Understanding Child Sexual Abuse

By Edward L. Rowan | Go to book overview

1.
Who Becomes an Abuser?

Each of us is the product of a lifelong series of sexual turnons and turn-offs, some reinforced and practiced, some banished from conscious thought, and some resisted every day. Sigmund Freud used the expression polymorphous perverse to describe the primitive sexual urges in all of us. Our natural and normal sexual urges become associated with what is happening in the world around us and, in terms of simple behavioral conditioning, events become paired with those sexual urges and become interpreted as sexual turn-ons. Given the right circumstances, any man or woman might become aroused by men, women, children, multiple partners, or animals. Humiliation, power, bondage, or special or specific objects or items of clothing may also become a source of arousal. Potentially then, we might all have [deviant] arousal patterns; most of us, however, choose not to act on them.

Sexual arousal becomes a problem when it leads to the involvement of an unwilling participant. Looking at a centerfold is different from peeking through a window at an unwilling neighbor. Being aroused by underwear is different from stealing that underwear from an unattended laundry basket. A couple may choose to tie one or the other partner to the bed as part of their lovemaking, but that is different from binding an unwilling victim.

Sexual assault is very broadly defined as unwanted sexual contact with another person. Sexual assault on a child, or child molestation, is more narrowly defined but the definition varies from one legal jurisdiction to another. The bottom line is that a child cannot knowingly or willingly consent to a sexual

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Understanding Child Sexual Abuse
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • 1: Who Becomes an Abuser? 3
  • 2: Who is at Risk? 19
  • 3: What Are the Effects of Abuse? 29
  • 4: Treating the Survivor 43
  • 5: Treating the Abuser 57
  • 6: Prevention 67
  • 7: The Search for Answers 77
  • Appendix A - State Sex Offender Registry Sites 85
  • Appendix B - Publications 90
  • Appendix C - The Internet 92
  • Index 101
  • Understanding Health and Sickness Series 103
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