Exploring the possibilities of collaborations between Sexual Violence Programs and Sexual Offender Management Professionals

NJCASA’s mission includes elevating the voices of service providers and communities.  We believe these voices will not only bring about social change, but create spaces for victims to thrive.  The ‘Partners in Prevention’ series will feature voices or perspectives throughout the state working to create safer communities for all.  Today’s post focuses on opportunities for partnership between sexual violence service providers and professionals working in sexual offender treatment and supervision. 

Professionals working with sexual offenders and professionals working with survivors have the same goal in mind: safer and healthier communities for us all.

The former strive to help individuals who have harmed others plan for circumstances that increase stress or aggression and find practical ways to behave nonviolently. The latter work with individuals who have experienced trauma to find paths toward healing and offer communities strategies for positive social change. Both have a stake in ensuring no one is harmed and everyone is able to have productive and purposeful lives.

A new resource jointly created by the Center for Sex Offender Management, the Resource Sharing Project, the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center offers a number of areas where these two professional fields can work together. Promoting Collaboration Between Victim Advocates and Sex Offender Management Professionals: A Resource Package, provides crucial insights for meaningful engagement, including:

  • Sexual offenders, or people who have been convicted of perpetrating sexual violence, are an incredibly diverse group with many different motivations for committing violence. Understanding this diversity and the varied constellation of risk factors will help practitioners in the sexual violence prevention movement create effective awareness and education campaigns.  Learning more about these individuals does not mean condoning their behavior or disregarding victim experiences; on the contrary, it helps build a holistic picture of hope and healing for all.

  • “Justice” for survivors of sexual violence does not come in one form or result in one type of outcome. For some survivors, justice includes pursuing action in the criminal justice system, while for others, justice means the offender’s harmful behavior stops and the person is prevented from hurting someone else. Creating barriers for employment, housing, and opportunities to lead normal lives are not, overwhelmingly, serving anyone’s interest or well-being. Survivors and their communities are often connected to sexual offenders, and want them to find ways to stop hurting others and live healthier lives.
  • Monitoring and treating sexual offenders are individualized processes facilitated by trained and dedicated professionals. It is a team approach that includes probation or parole and qualified providers of sexual offender treatmentTreatment and supervision have been found to significantly reduce the likelihood individuals will harm others again.

Each of these components is designed to foster mutual respect and understanding between and among these professionals. Each group has something to offer the other. Collaboration is a path toward strengthening practice and this means better services for survivors, significant others, and communities.

These conversations can be challenging, but change takes courage and time. Discussions of upholding the humanity of everyone in the community can be one that brings unanticipated tension. This is not a reason to neglect these conversations or partnerships. NJCASA supports exploring new avenues for partnerships and confronting dominant norms wherever they exist.