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Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers
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February 8, 2008
Jan Hindman



About the Life and Contributions of Jan Hindman



Born - December 7, 1945



Passed Away - September 25, 2007



Jan Hindman was a pioneer. Born and raised in the mountains of Eastern Oregon , Jan earned a Masters Degree in Special Education in 1973. Her early specialty was teaching emotionally disturbed adolescents and, as she often said, the "accidental journey" of her impressive career took form after she discovered that a majority of her students had been sexually abused. Because of this experience, Jan developed one of the first treatment programs for victims in Oregon . One of the therapists who worked with Jan during those early days in Malheur County recalled a program celebration in which child victims received a standing ovation and were applauded for their bravery by family and friends, not to mention the Mayor, Chief of Police and District Attorney. Jan helped the citizens and professionals of Malheur County expose child abuse and celebrate children’s ability to tell and recover. Locals still remember Jan with love and admiration for the "good fight," her sense of humor, and the fairness and honesty she embodied.


As the victim treatment program grew, Jan went on to create the multi-disciplinary, victim-centered, offender treatment and restitution program called "It’s About Childhood." She managed to coax the various legal minds in the county into negotiating pleas that demanded full confessions and an apology to the victim(s), in exchange for the privilege of being allowed to remain in the community and complete sexual offender treatment. The program was so well respected that Jan was hired to design and direct Oregon ’s first prison program at the Snake River Correctional Facility where she oversaw the evaluation and treatment of nearly 3,000 sexual offenders.


Jan also served on many national advisory boards, most notably, the National Resource Center on Child Sexual Abuse, the National Network for Juvenile Sex Offenders and of course, the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. In fact, she was one of the founding members of ATSA, served as one of our first presidents, and was president of the Oregon Chapter. Jan also assisted in the development of ATSA’s first three editions of "The Standards," and spoke at every ATSA Research and Treatment Conference ever held. Jan gave ATSA a good name. She lobbied for us, raved about us, cheered for us. She was into prevention, social marketing, and public policy before most of us even knew what those words meant. Maybe, as Jill Levinson wrote, it was Jan’s knack of being "an out-of-the-box thinker." Jill said, "Jan’s creativity and originality left one in awe of her ability to use brilliant analogies and metaphors to make her points." She noted further, "Jan’s insight into ways to accomplish this paradigm shift left us with many novel ideas to take with us as we continue her mission to make society safer.” Long-time ATSA member Randy Wallace said, "I always saw Jan as one of the biggest rocks that ever fell into the pond of our work and I, like many others, am simply a small ripple of her influence."


Another ATSA member, Sheri Flynn, wrote, "I was always mesmerized by Jan’s passion and charismatic ability to say things that made sense, she had such a marvelous sense of the big picture and was truly one of my heroes." Sheri said she "almost missed a plane" because she "just had to stay to hear Jan’s talk” at the ATSA conference one year. Jan’s talks filled the room. Sometimes, they filled our hearts with laughter and inspiration and, sometimes, our eyes with tears. The ATSA Conference Committees always banked on the fact that Jan could hold the crowd, so we usually scheduled her to speak on Saturday morning. In addition to the talks she did for ATSA, Jan lectured throughout the United States and Canada . She spoke to all sorts of groups and used to joke that the only state she hadn’t been invited to was Indiana . Fortunately for them, they invited her last year.


Heather Huhtanen, Program Director for the Oregon Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force said, "Jan was the closest thing to a rock star I’ll ever meet." Jan served as one of the founding members of the Offender Management Committee attached to the Oregon AG’s SATF and was instrumental in introducing sexual assault and victim issues to the community of offender treatment and management professional and vice versa. As only she could, Jan paved the way for collaboration and team building and, once again, led the way in improving our response to victims and offenders.


During her time on the "lecture circuit," Jan developed a delivery style that was better than Leno’s. Here in Oregon , we fondly referred to her sayings as "Janisms." She told us that treating sexual offenders was a way to "honor victims" and that “we should remember that the victims are watching" as we do our work. She talked about the influence the media and our culture are having on "our next generation of sexual thieves" and said it was a "deadly dilemma" to talk out of both sides of our mouths by prosecuting juvenile offenders like adults when some of our young offenders are "the very children we promised to protect." In Oregon , we all hoped Jan would get our state to post highway signs that read, "If you sexually abuse a child, if you rob an innocent person of sexual safety and security, the great state of Oregon will make you pay restitution. If you harm one of our innocent people, you will lose money, your reputation and you may even lose your freedom."


Just before Jan died, the culmination of her life’s "ponderings" was published in her last book, "There is no Sex Fairy." The "10 Commandments" she described "provide a resource that addresses the sexual abuse problem at its source – teaching adults how to teach sexual respect to children." Jan was a prolific writer to say the least, but her last book is incredibly insightful and ahead of its time, a "must-read" for all of us. Then there is Jan’s own personal favorite, "A Very Touching Book." The purple faces, the shower scene with the chubby naked people and the kids in the row boat shouting "penis, penis, penis, vulva, vulva, vulva" are still funny.


Margretta Dwyer wrote, "Jan was a friend whose sense of humor glided over our works, reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously, lest we lose our sense of the good." For sure, Jan had a sense of humor and made many a Board meeting uplifting and collegial. Another ATSA member, Niki Delson, reminded us that, at the end of the conference party at Wolfe’s house during the 1989 ATSA Conference in Seattle , Jan helped Florence Wolfe serve a cake topped with a marzipan penis. Niki said she knew, at that moment, that ATSA was a group of people she wanted to be part of. Jim Haaven tells another story about the 1990 ATSA conference in Atlanta . As Jim tells it, the hotel we had booked was forced to relocate us because of construction and arranged for our conference to be held at the Ritz Carlton. Much to the surprise of the girl from Durkee, the elevators were equipped with chandeliers and the guest rooms had orchids floating in the toilets. Somehow Jan thought her orchid had accidentally fallen into the toilet and came down to the opening reception with her orchid delicately placed in her hair. People tried to tell her that everyone’s toilet had one, but Jan wasn’t about to be dissuaded from wearing it proudly.


For those of us who new Jan on a more intimate basis, she was many things to us – Mac’s wife, Monty’s mother, and Allie’s grandmother. She was a loving, loyal, and true friend. She made the best lasagna. She loved to walk on the beach and took wonderful pictures of the people and pets she loved. She always had a twinkle in her eye and the most heartfelt laugh imaginable. She taught her cat to pee in the toilet, took in strays, and gave the best hugs. She was a historian, a story teller, and a philosopher. We loved her. It still seems painfully unreal that someone so vivacious and gentle could have a sudden and unexpected heart attack and be gone.


Perhaps Jim Peters, US Attorney, past advisory board member, and one of Jan’s oldest friends, summed it up best. "Like the Oregon frontier stock she came from, Jan was a pioneer in a grim world that thirty-odd years ago few people wanted to acknowledge existed. She became a guiding light for thousands of us who followed. Jan Hindman was blessed with a genius intellect that gave her the ability to look at a person or a problem from a higher plane than most. Her deep insights and devotion to her craft separated her from the crowd; it was as if she had special glasses that gave her x-ray vision into people and the social issues they confronted. I will never forget the first time she showed me what she described as the "Magical X" – those of you who have read her work will know what I mean, and those who haven’t read her work should. With that simple explanation of complex data, she forever changed the way people think about sexual victimization and the behavior of offenders. Jan was a prophet and a leader and a wonderful person. In all the ways that are good, she was like another of my heroes, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who said that some people see things the way they are and say, “Why?”, while others see things the way they ought to be and say, “Why not?” That was Jan, always asking, "Why not?" She was always pushing the envelope, always making us see things from a different perspective, challenging us to think about what we were doing, and encouraging us to do it better.


Still, what made Jan so special was her common touch. She could connect with the high and the mighty as well as the low and the afflicted. No matter how many crowds applauded her (and there were many); no matter how many awards were bestowed on her (and they were legion); she remained to those of us privileged enough to know her well, just a wonderful country girl who never left the homestead in Durkee , Oregon far behind. Her bright sense of humor was well known – from her calendars extolling the benefits of life in Durkee to the petrified oosik she was so proud to have received from the Inuit tribe of Alaska . Jan opened our minds and warmed our hearts. She carried that oosik around the country and was known to brag quite openly, in front of crowds of MDs and PhDs and other people she kindly referred to as "deep dish" scientists, that she was the only woman in the crowd with her very own p____. And if you don’t know what an ‘oosik’ is, Jan would give you a wink, slyly smile, and say, "Google it." Jan was always the teacher, the brilliant mentor, the visionary, and the true friend. The world is a better place because she lived.



In closing, I offer some of the words from a New Year’s card Jan sent many years ago. When our office got it, we pinned it to the bulletin board over the copy machine so we could read it when we needed to:



A New Year’s wish for you.............


We are the Earth Angels (disguised as children). We are the little ones, big ones, and medium ones to which you give the gift of safety. We are the ones for whom you toil all year long, working long and hard for others with hearts hurt, tears triggered, and souls smashed. But we, the Earth Angels, are your soft spirit of success, and our New Year’s wish for you is that you remember us, your successes, in a very special way. During this year, when all the brokenness of what you do seems to bend your belief in human kind, we wish you the "right remembering." We wish that, all year long, you remember how many little lives you make safe by the hard work you do. Tenderhearted kid helpers, when you do good work, we tiptoe away, quietly finding our paths of protection. But you will never get to see us grow up to become good mommies, or good mechanics, good lawyers or good layers of pipe, good nurses, or those who grow good nasturtiums. When you do good work, you will never get to see us healed and happy, becoming good daddies, good dancers and good dairymen. You will never get to see us spin perfectly in our first ballet recital, nor will get to laugh with us when we throw up after eating too much Halloween candy. When you give us safety, because of the work you do, we will slip away, never coming back to you for the pride and pampering you deserve. We will never thank you because we are too busy singing in choirs, fighting for freedom, becoming champions of childhood. So this year, you must be brave and you must remember that your successes are elusive – never to reward you unless you remember correctly. Because if you forget about us, you may become mean and mad, fussing and fighting, crabby and cranking, and then, no child will snuggle safe as we."


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