This article relates solely to Child Sexual Abuse. There is no inclusion of any offenses committed against adults.
I'm sure that you have heard the old myth that, "Sex Offenders cannot be rehabilitated". 20 years ago, that might have held true, because the methods and psychology of the sex offender was not known at all, as compared to today. Politicians will whelp out propaganda to get your vote, and the people that don't know what they are talking about will believe them.
The advances in now knowing how the sex offender thinks and acts has allowed psychologist all across the world to create and implement Sex Offender Treatment Programs (SOTP's) that cater specifically to the needs of the offenders, and these new treatments have proven successful time and time again, in rehabilitating the offenders that allow them to live out the rest of their lives, and no longer be a danger to society.
The SOTP's are designed to actually change the minds and deviant practices of the offenders. I studied this process with a group of men in an SOTP for 7 straight years, one day per week, and one and one half hours in that day. As a forenote, it is interesting to know that of the 12 men in the group, 9 had been previously victimized as a child, acted out on their victimization during their childhood, and continued this learned behavior into adulthood. Of the 3 that were not victims of sexual abuse, they became abusers at their own choosing, unable to, as they put it, "hold back from their urges".
Most sexual abusers, at the time they are committing their offenses, do not believe that they are causing any harm to their victims. If you punch someone in the face, you get to immediately see that you have caused harm and have hurt that person. Most sexual abuse does not involve violent acts, and therefore, there isn't any physical harm that can be seen. There certainly aren't any visible signs of the mental damage that is being done, but the damage is certainly there.
Sexual abuse victims remember that at the times of their sexual abuse, they didn't really get "hurt", except that almost all children know that what is happening to them is wrong. There are some that actually enjoyed what they did not know as abuse, because it brought them unexplainable feelings inside. These children grow with these memories of their sexual abuse, actually being something that they looked forward to. In no way am I saying that all victims are like this, but there are some that exist that did like the feelings during their abuse. There is no need for me to go into the list of the feelings that I refer to. This is not an article for the perverted minds.
When the children that have been abused begin to abuse themselves while still children, they are acting out what is known as Mastery Play. This is where a child attempts to recreate what they've learned, while acting out either with another child, or by themselves.. It is a learned process. Most children have been told by their abusers that what has been done must remain a secret, so a child rarely will go to an adult to act out Mastery Play.
It is within the SOTP where the offender learns that they really have caused their victim(s) harm, and to the extent that the harm has affected that child's life. Whether it be the abused that becomes the abuser, or the abused alone, these are mental instances that will not ever leave the victims mind. The offenders are required to complete a series of tasks within the SOTP that demonstrate they have acknowledged that what they have done has actually hurt someone. Let's examine some of those tasks and why they are necessary.
Admission of their offense. A person cannot ever change their behavior if they first cannot or will not acknowledge what they've done. This does not only apply to sexual abusers of all kinds, but it applies to all criminal offenses. In the sexual offense setting, a continual denial of the offense continues to call the victim a liar. It continues to show disrespect for the victim. The offender has to know, before rehabilitation can be claimed, is that they are the one that is responsible for hurting that child, and that the child has no responsibility whatsoever. During my time with these men in this group, one continued to blame his grand-daughter for him abusing her. After him being in this group for 4 years, it was determined by the court that this man had no desires to change his way of thinking, and sentenced him to 20 years in prison, and likely so. There is just no need to waste anymore time with people that will not stand up and say that they are the one that is responsible.
Understanding the Criminal Thinking Errors. While they call them Criminal Thinking Errors (CTE's) in the SOTP, these are thinking errors that most people do on a daily basis. The word "Criminal" is used here because these were crimes that were committed, and it needs to be driven home in the mind of the offender. Justification is one of the CTE's that an offender will use to try to justify what he or she has done. "Well she came on to me", or "He was naked when he walked out of his room". It is the use of that thinking error that allows the abuser to go through with committing the criminal act.
Selfishness. This is all so common. A person wants what a person wants and they do not care about who they hurt to get it. Selfishness allows the abuser to think, "I don't care what happens to him/her, this is all about me right now." So long as person thinks this way, there will always be a potential for future acts of abuse. Remember, these same errors are used in almost all criminal offenses, simply because all criminals think that there is something special about them to where they should be allowed to have what they want, when they want it, and usually always at someone elses expense.
There are on average 20-25 CTE's that the offenders must be able to memorize by name, but then also memorize and be able to demonstrate in the group, that they know and understand the definitions. There is no use in just memorizing words without memorizing the meanings of those words, and how those words affect what they do. The SOTP's are not a playground. These are not some "classes" that a person attends to get good grades. These are psychotherapy groups that are designed to change the minds of the offenders, so they can conduct themselves in accordance with what is correct under the law and society. For any treatment provider to allow the members of their groups to call them a "class", is doing an injustice to those members, because they all need to drill it home in their minds that they are sitting there every week because of something that they did, and it was something horrible.
In this particular group that I attended, these men and 1 woman had a deadline set by the court for them to complete the SOTP. They also had a list of 32 goals that had to be completed before the counselor would report to the court that they had completed everything. The judges sitting in the different criminal courts did not fool around. If there were any violations of their conditions of probation / parole, they were revoked and sent to prison. That's it. No games, and these people knew it.
The offenders are subjected to mandatory polygraph examinations to ensure they are abiding by the conditions of supervision. They are subjected to other scientific and psychological testing, all of which must be paid for by the offender. The average offender will pay more than $85,000.00 before they have completed treatment and probation. The amounts reflect what they have to pay for the SOTP, their probation / parole, testing every year, lost wages for the time they could have been at work, but were instead at the SOTP. The SOTP's of today are designed to make sure the offender knows without a doubt that they are there because they committed a crime, it is driven into their face every single week, and that they are the one responsible for it.
We have all seen a woman that is forever angry because her husband/boyfriend cheated on her. We see how she is relentless in her pursuit to make sure he never forgets what he did and how he hurt her. We see the fire in her eyes because of the infidelity. Well now there is another person to add to the old saying, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned", it is the counselor. The counselor is the end-all-be-all when it comes to the SOTP's. At the whisk of a pen, that counselor can convince a court that the offender has a good chance of rehabilitation, or there is no use in wasting anymore time, and it's time to send that person to prison. Counselors in the SOTP are like a god of some kind. They must assure, for the safety of the public, that the people in their SOTP's actually belong there.
For the offenders that are being released from prison that have not been ordered to attend, or have refused to attend an SOTP while in prison, are the one's that should not be released at all. These are the one's that are poster-child candidates for civil commitment. These people will remain a danger to society for as long as they remain free. If there is no psychological criteria established for which to understand the danger level of a person released without treatment, then they must be assumed dangerous until proven otherwise.
Sexual offenders of children need to understand one thing. If you are given the opportunity to be released on probation / parole, you must use this time to learn that what you have done really has hurt someone, and it's for life. If you are in prison and think you will just ride out your time without having to participate in an SOTP while confined, then you are a fool. Civil commitment is waiting just around the corner for you. SOTP's change minds and habits and make our communities safer. If our justice system required all persons convicted of a crime to at least learn what the elements of the crime they committed are, and if they had to learn the Criminal Thinking Errors, there would be more rehabilitation in all areas of criminal offenses, not just sexual abuse crimes.