Why Treat Child Molesters and Rapists?

Why Provide Treatment for Child Molesters and Rapists?

 [A selection from Dr. Lynn Daugherty’s book, Child Molesters, Child Rapists, and Child Sexual Abuse]

child molesters, child rapists
Ebook $4.99 (US).
Paperback $9.95 (US).
Available from these booksellers.

Why treat the child sexual abuser? Why help the person who has caused all the pain and emotional turmoil for the child victim and his or her family? Most people want to punish the abuser severely. Lock him up and throw away the key! “Treatment” is just letting the abuser “get off easy.” Why would we bother to help the abuser?

In fact, reasons for helping the abuser through treatment involve concerns for the abuser as a person, concerns for the victim of the sexual abuse, and concerns for society in general, especially for the children the abuser will meet in the future.

Molestation, rape, incest stories
Ebook $2.99.
Paperback $7.95.
Available from these booksellers.

Treating the Abuser Benefits the Abuser

Some people want to help sexual abusers for humanitarian reasons. Some believe that an individual, no matter what crimes he or she has committed, no matter what injuries he or she has caused, is still a fellow human being who deserves our understanding, compassion, and assistance. It may be easier to look at the abuser this way if we remember what statistics tell us about abusers. Studies indicate that most sexual abusers were themselves victims of child sexual abuse. If we think of the abuser as a former victim, we may be more willing to try to understand the difficulties that have led to the abuser’s behavior.

Child Sexual Abuse book
Ebook $9.99 (US).
Paperback $12.95 (US).
Available from these booksellers.

From a more personal standpoint, we may wish to help the abuser because the abuser is someone we care about very much, a close friend or relative. This is often the case in incest situations, when the abuser may be our uncle, mother, husband, sister, son, grandfather, or another loved one. Emotional, financial, and personal ties with the abuser usually remain strong, even after the abuse is disclosed. Family members may not be willing to “write off” the abuser, simply because he or she has victimized one of them.

Treating the Abuser Benefits the Victim

Sexually abused child Book
Ebook $2.99 (US).
Paperback $7.95 (US).
Available from these booksellers.

Another reason to provide help for the abuser is to benefit of his or her victim. If the abuser knows that treatment is available, the chances are increased that he or she will seek help, thus ending the abuse. Additionally, people (including the victim) who are aware of the abuse are more likely to report it if they know that help is available for the abuser, not just punishment. This is particularly true when the abuser is a friend or family member, as in 80% of all child sexual abuse situations. Additionally, when the victim knows that he or she has helped the abuser get help by reporting the abuse, the victim is less likely to feel guilty about disclosing the abuse.

Providing treatment to the abuser can also emphasize two important concepts to the victim: (1) the sexual abuse happened because something was “wrong” with the abuser, not with the victim, and (2) the victim did the right thing in disclosing the sexual abuse so that the abuser could get the help to live a better life.

Finally, involving the abuser in appropriate individual, family, or group treatment is often needed to promote successful treatment for the victim. This is especially true in incest situations. Helping the victim of incest means treating the while family system, not just the individual victim.

Treating the Abuser Benefits Society

From a philosophical standpoint, improving the mental health of any member of society improves the overall quality of our society.

From a more practical standpoint, treating the abuser usually reduces the risk of that person sexually abusing other children in the future. The laws of our society do not permit sexual abusers to be “locked up forever.” Even if the sexual abuser spends time in prison (which is not always certain), at some point he or she will be among us again in society. If the abuser’s mental health has not improved while he was locked up (it is usually males who are imprisoned), the abuser is probably going to abuse other children once he is released (or other inmates while he is incarcerated). If we can help the abuser change his or her abusive behavior through treatment, then we can spare others from becoming victims.

Finally, from an even more practical standpoint, it is much cheaper to treat a sexual abuser on an outpatient basis, or even on a short-term inpatient basis, than it is to send the abuser to prison. Certainly such treatment is not appropriate for all sexual abusers. But allowing appropriate abusers to remain free while receiving treatment does allow them to continue working and supporting their families, rather than adding to taxpayer burden.

Thus, many valid reasons exist for treating the abuser. We cannot just treat the victim of child sexual abuse and ignore other aspects of the problem. We must treat the abuser as well if we want to solve the problem of child sexual abuse in our society .

© Cleanan Press, Inc. 2004 – 2014

For more information about sex offenders who abuse children, read . . . 

child molesters, child rapists
Ebook $4.99 (US).
Paperback $9.95 (US).
Available from these booksellers.

Book Publisher ~ Estab 1983