The Impact of Child Sexual Abuse on Male and Female Victims: When Does a Victim Become an Offender?

Stream: Poster session
Date: Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Time: 11.45 am – 12.45 pm

Abstract

Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a widespread social issue that can have detrimental effects on victims. A significant body of research suggests that there is a link between experiencing CSA and becoming a child sex offender in adulthood. Numerous studies have attempted to explain this assumed ‘cycle’ of CSA by describing a developmental path towards offending based on risk and protective factors within victims’ lives. However, treating CSA as a single predictive risk factor for future offending obscures the different situational characteristics of the lived experience of CSA and implies that CSA is a non-gendered experience. Specifically, it ignores the different experiences of boys and girls, which lead mostly male victims to become abusers of mostly female victims. This paper proposes that the lived experience of CSA itself may involve risk and protective factors that affect the development of sexually abusive behaviours in adulthood. Accordingly, this paper will examine how the lived experience of CSA differs for boys and girls such that boys are more likely to sexually abuse children in adulthood, despite girls being victimised at higher rates than males. In doing so it addresses oversights and inconsistencies in the literature to contribute to the theoretical understandings of whether a cycle from victim to abuser exists and, if so, why it only appears to exist among men.

Author

Malory Plummer (Presenter), UNSW
Malory Plummer is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Law at UNSW. She has undergraduate degrees in Science (Psychology) and Social Science (Criminology), and a Masters of Criminal Justice and Criminology. Her research interests focus on criminal justice, gender and sexual offences.