Fresh out of university in the mid 1990s, Rachel becomes a facilitator on the flagship Sex Offender Treatment Programme (SOTP) at HMP Briestfield, a top security prison with a harsh backdrop of misogyny and a strong anti-treatment culture. Her first group includes: Graham, the ex-policeman who kidnapped and raped his neighbour and then murdered the dog walker who tried to rescue her; James the psychopathic gang rapist; Bill the sexual murderer who buried his sex worker victim in the garden; Peter the caretaker who turned into a child killer; Simon who has long been in denial about his abuse of young children and Wayne, the notorious rapist, who attacked several women in their own homes at night wearing a gorilla mask.
Rachel explores the offences and tries to help the prisoners understand why they committed such heinous crimes, running re-enactments of their offences in a bid to help them increase victim empathy. As the treatment intensifies and she delves into the prisoners’ childhoods and hears their life stories, she is forced to look at the impact her own childhood had on her behaviour in relationships.
This honest, personal narrative explores what it is really like, as a young woman, to work in this secretive, misunderstood environment and engage these vilified men in therapy. It is about why sexual offenders commit their crimes, the uncomfortable truths she discovered about herself along the way, and the power of human connection.
Dr Rachel Rose is a forensic psychologist. Possessing only an undergraduate degree in psychology, she went straight into working in a male maximum-security prison, providing intensive therapy to rapists, child molesters and murderers. She has since spent 25 years assessing, treating and researching high-risk men who have committed violent and sexual crimes and, as such, has a rare insight into their mindset. She also trains and supervises staff/trainee psychologists and has disseminated and published her research at a national and international level.
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