When we think of invisible, what do we see? Imagery is created and while we picture in our minds the invisible, we are aware we cannot see the object. I can think of one example here and it was when my son was around nine months old. He was sitting in the bath and I had a shower spray which entertained him while in the bath. He would quizzically peer at the spray of water dispensed, attempt to grab it in his chubby little fingers then furrow his eyebrows, puzzled as to why the water was not present when he opened his hand. It’s the little things…
The theory of desistance is just that. A theory. Therefore, it can be argued. I’ve crashed on for a year on what is not being provided in rehabilitation for women, desistance is my new best friend. I have engaged with many other women on the topic of desistance. Yet, it is primarily absent in services. It is still being defined with academics and they, (the smart and clever beings they are) have yet to come up with a definition of what the word means.
Desistance cannot be rolled out as a model in the way a set of rehabilitation techniques can. There are rehabilitation models out there in use and being used. We have those “service-users” and the delivery is rolled out by service providers. Desistance is not. It is an invisible force. There has been no test to implement the process structurally as there is with rehabilitation. Criminology academics write about it, research it and study it.
As a footsoldier, who has served a community sentence, my journey is well-documented across various channels. Desistance is defined (albeit loosely) as a cessation of offending behaviour. It is this cessation of behaviour, offending is a behaviour, regardless of the act or law it breaches, I am going to explore here.
Looking into my own psyche, I did not “suddenly” offend. A catalogue of years of badly managed choices, a fight in Family Law courts to see my children, some bad relationship choices and some dreadful business decisions led to me signing cheques I could not honour and creating credit card accounts in someone else’s name. That’s the history sorted then… But what of my future – what is it in my brain that prevents me doing it all again?
Fear of Prison? – I do not fear a prison cell. That is not because they are holiday camps as the press would have you believe. I was living on a canal bank, prison would have solved my immediate homeless problem, hooked me into the system and I would have become a “service-user” I would have used prison as a way of re-focusing, re-building and tapped into what was on offer. The custodial part of my suspended sentence of 18-weeks may not have afforded me much in the way of rehabilitation, but hell, I’d have a bunk to sleep in and a sink to wash my hands in post-sanitary needs.
Fear of public’s reaction after journalists have filed articles – Goodness me, this one makes me smile. Honestly, I could not give a flying fuck what the public think of me – I have not seen my children for a decade – that features highly on my agenda and continues to reach way and beyond the public’s wanton need to shout out that women are fraudsters and should rot in hell. If the public want to own what I have taken responsibility for, served a sentence for and changed a tampon on a canal bank for, be my guest. You’re welcome to it.
None of the above – I’ll tell you what it is. It is that I like my life. I like the fact I have a little home. I don’t have much – but it is all mine. I did not re-start. I started. At the age of 45-years old, I changed my thinking patterns. It was always going to happen, and I’d simply had enough of the crap. I do not have chaos in my life any longer. This is because I am not creating chaos. People overlook when I say the words – “It was not hard” Default settings are set within the power of suggestion – how wonderful it is when a person has championed adversity and come through to a better place. I had to learn one thing. I had to overcome what I was always doing. Lying to those close to me, and leading them to believe I was “fine” I clearly wasn’t. I can see where I went wrong and it cost me dearly. I had to look at what I was doing. It was only my behaviour that got me in a dock. When I stopped looking for someone, something, to blame, it was the wake-up call that I needed. I could not hold it, I could not see it, I could feel it but I could not reach it. One day I did. I found my path and started. It was my path and it is not one for another person, their path is their path, my path is mine and if that path is broken by another, I can still remain there crawling along at my speed and taking my time. I might have the odd trip-up and the odd fall, but I keep on it and I live it each day.
I did not need to cease offending. I needed to alter my whole world to how I once knew it. It is within the creation of a new life, I was able to look at what I was doing and not break the laws in this, our green and pleasant land. I did not find the answer from Probation, I did not find the answer from a research paper. I found it, where it was always lurking, popping up on my shoulder, wagging its finger at me and saying “Trace, is this really a good idea?” I found the answer in me.
To quote: “when an unstoppable force meets an immoveable object”
That is my desistance journey – and this time, it is not going to land me in a dock. There is not a law in this land that can tell me how to manage this one…
But good luck trying…:)