When there is an abuse happening, usually the perspectives of each side are:

  • Police and social worker: How to protect the victim?
  • The abuser: How to get out of trouble?

These goals are different, but not incompatible. The process of getting the children out of harm's way might involve court-ordered parenting classes, anger management, or other skills-building; it might involve supervised visits or group therapy; there are all kinds of things that would potentially raise their awareness, give them other options, model reasonable parenting styles, etc. However, even though the abuser does learn that acting that way will have legal consequences, there is still a possibility that they might never learn awareness that what they do is harmful (said by a clinical social worker). This reflects in the effectiveness of batterers' intervention programs, and the effectiveness of sex offender treatment programmes: the former is "modesty", and the latter is even slightly reverse.

I wonder why this happened. My hypothesis is that after being released they don't live in a healthy, respectful environment? I don't see a single instance of mentioning this in any material I read, even though I admit I haven't read much. In addition, I think friends and family of abusers may have developed learned helplessness in supporting and intervening bad behaviors, so they just turn a blind eye on them.

An example from that social worker: there is a man who had been an abused child, bounced through jails and psychiatric hospitals his whole life, but ended up in a nursing home environment where everyone cared for him. When he arrived, he would hit people out of the blue because it's what he expected to happen to him. With firm boundaries and a gentle environment, he stopped hitting people. But he had low intellectual functioning and a lifetime in the system, so he couldn't engage in hypothetical or multi-stage thinking about the consequences of his actions. He had to have a changed environment because he couldn't change himself.

Is this correct?

  • $\begingroup$ The point raised in Forde, R. A. (2017). Bad Psychology: How Forensic Psychology Left Science Behind. Jessica Kingsley Publishers regarding Sex Offender Treatment Programs is that Forde believes they were never reformed whilst in prison in the first place, let alone living in healthy respectful environments after release. And they have only been assessed as reformed from subjective questionnaires from the prisoner involved, and prison officers $\endgroup$ Feb 11, 2021 at 8:48
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers "never reformed whilst in prison" why is that? Is it the bully between prisoners that enforce the toxic environment? $\endgroup$
    – Ooker
    Feb 14, 2021 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ That is the million dollar question. Whatever the reason why they haven't reformed is, the "treatment" programs do not seem to work when looking at the recidivism rates $\endgroup$ Feb 14, 2021 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers so basically no one knows? $\endgroup$
    – Ooker
    Feb 14, 2021 at 16:44


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