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Date of Award

12-5-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Michelle R. Guyton, PhD

Second Advisor

Lisa Christiansen, PsyD

Abstract

Research findings suggest that sexual abuse of children by women can have long term negative implications for the victims, and that such abuse may be more common than previously thought. To date, there is little in the literature that addresses the characteristics of female sexual offenders, and even less has been written about how to provide effective treatment that is specific to the needs of women. The goal of this paper will be to contribute to the existing body of knowledge. A matched sample of male and female sex offenders were compared in a variety of domains. These domains included history of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and domestic violence. The groups were also compared in terms of their interpersonal functioning, cognitive distortions related to sexual offending, substance abuse, and personality characteristics. Findings suggested that men and women significantly differed in the rates at which they experienced sexual abuse, but not physical abuse or domestic violence. Men were found to demonstrate a significantly higher degree of antisocial features and behaviors, while women were found to be significantly more domineering in their interpersonal relationships. There were no other statistically significant findings. This suggests that male and female offenders may not be as different as initially thought, although more extensive investigation is warranted.

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