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The Effect of Sexual Abuse and Trauma on a Sexual Offender

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The term sexual assault refers to a variety of acts that are sexual in nature, this may range from rape, sodomy, penetration with an object and various other forms of forced activities including an attempt to force a person into some form of sexual activity (ABS, 1996). Child sex offenders, in that case, are those who sexually assault children under the age of consent, being sixteen (16). What builds a sexual offender has been a topic of discussion for several years, scientists and victims alike have countlessly applied several different theories to try and explain why those particular people offend and furthermore what drives them to an illegal level of sexual deviancy. The Social Learning Theory provides three of the most compelling reasons as to why a perpetrator is convinced to act so heinously, this includes physical and emotional neglect within their development years, access to graphic material including pornography and child pornography as well as the offenders themselves being victims of trauma including sexual abuse or familial violence (Faupel, S., Przylbylski, R., & M.S.W, 2016). The social learning theory suggests that a criminal or person alike are more compelled to commit crimes dependant on whom they integrate with and the set of values, beliefs, and skills they may acquire whilst integrating with such people, within this essay it will be discussed how sexual abuse, pornography and childhood violence can create a sexual offender.


Child sexual offenders can be categorised as one of the most influential types of sexual offenders, as their actions no matter what age their victim may have a direct impact on the child and their developmental phase within their early stages of life. Such an action may alter the victim’s thought process of what sexual attraction is, the act of sex, a lack of control, and a wide range of physical and mental amendments (Faupel, S., Przylbylski, R., & M.S.W, 2016). In the case that a child is to internalize their sexual assault and doesn’t report it or in some circumstances is under the impression that they can’t report the crime can internalize thoughts and eventually adopt a distorted belief that what had occurred may be normal, or in fact right, especially when the perpetrator is a family member, thoughts may include “he loves me, so he mustn’t be trying to hurt me” (Burton, Miller and Schill, 2002). Such a belief system can form a child’s new perception of sexual intercourse and can eventually sculpt a new sexual offender as evidence suggests that a large number of sex offenders have in fact been victims of sexual assaults, specifically coming from a family member, substantially more so than those whom may commit crimes including assault, battery, and murder (Johnson, Reid and Way, 2001). In other circumstances offenders once released from prison are more likely to repeat such an offence if they were in fact subjected to further sexual abuse within prison, between the years 2013-2017 of 263 offenders within Wales and England 23% of those released had reoffended, furthermore of that 23% more then half of those 73% were in fact victims of either sodomy or other forms of sexual assault within prison (Full Fact, 2019). It appears a common theme exists within child sexual offenders and reoffending rapists, the loss of control is a strong variable in a man trying to retrieve such control back, this control may sadly be gained through the gratification of harming and having sexual advances with the child victim.

Exposure to Pornography and Child Pornography and Its Subconscious Impact

Throughout the year’s pornographic images and videos have sparked massive controversy in creating a strange and distorted view on sexual activities and those who partake within it, especially those who are recently awakening their sexuality. Pornography for many can be seen as an outlet for sexual frustrations or other personal reasons, however, people who watch more dominating and violent pornographic images are more compelled to act out such acts within their daily lives. As pornography is so widely available any form of it can be deemed socially acceptable, even the most heinous and demoralising are easy to access causing mass hysteria as to what is socially acceptable within the bedroom. Recent evidence suggests that access to both violent and degrading pornography has shown to decrease the amount of sympathy and empathy a man may feel and his comparison towards the victim, (Lahey, 1991). Furthermore, evidence suggest that a repeat of visitation to such sites may cause an increase of hate and hostility towards women and an increased desire to harm a women whilst sexually interacting with them, the fact that such women within these videos may be “enjoying” what may be occurring creates a false sense of reality that if acted out, in reality, may be amusing to both themselves and their partner(Check and Guloien, 1989). Other forms of pornography including bestiality, and child pornography through technology have been made wildly available and created a grey zone as to what may be socially acceptable or not. Child sex offenders are most likely to have learned sexual aggression whilst watching child pornography as it displays the unusual act of having sexual intercourse or exchanging sexual favours with children or what can be considered technology that makes women look like children. Although not much evidence can be provided for such usage as it is deemed illegal it has been reported that child sex offenders had increased the number of times they had viewed sexually explicit content before abusing children, (Seto, Cantor, and Blanchard, 2006). Through the widespread availability to sexual arousing content it can be seen that the empathy, sympathy, and compassion shown towards women and child victims had decreased significantly as those within the adult film industry are made to depict as if they’re enjoying whatever may be occurring creating a false reality as to what may be correct and sensible.

Emotional and Physical Neglect and How an Offender Tries to Fill the Void

It can be assumed when discussing child molesters and child sex offenders that they lack normal human characteristics including empathy, sympathy, and compassion. In order to harm a child, a sense of self can also be a question, whether or not you care if you’re caught or if you’re more comfortable abusing a child as they may best reflect a child sex offenders’ sexual preferences and intimacy issues. As previously discussed, a sex offender who has experienced any form of sexual assault may lead to an increase in self-loathing and a distorted vision of what sex or love may be. According to Professor Marshals’ studies it can be seen men whom sexually abuse children often lack the ability to behave in ways in which another man his age may act, through violence within an offenders childhood it may decrease their social development skills as well as their confidence to seek an intimate relationship with fellow older peoples, (Marshall, 1989). Through childhood trauma, an offender may be drawn to sexually abusing children as it not only may be the only outlet they may consider appropriate but it may only be the most sufficient way in passing on such trauma to another person. Within a recent study juvenile sex offenders ranging from the ages 10-18 where more likely in having lower levels of attachments to their fathers or other paternal guardians, (Knox, 2014). Through the lack of mans relationship with his father, he may feel a heightened sense of instability and worthlessness, causing higher risk behaviour including, battery, assault, and sexual assault, in some circumstances such actions may occur as an attempt to gain attention and some form of comforting from a parental figure. Most child sex offenders have been found to either experiences one or a combination of the following physical or emotional neglect including child victimization, neglect, physical maltreatment, and emotional abuse, such traumatic experiences may morph a child’s mind into a mind of fear, violence, and revenge, (Boswell, 1996). A child who is found to internalize such acts of un-kindness are more likely to both normalise and accept that this behaviour is both natural and normal, causing a child to become a man, to become a child sex offender.


Within this essay I have provided three clear reasons as to why child sex offenders act out in the extent that they do. Through self-loathing and internalizing unnatural behaviour caused by being sexually assaulted themselves, being abused and assaulted by family and having access to unnatural pornographic material including childhood pornography it can be evident to see why a child may grow into a child sex offender. Countless studies have identified that through unnatural circumstances unnatural behaviour may occur as such circumstances disallow for both intervention and reconciliation, through the excessive use of pornography and childhood pornography a man may be compelled to harm both a women and a child in attempts to both satisfy his needs and the proposed needs of his selected victim. Through the circumstances of being both sexually abused and assaulted within an offenders development stage his or her reaction may be to internalise such behaviour causing a natural instinct that this is both natural and correct, causing a distorted vision of the reality of sexual intercourse. Due to maltreatment both physically and emotionally the mind may also compensate by creating a false sense of reality, where crime is normalized and is in fact sought to prevent further pain and suffering. The social learning theory describes that a child sex offender is most likely to have learnt his behaviour through those they have integrated with and communicated with, through this theory it can be proved that a sexual offender is built on the basis of both his circumstances and reaction to these circumstances. There exists a sound amount of evidence within this essay that sexual offending is, in fact, a learnt behaviour, which may be preventable if intercepted or discussed prior to the offender acting unjustly toward an unsuspecting and innocent minor.   

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The Effect Of Sexual Abuse And Trauma On A Sexual Offender. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 28, 2022, from
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