By Brenda . . . We were excited to see our own evaluation and expectations of our Fearless support group project confirmed in a genuine academic study! Authors Lisa L. Sample, Brooke N. Cooley, and Tusty ten Bensel recently published “Beyond Circles of Support: ‘Fearless’ — An Open Peer-to-Peer Mutual Support Group for Sex Offense Registrants and Their Family Members” in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.
They found that Fearless participants have a strong need for a group like this that offers community and a sense of family to people who so often feel marginalized and alone. This is equally true whether the person is a registrant or a supportive loved one — and unlike many support groups, Fearless allows BOTH to participate. The authors also spoke highly of the sense of safety and security experienced by participants since no “officials” such as mental health, probation, or other mandated reporters are allowed to participate. Outcomes included improved sense of self-worth, better family communications, and (yes) some increased levels of advocacy.
All our Fearless groups follow exactly the same model as the Nebraska “Fearless” group that was tracked for two years in this study. Indeed, one of our mentors is the original facilitator! And the Nebraska Fearless model was built on the solid foundation created by our own Mary Sue Molnar of Texas Voices for Reason and Justice, whose several groups have been going strong now for many years.