Development of Sexually Abusive Behavior in Adolescent Males Who Have Been Sexually Victimized

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Childhood sexual abuse is represents a significant public health problem in the United States, as 21% of U.S. children experience sexual victimization prior to age 18. Research dedicated to preventing further sexual victimization has identified factors that influence the development of sexually abusive behavior. The abused-abuser hypothesis suggests that a prior history of sexual victimization may increase the risk of engaging in sexually abusive behavior among some victims. Some research has also investigated the relationship between characteristics of an individual's experiences of sexual abuse and the characteristics of their own sexually abusive behavior, but such research is scarce with inconsistent findings. For the present study, we first hypothesized that childhood sexual victimization is more prevalent among those who have engaged in sexually abusive behavior than those who have not. We also posited that among those who have engaged in sexually abusive behavior, their own sexual abuse experiences contribute to victim Page 188 2017 Appalachian Student Research Forum choice, the age at which they begin sexually abusing others, and the frequency of abuse. Our sample (N=529; 100% male; 84.7% Caucasian; M = 17.71) consisted of participants from two larger studies of university students with no known history of sexually abusive behavior (n = 286; 84.6% Caucasian; M = 20.18) and youth who have engaged in sexually abusive behaviors and received residential treatment in the Southeastern U.S (n = 243; 84.8% Caucasian; M =14.79). Data from university students were self-reported, while data from the residential youth were coded from archival records. Results of a chisquare analysis revealed that youth who have engaged in sexually abusive behavior were significantly more likely to have experienced childhood sexual abuse than non-sexual abusers,  2 (1, N=523) =210.788, p = .000. Additionally, within the sample of youth who have engaged in sexually abusive behavior, correlations were used to examine relationships between characteristics of their own sexual perpetrators and their victim choice. Results indicate being victimized by a male is significantly associated with having a male victim (r= .143, p=.033), being victimized by a relative is associated with sexually abusing a relative (r=.148, p=.024), and being victimized by a non-relative is associated with sexually abusing a non-relative (r=.194, p=.033). Findings thus far indicate that youth who have engaged in sexually abusive behavior have not only experienced greater sexual victimization than non-sexual abusers, but that the characteristics of their sexual perpetrators may relate to how they sexually abuse others, specifically with regard to victim choice. Additional analyses will examine whether these characteristics of sexual victimization influence the age of onset of their sexual offending and their number of arrests, sexual offenses, and victims. Future directions and limitations will also be explored.


Johnson City, TN

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