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LIBERTY Trying to stop sexual abuse



Published: Sat, July 27, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The counselor helps sexual abusers in order to make a difference.

By D.A. WILKINSON

VINDICATOR RELIGION EDITOR

LIBERTY -- Kimberly Resnick Anderson often asks her patients a hypothetical question: If there were a pill that would end your behavior, would you take it?

What makes that question really interesting is that Resnick Anderson is a counselor who specializes in treating sexual abusers.

"Some say yes, and some say no," said Resnick Anderson.

For the past year, she has worked at Clinical Concepts in Sexual Health in Liberty.

She said she has treated 200 sexual offenders, including Catholic priests.

Resnick Anderson said she helps abusers because "I feel like I'm making a difference."

She noted in a recent interview that the problem of child sexual abuse is not abating.

But Resnick Anderson has a message for those who abuse: "Help is available."

The clients who say they would take that pill want to rid themselves of the trouble in their lives caused by their behavior.

Abusers who live with the potential of exposure and ruin probably aren't feeling good and may have difficulties with their jobs.

The clients who would not take the pill say their behavior gives them such pleasure that it has become their identity. Those people tend to be sex addicts or have sexual compulsions.

What's required

Her patients are either defendants in criminal cases or are people who seek treatment on their own. Those who independently seek treatment may do so because they have either thought of doing something or have done it.

Those who have acted may say they did something once but in reality it was probably more because abusers tend to minimize their actions, she said.

Ohio law requires counselors to report child abuse to authorities with one condition, said Resnick Anderson, who cautions those seeking treatment about the law. The abuse must be reported if the patient clearly identifies the victim.

For example, a man may say during his sessions that he abused a boy in his neighborhood. He would have to be reported to authorities if he mentions the boy's name and address, Resnick Anderson said.

And many abusers don't come forward because of shame, said the counselor. The stigma of sexual abuse now is somewhat similar to the stigma attached to alcohol abuse a generation ago, she noted.

But abusers, "know what they are doing," she said.

They also tend to rationalize that their actions aren't hurting anyone, or that they are loving a beautiful child.

Still, the press hasn't been properly using the terms for the various types of abusers, she said.

Pedophiles are those whose primary interest is in prepubescent children, which would be those younger than age 12.

Ephebophiles are those whose "primary and exclusive" interest is in teens.

"Their overwhelming erotic interest is in minors," she said.

There are still other cases of abuse where "boundaries get crossed."

How crime occurs

A man who is ordinarily a good father may commit incest with his daughter, although he never set out to do so.

But other adults very deliberately and carefully pick their juvenile target.

The process, said Resnick Anderson, is called "grooming."

In it, an adult, such as an parent or teacher, determines which of his daughters or students would be least likely to report sexual abuse.

In most cases, the sexual abuser is a relative or knows the victim. Those normal adult-child relationships complicate reporting of abuse.

"A lot of victims are afraid," said Resnick Anderson. "They do not want to hurt [the adult].

Can the abusers be rehabilitated?

"Yes and no," said Resnick Anderson. "There are a lot of different diagnoses and a lot of different prognoses."

Both counseling and a wide variety of medication can be used to treat the problems.

Indicators that show an abuser's potential to abuse again can include his history and whether there was any violence involved in the crime.

There are also tests that can help determine a person's sexual inclinations.

In the case of the Catholic church, such pro-active measures "have to come from the top."

wilkinson@vindy.com




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