Monday, November 3, 2008

Child Sexual Abuse


There are many different kinds of abusers, and it’s not clear why people molest children. What’s been found in recent research is an overwhelming majority of people guilty of child molesting, were molested themselves. We used to think this statistic was much smaller, but with more detailed research, we’ve discovered this statistic to be very high. Statistics involving men in New Jersey prisons convicted of sexual abuse, found that over 95% of the men, were in fact abused themselves. And we don’t know, but it could be that the 5% of non-abused men in that case don’t remember being abused as children; they may have amnesia or a traumatic dissociation.. Some abuse may be the attempt to relive one’s own abuse, with power roles reversed. Another reason may be these people have learned that abuse is a way of feeling in control. Fundamentally, in all cases of abuse, it certainly is about power and control.

Some abusers don’t relate well to people of their own age group. They relate much better to children, and as a result, pick children to abuse. Abusers often project attributes or qualities onto the children they abuse. These attributes are false, and are just in the mind of the abuser. A perpetrator may create false beliefs about a child’s wishes, desires, and likes, or try to bring the child up to their peer level (imagining a sexual attraction or relationship with them). They may believe the child wants them to do the sexual acts. We often hear ridiculous statements from abusers such as, "he/she was a seductive child"; which is complete nonsense. It’s a complex and still unclear set of issues that drives childhood sexual abuse. However, it is up to adults to control their own behaviors.


Did you know that the majority of molested children are perpetrated by family members, close relatives or people who have close proximity to them.

It depends on who the child molester is. Most of these people are called incest perpetrators because they’re family members to the children.

What’s been found for these individuals who get reported (incest perpetrators), is that they are likely to have more than one victim, and usually only abuse within their family.

As a result, it’s hard to measure whether they would abuse again, at later times, with other children. They’re not considered what is clinically called a pedophile.

Pedophiles are a different class of child molesters, and are considered sexual addicts. In spite of their best interests, a pedophile will abuse children as long as there is opportunity.

There are pedophiles who must drive different routes home just to avoid the temptation of children they might otherwise encounter.

The type of child molester most resistant to treatment is called a fixed pedophile. These people primarily abuse children of their own gender, and across family lines (which is not the majority of sex abusers).

We don’t have a good record of stopping fixed pedophile from abusing again. In general, this is not the case with incest perpetrators. Most people who abuse will probably be able to stop if they are held accountable, punished appropriately, and also given the proper kind of therapeutic treatment.


It’s not a good idea to try and identify child molesters. Molesters consist of so many different kinds of people, with different kinds of personalities, and both genders. Sometimes people who seem totally normal or typical on the surface turn out to be an abuser. Once in a while an abuser is the classic loner, who doesn’t seem to socialize well, and so on, but that’s really not most abusers. Abusers are mostly people who otherwise seem quite normal. So rather than trying to identify abusers, what’s more important is identifying if there is some kind of abuse going on.


The most commonly reported perpetrators are fathers and stepfathers. Brothers, sisters, mothers, baby-sitters, and uncles, are also among the most common abusers. Who abuses is an important piece in the question, "why do people abuse?" We don’t necessarily know why, but we do know most abusers were abused themselves. With incest perpetration being a family based sexual abuse, it can repeat itself from family member to family member, generation before generation, and those thereafter. But despite this, we know from statistics that overwhelmingly, most children who have been abused, don’t go on to abuse others.


Ninety percent of sexual abuse victims never tell.
Susan Forward, Ph.D., 1989.Innocence and Betrayal Overcoming the Legacy of Sexual Abuse.

Statistics only come from reporting, so we don’t have accurate, objective numbers. But based on the reports we have, it’s believed that 1 in 3 girls is sexually abused, and a general consensus of 1 in 5 to 1 in 7 boys is sexually abused.


Use this US Nationwide hotline RAINN National Rape Crisis Hotline: 800-656-4673.

If you suspect or know a child is being abused, sexually or physically, you should call Childhelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD; 24 Hours a Day.

Or call the National Domestic Violence/Abuse Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE / 1-800-799-7233 / 1-800-787-3224 TDD.

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