The Dobbs Wire: Life on the registry — an uncommon perspective

Uncommon perspective:  A woman writes about life on the sex offense registry.  Found on the internet, four interesting essays by Sonia Van den Broek – let’s hope she is well and thriving.  Have a look!   -Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire  



CounterPunch | July 27, 2012

The Self-Identity of a Sex Offender


By Sonia Van den Broek


Excerpts:  People are constantly changing their self-identities, either to project the desired image or to gain personal growth.  The men and women on sex offender probation have no choice about their identities. They are sex offenders, solely and clearly. Questions about perception and portrayal are nice but hardly applicable. Other people are the sum of their experiences but sex offenders are the sum of their crimes.


Status as a sex offender takes precedence in every single situation, even one where someone’s life is in danger. In my group therapy, we had a discussion about what to do if a child ran out in the street in front of our cars. The treatment provider and probation officer – the latter of whom was sitting in on group – decided it was best to call the police and tell them the situation. They quibbled over whether we could knock on a neighbor’s door to have them grab the child, but under no circumstances were we to touch the child or guide him to the sidewalk.


I was appalled.  In the time it would take me to dial 911, much less explain the situation to the operator, the kid could be hit by the next car. MORE:




Dissident Voice | May 21, 2015

Who Are Woman Sex Offenders and Why Are They Treated Like Men?


By Sonia Van den Broek


Excerpts:  For the first quarter of my life, I didn’t think much about sex offenders. Call it thoughtlessness or a naïve little bubble; it was probably both. This thoughtlessness might not be unique. But I began thinking about sex offenders when, at age 25, I was charged with a sex crime. 


This isolation sinks deep into the bones. It makes a person unsure of herself. How do “normal” people act in this situation? What if someone finds out I committed a sex crime? Am I talking and behaving the way women my age do?  In this way, the punishment for sex crimes is partly physical, restricting a person’s movements in the community, and partly psychological, making her afraid to engage with other people.


Here lies perhaps the greatest injustice: in the sex offender system, women are treated exactly like men. Treatment providers aren’t given special instruction in dealing with women. The treatment programs are written for men, using statistics about male offenders and past treatment models of men. Imagine!  MORE:




BillTrack50 | Aug. 15, 2015

Looking Myself Up on the Registry


By Sonia Van den Broek


Excerpts:  Yesterday, for the first time, I pulled up my state’s sex offender registry.  Yet this was no idle browsing or searching for a nearby neighbor. I was looking for myself. Six years, three months, and two days after I was arrested, I felt strong enough to search for myself.


Of course, this is no typical Google search, curious what past employment sites list your name or how many Facebook results you can find. This is the willingness to find a version of yourself on the worst place on the Internet: the unforgiving, voyeuristic Sex Offender Registry.  MORE:




BillTrack50 | Oct. 16, 2015

Is the Sex Offender Registry Effective?


By Sonia Van den Broek


Excerpt:  In the previous blog post, I alluded to the value of the sex offender registry. The best way to understand this value, I believe, is by answering the question “Is the registry effective?” Anything that requires direct police involvement, legal monitoring, and thus taxpayer money deserves to be scrutinized by this question. I propose to you that, far from being effective, the sex offender registry is actually ineffective and harmful – to the community most of all.  MORE:


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