LGBTIQQ Released From Prison Find A Loving Community Through Available Counselling and Guidance

Ten Ways To Help Your Loved One Adjust To Life After Prison

 We have subject matter experts in the areas of Family Ministry, In-Prison Programmes and Criminal Justice Reform advocacy and we want to reach out to the LGBTIQQ Community in Africa to build resilience structures within them.

The most important cause of criminalisation of ways of life is the unholy nexus between politicians and bureaucracy. There is a tendency of community leadership to align itself with the people in power and not to represent the local or characteristic needs of the community. Community leaders can be shielded from politics, dismissals or can secure their positions when they are aligned with the people. The people feel safe enough in their homes in Uganda.  This time around when COVID-19 is roaming large, food security and the means to prepare it; and availability of various forms of prevention and financial security can be an indicator of the trust the people give their leader or not. These are the three securities: Food, prevention of COVID-19 and financial security.  The real big deal in Uganda is not whether there is homosexuality or heterosexuality. It is the pressure brought to bear on a given leader in a community which is linked to availability of the three securities we talked of. These are enough to fulfill the need for public display of power and authority.   In the absence of food, protection detergents and income generating opportunities due to lock down restrictions, to show they are able to act against homosexuality is a scapegoat. Public display of authority and power over homosexuality is through aggression, correction by corporeal punishment, ridicule, shaming, naming, blaming and anger.  

It was not that the 19 LGBTIQQ, who were thrown into Kitalya Prison where they sent 49 days while awaiting fair hearing, were criminals. We are so glad they were released without any count pinned against them and we hope to provide life span counselling and guidance to enable them adjust to a life after prison. We also want them to note that we are growing with them and standing by their side.

Today is the day you are put in the car, given your own mask, some money, a promise for your own private bed and meals.  You are coming home! You and your family are excited. Now everything can go back to normal, right?

If the truth be told, there are a lot of adjustments that need to be done. On your part you have to adjust to life on the outside. On the family’s part, they will have to adjust to your needs. Family in this case could be the people who will make the first moves to come and pay you a visit. Among those will be some you know and others you don’t. There will be chit-chat. Some will not even know you need a quiet time. Perhaps in your withdrawal some will find it rude. Both sides are to deal with a culture shock, depression and anguish. There are challenges with the social stigma and the collateral consequences that come with an LGBTIQQ Identity in Uganda. Your hosts will either be welcoming or wary at the most. Perhaps it would be best if you were given separate accommodations away from the prying ear and eye. You may need to equate your freedom with full service to all your needs and wants. But, this will not be possible. Those needs (arise from necessities) and wants (arise from desires) range from: productive; protective; self-preservation; sexual, reproductive, physical, mental and spiritual health. According to various sources, a need is a motivating force that compels action for its satisfaction. Needs range from basic survival needs (common to all human beings) satisfied by necessities, to cultural, intellectual, and social needs (varying from place to place and age group to age group) satisfied by necessaries. Needs are finite. Wants (which spring from desires or wishes) are boundless.  Make reasonable demands that fit more into your needs than wants. How can you help your loved one adjust to life after prison? Here are ten ways to consider.

 

1. Understand Needs and Wants

You are a human being driven by agency, autonomy and self-determination. Decide what matters and do not spend money or time on what does not matter.

Measure your achievement on how productive you are ready to be.

Make a personal protection plan against inimical elements such as COVID-19. Remember to weigh consequences of your own desires for and need for public display as a form of regaining your identity.

Be vigilant about your own life; make decisions that promote your self-preservation; you are as sexual a being as you can do sexual things. Priority should be given to safety and security and not only sensuality.

Sexual Reproductive health is a must. Weigh the consequences but it does not stop you from reading about sexual health tips or seeking sexual-reproductive health services.

Physical, mental and spiritual health is a must. So, because of COVID-19 restrictions you may not meet or socialize physically. However there are apps if you can access internet or airtime and a smart phone. Get down to it buddy. Get a corner reserved for spirituality. Reserve some time for spiritual growth which you can do by reflecting on the things and beauty around you. It is known as ‘mindfulness’ spirituality. The appreciation of one’s surroundings and the good they bring to one’s body. When you get spiritual you are also mentally inventorying things and it is this that triggers bodily sensory mechanisms to involve your physical self.  There! You have had all 30 minutes given to affirmative and disciplined self-determination. Do this every day; you will add a brick to your composure.

2. Seek ways to regain your full operational self

You are the next big deal or thing buddy. But, that euphoria needs stoking. You are going to be a big deal forever. We suggest ways you can have this level of posterity (we also know you may leave or take our suggestion), be the one to help others. Start an online support group for those who are struggling to cope up. I am sure you know so many others who are struggling. Make them feel empowered through your tips on growing as a productive person in their communities. Join a group of club that promotes healthy living choices. Be willing to share your lessons and story. When you are willing to share your tips, more people will access them and learn. You will create a critical mass of change agents.

3. Forgive

Depending on how you see it, the government owns the prisons where you put. The same government released you and they said they have no case against you. I can only begin to imagine the irony of things. Consider the brighter side. You are on the outside and run on your own timetable. Move on positively. Forgive what you feel was wrong and promote activities of a fulfilling life.

3. Gratefulness, Services, Custodial Duties and the Media

You are aware there are those who did leg work, run up and down; and perhaps spent long hours putting in time to get your case heard and resolved. It costs money to resolve a case like this one. It also takes more than legal teams to have this case get to its final closure. What you should be aware of too, is that a lot of money has exchanged hands. You will be shocked when you get to hear the details. But, what your take-home lesson should be about the financials is: It takes money to resolve this case and just be grateful there are friends out there who donated and collected the funds so that you acquire your sense of self. It is that expensive so please be cautious from now on.  Making any form of transaction is taxed so, it also means they paid ‘stamp duty!’ It is hard to manage a case like this because of its profile, the equivalency of count to length of the sentence; and how much it has been in the news. The case received so much airtime locally and internationally. If you manage to get money for a house, food and airtime be thrifty, conservative and if possible move out of an expensive house and move-in at one with good accommodation but cheaper rates. Get out of the limelight and fun-fare. COVID-19 is still with us for a time to come. Don’t forget to write a thank you note to all those varied well-wishes that poured in.  

4. Understand Culture Shock

Your greatest challenge to reentry into community may be culture shock. You are a sensation. Well, depending on how you will play it some people prefer not to be in the limelight at all but remain active; some write stories about their lives in prison; others take up mentoring opportunities. In other words just do something to keep you busy.

So much has gone on when you were away. Your girlfriend or boyfriend is still waiting for you or they have moved on. There is so much else which will entice you too such as the taste of roast ribs or even a soft drink. Some talk of the uplifting feeling of sleeping in or mopping their own house. You will need to adjust to a new "normal."

The key to going through culture shock is to be patient and graceful. Talk to someone and do not feel ashamed to ask. It helps you to engage in life supporting decision making, new cultural norms, and re-organisation of your life. We have been asked a lot about culture shock that we thought it prudent to give you a definition. Some sources define culture shock as ‘the disorienting feeling a person can get when they suddenly have to adapt to an unfamiliar culture or way of life. It can also occur when a person returns after a long period of absence to his or her former culture. This is sometimes called "reverse culture shock."’

5. Be Aware Of Depression

There is a subtle rebelliousness going on in your mind. You are lying longer down; you hear the voices of the one who was assigned to be the leader of your team in prison; you know so well how your time was structured; you want to re-organise so many things as a way of regaining mastery of your destiny. Do not do it out of a vengeance or backlash. That is anger doing it. That is depression after incarceration which is very common. Readjusting to daily life takes small challenging steps until you reach that stability you are dreaming of. It can be frustrating, but remember to dwell on the smaller steps. If therapy sessions are not an option, there are other steps you can take to improve on your composure which will in turn the right mental health and happiness.

SET SMALL GOALS

Start with one goal a day. It could be washing and cleaning your premises every morning. Reward yourself with something small, like dancing to a favourite tune or taking a long walk or enjoy a special meal, when each goal is achieved. The more success you have, regardless of how small, the more confident and happier you can be.

Give yourself a ‘from me to me’ Talk to reconnect

For example, if you are prone to think, "I am so angry. I should not have been ridiculed and made small," we suggest you say to yourself something like, "I have my own place now. Let me appreciate my surroundings, I shall eventually get over it." Reaffirming positive thinking and connecting with others who think positively will eventually change the way one sees the world around them. Get online and read about how so much well wishes were pouring out! It helps a lot to see there are those who loved you while you were away. If improvement is slow or nonexistent, consider reaching out to a therapist or other professional for additional help. We have had an anonymous counselling support session platform running since 1997. Reach out to us.

6. Communicate Your Frustration

Frustration for both you and your loved one is expected at this stage of your life. Humans face frustration and we seek to confide in others. Your loved one may face frustration in their adjustment to living in a home, troubles with vulnerability, their employment search, treatment, and culture shock. You will also face frustration with the changes that occurred during your incarceration. Many times, people leave incarceration changed. You are not the same person you after incarceration. Understand this and be gentle or patient. Seek closure to your frustrations by laying some problem-solving plan. The best way to improve feelings of frustration is through communication. Talk to each other about how you perceive the way they express their frustration and decide the best way to express these feelings. Finding a middle ground and keeping accountability will keep the dialogue open to improve your communication.

7. Manage Anger

In prison, aggression and anger are methods of protection. This is perhaps what you met before you were incarcerated. Ii am sure you or someone you know have been on the receiving side of public display of authority and power through aggression, correction by corporeal punishment, ridicule, shaming, naming, blaming and anger to cure the homosexuality in you. Well, anger and frustration on your part are not acceptable. Move away from the area where you were taken to get into prison. Find a way to control your anger and channel it into productivity. Whenever you feel angry, take a step back and focus on slow breathing for 10 seconds. Then try to discuss and isolate the cause of the anger. Lastly, try to understand what you hoped to achieve with your anger and how you can achieve it in a more effective and controlled way.

8. Deal with Rejection

There are fears of a repeat offense or round-up by security organs. So, you may be rejected by those you feel should be the ones to welcome you physically. Be cautious and plan well how you want to relocate to welcoming safe spaces after a transitory home phase. These first months at home are tricky. Employers, former friends, and even some family, may reject you due to the stigma they associate with incarceration. You will need to help in learning how to accept the rejection, move on, and continue to improve through self-esteem and self-care goals. Be easy on yourself. You are formidably made. Keep working, stay focused, and give yourself credit for the progress you make every day. Focus on your ultimate desired outcome rather than your past failures or mistakes or misfortune.

9. Resist Negative Influences

There is always external pressure to conform to the group to gain acceptance. This pressure must the kind that improves you. Some join community service clubs. Others take time to connect with God and other followers of Christ; or any religious affiliation. Do something that will accumulate into hours of beneficial acts, self-esteem and development. Never get into anything that is negative. The best way to resist negative influences is to be aware of them. Discuss your own individual restraints, comfort levels, and what you believe is right and wrong and to stick to these restraints in all scenarios. It is important for you and all those around you to understand individual needs and goals. This will in turn set the ground rules for a larger group setting.

10. Combat Addiction

There is an idiom expressed in question form, “what is your poison?” You may have acquired an addiction that pushes you to abandon restraint. Work on building a more sober self.

When you can’t be consistent on best practices, when you are not following the pattern you set down for rehabilitation that is a sign. Do not take the consistency in your life for granted. You are losing your dependability which in turn drives the trust people accord to you. Addictions are incredibly difficult to work through without support. You need emotional support, love, care, and guidance. Many times, you may need help from a licensed therapist or doctor to provide a clear, research-backed path to beating your addiction. Ultimately, it is your own desire to improve and be the best. It is love, effort and support will guide you through the process of healing.

Changes come to our lives, some we can harness and leverage for our own good. Some require us to desist and restrain ourselves . Be the one who has in-built discipline clock. You prevail!










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