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Voyeurism & Exhibitionism

Voyeurism, sexual excitement generated by secretly looking at others’ nudity or their sexual acts, and exhibitionism, a psychological disorder causing a compulsion to show one’s genitals in to strangers in public, are both considered mild forms of sexual offending.

What makes these behaviors offenses is that neither the person being viewed by the voyeur, nor the individual exposed to the exhibitionist’s genitals has been given a choice. When sexual behavior is forced upon another person in any form, it is non-consensual. Non-consent implies offending behavior. Non-violent offending behavior such as voyeurism and exhibitionism is distinguished in treatment from violent offending behavior, such as non-consensual sexual contact, rape, and sexual abuse.

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Those who voyeur and those who exhibit both voyeuristic and exhibitionist behaviors tend to have very compulsive and/or driven aspects to their sexual behavior patterns. The feelings driving these sexual activities can seem overwhelming to the person having them, much as a drug addict feels overwhelmed by their desire to use drugs when the impulse strikes them. Many voyeurs and exhibitionists have long histories of these kinds of driven sexual behaviors – some going back to early teen years and even younger.

Without proper, accurate assessment and finely tuned treatment it is highly likely that these patterns of sexual compulsivity and addiction will continue and even become more frequent, despite the best attempts of the person who is trying to stop. Most often this leads to lost relationships, depression, and ultimately arrests.

“It just took over me,” said one recent SRI client. “It’s was like I no longer had a choice.”

People who struggle with these types of sexual disorders require intensive, active treatment to support behavioral change. They need tools and people to turn to when they desire to act out sexually so that choice can be returned to them. Restoring healthy sexual choice then is the underlying goal of treatment and the way out for these people who very often feel that it will never change. But it can.