Not in my Neighborhood! Understanding and Working with Functional Sex Offenders Understanding and Working with Functional Sex Offenders Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT Founding Director The Sexual Recovery Institute (SRI) - Los Angeles www.sexualrecovery.com
What Is Sexual Offending?
Non Consensual Sexual Behavior
Clinical Examples of Sexual Offending Sexual Offending
Exhibitionism / Voyeurism
Viewing and Downloading Child Porn
Sexual Activity with a Minor
Abuse of a Professional Role to Obtain Sex
Common Offender Myths Myth: “They’re dirty old men” Fact: Most offenders report having committed their first offense by age 16 Myth: “Children must always watch out for strangers!” Fact: The vast majority of sexual offenders are known to their victims Myth: They are monsters Fact : Most are law abiding, working citizens and neighbors without prior history of illegal behavior or arrest Myth: They are incurable Fact: There are many types of offenders, most of whom have a less than a 10% likelihood of recidivism if provided useful treatment and a less than 17% likelihood of recidivism once caught, even without treatment Myth: The majority of sexual offenders are caught, convicted, and in prison Fact: Only a fraction of those who commit sexual assault are apprehended and convicted for their crimes. Most convicted sex offenders eventually are released to the community under probation or parole supervision Myth: "All sex offenders are male” Fact: The vast majority of sex offenders are male. However, females also commit sexual crimes. Approximately 5% of all sexual offenders are female Myth: "Youths do not commit sex offenses” Fact: Adolescents are responsible for a significant number of rape and child molestation cases each year
Common Myths about Sex Offenders Myth: “They’re dirty old men” Fact: Most offenders report having committed their first offense by age 16 Myth: “Children must always watch out for strangers!” Fact: The vast majority of sexual offenders are known to their victims Myth: They are monsters Fact : Most are law abiding, working citizens and neighbors without prior history of illegal behavior or arrest Myth: They are incurable Fact: There are many types of offenders, most of whom have a less than a 10% likelihood of recidivism if provided useful treatment and a less than 17% likelihood of recidivism once caught, even without treatment Myth: The majority of sexual offenders are caught, convicted, and in prison Fact: Only a fraction of those who commit sexual assault are apprehended and convicted for their crimes. Most convicted sex offenders eventually are released to the community under probation or parole supervision Myth: “All sex offenders are male” Fact: The vast majority of sex offenders are male. However, females also commit sexual crimes. Approximately 5% of all sexual offenders are female Myth: "Youths do not commit sex offenses” Fact: Adolescents are responsible for a significant number of rape and child molestation cases each year
So Who Needs What?
Sexual Offender Treatment is not one size fits all. Every case is different
Not all people who commit sexual offenses have a sexual disorder . Some sex crimes are simply opportunistic (ex. sociopath), drug related or developmental (ex. mental retardation).
Treatment evolves from, and is directed specifically toward sexually addictive, compulsive and offending disorders (pathology). If this isn’t your problem then the treatment won’t work.
Contraindications to Outpatient Sexual Offender Treatment
Offender treatment in an outpatient setting contraindicated when:
The threat of harm or actual physical force/violence played a role in the offense
The sexual activity involved any bizarre or ritualistic acts (such as enemas or bondage)
The sexual offense is one aspect of numerous antisocial behaviors or a criminal lifestyle
The sexual offense is secondary to a condition of serious mental illness or mental retardation
Completely denies the offense despite intervention- “It never happened”
Cannot be brought to acknowledge “inappropriate thought / behavior”
Does not come to regard such behavior as inappropriate and there is no dependable agent to supervise or monitor his daily living.
Violent Sexual Predator
Fixated Child Offender
Regressed or Situational Child Offender
Sexually Addicted Offender
Least prevalent of all offenders, but they get the most media focus. Public perception is unfortunately of this type. Unlikely to enter treatment outside of incarceration. Violent actions include:
Child Abduction - snatch and grab
Less than 5% of child offenders
Fixated Child Offenders
Fixated Child Offender - primary or sole sexual orientation is toward children . Interest is fixed and unlikely to change. Little interest in, or arousal toward, sex with adults.
Difficult to treat, unlikely treatment success unknown - very high recidivism rate 8-12% of offenders are fixated.
Internal World of Fixated Offenders
My primary sexual orientation is to children and adolescents. I work where I can have access to children and/or become intimate with people because they have children. Sex with adults is uninteresting to me. My orientation to children has little or nothing to do with trauma or early abuse. I was born this way. I have been aroused by kids this young since I was a teenager or earlier.
Regressed / Situational Offenders
Regressed/Situational - Sexual interest in children and dependent adults is temporary, passing, opportunistic or reflection of developmental immaturity and interpersonal insecurity. He/she has sexual arousal toward adults.
80-85% or more of all offenders are of this regressed type.
Internal World of Situational Offenders
Grooming and ultimately seducing a child/teen fulfills my need for recognition, acceptance, validation, affiliation, mastery, and control. It is not the sexual gratification or release, per se, that offers ultimate satisfaction , it’s more that Getting a child to have sex with me is evidence that the child accepts and cares for me. It’s a way I can feel important and wanted. I have a distorted interpretation of my relationship with the child.
I am sexually attracted to adults and have adult sexual and intimate relationships, but when under stress the influence of substances or both, I have the capacity to turn to a child/teen relationship.
Psychological Characteristics of Child Sex Offenders Child Sex Offenders
Feelings of inadequacy, immaturity, vulnerability, hopelessness, and isolation
Difficulty with assertion.
Finds adult sexuality threatening (regressed offender) and/or not of interest (fixated) and peer sexuality is therefore avoided or abandoned.
Relates to a child as if the child were a peer or equal.
The fixated offender does this by adapting his interests and behavior to the level of the child and experiences himself as a child.
The regressed/situational offender relates to the child as if the child was and adult and relates to the child as a pseudo-adult.
For both, the victim represents a fantasy.
Sexually Addicted Offenders - 55-75% of all offenders have histories of compulsive and addictive sexual behavior including:
Compulsive Masturbation with / without Porn
Exhibitionism / Voyeurism
Prostitutes / Massage Parlors
Strip Clubs / Adult Bookstores
Compulsive Cybersex, Online Hook-ups
Internal World of Sex Addicts
I am highly narcissistic, sensitive and easily hurt - though I may appear driven and outwardly competent. My fragile sense of being lovable and worthy of love is less threatened by casual sex than by an intimate partnership. It is safer for me to risk arrest, disease or other losses through repetitive sex with anonymous partners, prostitutes, pornography (paper dolls), sexual massage etc, than to risk less controllable threats like emotional abandonment. Sexual acting out is reliable and keeps my focus in fantasy, which is exciting, distracting, safer and easier than taking the painful risks that getting close to another person can bring. I do desire healthy intimacy and have primary relationships but I also live a double life of hidden secrets and furtive isolation.
Sex Addicts use Intensity to substitute for Intimacy
Guiding Principals for Responsible Referral to Assessment, Treatment and Aftercare for Responsible Referral to Assessment, Treatment and Aftercare
What is the likelihood that a specific offender will commit subsequent sex crimes (re-offend)?
Under what circumstances is this offender least likely to re-offend?
What can be done to reduce the likelihood of re-offense?
Sexual Offender Treatment Modalities
Chemotherapy. Various anti-androgenic hormones, such as Depo-Provera, have been shown to have a moderating effect on sexual aggressiveness and enhance self-regulation of sexual behavior. The use of Depo-Provera in the treatment of sexual offenders offers promise as a chemical control of antisocial sexual behaviors.
Concern: Method is only partially effective as sexual drive is in the mind, not the body.
Behavior Modification . Addresses specific behaviors associated with the offense and uses conditioning exercises based on learning principles. This modality attempts to change the clients' sexual preferences by making aversive those sexual behaviors, which are outlawed, and by replacing them with more socially acceptable sexual behaviors.
Concern: This has proven to be minimally effective as the result extinguishes over time.
Sexual Behavior Treatment is not the same as traditional Psychotherapy
In working with involuntary clients, treatment is necessarily compulsory and traditional approaches must be adapted or modified for this client. This includes:
Exercising power over the client in a responsible fashion
Confronting and controlling him or her.
Outreach and monitoring.
Providing concrete support services, anticipating the guidance he needs and implementing the consequences or penalties for failure to fulfill the conditions of treatment.
Sexual Offender Treatment Modalities
Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. Has been proven to be LEAST EFFECTIVE TOWARD CHANGE
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Psycho-education . Views sexual offenses to be the products of developmental and attempts to remedy such defects through a combination of re-education, re-socialization and the confrontation of denial and defenses. The aim is to alert the offender to the life issues that stress him, to find ways of reducing such stresses and teach/encourage better coping skills. Also teaches self-observance or sexual compulsivity and recognition of characteristic early behaviors or warning signals (relapse prevention).
Sexual Offender Treatment is ...
Educational . Client learns through Psycho-education:
Gaining an overall understanding of offending (where do I fit in and why)
Understanding his specific offending patterns and learning new coping mechanisms (relapse prevention)
Gaining insight in to his personal history (how I got here)
Experiential - client learns through the interactions with the therapist and with his peers through:
Confrontation of his distortions
Reframing of his Experiences
Review of his and Other’s Consequences
Interpretation and Insight
Clear rules and boundaries for clients
Swift and clear interventions for broken rules
Careful assessment of Axis I and II
Clear Policies and Procedures for Staff
Consistent Supervision with awareness of parallel process
Transparency with Clients About:
Clear Treatment Expectations
Carefully Gathered Collateral Information with appropriate releases
General Expectations of Offender Treatment Outcome
Our expectations of clients in treatment are that they will come to:
Experience their desire to sexually act out as intellectually ego-dystonic or unacceptable
Recognize their problems through knowledge of their symptoms
Admit to all of their problem behaviors
Accept responsibility for what they have done
See it as inappropriate
Realize it as pathological behavior
Acknowledge that they must gain control and live diligently accepting NEW life limitations and accountability
Become open with family and diligently honest in treatment
Not in my Neighborhood: Understanding and Working with Functional Sex Offenders Understanding and Working with Functional Sex Offenders Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT Founding Director The Sexual Recovery Institute (SRI) - Los Angeles www.sexualrecovery.com