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  • Foto do escritorDr. João De Sousa

"Ashamed Orgasm: a rogerian approach"

Atualizado: 24 de jan. de 2023

Poster presentation at the 64th Annual Meeting of American Academy of Forensic Sciences, 2012, Atlanta, E.U.A.


Dr. João De Sousa Forensic Consultant

Currently the Portuguese Judicial Police and the State Prosecutor's Office are both looking into the phenomenon of victimisation, which occurs due to the need to collect testimonies from victims of mistreatment and sexual abuse.

The Judicial Police trains investigators working in this area in order to provide them with the technical and personal competences needed for taking statements from victims fruitfully. Given the well-known difficulties associated with taking statements from victims of sexual abuse, particularly minors, the inspectors’ training uses as a base the Cognitive Interview (CI).

A forensic tool developed by Geiselman and Fisher (1984), CI is a method for retrieving information that focuses on, among other things, issues such as establishing a relationship with the victim, the manner in which the victim testifies, the manner in which the questions are asked, or the setting for the interview.

Without completely refuting this technique, we have developed another way of operating that we believe includes the best of CI, while remedying any shortcomings that are revealed when it is applied to the Portuguese reality. Lets consider the issue of the setting, which in Portugal can be a counterproductive factor, as not all locations where there is interaction with the victim are equipped for it. Taking this into account, we have opted in the case presented to use a clinical psychology technique created and developed by Carl Rogers: person centered therapy.

Considering issues such as the implications of the lack of coherence between self and the experience for psychological adjustment, pointing out factors such as inconsistencies between the self and the ideal self, presenting three conditions as being critical for interacting with the Other – unconditional positive regard, empathic understanding and congruence – Carl Rogers developed the person centred therapy.

If there are discrepancies between the self and the experience to which one is being subjected, individuals are not open to their own experiences and consequently to its recovery and narrative. Anything not coherent with the structure of the self is considered threatening, denied or twisted. As this was considered to be taking place in the case below, we opted for the technique previously mentioned.

In the year 2010, the Criminal Investigation Department of the Judicial Police of Setúbal (Portugal) was faced with another situation of minors´ sexual abuse. To the Police were presented the parents of two minor girls, cousins, one with 13 years-old and another with 8 years-old. It was reported a sexual abuse by a male subject, a 45 years-old man, who had the confidence of the family and, according to the parents´ speech, was continually sexually abusing the minor of 8 years old.

During questioning, the child of 8 years-old, described the behaviour of the suspect, which unequivocally confirmed her parents’ suspicions. The other minor, the 13 years-old girl, initially stated she had not been the object of sexual abuse. However in the course of questioning it became apparent she was not being truthful as she was extremely conditioned and not simply by the presence of the police or the place itself (there is not a dedicated space for the questioning of minors in this department). By using the rogerian approach and adopting the three critical conditions mentioned above, we ascertained that there was indeed an incoherence between the self and her experience, since she could not understand why she felt sexual pleasure and reached orgasms in a situation she considered wrong and bad, which was condemned by her parents and relatives, a situation so serious that brought her to the police.

Once this internal struggle was resolved, the minor was able to confirm the abuse to which she had been subjected since the age of 8, as well as the abuse of her cousin to which she had been a witness.

Always from an eclectic perspective of knowledge and practice, we propose a different approach to the one normally adopted in Portugal that we consider useful in overcoming existing structural handicaps. These barriers must be overcome as the victims´ experiences are already deeply traumatic and the solution to the problem cannot be equally a trauma.

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