About Dawn Horwitz-Person
I have been living in Chico, California since 1980. I have a private practice, and I specialize in the treatment of victims and offenders of sexual violence. I started my practice working exclusively with victims of sexual and physical violence. It was easy to be empathetic, supportive, and helpful to my clients as my heart ached for what they had experienced. After being repeatedly asked, “why me?” I realized that there were questions I could not answer. I started to learn and research everything I could about sexual offenders. As part of my research, I joined organizations whose members dealt with sexual offenders. The organizations' focus was on assessing and treating sexual offenders based on scientific research, and public policy development based on facts. Along the way, I became an expert in the field and developed my unique treatment program. While treating offenders, I had requests to do some family therapy by the victims. I continued to treat victims while also treating more sexual offenders. I have now treated over 1000 offenders and have heard each and every one of their stories, their offenses, their histories, and their excuses. I learned a lot from them. By working with people who have offended, the victims, spouses, and families, I have become a more well rounded therapist and have gained a deeper understanding of all the dynamics of sexual abuse for everyone involved.
Most people would like to see all sexual offenders locked up in prison for a long time; this is appropriate for some sexual offenders. However, the reality is that this is not what usually what happens. California does not have treatment during incarceration. Our prisons are overcrowded and early releases are now more and more prevalent. Since California does not have a treatment program during incarceration, many untreated sexual offenders are released out on the streets. Since many molesters and rapists never do a day in prison, this affects you and members of your family! Without treatment, these sexual offenders have not learned more effective ways to manage their thoughts and feelings. They are out in our neighborhoods with a risk to act out again. Even when they serve a short sentence in the county jail and are released on probation, nothing has really changed. Many offenders will often agree to a plea bargain. Consequently, some offenders avoid registering as a sexual offender. Even violent repeat sexual offenders DO get out of prison. Although solutions are never simple, one issue is abundantly clear. Scientific data shows that treatment, contrary to public perception does work, especially when the offenders are treated according to their risk level. My philosophy is, if they are living in my neighborhood, I want to know they are receiving treatment.
My mission is to decrease victimization through education and psychotherapeutic treatment of people who have committed sexual offenses. The treatment utilized is driven by empirically based research and best evidence based practices for addressing all types of sexually abusive behaviors.
Over the past 15 years, I have learned so much from my clients. I have developed a style where I hold people accountable and responsible for their behaviors while I confront their distorted belief system, in a supportive and caring manner.
Philosophy about Treatment
I provide a safe environment in which clients can explore the roots of their poor choices. By learning what caused them to harm and violate the rights of others, they can gain the necessary tools to live a life free from crime and abuse. All interactions are based on the belief that every human being deserves to be treated with dignity. The effectiveness and efficacy of the treatment program is closely monitored for the most successful outcome of the client. The ultimate goal is to have all of us living in a safer community by providing the client the necessary tools to maintain a healthier relationship with self and others.
People assume that everyone should know that sexual assault is wrong. If you watch the news, you know that this is simply not true. Even people with a seemingly strong moral code and sense of ethics can rationalize their distorted thinking in their attempt to justify inappropriate behavior. Treatment helps the individual look at their distorted thinking and how that thinking effects their belief system and choices. Treatment helps people change how they look at issues, take responsibility, and change their behaviors.
Since it is currently difficult to stop sexual offenses, you can educate yourself about who commits sexual violence and why. Get rid of myths and stereotypes and learn the facts. It is not usually the creepy guy, with the long black trench coat, sitting in the tinted windowed van, who is trying to snatch your child from the school playground. At least 90% of the time, it is someone you know and trust and allow into your home. Get protected! You and your children deserve to be safe..
Sexual violence thrives in silence, and it is much more prevalent than people realize. In the United States, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are sexually abused before the age of 18. Nearly 1 in 5 women (22 million) have been raped at some point in their lives. Nearly 1 in 5 men (25 million) have experienced sexual violence other than rape at some point in their lives. Education is the key to ending sexual abuse; please watch my interview with sexual offenders on Oprah.com.
If somebody you know discloses sexual abuse; listen, don’t judge, and get help.
California State University, Chico- BA, MS
Licensed Marriage Family Therapist- LMFT
Ohio University- Sex offender Treatment Specialist certification program
California Marriage and Family Therapists- CAMFT
Association of Treatment of Sexual Abusers- ATSA
California Coalition of Sexual Offenders- CCOSO
American Psychological Association- APA
Diplomate American Psychotherapy Association- DAPA
Certified Relationship Specialist- CRS
Certified Sex Offender Treatment provider in California