Mike Greenwood

Abusive relationships occur in a secret world. Health care professionals tend to be let into this world only through the eyes of the victim. This talk aims to help us to understand the victim's experience by examining the secret lives of perpetrators of abuse.


'As a culture, we like trauma that titillates. We have built an entertainment industry around the joys of dread. Books and movies tweak our feelings of vulnerability and then reassure us with happy endings. We are -- the happy endings tell us -- actually invulnerable.

Which means that we cannot tolerate complainers. When actual survivors of the kinds of horror stories we love to hate insist on speaking their unspeakable truths -- truths like, "I am forever changed, diminished"; "I did not deserve this" -- we desperately try to tune them out. We silently accuse tale tellers of refusing to heal or of exaggerating for effect. We decide that trauma was somehow earned.

Trauma stories are inherently unbelievable. We listeners bring to the listening a desperate hope that what we are about to hear didn't really happen. The tellers often remain too awash in the emotional aftershocks of trauma to tell a convincing tale.'


Child abuse is not an easy subject to deal with. My own introduction came through working in a medium secure unit for mentally abnormal offenders. We started to get a large number of convicted sex offenders sent to the unit as there was really nowhere else for them to go. The facilities for treating sex offenders are very few and far between, and the places that do exist are not always very good, though things are improving. At that time, about 8 years ago, the only place that really dealt with sex offenders was the Gracewell Clinic in Birmingham, so I was sent there for a short training programme, and then spent four years working almost exclusively with convicted sex offenders running a very intensive therapy programme.

It is only recently, four years after I stopped working with offenders, that I begin to recognise the effect that it has had on my life. I shy away from physical contact with other peoples children, I observe my daughter and her friends for any of the tell tale signs, sometimes I see familiar faces in the street. They avoid eye contact with me. I know too much about their inner secrets.

I now manage an eight bedded community support bed unit in Snowdonia. Many of our clients are victims of sexual abuse in childhood. I have found my experience of offenders to be useful in understanding why victims behave in the way that they do, and by sharing my experiences with them I try to help them to understand their own behaviour and feelings.

In this essay I intend to look at how the process of abuse comes to take place, and what we can learn from this to help us understand the victims.

I wish to make it clear that in trying to explain why and how perpetrators do what they do, I in no way wish to condone or excuse their actions.

I do not profess to be an expert on perpetrators of sexual abuse, and what I do know is mainly from practical experience.

The usual ideas we all have of a sex offender is of someone who looks a bit odd, is a bit creepy or inadequate. To find out what kind of people they really are, it is instructive to look at child pornography rings that are exposed by police investigation. These rings, or information exchanges, not only pass pornography between their members, but also information about children, including names and addresses of victims. They will sell victims to one another. The occupations of the members of these rings makes horrific reading. They are often members of the clergy, teachers, scout masters, adoptive parents, child support workers or working in children's homes, in other words they work in areas where they are trusted with our children, and are usually considered upstanding members of the community.

For example, a retired army officer gave his name and address to a public school which sent their pupils out to visit old people in the community. He was a paedophile and the school obligingly sent young boys to his home to keep him company. (Wyre)

In another case a boy was removed from his home by social services because of his disturbed behaviour. He was fostered by the local vicar. It eventually transpired that it had been the vicar who had sexually abused him in the first place, causing his disturbed behaviour. (Wyre) Church authorities do not usually take action against members of the clergy who are exposed as child sex abusers, they are usually moved to another area where they are not known, so they can start all over again. This has also been the case with teachers on some occasions.

In a survey carried out by Dr Celia Kitzinger into school children's idea of fairness, she was surprised when out of 2000 respondents, 100 children reported that they considered the sexual advances made to them by their teachers were unfair. (Wyre)


People who abuse children are still human beings. They arouse such feelings of anger and disgust in us that it is easy to see them as 'evil' or 'monsters', but they are not really that different from anyone else. There is a danger in lumping them all together and treating them as if they are all the same, but like all human beings, they are all different. There are, however different types of offender, and although no one person fits neatly into one category, there are a large number of similarities between offenders.

If I went out into my street, grabbed the first child I saw and sexually assaulted him or her, in all probability the child would run home to tell his or her parents, and I would be caught. Most sex offenders make a life long career out of offending, and in order to do that successfully and without too many interruptions at her majesty's pleasure, they have to act in a certain way. It has been calculated that on average an offender has about 60 victims in the course of his career. This means that the offender has to make sure that all the victims remain absolutely silent about the abuse throughout their lives. To weave this great web of secrecy takes a great deal of skill, and a frightening ability to identify and manipulate people's weak spots.

Child sex offenders are generally clever and manipulative people, they appear charming and friendly, are good with children and like to play with them. They are often referred to by the children as 'uncle'. Most child sex abusers will go to enormous lengths to 'groom' their victim, to get into a position of trust so that their actions are unlikely to be reported. They will usually target a particular child, and may spend up to two years manipulating the child and their family in order to gain access to the child.

This will even go as far as marrying a single mother in order to gain access to the child. Single parent families are often isolated and economically disadvantaged, often the appearance of a charming and friendly man with a good job who is so good with children appears as a gift from god to a lonely and impoverished single mother, for a time anyway. They will often appear to be an ideal husband, so that if the child reports that he or she is being abused, the mother often finds this inconceivable, and even if she does want to act on it, may fail to do so because the result would be the breaking up of the family, and the perpetrator will continue to hold power over her as she is likely to be financially dependent on him.

"The finding that stepfather-daughter incest is far more prevalent and severe than biological father-daughter incest has considerable implications. The most obvious ones are not only that the daughter of women who remarry are at much greater risk of being sexually abused by their stepfathers, but that it is a substantial risk...(Research) data suggest a one-in -six risk factor...Another implication of these findings is that women with daughters might be more cautious about marrying again if they were to recognize the consequent risk to their daughter." (Russell, 1986, p. 268)

One offender placed an advert in a London paper inviting contact with a view to marriage from single mothers of blue eyed fair haired boys. He received eight replies and married a single mother 18 years old. They fostered over 200 children over the years. Throughout 30 years of marriage he abused these children until he was caught at the age of 63. (Wyre) This is an uncomfortably common story for anyone who works with perpetrators of sexual abuse.


To most of us the notion of raping a young child is beyond comprehension, but for a few individuals this is the principle aim of their life, and their marriage, job and leisure activities may well revolve around gaining access to child victims to the exclusion of all else.

In order to be able to undertake such acts child sex abusers have to overcome the internal and external inhibitors that prevent us from doing things that society sees as wrong.

Internal inhibitors are what most of us would call a conscience, the thoughts and feelings of repulsion and shame and our consideration for the feelings of the victim that would make such acts impossible. External inhibitors are the fear of being caught, going to prison and the fear of social ostracism. Child sex abusers have to overcome these feelings in order to be able to do what they do. In order to do this they have to build up a distorted set of beliefs that allow them to think that what they are doing is in the best interest of the children.

The majority of child sex abusers (70%) were victims of abuse in childhood, so for them abusing relationships are quite normal. Many victims of child sexual abuse say that they thought that all fathers did that, and it comes as quite a shock to find that other children do not go through the same torture.

The important thing to realize about child sex abusers is that many of them do not think that they are doing anything wrong. We all engage in cognitive dissonance, the process by which we alter our view of events to make it look as if we weren't to blame for what happened, but child sex abusers take this process to extremes. They live in a fantasy world where children willingly take part in sexual acts, and they will masturbate several times a day to fantasies of abusing children, a process which serves to reinforce these attitudes and beliefs.

Paedophiles explain and excuse their behaviour to themselves in a number of ways. Often they will claim that the child seduced them. One man claimed that his stepson had kept waving his bare bottom provocatively near his penis, another claimed that he had fallen asleep with his daughter on his lap and waken to find that she had her hands in his trousers. When asked what he would have done if she had had her hands on his wallet, he replied that he would have told her to leave it alone. (Wyre)

Many offenders rationalize their behaviour by arguing that sex is good for children, that it is acceptable in other cultures, that they are doing it because they love the child, that it is a good way to teach children about sex, that they are caring for children that would otherwise be neglected or that they are doing it to keep the family together. Many offenders try to blame their wife's lack of interest in sex for the fact that they raped their own children over a period of ten years or more.

These are not empty excuses on the part of the abuser, they are deeply held beliefs, and the hardest part of trying to treat offenders is often attempting to break through their distorted version of reality that justifies their actions. In the offenders eyes everyone else is to blame except for themselves. Their views are reinforced by paedophile literature from organizations such as the Paedophile Information exchange, Child Sensuality Circle, The Lewis Carol Collectors Guild, Minor Problems, The American Man Boy Love Association and the Rene Guyon Society, which all advocate that consenting sex between adults and children should be legal. Beneath this veneer of excuses offenders are responding to a much more unpleasant range of motivations, the desire to exercise power abusively, to get back at women, a fear of the world of adults and adult relationships. As nearly all offenders were victims of sexual abuse in childhood, it is perhaps easiest to understand their actions in terms of their own life experience.

We all learn about caring relationships from what we experience in childhood. If the only significant relationship during childhood is an abusing relationship, then in adulthood the only way that person can find a fulfilling relationship is through the abuse of others. This is illustrated by the comment of a girl abused by her father 'I wouldn't have worried too much if you had taken me away from my mother, but I'd have been devastated if you had taken me from my father.' Despite the fact that her father's abuse had a devastating effect on her life, the fact remained that he had invested enormous time and creativity into the relationship and had made her his closest companion.(Wyre)


In the past perpetrators of child sexual abuse have been seen as either fixated or regressed, and divided into inadequate offenders, sadistic offenders and paedophiles. Each of these types of offenders behaves in certain ways, and there can be a remarkable similarity between the behaviour of offenders who are completely unknown to each other, but in discussing types of offenders it must be borne in mind that most offenders show differing degrees of all these behaviours.

The sadistic sex offenders whose apparently random attacks tends to be reported in the media tend to come from a background where they have experienced little or no affection during their lives, and tend to have cruel and obsessive parents. They have often experienced ridicule as children, and extreme punishment for normal sexual experimentation as children. Their parents are often ultra religious and over controlling. In adulthood they may appear to be perfectly normal, as most interviews with neighbours of the more famous examples of this type of offender will show. Ted Bundy and Nielson are classic examples of this, and even Peter Sutcliffe, known by his childhood friends as 'Peter No-Dick', and to everyone else as 'The Yorkshire Ripper' was not suspected by his wife and friends.

Attacks by these type of offenders tend to follow a certain pattern, so they have become known as serial killers. The pattern is sufficiently obvious to identify the fact that one individual has carried out a series of attacks. Contrary to what the media would have you believe, these attacks are not usually random. The attacker will usually target a victim and spend months planning the attack. There is as much pleasure for the offender in the planning as in the attack itself, though at this point the offender will see it as harmless, as he will kid himself that he is not going to put his plans into action. He may spend months walking past schools at leaving time, being careful to wear different clothes on each occasion, or construct hides from which he can watch children and observe their behaviour and habits, and how they relate to other children. During this period he will continually fantasize about past offences and anticipate abusing his next victim. He will go over the planned attack over and over again in his mind, masturbating to fantasies of what he is going to do, and will have every detail planned and will have put a great deal of time into finding a safe area where he can take his victim to once abducted. The abduction will usually be through seduction rather than violence, the child will initially go willingly, either because the abuser has duped them in some way, for instance pretending to be a police man or social worker or pretending to have a message from parents, or because the child already knows them. Once abducted by this sort of offender there is little the victim can do to get out of the situation apart from to run screaming if the opportunity presents itself. Unfortunately most victims faced with such an attacker will freeze with fear, and become totally compliant. This not only makes things easier for the attacker, but also confirms the fantasy he has of the victim as a willing participant, as he will interpret lack of resistance as compliance. One of the few possible responses that can work in this situation is for the victim to take every opportunity to make the attacker aware he or she is a real person and not the person in the attacker's fantasy. If you examine newspaper reports of this sort of attack you will find that the offender usually lives fairly close to the victim, and may know the victim slightly. These types of attacks are extremely rare, but once abducted the victim's chances of survival are fairly low. The abuser will kill the victim not only to avoid identification, but also for pleasure. Articles in some magazines circulated by paedophile rings extols the pleasures of killing children as part of the attack.

Although it is generally only these types of attack that are reported in the media lead us to believe that these types of offenders pose the greatest risk to children. In fact these types of attack make up a very small proportion of all sexual assaults on children.

The sadistic fantasizers are at one extreme of a spectrum of sexual offending against children. At the other end are the inadequate Paedophiles, who fit the other stereotype of the sex offender, the dirty old man. They tend to be of low intelligence, lonely and isolated with poor social skills. They are unable to deal with adult relationships, and see children as non threatening. They will tend to hang around schools and public lavatories, and their offending behaviour usually consists of indecent exposure or touching children inappropriately outside their clothing and then running away. Again, these offenders are in the minority, and although their behaviour can be very distressing to children, on the whole they seem to see it as a bit of a joke.

The vast majority of abusers lie between these two extremes. They are defined as fixated paedophiles, but because their method of attack is much more subtle, and renders their victim much less able to report the attack, these types of offenses are rarely reported.


Fixated Paedophiles are not usually sexually aroused by adults, and have no long term relationships with their peer group. They tend to be past victims of sexual abuse and to have incorporated these experiences into their own sexuality. This tends to affect the type of victim they are attracted to, as usually they are attracted to children of the age that they were when they were first abused, so that a paedophile who was first abused at age 12 will be attracted to children between 11 and 13. For the same reasons a significant proportion of fixated paedophiles are attracted to boys, though they in no way see themselves as homosexual. This type of offender tends to follow a recognizable pattern of offending that will repeat itself over and over again until either they get caught or die. This is known as a cycle of offending, and typically begins with fantasy rehearsal, going on to identifying a victim, grooming, offending and then fantasy reinforcement before returning to the beginning and starting all over again. Offenders will go through this cycle hundreds of times during their life if they are not caught, each time with a new victim.


The first stage of the abuse is masturbating to fantasies of previous and anticipated sexual contacts. Paedophiles tend to be attracted to children within quite a narrow age band, and with certain physical characteristics. They will masturbate to fantasies of what they have done to previous victims, thus reinforcing their behaviour, and also fantasize about what they will do to their next victim. Up until the stage where abuse takes place the offender will tell himself that these activities are harmless, as he has no intention of actually putting them into practice. This may be despite the fact that he has been through the whole process several hundred times over a period of fifty years.


The next step is selection of a victim. Paedophiles are very good at spotting children who are open to abuse. They have to be because they are going to invest enormous time and effort to get at that child, and they have to stand a reasonable chance of success to make it worthwhile. They also have to be sure that they can make sure that the victim never tells. Ray Wyre of the Gracewell Institute in Birmingham, which specializes in the treatment of sex offenders, told me that on one occasion he took an abuser to a school as the children were going home. Out of hundreds of children walking past, this man was able to immediately spot the one child who was open to abuse. Victims will tend to be children from homes where they receive little attention or encouragement from their parents and who feel lonely and isolated. Children in care are also prime targets as they usually fit this criteria well, and are less likely to be able to tell an adult. It is also easy to gain access to them by getting a job as a child support worker

Once the abuser has identified a victim he will start to have sexual fantasies about the victim, and to masturbate to these fantasies, in some cases up to 20 times a day. The constant masturbating to orgasm to these fantasies reinforces them to the extent that the abuser becomes obsessed with turning them into reality. At the same time the abuser will make efforts to get to know his identified victim, finding out where he lives, what he likes doing, where he spends his time and assessing how much parental control the child is under. He will also make efforts to get to know the child's parents so that they trust him with their child. Paedophiles are very good at identifying their victims, and will pick on children who feel neglected and insecure. This not only makes them more open to abuse, but also means that they are likely to have parents who are only too glad to have someone to take the child off their hands for a while and are unlikely to be too bothered about their motives.


This is the process by which the offender prepares the child for abuse, slowly working towards his goal, at each stage assessing the child's reaction and judging when it is safe to move on to the next stage.

The abuser will start to take the victim out to the cinema etc. where he can be alone with the boy, and get the parents used to him spending time with the victim alone. Once the abuser is established as a trusted friend by the victim and his parents he embarks on the next part of the cycle.

As the relationship progresses the abuser will start to talk to the victim about his problems at school and at home, and will become his friend and counsellor. This initial grooming stage is very pleasant to the victim. Often the victim will learn to call him uncle. The parents will often comment on how good he is with children. Initially the abuser will form a good relationship with the victim, and treat them like an adult, giving them a lot of attention, spending money on them, allowing them to drink and smoke, giving them money etc.. From the child's point of view this is wonderful, because it is usually what they never got from their parents.

At this point the abuser will start to make physical contact with the victim, at first in a casual way, as if by accident, and observe the child for their reaction. If at any time he observes a negative reaction he will back off and try another tack. If nothing works he will either try a more direct approach, or back off completely and look for another victim. As time progresses the amount of physical contact will increase until the abuser feels he is safe to go on to abuse the victim. The abuser will usually start by putting his arm around the victim while watching TV. If the victim is in any way resistant he will back off and try again a few days later. If there is no resistance he will touch the victim sexually outside his clothing. If the boy resists he will back off and try again later. If the victim does not withdraw he will wait for the next meeting to go any further. If the victim reports him at this stage he has done nothing that constitutes an offence. Even if the victim resists the advances of the perpetrator sufficiently that hands on abuse does not take place, the grooming process in itself is emotionally damaging to the victim.


At the next meeting the abuser will start by touching the boy outside his clothing and move quickly onto gross indecency. This will usually be introduced as if it is something really special, and of course it is to the abuser, as they quite often consider themselves to be in love with their victim. For the victim it is quite a different matter, and is accompanied by a very abrupt change in the relationship with the abuser. The abuser suddenly goes from being their best friend and the most wonderful thing that ever happened to them to being their torturer in total control of them. The abuser is not sufficiently out of touch with reality that he does not realise that a certain amount of coercion is going to be necessary to secure the child's future co-operation. This usually takes the form of verbal threats such as:

This is our little secret,

If you tell anyone I'll kill you,

If you don't let me I'll get your brother.

No one will believe you

It's all your fault

Sometimes very real physical threats may be used, such as holding a knife to the victim's throat, but it is more usual to use a more psychological approach, trapping the victim with guilt by making them think that they led the abuser on, that they wanted it happen because they didn't resist.

As child sex abusers are very age specific about their victims, they will only keep a victim for a certain length of time, as eventually they will grow out of the age range that the abuser finds attractive. At this point the abuser has to get rid of this victim and identify a younger victim and start all over again. In the process he has to ensure the silence of his present victim. He may do this in one of several ways, from threats against the victim and their family, pointing out that nobody will believe them, which unfortunately usually turns out to be true, or more likely either passing the victim on to one of his paedophile contacts who is interested in older victims, or getting the present victim to take part in the abuse of other children, so that his guilt ensures his silence. Most fixated paedophiles are in close contact with others of their kind, and may abuse groups of children together. This makes it much easier to involve the children in the abuse of others, and to pass victims on to one another. The success of these methods can be judged from the fact that most abusers have been going through this cycle for many years and may have had as many as three hundred victims before they are caught, and of course we only know about the ones that are caught, the majority probably get away with it completely.

Once the offender has finished with his present victim he goes back to the beginning of the cycle again, fantasizing about past acts of abuse and anticipating what he will do to his next victim, and so the cycle goes on.


Almost all paedophiles collect child erotica. This can take many forms, including newspaper and magazine articles, audio and videotapes, letters, clothing, souvenirs. Most of this material would not be illegal, and would appear to anyone not in the know to be quite innocuous. If you ever see a Mothercare catalogue with some of the photographs cut out then be suspicious. Most of the video material will be from children's TV such as Grange Hill, or from films involving children, such as the film Kes. These are usually kept as a composite of a few seconds of tape, sometimes repeated over and over again. These will often be stuck in the middle of films recorded from TV to make them difficult to find.

Written material and photographs are usually kept in scrap books, and will include articles about sexual abuse, photographs of children from magazines, catalogues or newspapers and photographs taken by the abuser in parks or at children's events. Paedophiles often resort to all kinds of trickery to obtain photographs of children, such as pretending to be looking for child models. An example may have been the following advert in a magazine:

'Could your child be a model? Send 3 photographs, one of your child in outdoor wear, one in best clothes and one in night wear.'

These collections of erotica are usually very extensive, and may run to tens of thousands of photographs. Many paedophiles have to resort to using computers to catalogue their collection by subject matter, and use coded electronic bulletin boards to exchange information such as names and addresses of victims.

The collecting of child erotica is an essential part of the obsessive behaviour of child sex abusers. It is used not only as an integral part of their fantasy life, but also for blackmail, exchange and profit, and may be shown to potential victims to lower their inhibitions. There are some rather horrific children's cartoons which initially appear to be quite normal, but as part of the story show explicit acts of child sexual abuse in a way that suggests that children should desire and enjoy such experiences. Articles about sexual abuse of children may be used to demonstrate the futility of telling about it, or to reinforce that children who report sexual abuse tend to be taken into care.


Child pornography is the permanent record of the abuse of children. It can include videotape, photographs, films, audio tapes and handwritten notes. All child pornography is produced through the sexual exploitation of children.(Wyre)

Home produced child pornography is continually produced, swapped and traded all over the country. Some of it ends up in commercially produced magazines, movies and videos. Most children who take part are not forced into taking part but are seduced or bribed into having their photographs taken in a way which increases in obscenity.

Commercial child pornography is produced by professional paedophiles who have their own cycle of offending. They will target a victim and groom him in the same way as a fixated paedophile, but instead of engaging in hands on abuse he will introduce the victim to increasing levels of child pornography and suggest taking photographs in natural poses in exchange for money. As with the fixated paedophile, the majority of child pornography is concerned with boys. Once the victim is trapped in this way the offender will then introduce other children and take photographs of increasing levels of sexual activity between them. The photographs are sent all over the world through organizations such as the Paedophile Information Exchange, for which the professional paedophile is well paid. The monetary gain is not the primary motivation for this sort of offender, it is the feeling of power and control which he gets from the abusing relationship that turns him on.


"Incest, as both sexual abuse and abuse of power, is violence that does not require force...It is abuse because it does not take into consideration the needs or wishes of the child, rather meeting the needs of the `caretaker' at the child's expense...incest can be seen as the imposition of sexually inappropriate acts, or acts with sexual overtones, by - or any use of a minor child to meet the sexual or sexual/emotional needs of one or more persons who derive authority through ongoing emotional bonding with that child." (Blume, 1990, p. 4)

So far we have dealt with offenders who attack selected victims, but a great deal of sexual abuse takes place within the family. No one knows how many men are sexually attracted to their own children but control these feelings and set appropriate boundaries, but it is apparent that some men do not control these feelings and initiate sexual relationships with their children. In some cases this may be caused by men who are already fixated paedophiles getting married to have children in order to sexually abuse them, or marrying single mothers to gain access to their children. If the man did not have children in order to sexually abuse them, then the development of a sexual relationship will be a gradual process. This may begin with normal behaviour such as cuddling and tickling the child, and finding that he becomes sexually aroused by this behaviour, and so he deliberately seeks to gain sexual arousal in this way, and begins to masturbate to fantasies of sexual contact with the child. He will rationalise and normalize his behaviour in the same way that a fixated paedophile does, by telling himself that it is good for the child, that it is part of a loving relationship, that if he does not teach her properly about sex someone else will do a worse job etc.. As physical contact becomes more sexual he will trap the child with threats, keeping secrets, telling the child that he will go to prison, she will be taken into care, that no-one will love her. He leads the child into feeling responsible for the abuse and so traps her with guilt and secrecy.

There is not a clear cut distinction between perpetrators of incest and perpetrators of sexual abuse of chilren outside the family. They engage in the same cognitive distortions and techniques for silencing their victim. A very large proportion of perpetrators of incest also engage in sexual abuse outside the home.


For a sex offender abusing children ranks second only to male rape in being the perfect crime. The probability of your victim reporting you is almost nonexistent, if they do report you the chances of them being believed or taken seriously are pretty small, if they are taken seriously the chances that the police will be able to amass sufficient evidence that it is worth prosecuting you, given that they have to have more than ;just the verbal evidence of the victim, is very small. If you are taken to court the chances of being found guilty are pretty low, and if you are found guilty the sentence imposed is unlikely to be a very long one, particularly if you are in a crown court as judges are quite well known for their sexual perversions and are likely to be quite sympathetic. In past court cases judges have described the collecting of child pornography as being as harmless as collecting cigarette cards, and justified a short sentence on an offender by stating that his victim was no angel. Judges tend to be taken in by the minimizing and justifying of offenders, and will tend to believe that they have only committed the offence for which they are in court, though this is almost never the alit: .

If an offender is sent to prison, he will be on Rule 43, in other words segregated from the other prisoners for his own protection. Unfortunately for the inadequate type of offender, who tends to be of low intelligence and molests children because they are less threatening than adults, this means that all the sex offenders are locked up together, which means that the weaker offenders become the victims of the stronger offenders. Having nothing else to do, offenders spend their time swapping offences, reading each other's court reports and masturbating to fantasies of other people's offences. It is quite common for offenders to carry out copy cat offences of someone else's offence when they are released. It must come as no surprise that prison statistics show that offenders are more likely to re-offend after a prison sentence, in other words sending sex offenders to prison makes them more likely to re-offend than if you just let them go home. As a deterrent, prison is obviously not very effective.

One solution that is often suggested is castration or the death penalty. Unfortunately this only makes offenders more likely to kill their victims to avoid detection, and castrated offenders will continue to re-offend, but tend to mutilate their victims rather than raping them. Chemical castration, the use of drugs that take away sexual urges, can be effective, but rely on the compliance of the offender, as they can simply stop taking them if they choose to do so.

The only effective way to treat offenders that has been found so far is long term counselling which challenges their distorted beliefs and allows them to realise the full consequences of their action. This treatment starts with asking the offender to give a detailed account of the offence with which he is charged, and then continually challenging his version of events. Offenders typically use a variety of strategies to minimize and deny that they are at fault and in most cases the initial account of the offence will deny that the offender did anything wrong, and most of the time they really believe what they are saying. A large, strong man in his mid twenties once described to me in great detail how he was raped by the three year old son of his next door neighbour. The absurdity of this version of events did not occur to him until we went back to his initial version of events after several months. Some offenders simply claim that they cannot remember what happened as they were drunk etc.. Here are some of the many excuses that have been used by sex offenders, showing their distorted thinking that often blames the child or their mother for what happened:

This was a one off incident that will never happen again. It was completely out of character

She said she had an infection, I was only checking

She ran onto my crutch

She was in the bath and she asked me to come in with her.

She wanted to wash me there.

I was explaining what boys will do with her later.

I was drying myself, she came into the room and as I turned round my penis went into her mouth

I was loving her.

She didn't want me to leave her mother so she offered me sex.

I was sleep walking.

I was helping her go to the toilet They do it in other countries

It helps her to sleep.

was the victim.

I was asleep and didn't know what she was doing.

The approach to counselling with offenders is very different to other forms of counselling. Normally the counsellor uses open ended questions to allow people to talk about their feelings and experiences. This does not work with sex offenders as they lie and deny at every opportunity. As sex offenders follow a set pattern very closely, from a small amount of information about their offence the counsellor can identify which type of offender they are and then be pretty certain as to what they have been up to. If the therapist acts as if he knows exactly what the offender has been up to he is more likely to be able to talk about his offending behaviour, so the therapist will tend to use closed questions which assume knowledge of the offender which the offender has not provided, for instance if an offender is claiming that his offence was an out of character, once in a lifetime event, the therapist might ask how long he has been having sexual fantasies about children. A great deal of time is spent going through the exact details of the offences in as much detail as possible, picking up and challenging words such as 'just' or 'only'. For instance an offender began his account of his offence by describing to me how his victim 'just got onto the bed' with him. It eventually transpired that the offender had got to know the child, had gone out the previous

day and bought some pencils and colouring books, which he knew the child liked, and placed these on the bed, invited the child to his bedroom and then asked him to get onto the bed with him. The offender's initial account of the incident was that the child had willingly got onto the bed, though it was eventually obvious that the offender had pre planned the attack and made the child get onto the bed. This seemed to be quite a revelation to the offender, as these types of minimizing beliefs are very strongly held as it is necessary for the offender to hold onto them in order to maintain that he is not at fault. In this instance when the offender tried to molest the child, he ran and told his parents and the offender was arrested.

Dealing with the distorted thinking of sex offenders is a long process, but on at least some occasions the results can be quite dramatic, as the offender will hold onto his distorted beliefs for as long as possible, but when continually confronted with the reality of the situation the offender sometimes breaks down suddenly into floods of tears as the realization of what they have been doing suddenly hits them.

A parallel part of this therapeutic process is comparing the offender's experiences as a victim of sexual abuse with the behaviour of his victim Again this is often quite a revelation to the offender, as their belief system makes them think that the victims are willing participants, though at the same time they will describe the physical signs of distress in their victims and the distress that they felt as victims in childhood without seeming to make the connection.

The important thing to come out of this is that the offender identifies and recognizes his cycle of offending. This is vital as if the offender can recognize when the abuse process is beginning, with the sexual fantasies about children, then it is easy to put a stop to it at that stage, but once the cycle is established it is almost impossible to stop. In the initial stages of fantasizing about past and anticipated offences, and even as far as identifying a victim, the offender will tell himself that it is harmless as he has no intention of carrying out his fantasies, but once this stage is reached the cycle is very hard to break. Offenders have to recognize the difference between legal and illegal fantasy, an illegal fantasy is one that would constitute an offence if carried out. There are a number of behavioral techniques that can be used to control illegal fantasizing, but their success depends on the motivation of the offender.

In order to do what they do sex offenders have to be compulsive liars to the extent that they even fool themselves about what is true and what is not. They also have to be very good at manipulating people, picking up o-- and exploiting their weak spots and massaging egos to get their own way. Because at this it is quite possible for an offender to go through a treatment programme appearing to take part and to succeed, whist all the time he is just pretending, waiting to get out and find his next victim. It is a good rule of thumb to assume that they are never telling the whole truth.


This psychological aspect of abuse is in many ways as damaging as the physical side, as the child will grow up unable to talk about the abuse and go through life feeling that it was all their fault. This is a very effective method of ensuring silence from the victim. As we saw earlier, it is not only possible, but quite usual for an offender to have up to 300 victims over a period of 50 years without any of those victims ever reporting the offender even when the victims themselves have become middle aged.

All survivors of abuse will react in different ways depending on their individual differences, but there are certain common trends. Male and female victims of childhood sexual abuse tend to react to the abuse in different ways to females. Carrying the guilt and associated self loathing all through their lives has a profound effect on the female victims of abuse. As the abuser is often a member of their family who continues to exert control over them in order to ensure their continued silence, any healing process often cannot start until many years after the actual physical abuse has ended, but by that time the defense mechanisms, psychological barriers and self destructive behaviour and thought patterns are too well ingrained to be easily overcome. Feelings of self hate and worthlessness will lead to victim to engage in self destructive behaviour such as self mutilation or frequent suicide attempts. These are often diagnosed as symptoms of depression in middle age. Adult relationships are often fraught with difficulty as the survivor of abuse will find trusting relationships with adults very difficult, and feelings of lack of self worth are likely to result in the survivor ending up in violent and abusing relationships, partly because they do not feel they deserve anything better and partly because in some way they feel safe in these type of relationships.

Some, though by no means all, male victims of sexual abuse react by becoming abusers themselves. This is partly because they are forced in to taking part in abuse by their abuser in order to ensure their future silence by being implicated in the abuse, and partly because for most victims of long term sexual abuse the abusing relationship was the only loving and caring relationship that they experienced in their childhood, and so they find that it is the only way that they can achieve emotional security in adulthood is through an abusing relationship.

Sexual abuse of male children gives rise to confusion over sexuality as one of the great guilt traps used by offenders is that victims of both sexes automatically react physically to the abuse and become sexually aroused against their will. This is used by the offender to persuade the victim that they were willing partners in the abuse, and that they enjoyed it, but the effect on the male victims is to make them think that they must be a homosexual. This leads to a great deal of confusion over adult relationships with both sexes. Where women survivors tend to internalize their anger and turn it into self destructive behaviour, male survivors of abuse tend to externalize their anger at the abuser for what he did to them, and at themselves for allowing it to happen, and become violent and disruptive. A sudden onset of violent and disruptive behaviour in a previously quiet child is a very good indicator that abuse is taking place, but this behaviour will continue into adulthood, along with excessive use of alcohol and other drugs, accompanied by episodes of violent outbursts of anger and extreme violence.

If the abuse stops because the offender is caught, the survivors problems still remain immense. As well as having to cope with the withdrawal from the special relationship and coping with the emotional trauma of what has happened, survivors of abuse have to cope with the reaction of others to their situation as the details of what happened to them become known. For male children this will often take the form of taunts of homosexuality which will only increase the confusion they feel about their own sexuality. Female survivors of abuse will often indulge in promiscuous behaviour as they desperately seek to find a caring relationship through sexual promiscuity. Unfortunately this only serves to get themselves a bad reputation, reinforce the offender's position that the victim lead him on and confirm the victim's view of themselves as worthless.

Often court appearances can be as traumatic as the abuse itself as the victim has to give evidence in court in front of the person who abused her and face cross examination from the defense who will drag up any dirt on their past life and any sexual promiscuity to prove the innocence of the abuser. All this will probably happen many months or years after the offender has been caught. The final insult is that they are either not believed and the offender goes free, or the offender is given a light sentence, leaving the victim with an extreme sense of anger and injustice that years of torture and abuse only merits a few weeks in prison. The sad irony is that sex offenders often suffer less rejection by society than their victims, and often slip back easily into their old routine after a few weeks in prison whilst their victims continue to suffer rejection and disapproval


So far what I have said is the accepted truth about perpetrators and victims of sexual abuse. It is shocking enough, but at best it is only half the truth. The unspoken, unheard other half challenges deeply held beliefs about the nature of the society in which we live

Any search of the literature about child sexual abuse will bring up a wealth of titles like 'Helping Women Recover from Abuse.', 'Secret Survivors - Uncovering Incest and Its Aftereffects in Women' ' The Secret Trauma - Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women'. There are groups for female survivors of abuse and psychiatric units have a high proportion of women who have suffered abuse as their clients. It is difficult to know the exact proportion of victims of abuse who are male or female. It seems as if females are more likely to suffer from incestual abuse whereas males are more likely to suffer from institutional abuse through the Church, scouts and via the paedophile information exchange. I would guess that slightly less than half of victims are boys. If this is the case then where are all the male victims? There must be huge numbers of male victims of abuse who never disclose their secrets and never seek help. There are no groups or help lines for male survivors of abuse. Several Male victims of abuse that I have worked with worked up the courage to talk about what had happened to them and rang a rape crisis line. None of them received a helpful responses. One was told to phone a gay help line, which is probably the most inappropriate response possible as the main reason that men do not disclose abuse is fear of homophobia, another was quite bluntly told to 'Fuck Off'.

The first book targeted at male victims of abuse was not published until 1988. Males find it very difficult to make sense of books written for female victims. Books for female survivors of sexual abuse tend to portray a world in which only men are perpetrators and only women are victims. Statistically boys are about as likely to become victims as girls, and women are almost as likely as men to molest boys. (Scott Abraham 1995)

Men and women tend to act in different ways to the feelings of self loathing and worthlessness that they get from being the victims of abuse. Because of the gender stereotyping in the society in which we live women do not have acceptable outlets for their feelings of anger and hurt and so tend to turn their feelings in on themselves and get involved in abusive relationships, and harm themselves by cutting themselves and taking overdoses as a way of coping with their feelings. Men do have socially acceptable ways of expressing their anger. One victim of abuse that I know coped for years because he was a high flying executive responsible for downsizing a large company and made a large number of people redundant. He lived for this exercise of power over others, and every Saturday he played Rugby. He admits that his prime aim was to cause as much damage to the opposition as possible. He was, in his own words, a complete bastard. Following an injury he was unable to continue playing Rugby, and soon afterwards began to hear voices and was diagnosed as a schizophrenic. He lost his job, his life fell apart. It was only when he began to talk about his experiences as a child and make sense of the feelings that he had never admitted to that he began to recover. I believe that this is not an uncommon story.

I know of three men who live in the same area who all have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. They all have a complicated set of beliefs that a psychiatrist would call paranoid. They all had the same school teacher, who is also a priest, and who is involved in all of their belief systems. Only once has one of them made an accusation against this man, and he has never repeated it. I suspect that they are all victims of abuse. I think that many men and women are diagnosed as schizophrenic when in fact what they are suffering from is PTSD as a result of childhood trauma which they cannot talk about.

When women experience mental health problems we tend to consider the possibility that they have been abused as a way of explaining their behaviour and feelings, whereas we rarely ask this question about men who exhibit disturbed behaviour. Somehow it seems easier to condemn men who exhibit violent behaviour rather than seeking to explain it.

We live in a culture where there are strict gender stereotypes. There is almost an expectation on men to be aggressive. Men who are gentle and caring, like children and are not interested in football or cars are seen as being less than a man.

'When a man sexually abuses a child it does not dramatically change the generally held schema of men, as it is within the range of predictability. Conversely, socialization facilitates the acceptance of a general schema of femaleness as being nurturing, protecting and caring, there to meet the needs of others, often at personal expense, non aggressive and asexual except in response to men's desires.'(Saradjian p5)

It is not part of the generally held schema of women that they are violent, aggressive and sadistic, but some of them are, and some women do sexually abuse children. This is an aspect of abuse that has received little attention, and the victims of female perpetrated abuse tend to be ignored or disbelieved when they disclose the abuse. This is particularly true of adolescent male victims of female perpetrated abuse. An investigating police officer was heard to comment on the case of a 14 year old boy being abused by a 39 year old woman 'He fell on his feet there didn't he....Lucky sod'. (Saradjian p8).A female victim of a female abuser was told that she was suffering from delusions when she told a therapist about the abuse. Over a period of 20 years she told a succession of therapists about the abuse. She was told that it was really her father that had abused her but it was safe for her to believe that it was her mother. Another therapist told her that she was suffering from false memories implanted by a previous therapist. (Saradjian p9)

There has been almost no research into female perpetrators of abuse. It has always been the received wisdom that women only became perpetrators when coerced into doing so by male perpetrators. Research carried out by Jaqui Saradijian in which she interviewed 50 women who had been convicted of abusing children shows that, like male perpetrators, there are categories of female perpetrators, but that any individual perpetrator does not necessarily fit into one category.:

Women who initially target young children tend to be women from very over controlling families who have not had any friends in childhood. They tended to feel that the had very little control over their lives. They tend to abuse very young children who are dependent on them.

Women who initially target adolescent children. There have been several high profile cases recently of middle aged women leaving their families and running off with adolescent boys.

This is treated by the media as something to sensationalise but not condemn, and there is an implicit assumption that this is a consenting relationship, and that the boy is somehow lucky to be in such a relationship.

This quote is from an article written by a survivor of abuse perpetrated by a female:

'Male survivors also must transcend the societal attitude that sexual initiation by an much older woman is a rite of passage, especially when the perpetrator is not a relative. A thirty-two year old man has sex with a willing fourteen year old woman. Is that seduction or rape?

I've posed a hypothetical question to several people whilst trying to explain the dynamic:

Everyone answered, "Rape."

Trade genders of perpetrator and victim and the standards of ethics and morality change.

I didn't get "lucky" when I was a fourteen year old. I didn't enjoy a necessary transition into manhood.

I was raped. I was exploited by a woman of vastly greater power and experience, and I cope with the after effects to this day. Yet that horrible victimization is neither understood or acknowledged by society at large, and the lies that brand my experience as an initiation sound suspiciously like the rationalizations of a perpetrator.' (Scott Abraham 1995)

To suggest that a 14 year old girl was lucky to be in a relationship with a 32 year old man would be outrageous. For the police to comment that 'she really fell on her feet' when it is reported would be outrageous. For this to be reported in the newspapers as an amusing bit of titillation would be totally unacceptable, yet trade genders and it immediately becomes part of our everyday experience.

Women who target adolescent boys tend to have had very shallow friendships in childhood and been responsible for the care of other siblings and total responsibility for looking after the household from an early age. They tend to end up in abusive relationships until they target their victims. They tend to feel that they have a small degree of control over their lives. They felt that their victim was the only person in their lives that they could talk to and who understood them. They suffer the same distorted thinking as their male counterparts, that it is a loving consenting relationship, that it is good for the boy to be iniated into a sexual relationship at an early age, that it is good for him.

I have recently read several newpaper articles in which these women were interviewed and gave an account very typical of a female perpetrator who targets adolescent children. If a national daily newspaper carried an article which allowed a 35 year old male paedophile to justify his sexual abuse of a 14 year old girl there would be an outrage, yet once again if we trade genders it becomes an accepted part of our daily lives.

Women who were initially coerced into abusing by an abusing partner tend to have idealised their father, had at least one friend in childhood and experienced daily criticism, humiliation and condemnation in childhood. They felt that they had no control over their lives. Even though the initial abuse was coerced by a male offender, most of these women went on to abuse on their own. In this situation women are as violent and sadistic as men in the abuse that they perpetrate.

Saradjian found that women offenders tended to suffer less stress and mental health problems when they were abusing. When the abuse stopped they used more drugs and alcohol and experienced more mental health problems. This suggests that they use the abuse as a coping mechanism for the stress they felt as a result of their childhood experiences.


It should be obvious from the above that people who sexually abuse others have very little understanding of the feelings of others. An abusive relationship is where one person uses another person to fulfill his or her own needs regardless of the consequences for them. Although not everyone who sexually abuses others has been sexually abused themselves, they have all grown up in an environment where they are used by others to fulfill other's needs, where they are shown little or no affection or love, and are given very little control over their lives.

Because of the secrecy that necessarily surrounds abusive relationships, victims usually never talk about these experiences, and because the secret is maintained by the abuser asserting that the victim was the cause of the abuse, they may not classify their experiences as abuse, but as something for which they were responsible. For them abusing relationships are normal,

and like all of us they tend to recreate their childhood in their adult lives. This means that they confuse sex and love, and often become promiscuous in an attempt to recreate the only time in their childhood where they were shown anything close to affection. Victims of abuse tend to end up in abusive relationships because they feel that it is all that they deserve, and because it is normal for them. Many victims report that when they do get into what we would consider a normal relationship they cannot handle it as they simply do not know how to react to someone who treats them with respect and affection, they always make the assumption that the other person is only doing it to get something out of them, or they expect it to be the precursor to violent and abusive behaviour.

This difficulty in dealing with trusting adult relationships tends to spill over into the therapeutic relationship. For most victims the only loving relationship they have experienced was surrounded by secrecy and fraught with manipulation and game playing, so there is a tendency to bring this into the therapeutic relationship by engaging in manipulating and splitting behaviour. This usually involves targeting some staff as their favorites, the only person they have ever told their secret to, the only person they feel safe to talk to, but they will only talk as long as the information they give is kept a secret. Other staff are identified as ogres who 'set them back' every time they intervene, who don't believe them etc. Victims who have grown up surrounded by psychopathic adults have learned their modus operandi. For them it is normal. They can identify the staff who will be taken in by their game and select them as their favorites. The staff who are wise to the game and are likely to challenge their behaviour tend to be identified as ogres. The identity of the favorites and the ogres changes abruptly from time to time just to keep everyone on their toes. Information is spread out amongst different people who are all told that the victim will only discuss these issues if the information is kept within a select few, the chosen ones. This prevents any one person from seeing what is really going on, although usually it transpires that several people have been told the same thing, but each of them has been told that nobody else knows. This is not a deliberate ploy on the part of the victim, but an attempt to recreate what they perceive as a safe relationship, making sure at the same time that all the energy of those trying to help them is diverted into fighting amongst themselves or trying to work out what is going on with everyone else rather than actually disclosing the abuse. Even when the victim wants to divulge their secrets, the years of fear and threats, the feelings of guilt and disgust make it extremely difficult to do so.

The only effective way to deal with this kind of behaviour is to tackle it head on and point out to the client what they are doing, and that the result is that they are not actually achieving any help with their distress, but prolonging the agony. We always make it clear that information is held confidentially with in the unit, but that individual members of staff will not withhold information from other members of staff. If the client is not willing to talk about the abuse on this basis, then there is probably little point in continuing until they are.

Disclosure of abuse is made more complicated by the ambivalent nature of the relationship between abuser and victim in some cases. It is easy to assume that the victim will hate their abuser, but in many cases the situation is much more complex. The abusing relationship may be the only relationship through which the victim has had any kind of love and affection through childhood, and also may have been a source of intense sexual pleasure. It is very difficult for victims to admit to this, and so although they may be able to describe the actions of the person who abused them, they may not be able to be honest about their feelings about the abuse.


What can we learn from this?

I think we all to some degree live in fear that our children will become victims. Schools tend to teach children about 'danger strangers' and give advice about not getting into cars with strange men.

I hope it is obvious that the usual advice 'don't take sweets from strangers' is hopelessly inadequate. Attacks by sex offenders are not random, they are skilled at picking emotionally vulnerable children, as they are far easier to abuse. Probably the most important thing is to create a home situation where children feel able to talk about their experiences and feel that they will be effectively helped if they do tell. This frees the child from the prison of silence that the abuser is able to build around the child to stop them from telling.

We need to educate our children about the differences between good and bad touching, and reinforce that certain actions are not acceptable from adults, and that although the child must not tell an adult that touches him or her in that way that they are going to tell, that they must tell an adult, that it is safe to do so and that they will be believed and come to no harm despite the threats made against them. This is particularly important because if a child can tell an adult after the first incident then this greatly reduces their chances of being trapped before the offender has started to put the blame on the victim, thus avoiding the most harmful part of the abuse process as the offender cannot get the victim into guilt trap.

We cannot rely on children to tell us if they are being prepared for abuse or being abused, but there are ways of remaining vigilant without being overbearing. The danger of the usual approach taken by parents, of warning about 'danger strangers' and not letting children out by themselves, is that the children grow up being afraid of others, may find it hard to make friends, and will assume from the way that their parents treat them that they are not capable of coping on their own. Unfortunately this will make the child more likely to be selected by a perpetrator of abuse as a potential victim, and the child will be attracted to someone who treats them as an adult and appears to give them responsibility. It is obviously necessary to keep a sensible balance, as children who are allowed to do what they want with no parental control will feel unwanted and uncared for, and so will be equally likely to be selected as a victim. Bringing up our children in a secure and loving environment is the best defense against abuse, self confident children are unlikely to be selected as victims, and are much better able to see through the seductive approaches of offenders.

Certain behaviours in children are indicators that they are being abused and should be a cause for concern. Abused children tend to become secretive and withdrawn. They may have difficulty forming relationships with children of their own age. They may suffer from episodes of breath holding or fainting or hysterical outbursts when under stress. Schoolwork and general powers of concentration will tend to deteriorate, and there may be episodes of disruptive and violent behaviour. Unfortunately this is often met with anger and punishments on the part of parents without any attempt to find out what is troubling the child. Children may be afraid to be left alone, or may seek safety at school and show some reluctance to go home. Children being abused at school will show great reluctance to go to school. There may be eating disorders or bouts of rocking and sucking. Most children will exhibit some of these behaviours as a normal part of growing up, but a sudden onset of such behaviours in a normally happy child should be a cause for concern. More obvious signs will be constant soreness of the genitals and anus, recurring urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and of course pregnancy. Children may also exhibit sexually explicit behaviour or knowledge that is not appropriate to their age group.

Parents should be wary of any man who they get to know through their children, or regularly seeks to spend time alone with children. Men who invite children to their homes, even in groups, should be treated with suspicion. The same is true of older boys, as sexual offending usually starts in adolescence. It is not unknown for boys of thirteen or fourteen to abuse younger children.

Parents should be aware of their children's reaction to their family and friends. Children should never be made to spend time alone with adults they appear to be apprehensive of. A mother separated from her husband ignored her son's obvious apprehension prior to spending weekends with his father. Every week she put him screaming into the car to spend the weekend with her ex-husband. It was only when she began to notice that the boy's penis and anus were always inflamed and sore on his return, and that he had constant urinary tract infections, that she began to suspect what it was that her child was terrified

Child abuse is widespread in our society. Most of it goes unreported so it is impossible to judge how frequently it occurs. There is a range of estimates for the number of children who are abused which range from 1 in 10 to as high as 1 in 3. The number of children who become victims of abuse and the ease with which abusers can gain access to children calls into question how much we as a society value our children. As the abused become the abusers, and each abuser has so many victims, and the only solution offered is to send the offenders to prison, which only makes them more likely to offend, it is obvious that the problem is going to escalate unless effective solutions can be found. These must include treatment as well as punishment for offenders, and better education of both parents and children about the nature of offending behaviour so that they are better able to judge where the real risk of abuse lies.

Educating the child to say "no!" is not enough. "Finally, the responsibility we all bear to protect the defenseless falls on the shoulders of the recovering incest survivor as well. She (he) must face the reality that she (he) holds information whose withholding keeps others at risk. No perpetrator stops on his (her) own. In breaking the secret, she (he) has finally, the power to break the chain." (Blume, 1990, p. 72-73)


Internet Mental Helth Resources


Mental Health Links

Sexual assault Information Page




Abraham,Scott (1995) Yes, Women do Abuse. Mens Voice Magazine.

Blume, E. Sue. (1990). Secret Survivors - Uncovering Incest and Its Aftereffects in Women. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Saradjian,J (1996) Women who sexually abuse-from research to Clinical Practice. J Wiley and sons, Chichester ISBN0-471-96072-1

Russell, Diana E. H. (1986). The Secret Trauma - Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women. New York, NY: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers.

Wyre, Ray (1990) Women, Men and Rape. Hodder and Stoughton ISBN 0-340-52924-5