child sexual abuse is generally perpetrated by men

Research indicates that child sexual abuse is mainly perpetrated by men. Neither can we assume that sexual abuse in lone parent families is committed by mothers. Children may be more at risk from visiting males in such family structures. Nevertheless, apart from rape, we now believe that female sexual abuse of children is higher than reported, although research into this is in its infancy. The rate of reporting of female perpetrators is low. Research by the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. holds that females are responsible for 3% of rape, 5% of other violent sex offenses, and 19% of non-violent sex offences. At any one time about 140,000 men and 1,500 women are in prison for sexual offences in the U.S.
The minority abused by mothers experience a greater loss of trust and enormous betrayal. They experience shame, guilt and self-loathing. Sometime it takes victims of female perpetrators years to realise that they have been sexually abused. This is partly because of traditional nonchalant attitudes towards male victims of female abusers, and partly because much of the abuse is cunning, and masks the abuse.
But, the impact of sexual abuse on children, irrespective of the gender of the perpetrator, is enormous. Jim Hopper, however, cautions that children suffer ill effects from many non-sexual sources, and when evaluating the effects of sexual abuse on them, advises that all experiences should be considered. In relation to sexual abuse, he makes the point that the age of the child is important, and the younger the child the more damaging the effects of the abuse are. He also argues that the abuse has greater effects when parents, or people trusted by the child, are the abusers. When the child’s disclosure is not believed, the negative impact of the abuse is increased. If the child has been subjected to humiliation and ridicule, this, too, increases the impact. Some sexual abusers use other depraved behaviours after a rape, to humiliate the child. This is a sign of entitlement and power.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

Posted in abuse, Child Abuse