have to say you're gonna take him because we don't want him to have another rejection. Right? That is pretty close to a quote.

Speaker 3:

Well, I just wanna validate some of what you're saying because I, at the beginning of my career, I worked in that particular, in proximity to that particular system, with children who had experienced significant trauma and who were in the foster care system and needing to be sheltered because it was very difficult to find them placements. So I can validate that some of the ways in which people worked with folks to try to find placements for children who had experienced so much and had not received the services that they needed to work through it, sometimes there was a level of desperation. I will say that.

Speaker 4:

You said it well, you said it exactly. There was a serious level of desperation. Of course, I didn't know that.

Speaker 3:

Right, of course and that's not fair.

Speaker 4:

No, none of it was fair. But also I want to go back to the fact that I was almost at a level of obsession thinking that when we needed to adopt a child into our family. So I wanna step back two steps because there's one more thing that's really important. We're gonna go back to the diagnosis of the bipolar disorder. So after I was not able to have a pregnancy based on the treatments and we decided to go into the adoption thing, they didn't have me go back on medication. So my obsession with wanting to adopt a child had been coming on for obviously some time. But that started two weeks before they called us and I went to that meeting with that young man and there were so many red flags. They just told us a lot of things that should have been. I shouldn't even have gone to the meeting.

Speaker 3:

I will tell you you are ready to roast the marshmallows at this time.

Speaker 4:

I'm roasting marshmallows and the house is burning down, you guys. So the whole thing was an enormous mistake. For me, that was mistake number one. I own it.

Speaker 4:

And he came to our family and I was not at all in a good frame of mind. I was doing all the things I was supposed to do, but I could not make good judgments about things at all. I was overly enthusiastic about stupid things and even during that I brought concerns to the. So there was two offices there was our adoption agency and then there was his people from social services and I brought concerns to both of them and they, in different ways, poo pooed me. Our agency took it more seriously, but not seriously enough and didn't really offer me the right kind of help. They were trying to help me.

Speaker 4:

The other agency were like oh, that's not a problem, that's fine, he's bonding with you and I'm like I don't know. This is, I feel, uncomfortable, something's wrong, something's wrong. There was a lot wrong, a lot more wrong than I was perceiving, and only because I wasn't perceiving things properly at all, I wasn't responding to things properly at all. But I did know something wasn't right and I did try to communicate it. I did communicate it to people and I, just when they essentially either didn't respond very strongly about it or not at all, brushed it off, I thought, oh okay, well, they must know what they're talking about. Well, mistake number two is, had I been in my right mind and not in some weird enthusiastic la-la land, I would have said wait, that I don't. I'm sorry you guys, that's not the right response.

Speaker 4:

I just told you concerning me and you're not giving it any credence.

Speaker 2:

So, dee this is the 16 year old boy comes to live in your home, your husband's working mega hours and not around. You're in the home with this boy who is clipped, who, by what you're saying, has some issues that he's bringing with him, and so there's. Let's get to the let's fast forward a little bit here. So you're in the house with him, you've got some things that are happening that you're bringing to the attention of the groups, but then something must have happened that reaches the level of criminality. Is that?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, yes, definitely. And first, before I tell you that, I do want to also say that the young man was abused. He was from a heavily abusive family that was deported for those crimes and others. And much, much, much deeper and more than I had any idea about. So he's dealing with some serious demons and I only know about this much of that much. So I only know the very light surface, and it's way deep. So, yeah, so essentially, at first he's just doing strange behaviors and I'm not discouraging him as much as I should be. I'm not. I'm feeling A sorry for him, b they're giving me the wrong advice and they're telling me that he's bonding with me. I'm not really dealing with it appropriately at all. Also, I'm, like I said, ridiculously enthusiastic all the time, like everything's funny, everything's good, everything's wonderful, even when I know it's not and I'm trying to get somebody to help me out.

Speaker 4:

At some point he pushes the envelope and I'm like what the hell just happened, oh my God. And I remember I stepped away from that and I remember thinking oh my God, oh my God, what am I supposed to do with this? I don't know what to do with this. I couldn't sleep. I didn't know what to do. And essentially I told him that can never happen again. That can never happen again. That just you did that can never happen again. That was terrible, that was horrible. And essentially from the moment that I said that's terrible and horrible, he reacted with very violently. So there was a lot leading up to that that I was not being very wise about. I just didn't, I really couldn't process what was happening. And he would tell me repeatedly well, if I, you know that he was gonna fail school because of me, that he might kill himself because of me. He was making me feel sorry for him all the time and he would spend every minute of his when he wasn't at school with me all the time. These were things that were kind of building up to that. And so the point where something happened, and then I'm like, oh my God, what just happened? And so I remember a confrontation saying that's totally unacceptable, it can never happen again. That was horrible. It took me by the face like that and smashed me against the wall and said you better never say that to me again. Other times he smashed things in front of me, broke them to pieces and then told me that was next. Other times he threatened me with the knife. Other times he told me that it would be my fault if I didn't do whatever he said and act like I liked it. It would be my fault if he committed suicide or he essentially said whatever he felt like he needed to say. So at that point, a lot of the ridiculous enthusiasm. So I'm terrified. I'm still manic Dies away, because now I really know what I'm dealing with.

Speaker 4:

And mistake number three is that I ever let it get that far. I should have been running screaming fire, fire, fire. But I ran back for the marshmallows because I'm totally out of my mind and when I realized what it was and then I didn't know what to do about it. So I lost. I'm a slim person and I lost like 20 pounds, so I made a bag of bones. I don't sleep, I'm shaking all the time and people who knew me are like why are we shaking like that? And I said, oh, it's okay. I couldn't explain it because what am I going to say? Right? And I took 100% responsibility for what had happened to me in my own home.

Speaker 4:

I felt like you know, I felt like I failed, I completely failed, and I'm flailing around trying to figure out how to make it stop and how to fix it. I didn't know how to fix it always all my life. I fixed it, I sucked it up, I moved forward and I came into a situation in my life that I couldn't do that. It was like I tell people all the time it was like a horror movie. It was a horror movie. It was the most horrific thing I've ever lived in my entire life and I felt 100% responsible for the horror movie. And so I did reach out to some people. I didn't tell them everything, but I told them enough to know that I needed help and they were, and they did the best they could and that was nothing. That was going to just wait. This young man nothing. Ironically, we ended up adopting him. This is how sick the horror movie was, which just emboldened him some more.

Speaker 4:

I am desperate to figure out what to do.

Speaker 4:

So my spouse and I went on a trip and out of country, you know, briefly, and even from there, the young man is like he's, you know, calling my phone and reaching out to me and I'm like I'm fine, you're staying with people taking care of him, and I'm like you don't need to reach out to me I don't want to talk, I don't want to have anything to do with you right now, and it made me realize that, no matter how far away I went, no matter who I asked to help me with this crisis, that wasn't going to happen.

Speaker 4:

And I felt like at that moment, you can go to the end of the earth and nothing's going to make this stop. This horror is not going to stop and I could barely function. I was so. You know, half of me was trying to pretend that I'm okay and with my husband and I'm trying to look okay, don't look okay, right, I'm not okay. I'm so not okay, but I'm trying so hard to keep it together the last day we're going to go back and I'm just like, oh my God, I have to go back to this. I have to go back to this horror story.

Speaker 2:

He was threatening you with a knife. He was making. He was making sexual overtures and you ended up reporting it. Were there sexual acts between? Is that what you're saying? That actually that happened under duress, but they happened.

Speaker 4:

Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

Okay, that's the part that I wasn't dead.

Speaker 4:

That did happen, and that is why I took 100% responsibility, because I also felt well, I'm the 46 year old who is supposed to be in charge, okay, so I and I wouldn't allow myself to, even when I was reporting, even though she could tell and she told me, I could tell that you were being abused. It was very obvious, by looking at you, the difference between how she'd seen me months before and how I looked at the time. It was obvious.

Speaker 2:

Here's what I want to say from my, because I was struggling with that piece of it, because I was like, well, where's the action? What happened? So what you're saying is you were in this mental state because of the medication that was misdiagnosed.

Speaker 2:

You were in, you were, you were in a, in this state because of all the things that had happened with the previous attempts to have children. Then you have this person in your house and you have a mixture of you're excited that you finally have somebody that you're going to adopt, and there's a fear, and your brain is just not functioning 100%, it's not firing on all cylinders at this point, and so that's all of the backdrop for where you are, where where these things would happen. And eventually you said I got to get out of this and I had to figure out, and the only way to do that is to come forward and talk about what's going on and that's what. So now you're. Now you're in the criminal system.

Speaker 4:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

Now you're. Now you've got to face all the consequences and penalties of being in the criminal system. You also still, I'm sure, have some feelings, that empathy for this person who's hurting you because he's had such an awful life and you also now have to admit to your husband what's going on. Oh, so there's a lot of things that are happening for you at that point.

Speaker 4:

Yes, and, and you know I was devastated by that. So my feelings of guilt for what was happening to my family were so crushing I considered suicide a couple of times, and that's not something I would ever do Because of my personality. But I can't say that I didn't think about it because I thought, oh my God, I'm actually going to make it worse for my son if I do that. So I'm not going to do that. I spent weeks pretty much on the floor crying. I was never allowed to share with anybody about my attorney what really happened, and even with her I insisted on my responsibility. I said as I said. It was never arrested, I was never jailed, and she kept trying to get the prosecutor to drop it, but he wouldn't because I was the one who told about it.

Speaker 4:

The young man said a lot of things that implicated himself, which I knew he would, and the therapist didn't even want to report it, but her board told her she had to, and so in the end, well and then, when he was away from the, they took him out of our home and he was kept threatening to break into the home. He kept threatening to come back to our home. I went and I requested a protection order and a different judge told me no way you're blaming the victim, right? Even though I had the threats in writing, they didn't care. So I never, after making my report to the therapist his therapist I never really had any other conversations with law enforcement. They wanted to interview me, they wanted to interview my family, they want, and I said no, no, and I was told by my attorney and others you have a really good case. You'll probably win if you go to trial, because there's all this evidence to show that not only were you failed by certain people which put you in a really bad space when you brought this person into your home. Also, this person, their stated intention was for what happened to happen and then they would not stop at abusing you to continue making that happen. But it didn't matter because there was no way I was having that.

Speaker 4:

It was already devastating my family. As you know, it was so hard. I had two sons that lived in the same town with me. One son had children, so I have grandchildren. I have my autistic son, who is still living in the home. He's older but he still lives in the home. I have a husband with a career that's a very prominent person in the community and I know that I'm already destroying everything and I'm like there is no way that you're gonna have me do a trial. If you can't get them to dismiss the charges, then I will have to take a plea because I can't do more damage than I've already done. I'm already crushed under what I've done.

Speaker 2:

Was it in the paper?

Speaker 4:

Yes, it was one article and it was wrong, of course, of course I mean yeah, that's normal.

Speaker 2:

And then, as far as the whole your husband's career, is it gonna have an impact on that?

Speaker 4:

Ostensibly no. He had to deal with a little bit this here and there, but in the margins he did choose to. He was always being recruited because he's a rock star and he decided to take a recruitment offer and move to another state. We actually all moved with him because the whole family was moving and I wasn't gonna be left behind by myself. At that time it was already.

Speaker 4:

I was like nothing. I was a bag of bones on the floor, wavering pretty much Right and trying to be tough and trying to do what I had to do, because I was doing it all by myself. My ex-husband who's now my ex, but at the time he's like this is your problem, you handle it, oh God, which had kind of been his attitude with the young man Right, he's your problem, you handle it. Because prior to really getting horrible, I had been saying hey, I need your help with this kid and he's your problem, you handle it, you handle it. So I was just doing that, but I was a wisp of myself and so I said no, there will be no trial.

Speaker 4:

I am not trotting this out to cause any more pain for my family. This is bad enough. And so they. I had a good attorney and she talked to them and she's. Essentially they took it down from four first degree charges to one fourth degree charge which is adjudicated as a misdemeanor. But I had to serve a felony sentence because in the state that I was in, which is not the state I'm in now, I'm in Florida now, but where I was, that was the minimum.

Speaker 3:

The so when you're saying the minimum, you mean it was a mandatory minimum.

Speaker 4:

Yes, it was a mandatory minimum, even though it was much lesser than what they tried to charge him with. I mean, it was as least as it could be actually Right, but I still had to serve. The mandatory minimum was a felony consequence. The therapist that I reported to, who was his therapist and I keep on saying that because she wasn't representing me she was his therapist and she had spent a lot of time with him. She testified on my behalf at sentencing. The judge was. She was very wise, so she read everything, including his statements, and she was no fool. I think that if she could have dismissed it, she would have, but she couldn't because the prosecutor wouldn't let her, and so I felt very grateful for that, because I couldn't say that. I was never allowed to say that Right, I was never, I was, I just, and I wouldn't allow myself to say it.

Speaker 2:

So we understand, you know, we understand a little bit about how you got to where through this whole legal system you got. So you go through, you have, you have, you plead guilty, you get the minimum that they're possibly gonna give you and then you're placed on the registry.

Speaker 4:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

Right. For how long?

Speaker 4:

10 years 10 years.

Speaker 4:

So it was. It was actually 10 years probation and in the state I was in you have to be on the registry for the length of your sentence. But the judge said to me I don't really want to give the sentence to you. The state mandates I have to. This is not the sentence I would give to you. I would give you three years probation and not put you on the registry, but I'm gonna. I have to give you what I have to give you. Come back to me in three years and I will take you off probation.

Speaker 4:

I can't take you off the registry until your original sentence expires because that's the state law and in fact she had the. She had the state law a little bit wrong in in sex offenses you have to serve at least half of your probation before you can come back to the judge and say please relieve me of the rest I. So I learned that I petitioned to get off at five years, which was the minimum time I had to serve. She didn't even she didn't even expect me to come to the court. She signed it. She was waiting. So I was relieved of probation in five years.

Speaker 2:

You were relieved of probation in five years, but you stayed on the registry.

Speaker 4:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

And and then you moved to a state where you typically it's anybody is typically lifetime right.

Speaker 4:

Yes. Well they tell you there's actually a statute that says that you have an opportunity to appeal and get off at 25 years, but we're made to sign something every time we register that says that it's for our lifetime.

Speaker 2:

So so right now, it's you know, unless something changes, you're on lifetime registry status for this, and so the other thing I would I would say is you know, when people think about what you know and I'm going to use the term we don't like to use to say sex offender, but we know the world says sex offender, sex offender. When you think of the sex offender, I'll challenge anybody who's listening right now to think if they would ever think that they should put you with that label right. I mean, that's just something, as we're talking about this story, that to remember that there are so many different stories like yours and so many different stories across the board that anybody that's forced to register is not that there are so many different reasons and so many different stories that bring us there. Amber, you look like you want to add on.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean I think that, again, this really points back to hard fast lines in the criminal legal system. So we've heard about mandatory minimums, right. We've heard about hard fast lines about age, which again not here to say that a child is able to give consent, and things like that. But when you're talking about people in adolescence and their ability to commit harm, that is a very real thing, right. And so we see that the system not only criminalizes survivors, right, because that's what I'm seeing a through line in this story it also creates a perpetuation of harm, right. So what that young man needed prior to this ever happening was more help and different help and a different space and a different, you know, different supports.

Speaker 3:

Yes, so he absolutely did Right, and so there were so many things and the context of this story and so many others are entirely two nuance for a very adversarial, hard fast lines system to handle. So that's why, you know, we really need to reimagine how we deal with because this is, you know, a story having to do with adoption and having to do with foster care and all of that, but it's also sort of in what happens sometimes within families. So this was your family, there were a lot of things that were happening that you were doing to protect your family right, and there were so many other ways that it could have been addressed than this disproportionate and irrational way.

Speaker 2:

It's also the story you know the stigma that goes along with being bipolar and mental illness. It's a story about a culture that says dust yourself off and just keep going and don't deal. You know, suck it up and move on right. Don't deal with grief and trauma. Be tougher, you've got to go forward. It's about you know just how we, what are our expectations of everybody. It's about doctors not being held responsible for misprescribing. It's about you know so that's in there, you know so there's. And then a system that says, hey, we've got to deal with this kid who doesn't have a foster parent and we're going to be misleading, if not lie, to get him out of our roles and make it somebody else's problem. So there's so many of these things came together and you know, as you're alluding to, we've got to treat people. We've got to understand and recognize the humanity of this whole thing.

Speaker 4:

Right.

Speaker 2:

So so now, so I mean we've covered a lot. I mean that we could spend probably the equal amount of time on registry implications. I do want to just mention one thing that you said before we started is when we were talking about how to even address you during this podcast. You know, we said well, do you want to go by a pseudonym, like you know, or so that we could just call you by a different name during this podcast? And so you have to think about it and say well, you know, part of my restriction is that, you know, anytime I use an alias, I have to report it. So that's why we made an extra point of saying it's not you who's asking to be referred by a different name, but we are going to do that Correct.

Speaker 3:

We have chosen to refer to you in a way that feels comfortable for us.

Speaker 2:

Right, so so it's. You know you're going to, you're anonymous, but we are referring to you as D to facilitate the discussion. But it's just something that the average person is not even going to be thinking about. And how many, how many years has it been since your arrest?

Speaker 4:

It's been almost 11 years and I remember I wasn't even arrested and I know, you know, I want to talk about what I'm doing now. I want to talk a little bit about the impact of the registry, but I also want I want to do a little quick epilogue. So, because I was never allowed to talk to anybody or any kind of you know, in any kind of significant way about the young man and his level of danger I guess is the right word and nobody took me seriously when I did say anything. The young man went on to commit a violent crime against a woman for which he was jailed and had consequences.

Speaker 4:

And I truly believe that if the people that originally placed him with us, the people that did so so, took it so lightly that things that were really big red red flags and then who totally failed him when things did happen, and then the whole system that wants to pretend like that wasn't a dynamic and won't even allow you to open your mouth about it, if all of that had not happened, this young man would have got some help. I don't know if he wouldn't have committed that crime. I can't tell the future. I think that it would be less likely, and so I know I failed and I have embraced that and I'm dealing with it the consequences of that every single day. But I really want a message to go out to all these other entities because they failed him and his life is never the same Right.

Speaker 3:

And I think that that's a very important point. I'm so thankful, dee, for you sharing that, because again, part of what we're doing here on Amplified Voices is providing a platform for truth telling and again, every person has value. People don't start out in life like I have an intent to harm other people, and there are ways to break sexual violence cycles right, with the right supports, the right tools, and we seem to keep utilizing the wrong ones and wondering why we're still in the same situation. So I know that is really hard and it's not a you know widely accepted that truth telling happens in these situations. So I just want to thank you for having the courage to share that and to acknowledge that this young man was failed, you were failed, we were all failed in this situation, and how can we do better?

Speaker 4:

So thank you. That's why I'm here. I also want to say that I represent only myself, but I happen to know because I know other women who have gotten into this sort of trouble, this kind of offense, who are forced to register. And the dynamic of my story is not an exception, it is not out of the ordinary. And I actually know one other woman to the whole dynamic involved, the whole foster system. It was somewhat similar. Her outcome was a little bit different, but the dynamic of the woman who is charged with an offense being abused in the actual offense or leading up to the offense, during the offense, et cetera, is actually very common.

Speaker 4:

It seems to be never discussed. I rarely hear about it. It's always sensationalized when a woman has one of these offenses. I will tell you that how I am treated by the community at large is they're horrified and there's a lot of animosity. I have my own trolls and vigilantes and they're highly, highly offended that I am a woman who got into that kind of offense and trouble.

Speaker 4:

And then the other side of that, which is the complete opposite, is that I get from people who know me and then, after I get to know them, I share with them some part of my status is they can't believe it. They cannot believe that. They're like no, they're in complete disbelief and they're like well, you must be an exception, you're an exception, not you, not you. And that's not true either. I am not an exception. Every single situation, whether it be a woman or man, is very unique, just like you said. And there's so many different factors, and most of them aren't even considered in our system. And I'm not an exception, and I want people to know that. I mean, I'm not an exception for women, but I'm not an exception for men either.

Speaker 2:

No, no. And the interesting thing that you brought up is that you wanna say that there's an abuser and abused and that the power dynamic is very simple the abuser has the power, the abuse doesn't have the power and, like you said, life is. That. May be true, there's an element of that. That's true, absolutely. But then there's other things that are going on where maybe you're not abused by that person, but you're abused by somebody else or maybe something.

Speaker 2:

There are different dynamics that play for everybody and for all these situations, and life is not so simple that you could put things into a nice little box and so. But we do, and the thing that really puts things into a box for a lot of people is just that label we talked about sex offender is you are a sex offender, which means that you are a predator, you're evil, you're deviant, you're these things, and you're forever that. There is no way that you are somehow a monster and you're different. And so I think that we're trying to highlight stories like yours to show that it could be your sister, it could be your aunt, it could be your neighbor, anybody, right.

Speaker 3:

And I think you also made an important point that you're not unique for women and you're not unique for men, because I think that there is also a stigma.

Speaker 3:

There's a stigma around power dynamics and again the person reporting what was happening was you, even though there was this, you know, labeled power dynamic. But there is also a stigma for men right to report, because then they're supposed to be like okay, I'm in a power dynamic, this person is being aggressive towards me, you know whatever and then it becomes a complicated situation and that's a real thing, right. Like we can, we cannot say that it isn't. It's just not something that is talked about, it's not something that people are comfortable with and it certainly is not accepted in our society for a man to say something horrible is happening to me, right, and I need help, right. So I think that all of those nuances are extremely important. And again, thank you for for going there. D, if you wouldn't mind, if you could just briefly share maybe some of the highlights when you think about how your life post-incarceration has been impacted by the registry, if you know, you could just give us a little flavor of that okay.

Speaker 4:

So first, eight years, terrified, wrapped in a blanket laying on my sofa, when I didn't have something specific I had to be doing or an appointment. I was afraid to talk to people outside of my home. I was afraid to pretty much do anything you I had. In one neighborhood. I had a troll put horrible notes all over the neighborhood about me, so I was afraid to even step outside my door and walk my dog. I am a compliant person and I also am an over-thinker, and so I would spend most of my time thinking about ways to be sure that I was being compliant to the extent that I had anxiety attacks all the time. I did try to make something of my life and live and be a part of my family, but that was it. That was a huge shadow over my life all the time, and that pretty much changed about three years ago when my mother died, which is a sad thing, except for it was a watershed moment in my life and I realized life is short and I didn't want to spend it being terrified.

Speaker 4:

But the registry impacts every single aspect of your life and even the minutiae, like not being able to share with you my real name or have an alias, I'm anonymous because I don't want to go register another name, and so I decided about three years ago life short, I'm on to step on out and I decided to go into advocacy, and so now my life is very different, but I am still. Every single part of my life, every tiny little detail of my life, is prescribed by the registry where I can live, when I can travel, where I can go in a county, what county I can go in and what county I can't go in, every single thing, and I'm always being examined. Like mentioned, I have my trolls. We have vigilantes right in our neighborhood that are always after me. I have to live with that pressure.

Speaker 4:

I do walk my dog now. I do whatever it is I can legally do. I step out. I actually considered using my real name today, but I didn't, because there are other people in my life and I respect the impact that it has on them and that's the only reason not to protect myself. But the registry is cruel, it is perpetual punishment. It is not even punishment, it's persecution. That is my, my perspective. It's persecution because we cannot live and and have agency over ourselves because of the registry how's that?

Speaker 3:

there's no right or wrong answers on amplified voices, but I think it was very compelling. So you talked a little bit about, you know, stepping out in your life right, walking your dog, feeling more comfortable in your own skin, but also stepping out in advocacy. Tell us a little bit about what that is, because I know that you do some really great work and would love to hear about that so three years ago, when I had my moment, I I was already a member of the Florida Action Committee.

Speaker 4:

I had actually become a member at the very beginning of my probation and the but I wasn't active and I decided that's what I wanted to do. I contacted Anita Killen, who is a committee member, board board member, and I said I wanted, I want to be active, and that woman does not miss a beat when it's take advantage of somebody who's ready to become active. So it was like I know what you can do. I started training to be a county coordinator, who is the point person for a county. That quickly turned into being the county coordinator for two counties. The next thing, you know, I'm a regional coordinator for eight counties in my state and though I that's not just the point person, but I actually go into all of those counties.

Speaker 4:

I meet with people face to face. I talk with them about the impact of the registry and what can be done to mitigate it. Personally, legally, with litigation, with legislation. I try to help people, you know, take back their lives, feel empowered. They need hope, people need hope. I needed hope and and so I go and do that. And then that turned into a board position and now I'm the advocacy director on the Florida Action Committee board. I attend a lot of conferences where you know I get to network with other people doing advocacy work, which is very, very encouraging and empowering and supportive to me and occasionally seen karaoke or dance to it.

Speaker 4:

Yes, and you know, I'm so glad you brought that up because when you live in this status and in this environment, this crushing environment, it's very difficult to cut loose. A little bit, at least for me, and I know for a lot of persons who are forced to register. They are loath to do that, and the fact that when I get to go to conferences with other people who are advocating for the people on the registry, whether they are on the registry or not it allows me to be a real human being. Yeah, and that's really important because we're we have to be on guard all the time, we have to be vigilant all the time, we have to be compliant all the time.

Speaker 2:

You cannot make a misstep because it could be the last one you make so the groups are involved Florida Action Committee we're on the board and then you're also involved in another group, right?

Speaker 4:

I'm a member of, well, I'm a member of Narsall war, axol, and then I have a group of my own that I started in July and it's called shine, which is an acronym for sisters healing injustice, networking for empowerment, and we, within that, we have a speaking group which is called voices it's an acronym too, but we won't have to go through all of that and it's it's exclusively for women forced to register. I, for the last 10 years, from the very beginning, I really realized that women were almost invisible, women experiencing this kind of offense and the whole process. We were invisible.

Speaker 4:

The laws didn't fit, the consequences didn't fit, the, the treatment didn't fit and the assessments don't exist assessments don't fit, and I was told repeatedly by officials and experts well, these were written for men, like that was just going to be okay and I'm like, but why, I am a woman, why, why haven't you written one for me?

Speaker 4:

Well, you're, you're insignificant, though that word was used specifically to me several times by experts and people in authority and I don't really take kindly to that. I don't, I don't feel insignificant, I feel real right, and so I made mental notes going well, going through the process and when I was in my very long grieving period too, I'm like there will be a day when I do something about this, and the very first time I actually stepped out and did something about it. The Florida Act Committee goes to the Florida ATSA, which is the organization for the therapists and probation officers and, as you can tell, I love to talk and I was asked by a board member to go out and mingle among the forensic psychologist and the therapist and the probation officers and talk to them and ask them questions. While I'm thinking, opportunity has just struck and so I started, you know, talking to them and not telling them that I was a woman forced to register, yep, just approaching them and talking and then telling them that but you learned a lot before they knew.

Speaker 3:

I guess I did. Your status was you're a trojan horse.

Speaker 4:

Yes, I am a little trojan horse there. You know those days right, yeah, we're gonna get it, you're gonna get to his shirt. They call you the trojan horse there you go, one and I, and I was told by a couple forensic psychiatrists yeah, one was a woman how insignificant we were and I challenged them good, so that's why we started the group and it's been amazing that's fantastic.

Speaker 2:

So we'll get all that into the show notes.

Speaker 3:

Amber, you gotta have some final thoughts here yeah, so I first I want to thank you for sharing your experience with the way that our movement is building community, because I think that is really, really important to build community, particularly amongst people who have been extremely marginalized within the criminal legal reform movements. Right, and this, the last thing that I really want to ask you, because I think that you have a lot to share, is, if you had, you know, one piece of advice for a person who was beginning a journey that is similar to yours. What do you think that might be?

Speaker 4:

never say, as I said to myself more than once, oh, that I would never do that, that could never happen to me, I would never do that. That's been said to me and I said it, and it's an enormous mistake because it's not true and it allows for you to possibly fall into that hole. So if you realize that this happens to real people, regular people, not some stereotypical boogeyman, and you know that, then you have allowed in your mind to go there and say, ah, this could happen to me, how do I avoid it? How do I avoid missteps? You will also be more aware of the red flags that are flashing in front of your face. But if you think you would never do that or that could never happen to you, you will be like me and you will charge forward and ignore them because, of course, you don't see the danger. And I feel like that is one of the most dangerous things a person can say to themselves, and I hear it said all the time that that is really important and profound in my mind.

Speaker 3:

So thank you so much, jason. Do you have any last thoughts before we wrap up?

Speaker 2:

well, that's it. I'm just gonna say, dee, thank you so much for joining us today. You know we had actually met at one of those conferences and and I know Amber has met you before, so but certainly I didn't know. You know, when I met you it didn't know any, any of what you shared today, because frankly, in the world it shouldn't, it shouldn't matter, right, it shouldn't matter to anybody, so but but hopefully your story will touch some lives, whether people are going through it themselves and they need and they're going to get something from your story, or they know somebody, or they never really thought much about it and maybe you'll change some thoughts for people and have a positive impact. So thank you for being here. I think it's really important.

Speaker 3:

I know you said you haven't really shared your story much like this, so it's really important and so and thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you yes, very honored to have been entrusted with your story and we really look forward to, as you know, we're all moving forward together, the changes that are possible and that we can make together. So thank you again for being here today. D it's been really great.

Speaker 4:

Thank you too.

Speaker 5:

I really am honored by the opportunity until next time, amber we'll see you next time you've been listening to amplified voices, a podcast listening the experiences of people and families impacted by the criminal legal system. For more information, episodes and podcast notes, visit amplified voices dot show you.

Amplified Voices Podcast Episode
Acknowledging Trauma and Coping Strategies
Adoption, Loss, and Moving Forward
Struggle With Adoption and Health
Facing a Family Crisis
Reimagining the Criminal Legal System
Challenges of Sex Offender Registry
Navigating Life After Registration