What drives people to sexually abuse children? Their motives are quite difficult to understand.
Mr. X: I told myself it’s not gonna happen again but it did. I needed help so I called the therapy group. I wanted them to help me leave my stepdaughter alone.
Counselor: Did you tell your wife about it?
Mr. X: No. But I knew I was going to be arrested because I called the welfare department. I told the welfare department everything. I arranged to be evaluated by the mental hospital.
Counselor: So you turned yourself in?
Mr. X: Yes. I realized the urgency of getting treatment for myself and my children. I couldn’t stop on my own so I forced myself to stop by calling the welfare department.
It is not clear why people molest children. Even if we try hard to educate ourselves on the matter, we never really understand it completely. Perhaps, it is only the abuser enmeshed in an abusive situation who can truly make sense out of the internal logic of the act. But we can always try to understand the multiple answers as to why people sexually abuse children.
Childhood History of Abuse
Children who have an early history of being molested and/or seeing family members abused such as a parent abusing the other, grow up accepting it as a normal condition of life. The trauma they suffer from being a helpless victim, push them to opt out of the abuse by being abusive themselves. As they become adults, being the aggressor or abuser may give them their first sense of being in control of their own destiny. Hurting others in the process may be a dim part of their awareness or worse, a totally unregistered thought.
Mental Health Issues
Anger that easily gets out of control may be caused by some mental health problem. An intermittent explosive behavior may be vented out by way of engaging in sex with someone over whom he has overwhelming control such as a poor child. Likewise, a drinking or drug problem destroys the ability to inhibit himself at the brain level causing him to sexually strike out at his partner and dependents.
Some sexual abusers especially those who suffer from very low self esteem relate much better with children than with adults. As a result, they pick children to abuse while creating false beliefs that the child is attracted to them or desires to have sex with them. We often hear of completely nonsense statements from abusers such as “the child is in love with me” or “asked to have sex with me.”
Sexual abusers may also suffer from empathy deficit wherein innate empathic abilities never developed properly. Such people choose to relate with people, not as people, but as objects. They regard people as existing solely for their convenience and not as individuals with their independent and important lives. Sexual abuse is committed because of the gratification they derive from it which is fundamentally about power and control.
Can Child Sexual Abusers be Rehabilitated?
They are mostly people who otherwise seem quite normal on the outside but can these sexual abusers be rehabilitated? Experts believe that it depends on who the child sexual abuser is. Majority of the perpetrators are family members, close relatives or acquaintances who are more open to treatment than fixed pedophiles. Fixed pedophiles will abuse children as long as there is an opportunity. For incest perpetrators, however, there is greater hope for treatment and rehabilitation. If they are held accountable, given due punishment and receive proper therapeutic treatment, they will most likely be able to stop permanently and spare more innocent children from the ordeal of such a dastardly act.
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