Women who sexually abuse children
: an exploration of behavioural patterns and victim demographics

  • Annie Marsland

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Current understandings of the behavioural interactions, offending processes and associated victim demographics of adult women who have sexually abused children remains largely in its infancy. Whilst there have been a number of attempts to classify, create typologies and develop frameworks to understand the characteristics of such offenders and their crimes, these are often disjointed and have largely focused upon the psychodynamic factors, histories of female offenders or basic victim demographics but have frequently excluded victim experience (Gannon et al., 2008; Mathews et al., 1989; Vandiver & Kercher 2004). An exploration of cases reported to three UK police forces between 2010 and 2020 (N = 274) suggested that four consistent behavioural interactions could be identified across different age groups of victims, control, hostility, involvement and sexual gratification. A victim account sample (N = 73) collected using online social media platforms also showed that Models such as the Precondition Model (Finkelhor, 1984) could be applied to understand the offending process from victim perspectives. Likewise, key behavioural themes could be identified to help understand potential contexts and motivations behind abuse. Overall, consistent behavioural patterns were identified across both data sets that indicated potential intentions behind the abuse, including, hostility, involvement, control. Future research recommended the development of education and awareness programmes around female sexual abuse and the importance of consistent replication of research into females who sexually abuse children to maintain current knowledge around offending behaviours.
Date of Award27 Jul 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorCarla Reeves (Main Supervisor)

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