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Indeed, a defining feature of child sexual abuse is the offender's perception that the sexual relationship is mutual and acceptable (Groth, 1983).
Child sexual abusers have been difficult to classify as they vary in economic status, gender, marital status, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
(For information on "Adult Sex Offender Recidivism," see chapter 5 in the Adult section.) This section reviews the most frequently used and empirically tested sex offender typologies for child sexual abusers, rapists, female offenders, and Internet sexual offenders.
Finkelhor (1984) provides the most comprehensive definition of child sexual abusechild sexual abuse is the use of force/coercion of a sexual nature either when the victim is younger than age 13 and the age difference between the victim and the perpetrator is at least 5 years, or when the victim is between 13 and 16 and the age difference between the victim and perpetrator is at least 10 years.
Due to the limited scope of this chapter, this review focuses on adult sexual offenders, although some juvenile studies are included, where relevant.With respect to affect, child sexual abusers assault to alleviate anxiety, loneliness, and depression.Rapists typically assault as a result of anger, hostility, and vindictiveness (Polaschek, Ward, & Hudson, 1997).Child sexual abusers are often characterized as exhibiting poor social skills, having feelings of inadequacy or loneliness, or being passive in relationships (Groth, 1979; Marshall, 1993).They differ from rapists with respect to thought processes and affect, and often describe their offending behaviors as uncontrollable, stable, and internal, whereas rapists attribute their offenses to external, unstable, and controllable causes (Garlick, Marshall, & Thorton, 1996).