Paraphilias: A paraphilia is a medical or behavioral science term for what is also referred to as: sexual deviation, sexual anomaly, sexual perversion or a disorder of sexual preference. It is the repeated, intense sexual arousal to unconventional (socially deviant) stimuli. The most common paraphilias are: voyeurism, fetishism, frotteurism, pedophilia, sexual masochism, sexual sadism and exhibitionism. There are many other disturbing paraphilias as well: necrophilia (corpses), coprophilia (feces), apotemnophilia (self-amputee), autogynephilia (diapers) mysophilia (filth)…you get the idea.
The Diagnostic Criteria for the Diagnosis of Voyeurism
- Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving the act of observing an unsuspecting person who is naked, in the process of disrobing, or engaging in sexual activity.
- The person has acted on these urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.
Without treatment, individuals with paraphilias have a recidivism rate of about 100%. Few individuals seek out treatment on their own; they simply do not want to change. Additionally, chances are pretty good that prisoners will not receive treatment when they are incarcerated. Eventually these perverts will be released and will reenter mainstream society. They will have to register as sex offenders. They may move in next door to you. They most probably will not have changed; it is very difficult, if not impossible, to change a person's sexual activity preferences.
Treatment options for paraphilias include; behavioral therapy, aversive conditioning, confrontation, victim empathy, assertiveness training, desensitization, social skills training, orgasmic reconditioning, relapse prevention, surveillance systems, and/or medications. Antiandrogens such as Provera are used to lower the sex drive. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Zoloft may be prescribed to treat associated compulsive sexual disorders and/or to gain benefit from libido-lowering sexual side effects. Chemical castration may be achieved by shots of Leuprolide which dramatically decrease testosterone levels; this may completely abolish deviant sexual tendencies.
Voyeurism and the Law
By definition voyeurism is not a hands-on crime, and is sometimes taken as less serious as other more invasive sex crimes. However, voyeurism is certainly not a victimless crime. Victims’ lives are changed, and the emotional circumstances are frequently identical to those of rape victims. All the states today have statutes against voyeurism without consent. Peeping Tom laws generally make it a crime to view and/or photograph or film a person without his or her consent. Peeping Tom statutes differ from state to state, but they usually have 3 requirements:
1. the victim did not realize he or she was being viewed;
2. the victim was fully or partially naked; and
3. the viewing took place at a place where the victim had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
The charges for voyeurism range from misdemeanors to felonies. If the victim is a child, or an elderly or disabled adult, additional abuse statutes may apply.
What a Law Enforcement Officer Can Do Related to Voyeurism
- Alert neighbors, schools, etc. if peeping tom activity has been reported.
- Extra patrol is indicated if there is a peeper around, if nothing more than to show presence. A COPPS project might be indicated for serial voyeurism accounts.
- Attend a homeowners association or neighborhood watch meeting to educate and answer questions.
- If you find a suspect, search for photos on his phone or computer, possession of binoculars, etc.
- Teach a class on protection from predators to the community.
- Perform a security check with the victim or a potential victim outlining areas of personal or structural vulnerability.
- Work with stores on your beat to assure dressing rooms are routinely checked for breaches in privacy.
- Check windows and doors from the inside for cracks and holes and, mirrors that provide reflections to private areas of the living space. Make sure blinds and draperies are tightly closed. Remember, a person's eye, binoculars or a camera lens can peer through a very tiny opening.
- Look for places a voyeur can hide. Cut down tall brushes. Consider plants like hawthorns, juniper, rose bushes, cactus.
- Things to consider buying: thick curtains, motion detector systems, window alarms.
- Protect yourself and your family. Be mindful that bathrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, and tanning booths are good places to hide cameras. Often busy places like the mall, fairs, outdoor concerts, festivals, competitions, and other events draw voyeurs because they know it will be easy to get video.
- Be aware of who is around you, your spouse and children.
- Advocate for stricter sentences and penalties related to voyeurism.