Currently, the most effective treatments for victims of child sexual abuse include a com­bination of cognitive and behavioral psychotherapies, which teach victims how to un­derstand and handle the trauma of their assaults more effectively. Many victims of sex­ual abuse also have difficulties developing and maintaining intimate relationships. Being involved in a relationship that is high in emotional intimacy and low in expectations for sex is beneficial (W. Maltz, 1990). Learning that they have the ability to say no to sex is very important and usually develops when they establish relationships based first on friendship, rather than sex. Many times the partners of victims of sexual abuse are con­fused; they do not fully understand the effects of abuse in the lives of their mates, and so they may also benefit from counseling (L. Cohen, 1988).

ReviewQuestion

Describe the most effective treatments ^for victims and perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse.

Treating Abusers

In Chapter 16 we discussed treatment for pedophilia. The treatment of child sexual abusers is similar in that the primary goal is to decrease the level of sexual arousal to in­appropriate sexual objects—in this case, children. This is done through behavioral treat­ment, psychotherapy, or drugs. Other goals of therapy include teaching sexual abusers to interact and relate better with adults; assertiveness skills training; empathy and respect for others; increasing sexual education; and evaluating and reducing any sexual difficul­ties that they might be experiencing with their sexual partners (Abel et al., 1980). Because recidivism is high in these abusers, it is also important to find ways to reduce the incidence of engaging in these behaviors (Firestone et al., 2005).

ReviewQuestion

Identify some ways in which society can help prevent childhood sexual abuse.