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Attachment Theory and Sexual Offending: Making the Connection.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The purpose of this review is to discuss how attachment theory can be applied to explain sexual violence. Specifically, it discusses how the development of certain risk factors contributes to these behaviors and how attachment-based models can be used to address this issue through prevention and therapeutic interventions.

RECENT FINDINGS: Recent research demonstrates that individuals who commit sexual offenses have higher rates of insecure attachment styles and that these styles are associated with a number of criminogenic risk factors associated with sexual offending. Such risk factors include cognitive processing difficulties, affect dysregulation, and challenges in interpersonal relationships, among others. Fortunately, treatment interventions have been shown to foster more secure attachment styles and reduce these risk factors. Attachment theory is a viable theory to both understand and intervene with those who have committed sexual violence to reduce the risk factors associated with sexual violence.

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