I don't think an offender can BE rehabilitated - as in sent to a program and poof he's cured. I think that if someone has an epiphany and suddenly realizes that they don't like the way they've been living their lives, they have the ability to change that.
Agreed. I also think it depends on why they did it in the first place, and what form the sexual assault took. I think there are a fair percentage of aquaintance rapists who're convinced that what they are doing isn't rape and isn't harmful. Classic example, from I never called it rape
is the guy who flung the woman to the floor and raped her while (from her perspective) she was fighting tooth and nail, then after asks her in all sincerity, "Wow! Are you always this violent when having sex?" I know there are guys who believe in the whole porn myth "she wanted it, she asked for it, she enjoyed it" - where they think the woman is just not honest enough (or bright enough) to know what she wants and they're doing her a favor. I dealt with one of those myself.
Guys like that can change if they recognize that they've been minimizing the damage they're doing, in my experience. But of course they don't WANT to recognize what they've been doing, because then they have to deal with the harm they've caused.
Still, if you can get them to face it, then there's the possibility of change. Especially if it's the first time they've done it... I think how long and how much they've abused is part of it, too; how deeply committed they are to the pattern, I guess.
The thing is, especially when it comes to date rape, our culture teaches
men that rape is harmless.
So guys in that mindset who discover that it isn't harmless may not be so committed to abuse as someone who is committing incest, for instance. They may be doing it because they think it's normal, or okay, rather than because they "need" to do it. It hurts just the same for whoever is being abused - the abuser's reasoning makes no difference there - but it makes a difference when it comes to the abuser's potential for rehabilitiation, I would think.
I wouldn't want to take that chance on someone and have them hurt my children !!!!!!
Me neither. I'm willing to speculate on the possibility of rehabilitation and I can handle dealing with guys who have supposedly been rehabilitated (or at least I could some years back) - IF
they recognize what they've done. And recognizing what they've done means recognizing that no woman (or child, or other vulnerable person) should be expected to trust them or to be alone with them. Anyone who tries the, "But I'm rehabilitiated! You should trust me as if I'd never done anything wrong!" is minimizing the harm they have done and is, IMHO, indicating thereby that they are flat untrustworthy.
I would argue that even a rehabilitated sexual abuser needs to accept that their past is going to limit them. I don't agree at all that someone who has abused should be allowed to go back to the job that gave them an opportunity to abuse, for instance; recognizing the harm they have done means they are willing to accept limitations meant to minimize their opportunity to abuse again. In particular, parents are not (and should not be) obligated to trust someone with that in their past.
My main problems with the whole idea of rehabilitation is the idea that this means we should treat the person as if the abuse never happened (that, to me, is minimizing the crime), and the idea that anyone can rehabilitate an offender. Rehabilitation is not something that can be done to
an abuser; it is a hard thing that only the abuser can choose to do. And, going on personal experience with guys who think they're rehabilitated, that commitment is not a cure. The attitudes that allow abuse go DEEP, it takes time and work and someone in that person's life actively challenging them on a regular basis before rehabilitation is even possible. It isn't something anyone can do just by deciding they want to do it. Someone earlier compared it to drug use; a habitual user can quit using drugs, but the addiction is still a part of their life and an active possibility that needs to be dealt with every time it comes up. Which is often daily, even years after the last time they took drugs.
Which is another reason I don't trust the ones who say, "I've changed; now people should treat me as if it never happened." Maybe it's possible that some abusers truly change so deeply it's never an issue again. But my guess is that's always a weak spot, a potential response to stress or whatever - and my belief is that an abuser who truly
wants to change, who truly
regrets the abuse and never wants to do it again, knows that, and is fine with changing careers or whatever in order to minimize the possibility of doing it again.
Because any sexual abuser who takes the pain they've caused seriously knows they caused harm that could mean life-long pain for the person they hurt; therefore life-long consequences will not seem unfair to them.
Edited by Shalom, 22 September 2008 - 07:04 PM.