Recent theoretical and empirical research suggests that sexual offenders have intimacy skill deficits that may play a significant role in the etiology and maintenance of their dysfunctional sexual behavior. Sexual offenders have frequently been described as loners or as having few, superficial, and unsatisfying relationships. The purpose of the present study was to identify the perceptions of intimate relationships of sexual offenders and two criminal comparison groups. The participants in this study included child molesters (55), rapists (30), violent nonsexual offenders (32), and nonviolent, nonsexual offenders (30), violent nonsexual offenders (32), and nonviolent, nonsexual offenders (30). The participants were interviewed and a set of categories was developed from these data using a grounded theory analysis. In the second part of the study these categories were used to identify differences in the perceptions of adult romantic relationships between sexual offenders and the comparison groups. Relationship commitment, evaluation of the partner, self-disclosure, trust, expression of affection, sexual satisfaction, the giving and receiving of support, empathy, conflict resolution, autonomy, and sensitivity to rejection all emerged as significant aspects of sexual offenders' perceptions of their intimate relationships. Our findings also suggest that sexual offenders have a number of intimacy deficits that create difficulties in their romantic relationships. These deficits are to a large extent shared by the violent offenders and, therefore, are not specific to sexual offenders. They represent a general vulnerability factor leading to the development of a variety of offenses and life problems. The theoretical, research, and clinical implications of our findings are discussed.
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 12, 2007
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