Sexual abuse history among adult sex offenders and non-sex offenders: A meta-analysis

Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
Child abuse & neglect (Impact Factor: 2.34). 04/2009; 33(3):179-92. DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2008.07.004
Source: PubMed


The sexually abused-sexual abuser hypothesis states there is a specific relationship between sexual abuse history and sexual offending, such that individuals who experience sexual abuse are significantly more likely to later engage in sexual offenses. Therefore, samples of adult sex offenders should contain a disproportionate number of individuals who have experienced sexual abuse, but not necessarily other types of abuse, compared with samples of other types of offenders.
We compared rates of sexual and other forms of abuse reported in 17 studies, involving 1,037 sex offenders and 1,762 non-sex offenders. We also examined the prevalence of different forms of abuse in 15 studies that compared adult sex offenders against adults (n=962) and against children (n=1,334), to determine if the sexually abused-sexual abuser association is even more specific to individuals who sexually offend against children.
We observed a higher prevalence of sexual abuse history among adult sex offenders than among non-sex offenders (Odds Ratio=3.36, 95% confidence intervals of 2.23-4.82). The two groups did not significantly differ with regard to physical abuse history (OR=1.50, 95% CI=0.88-2.56). There was a significantly lower prevalence of sexual abuse history among sex offenders against adults compared to sex offenders against children (OR=0.51, 95% CI=0.35-0.74), whereas the opposite was found for physical abuse (OR=1.43, 95% CI=1.02-2.02).
There is support for the sexually abused-sexual abuser hypothesis, in that sex offenders are more likely to have been sexually abused than non-sex offenders, but not more likely to have been physically abused. We discuss potential mechanisms for the relationship between sexual abuse history and sexual offending, including the possibility that a third factor might account for the relationship.
The most obvious implications of these findings is that the prevention of sexual abuse of children, either through prevention programs directly targeting children or through treatment programs targeting individuals who are likely to sexually offend against children (e.g., known sex offenders against extra-familial boys), may eventually reduce the number of sex offenders. This implication is dependent, however, on a causal role of childhood sexual abuse, and on the effectiveness of prevention and treatment practices.

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    • "Moreover,Cutajar et al. (2010)found that adult sexual offenders who were sexually abused by more than one offender were more likely to have mental health contact or be diagnosed with serious and persistent mental illness, anxiety, alcohol abuse, or a personality disorder. Accordingly, the experience of CSA is both a correlate of specific aspects of sexual offending and denotes an increased risk for the development of mental health problems (Jespersen et al., 2009;Seto & Lalumière, 2010;Worling, 1995a). Thus, early sexual victimization may be understood as a risk factor for the development of mental health concerns and a specific diathesis to potentiate a basis for victim selection algorithms (Burk & Burkhart, 2003;Craissati et al., 2002;Worling, 1995a). "
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    ABSTRACT: Most studies on the mental health consequences of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) focus predominantly on CSA survivors who do not commit sexual offenses. The current study examined the effects of CSA on 498 male adolescents adjudicated for sexual offenses who represent the small portion of CSA survivors who engage in sexual offenses. The prevalence of internalizing symptoms, parental attachment difficulties, specific sexual offending behaviors, and risk for sexually offending were compared among participants with and without a history of CSA. Results indicated that participants with a history of CSA were more likely to be diagnosed with major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder than those who did not report a history of CSA. A history of CSA was also positively correlated with risk for sexually offending and with specific offense patterns and consensual sexual behaviors. No significant differences emerged on parental attachment difficulties. These results highlight that adolescents adjudicated for sexual offenses with a history of CSA present with differences in sexual and psychological functioning as well as markedly different offending patterns when compared with those without a CSA history. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.
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    • "Separately, in a study analyzing the Philadelphia Birth Cohort data (N = 564), Wolfgang and Singer (1978) estimated that 42% of those with criminal records reported robbery victimization. Beyond these interpersonal and property crimes, research has explored the victim-offender overlap across a range of offenses, such as sex offending (Jespersen, Lalumière, & Seto, 2009), property offending (Daday, Broidy, Crandall, & Sklar, 2005), gang violence (Katz, Webb, Fox, & Shaffer, 2011), juvenile delinquency (Lauritsen & Laub, 2007;Posick, 2013;Turanovic & Pratt, 2013), bullying (Unnever, 2005), dating and intimate partner violence (Gover, Kaukinen, & Fox, 2008;Tillyer & Wright, 2014), stalking (Nobles, Fox, Piquero, & Piquero, 2009), and white-collar crime (Holtfreter, Reisig, Piquero, & Piquero, 2010). Clearly, the overlap between victims and criminals, as Pyrooz and colleagues (2014, p. 316) have recently contended, " is on the short list of criminological 'facts.' " Despite this robust finding, a so far unaddressed dimension of the victim-offender overlap literature involves the extent to which the victimas-perpetrator perception exists in the public mind and influences causal attributions for victimization. "
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    • "child sexual abuse have been victims of sexual abuse in childhood (e.g., Burton, 2003; Jespersen, Lalumière, & Seto, 2009; Salter et al., 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: This article aims to provide more insight into pedophilic attraction and risk and protective factors for offending in non-clinical pedophiles. Fifteen participants were interviewed about sexuality, coping, and sexual self-regulation. Many participants struggled with acknowledging pedophilic interest in early puberty and experienced psychological difficulties as a result. Furthermore, many committed sex offenses during adolescence, while still discovering their feelings. Early recognition of risk factors and early start of interventions seems vital in preventing offending. Moreover, results suggest that risk for offending can be diminished by creating more openness about pedophilia and by providing pedophiles with social support and control.
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