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Book Reviews   |    
Sexualized Violence Against Women and Children: A Psychology and Law Perspective
Reviewed by Renee Sorrentino, M.D.
Psychiatric Services 2006; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.57.3.425
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edited by B. J. Cling, Ph.D., J.D.; New York, Guilford Press, 2004, 293 pages, $38

The stated goals of Sexualized Violence Against Women and Children: A Psychology and Law Perspective are to provide the most current clinical and legal perspectives on understanding, assessing, and responding to the needs of women and children who are victims of sexualized violence. The book's central thesis is that the new recognition of age-old psychological problems that result from various traumas, in particular sexual traumas, is directly related to the recent wave of feminism. The book suggests that the presence of women in professional roles that aid victims of these traumas resulted in a social awareness of the devastating psychological effects of sexual abuse. The book's editor, B. J. Cling, Ph.D., J.D., is a clinical psychologist and a lawyer in private practice in New York City. She is also an associate adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and St. John's University.

The book is divided into three sections. The first two sections provide data on a variety of crimes, including rape, spousal abuse, stalking, sexual harassment, and child sexual abuse. The third section focuses on the treatment of perpetrators of sexualized violence.

The book has several weaknesses. It is based on theory rather than any empirical data. For example, it is suggested that the centuries-long silence about child sexual abuse is explicitly linked to institutionalized patriarchy. Cling correctly states, "There is lack of consensus within the sexual offender field regarding whether there is adequate scientific evidence that treatment is effective." She concludes that "there is no definitive answer to the question of whether treatment effectiveness has been determined." However, she fails to inform the reader that cognitive-behavioral programs have become the standard of care in contemporary treatment of sex offenders. Such programs are unequivocally the most prolific and are widely touted as the most effective among current treatment options (1).

It is disappointing that the chapter on management and treatment of adult sex offenders has only two sentences on medication treatment. There is good evidence that antiandrogens reduce sexual recidivism, at least for the duration of treatment (2). The chapters on stalking and maternal violence seem out of place in a book focused on sexualized violence against women and children.

The strongest aspects of the book are the sections that address the mental health clinician's role in criminal or civil proceedings. For example, the chapter "Battered Woman Syndrome" provides a helpful list of questions and answers for expert testimony. The chapter "Battered Women Who Strike Back" provides a comprehensive review of the statutory codes of admissibility of expert testimony on battering.

I would recommend this book to clinicians and attorneys who work with sexually abused women and children in the courtroom. It will be of particular interest to individuals who are interested in the sociologic and cultural underpinnings of sexualized violence against women and children.

Dr. Sorrentino is director of forensic psychiatry at the Erich Lindemann Mental Health Center in Boston.

Marshall WL, Pithers WD: A reconsideration of treatment outcome with sex offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior 21:10—27,  1994
[CrossRef]
 
Hall GC: Sex offender recidivism revisited: a meta-analysis of recent treatment studies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 63:802—809,  1995
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
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References

Marshall WL, Pithers WD: A reconsideration of treatment outcome with sex offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior 21:10—27,  1994
[CrossRef]
 
Hall GC: Sex offender recidivism revisited: a meta-analysis of recent treatment studies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 63:802—809,  1995
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
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