For Children

Who sexually abuses children?

Child sexual abuse is the worst form of abuse today. Unfortunately, some people end up abusing children and teenagers in all sorts of ways, including sexually, even if it’s hard to believe and seems unreal. It’s natural and healthy to trust those around you, to rely on their good intentions and to want close relationships – it’s a basic human need and we all seek to satisfy it. However, it is necessary to keep in mind the possibility that some people do not want what is good for you and you must learn to recognize these people.

It might be easier to accept if the people who sexually abuse children were strangers or part of a more distant circle, but in most cases they are people the children and their families know. They may be parents, siblings, uncles or other family members, carers, friends, neighbours, acquaintances, other children or teenagers, or people in positions of authority and trust towards children: spiritual leaders, teachers, doctors, sports coaches, etc. Strangers are also among the abusers, but in a much smaller proportion.

Men are the main perpetrators of child sexual abuse, and the victims are often girls or teenagers. There are also women who sexually abuse children – in this case, the victims are mostly boys – but due to prejudice and lack of information, these abuses are not recognised as such and are overlooked. These experiences that boys go through are often seen as opportunities for sexual experimentation rather than sexual abuse, as they, unlike girls, are allowed more freedom and are even encouraged by family and society to do so.

Some children or teenagers may sexually abuse other children. The rejection they feel from their environment and lack of close relationships may cause them to seek connection by abusing younger children or cause them to use their power to satisfy their sexual desires. They use various ways to reach out to victims, such as: intimidation, physical force, blackmail (toys, food, etc.), threats. Many use alcohol and/or drugs and use them to lure children before abusing them. Most use grooming techniques – approaching them, overwhelming them with gifts, cigarettes, toys, sweets, money, alcohol, drugs before initiating sexual abuse. Others are violent and hurt or threaten children if they refuse to engage in sexual acts.

The reasons and causes why some people end up sexually abusing children can be:

    • Certain desires these people have that they can’t or won’t control, such as:
  • the desire to feel some kind of pleasure through sexual intercourse with a child;
  • the desire to feel powerful and in control, because it is easier for them to feel this way towards a child than towards an adult who is as powerful as they are and who can stop them;
  • a desire to show how they feel about their past without talking about it;
  • the desire to be seen as strong, in control and respected;
  • the desire to do harm for pleasure;
  • the desire to feel close to someone through sex.
    • Thoughts by which these people convince themselves that what they are doing is right. They may think things like:
  • “I am more important than the child”;
  • “What I do is not bad”;
  • “I have the right to do this”;
  • “This is what a man does”;
  • “And the child wants it”;
  • “This is how I show the child that I love him”.
    • Problems with their emotions and behaviour that these people have and have not resolved. For example:
  • they can’t control their emotions or find it difficult to do so;
  • behave aggressively and sometimes even lash out;
  • feel anger and hatred;
  • use drugs;
  • don’t trust people and believe that people want to hurt them;
  • are used to breaking the rules;
  • they think a lot about sex, want to do it often and in stranger ways than other people;
  • they don’t understand or respect other people;
  • they are often scared and very sad, they don’t trust themselves and blame others;
  • they don’t know how to make friends, they feel lonely; they can’t easily get close to others because they don’t feel safe;
  • can be very stressed because of things that happen in their lives.
    • Their past:
  • many of those who sexually abuse children were also sexually abused as children; that’s what they learned, and that’s what they do now;
  • those who sexually abuse children often grew up in families where they were harshly punished and where they were not loved and cared for.
    • Messages from society and the culture we live in that influence the way these people think and behave – they often make excuses for abusing minors:
  • Children and teenagers are encouraged, especially through social media, to show their sexuality in excess, by the way they dress or behave; thus, they begin to be seen as sexual objects through which some can satisfy their needs, rather than as people with emotions and needs of their own;
  • pornographic films have scenarios where aggression, power and manipulation become ways of getting sexual pleasure; this sends the message that it is sexy to disrespect a person and disregard their needs;
  • often a person who has been sexually abused is not believed or taken seriously, sometimes even blamed for what happened to them.
    • People around the abuser encourage him:
  • people who sexually abuse children hang around people who think like them, who encourage them to abuse and who make it seem normal;
  • in some groups, becoming abusive can be a way for others to see you as stronger and respect you for it.
    • The opportunities offered to aggressors:
  • abuse cannot happen if the person does not have the opportunity to be alone with the child or if they think they will be caught.

All of the above can help you recognise a potential abuser, understand the reasons behind their behaviour and at the same time protect yourself and keep your distance, because your safety comes first!



Child sexual abuse: male and female perpetrators:

Why would an adult sexually abuse a child? | Stop It Now