Case study – Fraser – Engaging with my peers through Unlock’s online forum has not only increased my knowledge but also my mental health

Having received his first conviction at the age of 60 for a sexual offence, Fraser had many questions and concerns about moving on with his life with a criminal record.

He’d found himself cast out by members of his family, dismissed by his long term employer and feeling cast adrift with the stigma of the offence he’d committed. His self-confidence was at an all-time low and he encountered problems in everything he tried to do. He wanted advice but more importantly he needed to be able to communicate with people who’d had similar experiences to his own. He felt that he would continue to be judged by the whole of society and wanted to speak to somebody who would listen to him objectively and not rush to judge him.

Fraser eventually found Unlock after doing an online search and then came across the online forum where he says he was able to discuss his problems and start to rebuild his life. Fraser always considered himself to be a strong individual who’d spent most of his career supporting others. However, as a result of his conviction he found himself vilified and cast out after making a bad judgement decision during a period of depression in his life which ultimately led to him suffering from severe depression. He believes that the support provided by members of the forum has saved his life.

The opportunity to talk to people who had direct experience of sexual offences and the fall out on an individuals personal life had a huge impact on Fraser’s mental health. He was able to gain a perspective on his problems from those who were newly convicted like himself and others who’d lived with their convictions for many years. Some provided practical help and links to resources whilst others were able to give support emotionally.

Fraser said:

“I can’t express how much I appreciate Unlock setting up a forum like this. Without it, I doubt if I would still be here. It’s great to be able to speak to people who don’t judge us by the 1% of mistakes we’ve made but by valuing the 99% of good things that we’ve done”.

 

Lessons

There has been a lot of research demonstrating how people who use forums to talk about stigmatised subjects were found to have gained strong benefits including alleviating feelings of isolation and depression and possibly prevent re-offending. Fraser’s own experience certainly adds weight to this.

Individuals will often seek information and advice from a wide range of sources to overcome their problems but as this case shows, the ability to speak with people who have had direct personal experience is hugely important.

Links

Notes about this case study 

This case study relates to our online forum.

Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

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