This guide is a list of terms that are used in treatment for sexual offenders. Some of the definitions or examples may be different from what might be found in a dictionary, or how the term may be used in conversation. This is offered as a way to better understand the material on these pages.
ABSTINENCE - Avoiding a behavior such as smoking, drinking, using drugs, or sexual offending. Also may be used in terms of avoiding sexual activities at all. ("Abstinence from tobacco is the only way to be sure that a person trying to quit smoking can be sure to avoid going back to cigarettes.")
ACCOUNTABILITY - Taking responsibility for your actions or behaviors. ("Being accountable for my sexual behaviors means that I admit what I have done.")
AROUSAL - A state of sexual excitement. ("I became aroused from watching the porno tape.")
ASSAULT - Violation of another person's body. It can be a physical assault, as in punching someone. For this glossary, assault generally refers to a sexual act committed on someone who does not or cannot give permission. (See definition of consent for more information.) Sometimes the assault may be accompanied by force or violence, also called "rape". With a child or someone who cannot give consent, any sexual act is considered an assault, even if force is not used. ("John made a list of all the victims he assaulted, even the ones who did not report them.")
BOUNDARIES - Spaces between people. Boundaries may be physical, so that when you touch another person without permission, you violate their physical boundary. Going through someone's personal belongings or reading their mail is also a violation of their boundaries. Boundaries may also be verbal or emotional. Telling a buddy about what a sexual partner and you did last night violates the partner's boundary of privacy. The boundary may also be visual. Staring at another's body can make that person uncomfortable and therefore violate his/her boundary.
COERCION - (Pronounced "co-er-shun") Using bribes, threats (real or implied), or force to get what you want or make someone do something they do not want to do. ("Joe used coercion by tricking Maria to touch him.")
COMPENSATORY BEHAVIOR - Making up for some unwanted or unpleasant feeling. From the word, compensate, you are probably familiar with Workman's Compensation- making up for lost wages if you are hurt on the job. Here, we use compensatory behavior to identify a way of getting rid of unpleasant thoughts or feelings. ("When Frank felt rejected, he used alcohol to compensate for his negative feelings and he numbed out.") The old expression of "kicking the dog" (or taking it out on someone else) because someone got you upset and you couldn't get back at the person who angered you is a form of compensatory behavior.
CONFRONTATION - To challenge another person, particularly in a treatment setting. A group member may confront someone who he feels is holding back or using excuses. Confrontation is not about "calling someone out" for a fight. In treatment, confrontation is important to get past the defenses an offender often holds on to. ("Mike confronted Al when he called his victim a 'slut'.")
CONSENT - Giving permission to do something. To give consent, several conditions must be met. The person giving consent must clearly understand what the activity is all about and have the right to say no or to stop the behavior. The parties involved have to be of equal (or near equal) power. (Power means age, strength, knowledge and awareness what the behavior means.) An adult and child cannot be seen as equal in these terms. Even if the child gives "permission" to a sexual behavior, it cannot be truly consentual (giving consent) because there is an inequality of age, power and knowledge.
Pressure or coercion cannot be part of consent. The "willing" date in a "put out or get out" situation, parked in a car, miles from nowhere, is not consent. Likewise, a person who is "willing" while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or is mentally handicapped, is not capable of giving true consent.
CONSEQUENCES - The outcome and effect of behavior. May be either positive, neutral or negative. ("As a consequence for his third drunken driving conviction, George lost his license for ten years.")
COPING - Being able to handle a negative situation. ("In trying to cope with his wife's leaving him, Harry spent several hours with his minister and was able to begin to pick up the pieces.")
CUNNILINGUS - (Pronounced cun-a-ling-us) Licking or kissing a vagina, also known as oral sex on a female. ("Gene often fantasized about performing cunnilingus on young girls.")
CYCLE - A repeated pattern of feelings, thoughts and behaviors which can lead to a sexual assault. Once identified, a sex offender's "assault cycle" can show the kinds of emotions, thoughts and behaviors that can lead him to another sexual assault. ("Once Carl knew his cycle, he was able to stop and redirect himself to stay out of trouble.")
DEGRADE - Putting another person down with name calling or ridicule. Degrading another person is a form of verbal and emotional assault. It can be a means to gain power over another person. ("Although she claimed she was only teasing Hank about his thin legs, he felt degraded and embarrassed, especially in front of others.")
DENIAL - Saying you did not do something when in fact you did. May appear to be lying but denial can include twisting the truth. ("Mel was in denial about watching his daughter get undressed, although she caught him several times.")
DEVIANT - Behaviors that are different or out of the normal range from what most people do. When applied to sexual situations, it can include a variety of sexual behaviors, however, for this glossary, we will use the term for those actions which are against the law or acceptable standards. ("Sexually molesting a child is a deviant act since most people understand that it is wrong and against the law.")
DEVIANT FANTASY - A sexual fantasy which involves a previous victim, a child or one which includes force or violence. ("One way to check if your fantasy is deviant is to ask yourself, 'If I did this in real life, could I get into trouble?'")
DIGITAL - Using fingers. ("He was accused of digital penetration for putting his finger in her vagina.")
DISTORT - Something that is not true or accurate in one's thinking. Distorted thinking is a way of explaining or justifying a behavior. ("When Joan was caught fondling her nephew's penis, in her distortion, she claimed she was merely checking for cleanliness.")
DYSFUNCTIONAL - Not working correctly or the way it should. ("In dysfunctional families, people usually do not respect each other's rights.")
EMPATHY - Knowing what the other person feels. Putting yourself in the other's place. Treating others the way you would want to be treated. ("Alex thought about punishing his son with a belt, but used empathy to think how he would feel if he were beaten that way, and sent him to his room for several hours instead.")
EQUALITY - Two persons having the same power or ability in a relationship. Not using power, knowledge or strength to control another. ("While few relationships find both partners having exact equality, most people develop an agreeable balance.")
EXPLOITATION - Taking advantage of another person who is weaker or has less understanding of what you are trying to do. ("Making children work for less than minimum wages is a form of exploitation, according to the law.")
FANTASY - Thoughts or day dreams. Sexual fantasies can be replays of something that took place before or may be creations that have not actually happened. ("When Nate got bored at work, he sometimes fantasized about sex with his girlfriend or winning a big lottery.")
FELLATIO - (Pronounced fel-a-she-o) Licking or sucking a penis. ("Until a few years ago, it was a crime in some states for a wife to perform fellatio on her husband.")
FONDLE - To touch someone in a sexual way. ("Bruce fondled Gina's breasts while she was sleeping.")
FROTTAGE - (Pronounced fro-tahj, like Taj Mahal) Bumping or rubbing against another person for sexual gratification. Usually done without the other person's knowledge or consent. ("People who practice frottage do it in crowded elevators or trains where the victim might think it was accidental contact.")
GENITALS - Sex organs such as breasts, penis, vagina or buttocks. ("Exposing your genitals can get you arrested.")
INTERCOURSE - Penis in vagina or anus. ("People often use the word 'sex' when they refer to 'intercourse', such as, 'We made out for about 20 minutes and then we had sex.'")
INTERVENTION - A positive or empowering behavior which stops, prevents or controls a problem behavior. ("Ed used the intervention of calling his sponsor when he felt like drinking.")
INTIMIDATION - Making someone afraid of you or getting them to do something they would really not want to do. ("Keith looked angry and intimidated his nephew to climb on his lap.")
LAPSE - A slip or brief return to an old behavior. ("Although Bill had not had a cigarette in over a year, he had a lapse at a party and smoked one after a few drinks.") See also RELAPSE
MASTURBATION - Using the hand or an object to stimulate the genitals for sexual pleasure. Although it usually leads to an orgasm or climax, it does not necessarily have to do so to be considered masturbation. ("Masturbation is the one way a person can experience sexual pleasure without fear of pregnancy or disease.")
MINIMIZATION - Making something seem less than it really is, holding back some of the facts, convincing yourself it is not that serious. ("Ron minimized the sexual abuse on his step-daughter by saying he touched her breasts fewer times than he actually did.")
MOLESTATION - Making sexual contact without the other person's consent, to touch a child in a sexual way. Although "molest" usually means to bother or disturb someone, its use here means sexual in nature. ("Child molesters are adolescents or adults who use children for sexual purposes.")
NEEDS - Things we desire or must have. Physical needs include air, food, shelter, water, sleep and elimination. Emotional needs exist in everyone and if we do not get these needs met, it will not cause us to die, but life is not very good without them. ("We all have needs for love, attention, hope, support, companionship, etc. There are about 20-25 basic human needs.")
PEDOPHILIA - Sexual interest in children. Pedophiles are adults (or adolescents over 16) with a primary arousal to children. ("Despite attempts to become sexual with women or men his own age, Phil realized his persistent attraction to children made him a pedophile.")
PENETRATION - Putting an object (penis, finger, tongue, pencil, etc.) in a body opening (mouth, vagina, anus). ("The law says it was penetration, even if it was 'just a little bit'".)
PERPETRATOR - The person committing an offense or criminal behavior. ("Perpetrators of sexual offenses may not hold certain jobs in many states.")
PLEA BARGAIN - A deal which the prosecutor agrees to less serious charges or reduced sentence for a plea of guilty. ("Just because he got a plea bargain to a non-sexual offense, Jack still had to deal in group with his sexual behaviors.")
PORNOGRAPHY - Pictures, movies or photographs which are mainly for the purpose of sexual arousal. ("Although most people watched the young gymnasts in the Olympic games with no sexual interest, some pedophiles videotaped the competition to have 'innocent' pornography.")
PRIVACY - The right to keeping things to yourself or another person. Different from secrecy or a secret. ("Masturbation should be done in private.") ("When Charles was molesting his nephew, he told him it was their 'secret'".)
RECIDIVISM - A return to offending behavior after a period of abstinence or being offense-free. ("People who practice Relapse Prevention and are aware of their cycle are likely to be more free from recidivism than those who ignore their warning signs.")
RELAPSE - A return to a former condition. ("A person who quit smoking has a cigarette, he has a lapse. If he buys a pack, he has a relapse. A sex offender who has a deviant fantasy could have a lapse. If he molests again, he has a relapse.")
RELAPSE PREVENTION - A way to prevent relapse into offending by paying attention to the feelings, thoughts and behaviors that happen before the sexual offense takes place. ("Relapse prevention is one way to recognize high risk situations which could lead to another offense.")
RESISTANCE - A way of fighting, opposing or holding back others. Victims might resist by running from an abusive situation, screaming or saying "no." Resistance also may be a way an offender keeps from being honest in his treatment by missing appointments, failing to do assignments or avoiding his responsibilities. ("One way people show their resistance to treatment is to deny their sexual behaviors when asked about them in group.")
RISK - The likelihood or chances that something will or may happen. ("Nick knew that his attraction to young boys meant that taking a job in a boys' summer camp put him in a high risk situation.")
SELF-MUTILIATION - Hurting or damaging yourself. This can be obvious like burning, cutting or scraping your skin, or less obvious such as pulling out hair, picking at scabs or having "accidental" injuries. ("When Alex's girlfriend wanted to break off the relationship, he would self-mutilate by getting hurt so she would feel guilty leaving him when he was injured.")
SEXUAL ABUSE - Sexual behaviors that are against the law or the rights of another person. ("Whether it is rape or child molestation, sexual abuse is harmful to the victim.")
SEXUAL BEHAVIORS - Actions dealing with sex or sexuality. ("Sexual behaviors include those with others or by one self, such as masturbation.")
SEXUALLY ABUSIVE BEHAVIORS - Sexual behaviors which do not involve consent or are without equality. Some of these are:
Bestiality a sex with animals.
Exhibitionism a indecent exposure, showing genitals to another person.
Hands-off behaviors a such as obscene phone calls, peeping, exposure,and others which do not involve contact.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT - Using words or gestures to pressure someone into being sexual with you. Making sexual remarks about another person's body, appearance, etc. Sexual jokes in front of a person who does not want to hear them may be a form of sexual harassment. Although it is not a crime that can put a person in jail, it can get him fired from a job, if done at work. ("Bob was charged with sexual harassment for promising Martha a raise if she would have sex with him.")
SODOMY - Penetration of the anus by a penis. More frequently called anal sex.
THINKING ERRORS - Ways of thinking that seem to make sense at the time but are really just excuses to do wrong or harmful behaviors. Also called "distorted thinking" or "cognitive distortions". ("When his daughter asked Bill why he stood up to urinate, he used thinking errors to tell himself that she wanted to see his penis.")
VICTIM - A person who has been harmed or hurt by another person or some kind of accident. ("Katie became the victim of her father's sexual touching when she was only three years old.")
VICTIMIZATION - The process of becoming a victim. Can also refer to the issues that a victim is dealing with. ("Although Doug was victimized as a boy, he could not talk about his victimization in therapy.")
VOYEURISM - (Pronounced voy-er-ism) Getting aroused by watching others have sex or looking at people getting undressed. Any staring at the "private parts" of another can be considered voyeurism. ("People who are sometimes called "Peeping Tom" are practicing voyeurism."
* Available at: http://www.malesurvivor.org/glossary-of-terms.html (MaleSurvior) 02.01.07
Glossary of Terms terms that are used in treatment for sexual offenders*