Desistance from Sexual Offending: Do the Mainstream Theories Apply?

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The literature on desistance from crime has become well established in recent years with strong bodies of evidence supporting the role of factors such as employment, relationships and identity change in this process. However, the relevance of this literature to individuals convicted of sexual crimes is not known as such individuals are almost always excluded from this research. This article presents the results from one of the first empirical studies on desistance from sexual offending based on 32 in-depth life story interviews with adult males previously convicted of child sex offences. In this analysis we explore the significance of work, the role of relationships, and changes in imagined selves in the self-identities of individuals successfully desisting from sexual offending. The findings provide support for all three factors in helping to sustain desistance from sex offending, but also suggest clear differences between desistance from sex offending and other types of crime in these regards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-283
JournalCriminology and Criminal Justice
Issue number3
Early online date27 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

I was the lead author on this publication and contributed 75% of the work on this publication.


  • Sex offending
  • desistance
  • employment
  • Relationships
  • reintegrative shaming
  • future self-identity


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