April 16, 2019

“Why should we care about individuals who commit sexual offenses?”

This question was asked during a Catholic University Research Day presentation and is part of a research initiative to help stop the cycle of sexual violence.

Melissa Grady, associate professor in the National Catholic School of Social Service, recently received a grant of $50,000 for her research called “Victim to Victimizer” from Raliance Grant Program. The research will use a trauma informed understanding of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) toward preventing sexually abusive behavior in adulthood.  

“To stop sexual violence, we have to be willing to look at people who have committed these crimes and put effort into understanding who they are, and why they do what they do. This will help us figure out additional ways to both prevent people from doing it in the first place, understand the root causes, and how to make sure it never happens again,” says Grady.

The research will examine the voices and experiences of individuals who are convicted of sexual crimes, and treatment providers who work with adults that have committed sexual offenses, by using an ACE survey.

The ACE survey for the practitioners will explore their approaches and treatment on trauma with their patients. The ACE survey for individuals who have committed sexual offenses will explore how they perceive their treatment and trauma.

“There's a lot more conversation about trauma and its role to try to understand it and its relationship to sexual offending. While there's a lot being discussed on the offending behaviors, what's less clear is how that is being translated to treatment approaches,” says Grady.

The research will look for missing links that would help increase the effectiveness of the treatment for people who have committed sexual offenses, better understand the role of trauma in prevention, and make recommendations on treatment approaches.

“Victim to Victimizer” research will take one year to complete. It’s initiatives are one step closer to reducing sexual violence in our communities.

MEDIA: To schedule an interview with Melissa Grady, contact the Office of Marketing and Communications at communications@cua.edu or 202-319-5600.