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Victim empathy intervention with sexual offenders: rehabilitation, punishment, or correctional quackery?

 

Author(s)Mann, Ruth E. and Georgia D. Barnett
Title Victim empathy intervention with sexual offenders: rehabilitation, punishment, or correctional quackery?
Source Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, June 2013, Vol 25, No. 3, pp 282-301
Date 2013
Document type Journal article
Summary This article explores victim empathy, which is defined as a cognitive and emotional understanding by a sexual offender of the experience of the victim resulting in a compassionate and respectful emotional response. The literature describes two main methods of empathy enhancement. The first is a psycho-educational approach where offenders are provided with information about the impact of sexual assault on victims and then group discussions and tasks expand on this. The second approach requires offenders to re-examine their own offense in order to experience an emotional understanding of the victim's experience. The literature does not provide evidence that victim empathy intervention reduces recidivism in sexual offenders. The authors conclude that the theoretical basis for victim empathy work with sexual offenders is inconsistently articulated, poorly understood, and largely untested empirically. More sophisticated research into victim empathy is recommended.
Keywords Victim empathy; sex offenders; interventions; recidivism
Topic Sexual assault