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It's important to look at motive



As I complete my graduate degree in psychology, I reflect on how difficult it was to file those first few mandated child abuse reports. The conversations behind child sexual abuse, in particular, are highly confidential—but they are sometimes filled with years of endured agony and a great deal of toxic shame. This type of abuse has the ability to twist a person’s thinking and behavior into unconscionable shapes and proportions. I noted the news article, “Son accused of murdering his father appears in court,” in the Dec. 15 edition of New Times began with “A registered sex offender accused of killing his father in Morro Bay ... ,” as if that were his first identity in life—rather than being William Joel Schonberger. But then, I realized that in our throw-away society, this is likely all William will ever be remembered as.

The most haunting statement in my classes about childhood abuse was made by a professor who pointed out “childhood sexual abuse victims either act in or they act out.” As it says in the commentary, “Reforming rights,” which ran in the same issue: “The first thing that needs to be done in order to ensure a reform for the mental health system is to find a way to reduce the stigma that is associated with mental illness ... .” That means change must first occur in the human heart and mind. Severe trauma actually distorts certain connections in the brain (where love becomes pain, and love becomes the sex you had as a child), and I wonder sometimes how deep the inner torment must be to do the worst crime possible: to kill one of your parents.

I am not saying his father is to blame—but we must look at motive. And we must come up with a solution in order improve the health and safety of our community, and society as a whole. We all know the hierarchy of the prison system and the likely outcome for William. If you aren’t heartbroken by a story like this and sad to see a young life so tragically shattered during the holiday season, maybe that is a good place to begin. Every journey begins with the first step.

Merry Christmas, New Times!

-- Peggy Genoway - San Luis Obispo

-- Peggy Genoway - San Luis Obispo

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