“We’re not allowed to have experienced trauma. We’re not allowed to go through the grieving process” - Exploring the indirect harms associated with Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) offending and its impacts on non-offending family members

Rachel Armitage, Nadia Wager, Dawn Wibberley, Lara Hudspith, Victoria Gall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Online child sexual abuse encompasses a range of offenses including the accessing, downloading, sharing and creating of images of child sexual abuse, often referred to as Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). CSAM consumption has increased exponentially, and the lockdowns implemented as a response to COVID-19 have exacerbated this problem. CSAM offenders are more likely than other sex offenders to be married, to have children and to live with a partner and child(ren). Policy, practice and research has largely considered these families within the context of their protective properties, with little consideration for the individual and collective harms that they experience, and their unique support needs. Using data from 20 interviews with family members of those convicted of CSAM offenses in the UK, we propose seven key elements that characterize the impacts of CSAM offending on non-offending family members. We categorize these as: 1) Disenfranchised Grief; 2) Ambiguous Loss; 3) Ontological Assault; 4) Contamination by Causal Responsibility; 5) Wall of Silence; 6) No-Win Situation, and 7) Burden of Responsibility. We propose policy and practice responses to minimize these harms.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
JournalVictims and Offenders
Early online date15 Feb 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2023

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