Sexual Abuse Theory

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Child sexual abuse has been defined as “unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent.” (American Psychological Association, n. d., para 1). Child sexual abuse has been extensively studied and many models have been developed which attempt to provide a comprehensive context or framework to explain the reasoning behind these offences.
Ward, Polaschek and Beech (2006, pp.12) outline three main levels of theories. Level I theories, also referred to as multifactorial theories, aim to develop a rich and comprehensive account of sexual offending. Level II theories on the other hand have been developed to account for single factors which are thought to be of importance
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Finkelhor’s review suggested that four main factors have been reported in the literature however these were displayed as level II theories which were quite limited. These factors were “(i) sex with children is emotionally satisfying to the offender; (ii) men who offend are sexually aroused by a child, (iii) men have sex with children because they are unable to meet their sexual needs in more socially appropriate ways; and, finally (iv) men become disinhibited and carry out acts outside of their usual behavioural repertoire” (Ward et al, 2006, pp. 21). In light of this review Finkelhor suggested that these factors could be grouped in to four preconditions, each of which need to be met in a temporal sequence (each needing to be met before the next precondition can happen) before sexual abuse could occur. These preconditions are; Precondition one: the motivation to abuse a child sexually. Precondition two: overcoming internal inhibitors. Precondition three: overcoming external inhibitors and finally; Precondition four: overcoming the resistance of a child (Finkelhor, 1984, pp. …show more content…
Finkelhor (1984) explains emotional congruence as “relating sexually to the child satisfies some important emotional need” (pp. 54). This suggests that child molesters have developmental immaturity and feelings of inadequacy. Due to these factors a sexual relationship with a child is less threatening than a relationship with an adult and make the individual feel more powerful and in control (Blackburn, 1993, p. 305). This stems from a need to emotionally relate to children due to difficulties in relating to adults (Winder & Banyard, 2012, pp. 169). Similarly, in this precondition blockage is also outlined as a motivating factor. This refers to the failure of individuals to meet their emotional and sexual needs in more socially acceptable ways. This could be due to individuals finding it easier to spend time with children than adults and more attractive as sexual partners (Finkelhor,

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