Honors Program

Honors in Psychology

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Jill D. Stinson

Thesis Professor Department


Thesis Reader(s)

Ginette C. Blackhart, Megan A. Quinn


The abused-abuser hypothesis posits that a history of sexual victimization may increase the risk of engaging in sexually abusive behavior for some victims. Although many researchers have discovered a higher prevalence of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) in sex offenders in comparison with non-sex offenders, less research has considered how specific characteristics of prior sexual abuse may contribute to how these individuals sexually abuse others. For the present study, archival data were collected from 243 youths receiving residential treatment for sexually abusive behavior and self-reported data were collected from university students with no known history of sexual offending. The present study confirms disproportionally high rates of CSA in the sample of sexually abusive youth, compared to non-sexual abusers. Further, among the sample of sexually abusive youth, we examined the effects of sexual perpetrator characteristics and age of sexual victimization on victim choice, age at first sexual offense, and number of sexual offenses, number of arrests, and sexual victims. Results revealed associations between perpetrator characteristics and victim choice. Additionally, being sexually victimized by a male or a relative was significantly associated with a younger age of onset of sexually abusive behavior and a younger age of sexual victimization suggested a greater number of sexual victims. Implications and future directions will be explored.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.