Childhood Attachments of Sexual Abusers

In class we touched on the implications of parent- child attachment later in life. I wanted to explore this concept in more depth, specifically the extreme situations where insecure parent- child attachment leads to severely abnormal behavior in adult life. I researched the article Developmental Experiences of Child Sex Abusers and Rapists (Simons, Wurtele, Durham, 2008). One component of this study was to explore the implications of childhood attachment and sexually abusive behavior in adulthood.
The study found that 94% of abusers in the sample reported and insecure parental attachment bond. Of that 94%, 76% were rapists reporting an avoidant parental attachment and 62% of child sex abusers reporting and anxious parental attachment. These are significant statistical numbers considering that only about 25% of the general population reports either of these attachments. The study also found extremely high levels of childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse among abusers. This was reported to be very supportive of the cycle of abuse hypothesis which suggest that those who are abused will re-enact that abuse later in adulthood.
While clearly not all insecurely attached individuals become sexual abusers the combination of violence and insecure attachments in childhood could potentially have extreme ramifications. This study just emphasizes how important attachment and bonds that are formed between parents and their children are. The study reported that “failure of sex offenders to develop secure attachment bonds in childhood impairs their ability to develop sufficient social skills and self- esteem necessary to achieve intimacy with other adults” and that it “distorts beliefs about self and others”. Even though insecure attachment does not necessarily lead to sexual abuse it clearly plays a significant role in this type of behavior, So it is vital that parents are educated on the importance of attachment and bond as well as those who are abused need to learn alternative outlets for behaviors.

By Madelyn King

Simons, D.A, Wurtele S. K, Durham R.L; 2008. Developmental Experiences of Child Sex Abusers and Rapists. Child Abuse and Neglect Vol 32(5), pp. 549-560


~ by littlegoose08 on October 4, 2009.

One Response to “Childhood Attachments of Sexual Abusers”

  1. great blog! I can see where this attachment style would have a profound effect on sexual deviance. If you dont attach to people you dont have empathy for them either, and that is part of an abusers profile.
    -Jennifer Poulos

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