Preparing for the Transition to Community Life

The family members and the prisoner have lived very different lives over an extended period of time. Do not expect anyone to adjust easily without indications of distress.

Since family members suffer in a number of ways, the adjustment period must include an opportunity to address their wounds and feelings of shame and mistrust.

The prisoner has likely experienced some dehumanizing encounters which may be triggered by any random trigger. It is common for prisoners to experience symptoms consistent with PTSD.

Learn the symptoms, talk about the underlying experiences and get help to deal with the intensity of emotions linked to any traumatizing experience.

Family members may need help in the adjustment process. Pick a mental health professional or clergy that has significant experience working with prisoners and their family members, or call Dismas Project for a referral.

The intensity of the pain and shame impacting all family members will lessen in time, but be prepared to experience peaks of pain for a significant time into the future.

Major decisions like divorce, remarriage, moving should be put off for at least one year after release. Each of these major life shifts produces stress. Do not add the burdens you are already carrying. Simplify your lives.

Remember that the transition period is a process. There will be low points and high points as you work through all of the challenges. Find a good church home which offers support, encouragement and Godly counsel.


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