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Courtesy Stigma: Examining the Collateral Consequences of Sexual Offenses and Subsequent Policy on Partners of Sexual Offenders
AuthorRussell, Kristan N
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Registrants on public sex offense registries experience significant stigma and subsequent negative consequences. Their partners may experience similar stigma and repercussions as a result of their association with a registrant, which is known as courtesy stigma. This dissertation study extends current theoretical and conceptual understanding of the impact of stigma on partners of registrants by examining a comprehensive model of courtesy stigma on various well-being, mental health, and relationship outcomes. Using a sample of 297 respondents from 40 different U.S. states, results from this study suggest that increased courtesy stigma is related to reduced well-being, self-esteem, and relationship quality, as well as increased levels of anxiety, stress, depression, and social isolation. Results also suggest that social support, sense of coherence, and disclosure moderate the relationship between courtesy stigma and various outcomes. Open-ended responses from this dissertation further elucidated the negative consequences experienced by partners of registrants and provided them an opportunity to describe what they perceived as being important for policymakers to consider in future policy development and reform efforts. The results of this study lend implications for future empirical and theoretical understanding of the impact of stigma on those associated with registrants, considerations for further model testing, and application of findings for policy reform and resource development.