Name and address withheld, April 2016

My stepdad’s a nice bloke. But a lot of sex offenders are. Thank you to Sam Vincent for his article (February), which went where most of us don’t want to go in arguing that sex offenders need support, not vilification.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I finally confronted my stepdad about abusing me. I didn’t want to involve the police, and felt more sorry for him, for being a bit pathetic, than angry. But I didn’t want the same thing to happen to my child.

I wasn’t willing to take his word that it was in the past, so we began a long search for information and professional support. But the research is all on jailed offenders, and the services all seemed a little baffled that we were seeking help when the legal system wasn’t forcing us to do it.

And yet a tiny proportion of sex offenders are reported, and a tiny proportion of those reports result in convictions and jail time. We’re ignoring the fact that most offenders don’t lurk down dark alleys, snatching children. They’re people we know.

I would love to see funding for the kinds of programs that Vincent discusses, those that support people to not offend. Because they’re based on the facts and not the myths of sexual offending, and they work. Because I don’t want it to happen to my daughter.

We finally found a professional who helped us to conclude that my stepdad is probably a low risk, and to come up with some rules that limit the kind of access he has to my daughter, to be on the safe side. But getting to that point took a lot of money, even more time, and plenty of tears and very uncomfortable conversations.

Name and address withheld