Q: How can therapy help people who've already abused children?
A: Therapy helps people who have committed sexual offenses learn new ways to handle their thoughts, feelings and actions. I don't think they can be cured, but they can learn new ways to manage their lives. In treatment, we address the underlying reasons people allow themselves to violate the boundaries of others. I help educate them on their usage of their distorted thoughts. By recognizing the distorted thoughts and justifications they used, they can work on changing their behaviors. We also do a lot of work on anger management, social skills, coping skills, learning to identify their triggers, their sexual abuse cycles, making a relapse prevention plan and empathy work.
We also work on identifying and expressing feelings and open, honest communication. They learn about the things that put them at risk for reoffending, and they work on those issues. If they were able to stop on their own, they likely would have after the first, second or 10th time they made that promise to themselves. Ninety-five percent of people convicted of child molestation return to their communities—would you rather have them treated or not? That's just how I look at it.
Q: Some people think all child molesters have a certain "look." Do you believe that?
A: Not at all! They are male, female, young, old, rich, poor, all different races, professions and religions. There is no certain look.