How do I emotionally survive caring for a pedophile? - page 3

I came to work today, and a new patient was added into the mix. A male, sick in prision, serving time as a pedafpile. I was raised in a very abusive home. I figured someday, I might have to deal... Read More

  1. by   rn/writer
    I, personally, would talk to him about it. I'd like to know if he has regrets, how he feels about his incarceration, how he feels about what he did to the child, etc. If I was in your position, I think that in a weird way, it might help me get closure by confronting someone similar to the person from my past. His answers could also surprise you, and make you feel more compassionate toward him. I know that no one wants to think anything positive for a pedophile, but in this line of work, I think you have to find good in people to a certain extent. If you can't, the patient isn't going to get the care that they need and deserve, and that would be lose/lose for everyone.
    I'm sure you mean well, but this is not a good idea for a number of reasons. First, the patient isn't in a medical setting to receive counseling or confrontation. Second, the OP has obvious issues and needs that make her vulnerable in a way she wishes not to be. Third, those practitioners whose job it is to deal with child sexual offenders--to challenge them in constructive ways and to assist them in owning what they have done and managing their lives in the aftermath--have intensive training and have learned how to control their own emotions and actions. Even so, many of them can handle this kind of job for only a limited time before they have to move on to less stressful areas. The thought of a young nurse with unresolved pain from her own past opening this complex can of worms is frightening. It is doubtful that she would get closure from talking with this man, and it's very possible that things could go badly and cause further damage.

    So what should she do? Stick to business. Focus on the medical aspects of his needs. Be civil but not familiar. Resist the urge to carry on any conversation beyond what is necessary. Adhere to the prison protocol without exception--it's there for the caregiver's protection. Develop a heightened consciousness of safety that anticipates lapses in personal security and heads them off.

    And this is most important--get help.

    To the original poster: Your question is less about this particular patient than it is about what you do with your own individual pain. Talk to a competent therapist or counselor who is experienced in helping survivors of child sexual abuse. Join a support group. Journal. Do whatever it takes to put balm on the old wounds and become strong and whole.

    Think of this man's disturbing presence in your life as an invitation to do as an adult what you could not do for yourself as a child--tell people you trust, and ask for help.

    Regardless of what happens to your patient, your life-both personal and professional-will be better for getting the healing you need.
    Last edit by rn/writer on Jun 9, '09
  2. by   JDCitizen
    Off the main topic to a degree but this is in response to some of the postings here.

    Working with prisoners for over 20 years in the field, in the hospital, in the "correctional" environment here are some tid-bits:

    - They can be nice (is it personality or for secondary gain).
    - A good percentage of the time the crime they were convicted of does not tell the whole story.
    - Idle chit chat with a prisoner can lead to trouble.
    - Over familiarity with a prisoner can lead to trouble
    - When around prisoners always be security aware (that insulin needle can be turned into a weapon, etc.)
    - Give an inch and you have potentially lost a mile.
    - There are plenty of health care providers who have lost their jobs, career, family by forgetting there is a line between prisoner and provider.

    Prisoners have access to all levels of medical care, mental health care, etc...
    The route of a health care provider leaving their primary scope and trying to find out why they committed a crime, what makes them tick, etc. can lead down a path that should not have been traveled.. Yes I do know health care providers that crossed the line and paid the price.

    It can be so bad there is a book recommended for reading:
    Games Criminals Play.
  3. by   nkara
    I've taken care of pedophiles and murderer's. I actually don't think about it at the time. They are all very nice to me and I know I have to do the job. I will say I was nervous taking care of the murderer but it had to be done and in the end that's all that matters. Your a nurse to give patient care.. you can't pick and choose who that patient is. :angel2:
  4. by   Lisa From Maui
    dear tiroka: i agree with rn/writer staff. do not start asking your patient questions like, "why did you do it? what motivated you? how could you hurt a helpless child?" at the same time, i think it would help you alot to know the answers. the solution... find the answers elsewhere.

    when a man is in prison and has been convicted of sex crimes, often he is given counseling. the man has to write down 1. why did he do it? 2. what were his motivations? 3. why did he hurt a child? i'm sure there are psychologists who have taken those answers and put them in a book. do not ask your patient. instead, go to your library and start reading.

    one of the best books i've ever read in my life: predators: pedophiles rapists and other sexual offenders by anna salter. $13 on amazon. once i started reading it, it was so interesting, i could not put it down. it wasn't like reading a psychology textbook. it was like reading a novel. i'll say it again. go to a professional counselor.
  5. by   AlabamaBelle
    My own two cents - refuse this kind of assignment. You must take care of yourself first, no one can do that for you. As others have wisely responded - therapy, journalling, EAP, etc.

    I have to deal with child abusers in Peds Intensive Care. It's so hard to know that one or more adults in that room beat the living **** out of that precious child. Sadder still, our system failed the child. We have to offer compassion and support to these ***** abusers. They think we're really THAT stupid to believe that cockamamey story they just told (and change that story each time it's told).

    Just take care of yourself and know that many hugs and prayers surround you from your support community here at AN.

  6. by   leslie :-D
    as a survivor of chronic and heinous abuses, i would strongly encourage you to remove yourself from this assignment.
    while we have amazing mechanisms that enable us to seemingly cope and function, there are many triggers that can/will remind us of what we try so hard to forget.
    i've been in therapy since 2004:
    and have cared for pedophiles more than once.
    while i managed to do my job (i think many of us automatically go into some type of dissociative mode), these type pts did result in me experiencing abrupt and acute anxieties that required professional intervention.

    feel free to pm me, if you like.
    until you have gotten professional help, you would be best served to avoid such blatant reminders of your past.

    wishing you only the very best.