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#7959 - 09/24/02 09:54 PM Treating abusers
factsperson Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/20/02
Posts: 17

Thank you ex-President of NOMSV for you honest and well thought out answer.

You offered to answer any questions and I appreciate that. However, once again I must state that I never indicated that therapists who treat abusers should be thrown out of NOMSV.

How is it that you are treating abusers? Do they call you up for an appointment and then you find out in therapy? I mean, if you can really help them stop abusing that's great, but what they have done is a criminal act in many states and I would assume that you would have to report them to the authorities when you find out? Isn't that true and do you report them?

Or/and is it that you only treat abusers who are assigned to you by the government while they are in prison or some detention center? I think a lot of other people would appreciate understanding that since they have been vicitimized by abusers and the law is the law I assume? Or do they get a waiver because you are treating them? Any information would be welcome.

I guess I am wondering how abusers come to your therapy office?

#7960 - 09/25/02 02:14 AM Re: Treating abusers
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5781
Loc: Lyons, CO USA
I am taking your questions to be sincere and will answer them in that spirit. Many survivors do not understand the legal process or treatment of abusers and as I said in an earlier post, knowledge is empowering for survivors.

I rarely get anyone calling me for treatment who does not somehow identify that he is an abuser. They usually state they got my name from a colleague, an attorney, or some other way that makes it pretty clear that the person is in some kind of legal trouble. I occasionally get referrals from prisons where someone is getting out and must be in treatment. Why or how they come to me is not important. Although they must be in treatment because of probation or parole or to be in compliance with Megan's Law requirements is important to reduce the possibility of re-offending. I do not want to see anyone else get abused and that is why I and others who work in this field want to provide treatment for these people.

I think one of your misconceptions is that I/we get referrals from abusers who are not known to the criminal justice system. This is simply not true. Of the nearly 2000 juvenile and adult sexual abusers I have seen over the last 24 years in this work, I can count on one hand (and give you change) the number of abusers who were not known to the justice system.

There is no immunity for abusers in treatment. A person who begins treatment while still in the early stages of the legal system (arrested, released on bail, waiting indictment, pre-trial or sentence) does not catch a break because s/he is seeing someone in therapy. They may still go to prison regardless of whether they were getting help.

I hope this answers your questions and concerns.

Ken Singer

Blissfully retired after 35 years treating sexual abuse

#7961 - 09/25/02 04:06 AM Re: Treating abusers
butch Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 2
There are survivors who have also victimized others. This may have been a single episode that happened during childhood or adolescence, but often the guilt and shame associated with this have erected a barrier to their recovery. Assisting the individual in acknowledging what happened is a critical part of recovery. It may have been many years or decades since the incident, but he still needs to take responsibility for what happened and to focus on understanding his behavior.

In the beginning I fought with anyone who suggested I help sex offenders. If we can help to empower the powerless, we have helped to make the world a safer place for everyone.

The first time I spoke to a group of sex offenders I was reminded of Scott Peck's book, People of The Lie. He said, "At one and the same time, the evil (perpetrators) are aware of their evil and are desperately trying to avoid the of the characteristics of evil is its desire to confuse." No one can concentrate upon offending behavior, or even the idea of offending behavior and remain unaffected.

Certainly as a child and even in adulthood I was frightened of offenders, but I discovered that like me, they were more frightened of authentic power than they were of anger and judgment. Authentic power comes from honoring our legacy and healing our trauma. It's the only example of constructive and healthy power for me.

What is the value of helping offenders? The potential is there for this effort to be of benefit to all involved. Among the real and potential benefits are the power to be able to confront offenders without being re-victimized; the power experienced speaking on behalf of those who can't speak for themselves; the opportunity to place the blame where it truly belongs and not have to bear the burden of guilt any longer; and the opportunity to impact the perpetrators distorted thoughts which they develop to convince themselves that their sexually abusive behavior is not harmful to the victims. Our ability to be able to exercise this power reflects our courage to heal and speaks to our recovery.

Consider your experience. What if you were able to hear men speak openly with courage and without shame about sexual abuse when you were young? How would that experience have affected the outcome of your life? Our voice can provide a healthy and appropriate model of power, a power that may make a significant contribution to victim prevention efforts.

Our continued silence contributes not only to the powerlessness of offenders, but the welfare of society too. Because most of us did not act out our powerlessness by becoming sex offenders in adulthood, we are not heroes. Our years of silence posed a risk to others and to ourselves. As we grew older we found ways to express the grief and rage of our silence and innocent people suffered.

Many of us denied our feelings and beliefs and our rigid thinking protected us from the truth...that we too were perpetrators. Sometimes our perpetration was obvious. It was expressed in the statistics on domestic violence, crime, addiction and divorce. More often it was hidden in low self-esteem and we emotionally abused and neglected loved ones and ourselves. In recovery we learned that the emotional abuse suffered at the hands of our perpetrators was more damaging than the exploitation of our body. Our abuse of others was just as profound and life altering.

The change in my attitude toward offenders occurred when I realized how powerless they really are and how we were more alike than different. Behind our abusive behavior is a powerless and often abused child.

My position regarding sexual offenders is and will always be no excuses. Never. Ever. I am a survivor and I have been an advocate for the male survivor movement for many years. I also work with sex offenders.

Fred Tolson

#7962 - 09/25/02 11:24 PM Re: Treating abusers
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
I'm about 50 pages into "People of the lie"
And this topic reminded me of the very first page of the introduction.

"Evil people are easy to hate. but remember Saint Augustine's advice to hate the sin but love the sinner. Remember when you recognize an evil person that truly - there but for the grace of God go I"

Probably a bit more than most of us can manage, but it reminded me how fine the line is between us and them at times.


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau


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