Who Commits Sexual Abuse and Why?

This post is a part of our guide series to support anyone who may have been sexually abused or has questions around the topic:

What is Sexual Abuse? Definitions & Meanings
Who Commits Sexual Abuse & Why?
What are Signs & Symptoms of Sexual Abuse?
Handling & Dealing with Sexual Abuse
How to Heal and Recover from Sexual Abuse
What Impact Does Sexual Abuse Have on Victims, Families & Friends?
How to Report Sexual Abuse (and Who to Report it to)
How is Sexual Abuse Proven in Court?
Punishment & Sentencing for Sexual Abuse
How can Sexual Abuse be Prevented?
Sexual Abuse Data & Statistics
Sexual Abuse Helplines, Support & Further Reading

Sexual abuse can be carried out by anyone and the victim can be anyone, it can happen regardless of gender, age, sexuality, race or any other factor.

It can be difficult to understand the motives of people who are abusive, please note that abuse is wrong in any circumstance and that this article does not in any way intend to justify or rationalise abuse. Rather it intends to look into questions which arise when individuals come across these type of situations, probably more relevant for victims as part of their healing process.

So who are the abusers and why do they abuse? We will look at the answers to these questions and more in this guide.

Why does Sexual Abuse happen and what causes it?

This can be a very difficult question to answer, even the strongest attempt to try and research why sexual abuse happens could not provide you with a complete understanding on why perpetrators choose to abuse and what causes it.  However all sexual behaviour is a matter of choice and people who sexually abuse choose to abuse. The only exception would be if the abuser had mental a disorder and did not understand the implications of their behaviour.

Why do people sexually abuse children?

When someone decides to abuse a child, there are a range of factors that likely to play a part;

  • Desiressexual enjoyment or other motives including wanting to control someone and feel powerful. Children are often targeted because they are more vulnerable than adults.
  • Delusions- the abuser is convinced that what they are doing is ok
  • Psychological issues- difficulties feeling for other people or understanding social rules
  • Life experiences- some abusers act out the same behaviour because it was done to them, almost a subconscious effort to resolve their own abuse
  • Opportunity- Most abusers will not be able to abuse a child if they couldn’t find a way to be alone with them.

This list is indicative rather than fully comprehensive and there will be many other reasons why abusers commit abuse. However this does not mean the abuser’s behaviour is justified but instead helps to give a better understanding on the type of factors that may influence the abusers behaviour.

Is there a type of person or personality more likely to commit sexually abuse?

Unfortunately anyone can become an abuser and it is a choice that an individual makes, normally the abusers are known to the victim.  We can try to look for factors that may contribute to this choice but it’s only fair that abusers are held accountable for their actions. Whilst childhood abuse, trauma or other events could severely impact an individual’s behaviour into adulthood, it doesn’t change the fact that they had a choice, a choice not to cause harm or suffering to another person. The only exception would be if the abuser had a mental disorder in which they failed to understand the implications of their behaviour.

We understand how difficult it is to see someone you know or love experiencing abuse, sometimes trying to help a victim is not easy. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and the first step that you should take is to talk to someone. No one should have to deal with abuse alone.

Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.

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