The following article will discuss the sexual abuse of children by women. Viewer discretion is advised.
For far too long, society has avoided discussing women who abuse children. Society has brushed under the rug that women can do such things to kids while focusing on males who perpetrate the same crimes.
This article will focus on female sexual predators of children and how their behaviors change the lives of their victims forever.
Female Sexual Predation Has Been Overlooked
Unfortunately, law enforcement and society as a whole have been reticent to discuss female predation. The research done to help explain female predation and how it affects children is thin because it is such a taboo subject.
Researchers Freund, Heasman, Racansky, and Glancy declared that “pedophilia…does not exist at all in women” (1984, p. 193), showing how society is unwilling to acknowledge that women can be sexual predators.
In a paper published in the Journal of Sexual Abuse written in 2015, there is an attempt to broach this highly triggering subject by gathering research from other researchers on child sexual predation. The researchers wanted to identify the differences between male and female predators and why women predators go undetected.
The researchers found that the lack of recognition by society has allowed female predators to remain, for the most part, undetected and avoid prosecution and interventions mandated for male sexual predators.
Freund et al. also stated: “This difference in treatment between male and female perpetrators could be partially due to differences that exist in their offending behaviors, victim profiles, and personal characteristics that set them apart from male offenders, to whom our systems have become more attuned.”
When the researchers studied the data from Child Protective Services in the U.S., they found that slightly over 20% of substantiated child sexual abuse reported to authorities involved only a female perpetrator. That is one out of every five.
The stats are grim. Sixty-eight percent of female predators chose to abuse their daughters over other females, with 77.8 % showing that they prefer their children. The research finally found that biological mothers are four and a half times more likely to abuse their own children.
Male Victims of Sexual Abuse by Women
Although women predators show a preference for female victims, they also abuse little boys causing great harm to the child that lasts for a lifetime. The shame, guilt, and confusion are apparent in their lifestyle and relationships as adults.
At least 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthday, and this number increases to 1 in 4 for men who experience unwanted sexual events across their lifespan. Often, men never tell anyone about what happened to them and take their secrets to their graves.
Yes, some male children are abused by men, but the majority are sexually assaulted by female predators, often their own mothers.
Men who experience child predation often develop far-reaching psychological symptoms but are not easily diagnosed. Some abused men often carry a deep seething rage that never leaves them, making them feel threatened or betrayed. These men may also have problems with a low sex drive and erectile problems that affect their self-esteem and sense of manhood.
Often, men who have been victims of female predation have concerns about their masculinity and sexual orientation as they struggle with intense shame and self-blame.
It is difficult for men to acknowledge their feelings and disclose what happened to them, even to a qualified specialist, because of their thoughts that men should be strong.
What Do Women Who Abuse Children Look Like?
Women who sexually abuse children do not look like the monsters they are. They can be a mother, aunt, older sister, or female neighbor across the street. The majority of perpetrators of sexual abuse against children are someone the child or family knows, with 93% of victims knowing their abuser.
It is critical to remember that a perpetrator does not need to be an adult as children your child plays with, and that child’s female family members or a teacher, coach, etc., also sexually abuse children.
Female abusers, like their male counterparts, use manipulation of their victims to get them to remain silent about what they are doing to them. Child molesters use their position of power to coerce the child into sexual acts. Sometimes they use a favorite activity of the child to get them alone, or they might threaten to kill a parent or a pet.
Sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with female predation on children. A child’s vulnerability and access to predators are what make them victims. A paper written by Jenny, Roesler & Poyer found the following:
“The children in the group studied were unlikely to have been molested by identifiably gay or lesbian people.” The findings showed that although gay and lesbian people may abuse children, it is more unlikely than among heterosexual women.
Sexual abuse of children has nothing to do with sex; it is an act of violence.
The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse On Survivors
Adults who have experienced child sexual trauma grow up with many emotional problems and relationship difficulties. Below I’ve outlined only a few of the effects adults experience directly due to early childhood sexual trauma.
Self-Esteem issues. The survivor may feel a sense of hopelessness, helplessness, and like they don’t belong in the world. They may have a deep sense that their birth was a mistake and they should die. They may see themselves as unworthy of any good things, and either they will isolate themselves from others or feel so needy they will be in one relationship after another.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This disorder cannot be pushed under the rug as unimportant. People who live with its effects can tell you it is misery. The things done to survivors when they are children CANNOT and WILL NOT be forgotten by them when they are adults. Perhaps they may have suppressed the memories of the molestation, but somewhere in their brain burned, the details of the emotions and feelings they felt while the perpetrator was harming them. These memories surface in nightmares, flashbacks, and dissociation.
Depression. People who have been sexually molested as children are four times more likely to be diagnosed with major depression. Depression is no joke; it cannot be cured by forcing themselves to get better. It is a severe and potentially deadly problem. The internal conflicts brought on by guilt and rage about their being sexually used by someone who was supposed to be their caregiver are enormous. If not treated, many will die by suicide.
Dissociative Disorders. These disorders include depersonalization, derealization, and dissociative identity disorder at the far extreme of the spectrum. Living with a dissociative disorder is horrific. Many lose time, don’t remember important events, and have a severely altered sense of identity.
Problems in relationships. Both men and women who women perpetrators abused suffer from isolation. Yes, they may have been married once or a dozen times, but because they lack the skills to relate to their partners, these relationships do not last. They sometimes prefer to be alone instead of with others because they feel safer alone.
Anxiety Disorders. Because sexual abuse is threatening and disruptive, children often develop a sense of insecurity and don’t believe the world is a safe place. This belief system expresses itself in adulthood as anxiety. One is hyper-alert and afraid of things that others don’t notice. This anxiety can manifest itself as panic attacks in adulthood. These overwhelming attacks make the person feel like they are going to die or that they have lost their mind.
Anger issues. Children whose female caregivers have molested them may be left with severe anger issues in adulthood. Although the person who harmed them may no longer be alive, the anger persists and can spill into the survivor’s home and work life.
Ending Our Time Together
This piece is personal to me as I was the victim of two women in my family. My abuse didn’t hurt, so I was left confused when the mother of my best friend when I was six caught me acting out on her daughter.
Women who abuse children were probably abused themselves, but that is an explanation, not an excuse. These women deserve the same punishment as men who lure children into a sexual relationship that the child does not want and cannot understand.
Do not despair if you were the sexual victim of a woman. The best way to handle the shame and guilt you may feel is to seek professional help. A therapist can help you come to terms with the fact that your female relative or friend used you.
I have been through several years of therapy and have put my memories of what happened to me to rest. No, I have not forgotten, but I have accepted that I cannot change my past and that I am okay.
You can too.
Bourke, A., Doherty, S., McBride, O., Morgan, K., & McGee, H. (2014). Female perpetrators of child sexual abuse: characteristics of the offender and victim. Psychology, crime & law, 20(8), 769-780.
Deering, R., & Mellor, D. (2011). An exploratory qualitative study of the self-reported impact of female-perpetrated childhood sexual abuse. Journal of child sexual abuse, 20(1), 58-76.
Jenny, C., Roesler, T. A., & Poyer, K. L. (1994). Are children at risk for sexual abuse by homosexuals? Pediatrics, 94(1), 41-44.
McLeod, D. A. (2015). Female offenders in child sexual abuse cases: A national picture. Journal of child sexual abuse, 24(1), 97-114.
Robinson, S. (1998). From victim to offender: Female offenders of child sexual abuse. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 6, 59-73.
My name is Shirley Davis and I am a freelance writer with over 40-years- experience writing short stories and poetry. Living as I do among the corn and bean fields of Illinois (USA), working from home using the Internet has become the best way to communicate with the world. My interests are wide and varied. I love any kind of science and read several research papers per week to satisfy my curiosity. I have earned an Associate Degree in Psychology and enjoy writing books on the subjects that most interest me.