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Childhood Abuse and Sexual Offending: Are Victim Issues Important?

5 December 2008


High rates of childhood abuse among males accused of sexual offenses have been noted, although the nature of the differences between males who report childhood histories of abuse and those that do not report such histories is unclear. The relationship between childhood abuse history and type of sexual offense to adult functioning in four areas was examined: intimacy deficits, attitudes tolerant of sexual offending, emotional selfregulation deficits, and sexual self-regulation deficits. A retrospective study was conducted with a sample of 146 males accused or convicted of a sexual offense that were referred for treatment or psychosexual evaluations to an outpatient treatment program. The subjects were predominately accused or convicted of offense against a child (n = 137). The Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory, Bumby Molest Scale, Bumby Rape Scale, and the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems were utilized in the current study. Data from psychosocial history forms and full disclosure polygraph results were also included. Results indicate that a history of childhood sexual or physical abuse is not a sufficient single factor to distinguish subsets of offenders, but some differences between abused versus non-abused offenders were noted. Those with histories of sexual abuse reported being more socially inhibited and nonassertive in their relationships as well as endorsing more attitudes tolerant of child molestation than those without such histories. Those with a childhood history of physical abuse were more likely to characterize themselves as interpersonally domineering and socially inhibited than those without such histories. Implications are discussed.


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