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|Prevention & Education|
One of our most important missions is preventing the sexual abuse of males by working to prevent all forms of sexual victimization. We do this through public education, advocating treatment for victims and perpetrators, and offering our voices and experience to those developing prevention programs.
We recognize that some survivors of sexual abuse struggle with thoughts and feelings to offend against others. We understand to that some abuse survivors have offended, though perhaps only in an isolated incident during childhood or adolescence. People for whom this is true may want to develop greater understanding of these issues. Although the public is concerned in the abstract about sexual abuse victims, we believe that education can persuade people to advocate for specific treatment methods that involve compassion for the victims as well as firm treatment and monitoring of the perpetrators.
If you have questions or concerns about a situation that affects you or someone you care about, you can email us.
Head Heart Hands
In order to affect changes in the distorted thinking processes which support anti-social behaviors, all the environments and persons in which the offender comes into contact must work to achieve the same expectations for community safety and treatment adherence.
This requires finding a common language of accountability that balances the use
of authoritative intervention and nurturing to guide the client toward prosocial
and self directed behaviors. The client will experience high risk situations and
opportunities to offend and needs intensive opportunities for planful forethought,
safety planning, and external monitoring and surveillance oriented accountability
measures previous to unsupervised exposure to community settings.
Guiding Principles of Prevention & Education
The solution - what is needed.
We must take complete control of sexual predators. To accomplish this, we must first admit that we are failing. Since there is no cure and they are predators, we need to let them know, that when they are caught, here is the new deal: "If you want to be in the community, you will be on probation for life, and it will cost you more than it costs the community in time, energy, and money. It is offender's job to make it worth our while."
Paradoxically, controlling sex offenders is the only way to manage them. At T.H.E. it is called the No-Cure Solution. It can be implemented only if the leaders of our community back it. It is up to the leaders of our community, who in the past have reasonably relied on the system, to now stand up and say, "We are not being served and we are going to get into the act."
Because sex abuse is such ugly business, the offenders have been able to count on people not wanting to have anything to do with them - this must no longer be the case.
What's been tried so far.
Because of the large number of sex offenders, and because decent people try to help others (even these predators) the criminal justice system and mental health professionals have been giving perpetrators 1 to 2 years' probation and therapy hoping to impart "tools" the offenders may choose to use.
Why this does not work.
When a sex offender is caught he, usually, does not go to prison. Instead he goes right back into the community leading a largely unchanged life. The treatment business is controlled by what the sex offender will pay, and the control over his life is limited to what can be done by probation officers with 100 plus sex offenders to manage. Additionally, polygraph failures, like treatment noncompliance, receive no meaningful consequences. What's worse, all treatment outcome studies show that the effects of treatment wear off. This leaves the community waiting to be molested and raped again. Intervention has led us to think we are safe when we are not. Despite the fact that there is no cure, treatment programs base their operations on an implied or stated promise to the offender, that he will be allowed to graduate within a few years. This makes these programs popular with those desiring simple solutions - this is disastrous with sex offenders.
Sex offenders are dangerous.
Sexual offending is a behavioral disorder which cannot be "cured".
Assessment and evaluation of sex offenders is an ongoing process.
Progress in treatment and level of risk are not constant over time.
The effective assessment and evaluation of sexual offenders is best seen as a process. Criminal sexual offenders are first assessed and referred for a mental health sex offense-specific evaluation during the presentence investigation conducted by the Probation Department. Assessment of sex offenders' risk and amenability to treatment should not, however, end at this point. Subsequent assessments must occur at both the entry and exit points of all sentencing options, i.e. probation, parole, community corrections and prison. In addition, assessment and evaluation should be an ongoing practice in any program providing treatment for sex offenders.
In the management and treatment of sex offenders there will be measurable degrees of progress or lack of progress. Because of the cyclical nature of offense patterns and fluctuating life stresses, sex offenders' levels of risk are constantly in flux. Success in the management and treatment of sex offenders cannot be assumed to be permanent. For these reasons, monitoring of risk must be a continuing process as long as sex offenders are under criminal justice supervision. Moreover, the end of the period of court supervision should not necessarily be seen as the end of dangerousness.
Measuring progress versus recognizing real change.
Offenders learn Relapse Prevention (RP) skills incrementally and we must teach these skills as part of treatment.
Recognizing Real Change.
Offenders' acceptance of the permanence of their condition is demonstrated through two factors; behavioral indicators, and belief systems.
Assignment to community supervision is a privilege, and sex offenders must be completely accountable for their behaviors.
Sex offenders on community supervision must agree to intensive and sometimes intrusive accountability measures, which enable them to remain in the community, rather than in prison. Offenders carry the responsibility to learn and demonstrate the importance of accountability, and to earn the right to remain under community supervision. This demonstration must include a positive attitude toward the acceptance of the conditions of probation, treatment, and the ongoing containment system.
Sex offenders must waive confidentiality for evaluation, treatment, supervision and case management purposes.
All members of the team managing and treating each offender must have access to the same relevant information. Sex offenses are committed in secret, and all forms of secrecy potentially undermine the rehabilitation of sex offenders and threaten public safety.
Victims have a right to safety and self-determination.
A continuum of sex offender management and treatment options should be available in each community in the state.
Standards and guidelines for assessment, evaluation, treatment and behavioral monitoring of sex offenders will be most effective if the entirety of the criminal justice and social services systems, not just sex offender treatment providers, apply the same principles and work together.
The management of sex offenders requires a coordinated team response.
All relevant agencies must cooperate in planning treatment and containment strategies of sex offenders for the following reasons:
Sex offender assessment, evaluation, treatment and behavioral monitoring should be non-discriminatory and humane, and bound by the rules of ethics and law.
There is a nurturing side to treatment.
Sex offenders should have their positive qualities recognized to help develop their sense of self worth. Nonetheless, we should not fall prey to the offenders' frequent attempts to pass responsibility to the treatment staff for the feelings of misery offenders have during treatment.
Due to alienation of sex offenders, we must create a treatment community.
Successful treatment and management of sex offenders requires the positive cooperation of family, friends, employers and members of the community who have influence in sex offenders' lives.
Sexual issues are often not talked about freely in families, communities and other settings. In fact, there is often a tendency to avoid and deny that sex offenses have occurred. Successful management and treatment of sex offenders involves an open dialogue about this subject and a willingness to hold sex offenders accountable for their behavior.
We must successfully manage the unavoidable power struggles to be able to penetrate the client's life.
It is far better to not treat sex offenders who do not make themselves treatable clients.
It is our responsibility to:
While we must provide for community safety, it is the responsibility of the offender and the community to provide sufficient funding to accomplish this goal.
We not only use the RP model but also the relevant aspects of the other relevant models of treatment including psychodynamic treatment approaches, family therapy, therapeutic community, addictive treatment approaches, and various adjunctive and experiential interventions.
By definition apparently irrelevant decisions can come from any aspect of life. Because of this, we treat the entire lifestyle and functioning of the client and do not assume that the lessons learned in weekly tools group will be translated into sufficient life style changes. A long time ago, we realized that treatment 1 or 2 times a week does not get the job done. Thus we not only learned what the specific SO was not changing in his life, but how the other programs were insufficient.
In the literature on relapse prevention, motivation is handled in the following way:
"An important precondition for applying RP interventions is that the offender be motivated to stop offending." -Richard R. Laws
We recognize the fundamental flaws in the concept of self-management and they are:
No Cure Solution
Everyone knows that there is no known cure for habituated sex offenders. Even the most encouraging studies are methodologically weak and none profess to have a "cure". So what do we do?
Sex offenders will offend again and damage another person's life forever. This tells us what to do; we must control sex offenders if they are to remain in our community, and they will remain in our community because there are too many habituated sex offenders to lock up. To control sex offenders we must tell them what to do with all of their time; unprescribed time is dangerous time.
The damaging effects of having been sexually abused can go on for life. The likelihood of reoffense absolutely goes on for life. So it is most reasonable for the community to expect the offender to dedicate his life in the community to the reduction of the threat he presents (removal is not possible). This means the sex offender must be made to give of his time, energy, and money to the cause of stopping sex abuse. And he should do so for life.
Lifetime probation is being tried in at least one place. What will stop this from being an expensive, unsustainable drain on the community's minimal resources is if the community adopts the position that the offender must give enough time, energy, and money to make controlling his life worthwhile. Herein lies the "solution".
Virtually all of what is actually done in the "solution" already exists in what is being done with the management of sex offenders or some other group. What is unique is that the NO CURE SOLUTION employs an amalgamation of these methods and interventions for life and have the offender pay for it. When the sex offender, who is placed in the community, becomes functioning well enough at the basic tasks of being accountable, safe and earning a living, they should move from being a drain to being an asset. Thus we need to keep them working and paying the rest of their lives so we can profit from our investment in them. Instead of evaluating the offender's progress from the perspective of "when has he done enough", change to "what else can he do" - there is always a lot.
Basically when an offender is caught, he needs to be told that, if he is going to be granted the privilege of probation, he must commit to a life of recovery and public service. Naturally since he can never be fully trusted, probation for life will be expensive. We must remember there is no cure and he is the problem so it is most humane to expect him to participate in his problem enough that he can do some real good. We must also remember his problem is not just his private life, but the threat he presents to everyone.
All of the existing community interventions are flawed in the same way; they are designed with the idea of termination of the intervention in mind. The NO CURE SOLUTION takes the problem of sex offender management a different direction. In short this proposal is a variant on "if you can't beat them join them". The way we can join sex offenders is to demand they make it worth our while.
The mental health community, the criminal justice field, and the county, state, and federal legislators have come up with all sorts of useful interventions. Unfortunately, some of these interventions, like Megan's Law, are often hyped to the point of giving a false sense of security. Other's, like castration, either do not work or violate our sense of civilization. Still other interventions like, drug therapies (depro prevera, antidepressants, antabuse, etc.) and mental health treatments, are also useful, but how can we afford to keep the individual sex offender using all of the interventions he may need to be using to stay safe?
So far the mental health providers and the criminal justice system professional charged with managing sex offenders have used cost effectiveness studies to justify begging funding sources for paltry handouts to pay for this or that intervention. While cost effectiveness studies provide convincing arguments for why we should give more money out of our coffers to the management of the sex offender problem, the average member of our community is going to be rightfully asking "why should I be paying more for these creeps?" He is correct; something is wrong here. We need to make the sex offender pay and keep paying. The sex offender should not only pay, but also pay enough. Enough equals not just all of the cost associated with him as an individual but also the costs associated for at least one or more other sex offenders according to his level of productivity. A more meaningful cost effectiveness measure is when the sex offender has been taxed enough to be a part of the permanent solution for the permanent problems he has caused.
Once we accept that there is no cure, then we are free to accept the NO CURE SOLUTION, which is a philosophy, and guide to policy. It is noteworthy that if we find out later in some reliable way that sex offenders are curable then the worst we have done is tax them heavily during the time we did not have a more efficient and safe method of management. Also with the NO CURE SOLUTION we can start small, say in given test communities; such a policy will either see new highs in compliance with probation or drive the individual sex offender out of the community. This will incline the members of that community to see the NO CURE SOLUTION as successful for them. Also those sex offenders who stay in the community will see themselves as not just surviving there but as contributors in unique ways only they can contribute. This policy thus offers the sex offender the chance to live a humane life in a humane community that also never minimizes the dangers.
Before going further, this approach is not suggesting putting the fox in charge of the hen house. It is not the intent to allow the sex offender to run anything, particularly not allow the sex offender to run other sex offenders. Nonetheless, if the sex offender does not know more about sex offending than most people when he is caught, he sure does after a few years of treatment; so we had better find a way to manage these now smarter sex offenders. To do this we need a way to afford to manage these offenders and direct the use of their knowledge because it will get used. The NO CURE SOLUTION gives a way to think and direct our policies.
Developing A Sense of Purpose
Helping the Sex Offender develop a vision of his sense of purpose.
We expect the sex offender to develop guiding principles as well. We call this the sex offenders belief system. We believe the nature, clarity and strength of the offenders belief system is all important in sustaining sufficient motivation to do all of the additional work that others do not have to do to live safely in the community. While we believe in life long treatment as well as life long probation, we assume much of a sex offender's life in the community will require him to be more than adequately motivated to manage himself in a healthy way when he will be in a position to gain control that could result in everyone's disinterest. Rather than leave the development of this motivation to be an article of faith, we see this as the centerpiece of treatment. To accomplish this motivation development, and to be able to measure it, and to be able to hold the sex offender accountable for it (i.e. its nature, clarity and strength), From the very beginning of treatment, we must play a very active role helping the sex offender create a vision for how the rest of his life will look.
How can we expect the sex offender to adopt a healthy and appropriate vision unless we can describe what that looks like ourselves? We must tell him what his life will look like for the future. To do this presents several challenges:
How All Of The Other Programs Go About Failing
This list is not intended to be complete or in any order. Rather it is simply provided to orient the reader to some of the clinical and case management holes that sex offenders walk through and come out without their lives changed.
Self-management without external support as a goal is implying there is a cure and promotes denial. Thus reoffense becomes not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. Even if some sex offenders do not reoffend in a self managed lifestyle without external support, we do not know who they are.