Understanding How Others Feel

The purpose of this programme is to enable young people to take responsibility for the harm they have caused through their behaviour.

The premise on which this programme is based is that developing empathy for victims inhibits further harmful behaviour and reinforces a commitment to change behaviour.

Protective Resources

Each of these modules is integrated by a common theoretical and practice model. The aim is to enable young people to become more resourceful.

These modules are designed to enable young people to develop resources in their lives which protect them from the risk factors associated with their behaviour and address criminogenic needs which are preventing them from having a safe and happy life.

The Protective Resources model

Relationships which support a pro-social lifestyle.

Expectations by significant adults of the young person’s positive future potential.

Skills to develop relationships, meet expectations and take advantage of opportunities.

Opportunities to meet individual needs and to make a contribution to community life.

Understanding of oneself, one’s behaviour and one’s environment.

Responsibility for choices, action and consequences.

Commitments which enable the young person to live consistently to values and rules.

Evaluation of action and its results so that the young person is continuously learning.

Success in achieving goals creating self confidence and self worth.

The young person needs to relate his or her actions to its consequences for the victims. Victims can include:

  • the person who suffered the loss or injury;
  • those that care for and are affected by that person;
  • those that care for and are affected by the young person (e.g. family);
  • in some cases the general community.

This programme explores all these consequences. To increase effectiveness it is important that the approach is tailored to the specific circumstances of the young person’s behaviour rather than a generalised exploration of victimisation. It may be appropriate to invite someone who has been a victim of a harmful behaviour similar to that which the young person has committed. This person could then describe the effects he or she experienced. This should be done without attacking the young person.

However, the timing of this work needs careful consideration. We know that neglectful and abusive care can have a profound impact on the development of empathy and can contribute to young people not being able to recognise their own or others emotional needs. When considering this area of work it is possible that young people may need to complete all the other areas of the programme first in order that they are more capable of working on the thoughts and feelings of others. To develop empathy requires caring and respecting others. It will be impossible for young people to be able to develop empathy if they lack self respect and are unable to care for or about themselves.

Generally this approach is not as effective with anonymous (car owners) or corporate victims (shoplifting, benefits fraud).

These sessions have been kept simple. For some they may not last very long. The length is less important than the emotional impact (which may not be visible).

The impact of crime on victims

The impact of a crime can vary considerably from very low impact, a nuisance or irritation, to a disabling reaction to trauma. This depends upon:

  • the nature of the event – the severity and duration of the stress;
  • the ability of the individual to cope – type of personality and inner resources, vulnerability and resilience, degree of control over the stress;
  • the support available to the individual when they require it.

Crime can result in material loss (property stolen – its material and emotional value) or in injury (physical and emotional pain). But it can also have more long term effects:

  • Cognitive effects – denial, preoccupation with the incident, flashbacks, inability to concentrate, disorientation, magnification or minimisation of the effects, paranoia, a sense of meaninglessness.
  • Emotional effects – vulnerability, anxiety, fear, depression, bereavement, loss of control, guilt, regret, shame, anger, rage, numbness, loss of confidence and self esteem, helplessness, loss of trust.
  • Behavioural effects – apathy, withdrawal, impulsive actions, aggressiveness, violence, restlessness, lack of sleep, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, loss of appetite, excessive eating, drinking, drug taking.
  • Physical effects – headaches, stomach pain, high blood pressure, exhaustion, hyperactivity, panic attacks.

Some of these reactions can be normal healthy ways of coping and healing as in the grief process – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Zehr describes the core trauma of victimisation as an experience of;

  • Disorder – the previous order of our world can no longer be taken for granted;
  • Disempowerment – our sense of autonomy or personal control seems diminished;
  • Disconnection – our sense of relatedness and belonging have been shaken.
Session 1 - Victim Awareness

To reconstruct an incident in which the young person has harmed someone.

Purpose: You are trying to create a real concrete situation on which you will then base much of the rest of the programme. So it is important that you get as much detail as possible. Consequently ask open questions and avoid challenging at this stage.

Process:

It might help to tell it like a story:

  • What happened just before?
  • What did you do? What part did you play?
  • Who else was involved? What did they do?
  • What happened after?
  • What did you get out of it?
  • How were you caught?
  • What happened after that?
  • Who all were affected by it as well as you?

One way of doing this is through a cartoon. Don’t worry about the quality of the art. Use a “match stick people” approach. Encourage the young person to do the drawing. But if they are reluctant offer to do it yourself. But make sure you check out that you are being accurate.

Using the format below (or by copying it on to a flipchart) cartoon a recent incident with the young person.

Complete the questionnaire below.

how_others_feel-questionnaire

Homework

how_others_feel-cartooning_homework
Session 2 - Making the Victim Seem Real

Purpose: It is important that you and the young person feel as if you are talking about a real person. This increases the impact of the programme.

Process:

Ask the young person to tell you everything he or she knows about the victim. Write what they say on a flipchart. If it seems useful you could draw the person and symbols to represent the information.

It must be descriptive rather than judgemental. No detail is irrelevant. Keep asking “What else do you know about X?” until you are sure that the young person cannot add anything else.

After that ask the young person to imagine things about the victim. i.e. to make things up. Challenge only if it seems farfetched or designed to justify the offence.

Use the checklist below to probe the young person both on what they know and then what they imagine.

Checklist:

These are only suggestions. Think of your own areas to probe. Aim for a fully rounded picture.

Basic details

Name (if you don’t know make it up) age, gender, race, where they work or live, physical details – Height, weight, health, strength, fitness, looks, hair, face, clothes, etc.

Communication – How they talk, accent, tone, volume.

Family, friends, what they do for leisure,

Property, money, what they spend money on.

How they would spend a typical day, what their life is like, what they want to do in future, what they care about.

At the end ask the young person what she or he thinks of the exercise. How does he or she feel about the person? Do not challenge; encourage the young person to feel they are talking about a real person.

Session 3 - To Imagine How The Victim Experienced The Incident

Purpose: You want to repeat the detailed and slow paced process you use in the first session. You want this ‘real person’ to experience the full emotional impact of the event.

Process:

Use the cartoon you have already made. Go through it step by step. E.g. when you were thinking of committing this crime what was the victim doing; what plans did the victim have for the day?

When the young person encounters the victim what does the victim see? What feelings? What thoughts? What did he or she say? Etc.

What were the immediate effects? Examples:

  • loss or damage of property;
  • injury;
  • feelings;
  • how they slept that night;
  • what mess had to be cleared up;
  • insurance claims etc.

What do you think was the hardest thing for the victim?

Ask the young person to reflect on the exercise and tell you their feelings and thoughts.

Ask the young person do they remember a time when he or she was a victim:

  • what happened?
  • How did you feel?
  • What did you need to help you get over it?
  • Did you get what you needed?
Session 4 - To Consider The Longer Term And Wider Harm Caused By The Young Person

Purpose: You are enabling the young person to understand that a harmful action is not an isolated event but can cause lasting and wide damage.

Process:

Start with the victim. What about:

  • Peace of mind? Nightmares?
  • Feeling unsafe?
  • How does that effect what the victim does or goes to?
  • How might it affect health?

What about the victim’s:

  • family
  • friends
  • neighbours

What about the young person’s:

  • family
  • friends (does it encourage them to offend and harm others?)
  • neighbours

What about the community in general? How do people see this sort of behaviour by young people and how does it affect them?

Now ask the young person to reflect on the whole programme:

  • what they think of the behaviour now
  • what harm is she/he responsible for?
  • What does he/she think they should do about it?

Ask them to imagine that you are the victim. If the victim was here now, what would you want to say? What would you be prepared to do to make up for the harm caused?

Reflect back how you think the victim would respond. If the young person is taking responsibility and showing remorse, express the victim’s appreciation, feelings and attitudes. If responsibility and remorse are not being expressed, reflect back what you think a victim would say and help the young person express himself and herself more effectively.

Now ask the young person to make a list of people he or she has hurt or harmed and then ask what they could do to repair the harm. They do not need to do anything. But ask if they would like to commit to doing something (apologise, pay back, repair etc.) Focus particularly on those close to the young person and who could be a resource to him or her. (There is a TV programme called My Name is Earl which illustrates the value and challenges of repairing the harm you do or karma. If you have access to the DVD you could use it as a starting off point for this conversation).

If the young person can write well, you might suggest that they write a letter (which will not be sent) to the victim.

Ask the young person whether the programme has made any difference to him or her. If so what?

Now ask what commitments to action they are prepared to make. These could include:

  • An apology,
  • an act of reparation,
  • voluntary work,
  • commitment to think of people’s feelings before doing something.

Record this commitment:

  • What you will do;
  • When you will do it;
  • What support you will need;
  • When we will review it.

Complete the questionnaire below and and the programme review form at the end of the module.

how_others_feel-questionnaire
Exercises For Young People With Sexually Harmful Behaviour

Victim Awareness

For young people with sexually harmful behaviours

To reduce the likelihood of further sexually harmful behaviours it is important to help young people see the effects of their behaviour on others.

It may have been agreed that Includem can help the young person to increase their understanding of the impact of their behaviours on their victims and develop greater skills in empathy. If so, the following exercises may be helpful.

However, the timing of this work needs careful consideration. We know that neglectful and abusive care can have a profound impact on the development of empathy and can contribute to young people not being able to recognise their own or others emotional needs. When considering this area of work it is possible that young people may need to complete all the other areas of the programme first in order that they are more capable of working on the thoughts and feelings of others. In particular for young people who have been abused, they may need to explore their own victimisation prior to having the psychological space to consider the impact of their behaviour on others. To develop empathy requires caring and respecting others. It will be impossible for young people to be able to develop empathy if they lack self respect and are unable to care for or about themselves.

Remember to ensure that there is an agreement with the referring agency that you work on this area. If the young person is attending a specialist project for their sexual behaviours it is likely that they will be working on this area with the young person.

Session 1

Purpose: To learn how abuse hurts people

Materials: flipchart paper and pens

Process:

In this exercise you are giving the young person very straight forward messages conveying the effects of sexual abuse on others. You are not trying to develop an empathic response from the young person.

Divide the paper into two columns one marked POWERFUL and one marked POWERLESS

Start by asking the young person to describe a scenario involving someone being abused in a non sexual way. This could be bullying in school. If bullying is used, establish the young person’s understanding of bullying. Get them to expand on all the different ways that someone can bully other than just physical violence e.g. silent treatment, intimidation, spreading rumours, ridiculing, stealing their posessions.

Then ask the young person to think about the effect this would have on the powerless person, the victim of the bullying. Write all their responses on the paper in the POWERLESS half. Examples include: too scared to go to school; feeling sick, feeling sad, feeling that he may have done something to deserve it but he doesn’t know what.

Next ask the young person to consider the effect this may have had on the person bullying, the POWERFUL person. Write the responses on the other side of the paper. Examples could be: feeling powerful, feeling strong, getting a tough image.

Now repeat this exercise for sexually harmful behaviours. Read out the scenarios or have them made up as cards and ask the young person to consider the effects on the victims (POWERLESS) and the abuser (POWERFUL)

Scenarios:

  • An adult man exposes himself to a 10 year old girl in a swing park
  • A 16 year old often bribes his 12 year old sister to masturbate him when he is babysitting
  • A 20 year old male pins down his 17 year old girlfriend and forces her to have sex with him
  • A father takes lots of photographs of his 13 year old daughter in nude poses

The young person may find this difficult and struggle to see the abuser as powerful. They may feel that the victims could have got away or stopped the behaviours from happening. To gently challenge these ideas go back to the original non sexual example and work through this. Then go back over the same rationale for the sexual examples. To evidence further give an example of a 14 year old boy sexually abusing a 6 year old girl who knows nothing about sex. Ask how this situation is similar to bullying.

Hopefully you will help the young person will see that there is a clear power relationship in all the scenarios.

Output:

The young person is beginning to understand power in relationships and the effects of misusing that power.

Recap and homework:

Ask the young person to summarise what they have learnt in this session. If they have forgotten significant parts, remind them.

The homework is for them to observe on TV or in real life examples of where one person is hurting another by misusing power and to tell you about this in the next session. Remember to tell the other adults around the young person about their homework and ask them to remind the young person and help them with it if required.

Session 2

Purpose: To help the me think about who was affected by my sexual behaviours

First recap from last session and discuss homework.

Process:

Ask the young person to draw an image of ripples in a pond after a stone has been thrown in, like the one above. Then ask him or her to consider who has been affected by his or her sexual behaviours and to position them on the ripples with the person most affected on the inside and least affected on the outside.

Be aware that the young person may place himself or herself in the centre and may not have the victims on it at all. If this happens ask them to place the victim somewhere on the ripples.

Session 3

Purpose: To think more about my victim

First recap from last session and check how the young person has been

Materials: flipchart and pen

Process:

Make sure you know details about the young person’s sexually harmful behaviours and the victim before attempting this exercise

Draw up a wall with bricks and call it the victim’s wall. Use the correct name of the victim. You may have used the walls with them before when you were working on the OFFENDING AND RISK TAKING BEHAVIOURS.

Explain to the young person that for the behaviours to have happened they would have had to break down this wall to get to the victim. Write in each brick the kinds of things that victims could do or say to prevent behaviours happening,

e.g. SAY NO; RUN AWAY; THREATEN TO TELL; CRY OR SCREAM; PUSH YOU AWAY

Now talk to the young person about how he or she was able to ignore and push out each of these bricks.

In doing so help the young person consider the following:

  • The age and size of their victim in comparison to them
  • Their relationship and power issues
  • Issues to do with consent and being able to give informed consent
  • Where and when it happened
  • Manipulation techniques the young person used
  • Force involved
  • and any other factors

You can go back to the POWERFUL and POWERLESS exercise to help them do this exercise.

Example:

Wall with bricks

After completing this exercise revisit the ripple exercise and ask the young person if there is anything else he or she would like to add to how the behaviours affected their victim. There may be things that you can think of that should be added. Ask the young person if you can add these, giving your reasons and see if they also now agree. For example, where a young person has used play to manipulate their victim, you might want to add something like this – “I think Jane would have been very mixed up because sometimes you were such fun to be with.”

Output:

The young person is understanding and taking responsibility for the processes involved in their behaviour. They are beginning to understand the power dynamics of that relationship

Recap:

Ask the young person to summarise what they have learned in this session. If they have forgotten significant parts, remind them. Make sure they are not left feeling overwhelmed. Let the adults around them know that they have been thinking about their behaviours and they may therefore need additional support and supervision.

Session 4

Purpose: To think about the needs of my victim

First recap from last session and check how the young person has been.

Materials: paper, pen and flipchart paper

Process:

Summarise what the young person has learned over the last three sessions about them, their behaviours and their victim.

Now ask the young person to imagine that they are the victim with all the thoughts and feeling you have discussed. Ask the young person what they imagine their victim may need to help them move on in their lives.

Write on the flipchart the kinds of things the young person thinks their victim would like to hear from them to help them recover from their experience.

This might include:

  • what happened
  • why it happened
  • how it happened
  • whose fault it is
  • concern for the victim
  • how the young person now feels about the behaviour

Now ask the young person to write a letter to their victim that will not be sent. Tell them this is an exercise to see if they have fully understood the impact of their behaviour on their victim. Let them know that it may take more than one session to do this but that’s okay.

The letter should be a personal one.

Resist challenging or guiding the young person and come back to the letter after a week. After this break from it you can ask the young person what they make of it, and if they think it is sincere enough and caring.

They can then go over it again making any changes to it, or if they want, they can completely re do it. Keep working on this until the letter feels right and the young person is:

  • Taking responsibility for the behaviour
  • Understanding the impact
  • Saying they are sorry and showing remorse
  • Showing concern and caring

You need to be aware that the young person may have been abused themselves. If this is known and the young person has talked about it then they may be asked to consider what would have helped them. Don’t use this to detract from their victim but instead find the right balance.

Make sure you give them a lot of praise for their efforts in this session. Pull out positive qualities. For example, if you can, say things like “ it really feels like you are sorry for what you did to Jane” “ what does that say about you?” Here, you are trying to highlight things like – caring,compassionate.

Output:

The young person has gained insight into the effects of their behaviours on other and in particular their victim and that this insight and understanding will help them to resist behaving in this way again.

Recap:

Ask the young person to summarise what they have learned in this session. If they have forgotten significant parts, remind them. Make sure they are not left feeling overwhelmed. Let the adults around them know that they have been thinking about their behaviours and their victim. It is possible that they may also be remembering things that happened to them and they may need additional support and supervision.

Complete the questionnaire and the evaluation forms.

how_others_feel-questionnaire
End Of Module Evaluation
how_others_feel-evaluation

Structured Coaching Conversation

Structured coaching conversations are designed:

  • To reinforce the commitments the young person has made;
  • To enable the young person to develop self respect;
  • To enable the young person to learn from experience;
  • To support the young person to achieve goals.

When the young person keeps commitments:

Use questions

  • What happened?
  • What result did you get?
  • How did it feel?
  • What did it take for you to get that result?
  • How do you feel about yourself now?

Give feedback as specific as possible relating to the commitments the young person has made to change attitudes and behaviours. Express your respect.

Ask what the young person has learnt from the experience.

Ask the young person in what other situations he/she could use this attitude or behaviour.

Encourage the young person to use the attitude or behaviour again soon. Try to identify a specific situation which is likely to happen or can be planned in the near future.

Record with the young person what he or she ‘got’ from the Experience in

the appropriate ‘Doing it’ form.

Guide the young person in filling in the ‘Success!’ form

When commitments are not kept:

Use questions

  • What happened?
  • What result did you get?
  • How did you feel?
  • What caused the result?
  • How do you feel now?

If the young person reverts to attitudes and behaviours they committed to change, gently point this out. Connect these to the result.

Explore how this may be an example of what is going wrong in his/her life. Identify other situations where this attitude or behaviour has not worked.

Imagine how the situation would have turned out if he/she had employed the attitude or behaviours to which he or she had committed.

Ask what the young person has learnt from the experience.

Encourage the young person to use the positive attitude or behaviour again soon. Try to identify a specific situation which is likely to happen or can be planned in the near future.

Record with the young person what he or she ‘got’ from the experience in

the appropriate ‘Doing it’ form.

Guide the young person in filling in the ‘Success!’ form

global-success_form
Resources
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