Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 31–48

Resiliency in the Victim–Offender Cycle in Male Sexual Abuse


  • Ian Lambie
    • Psychology DepartmentUniversity of Auckland
    • SAFE ProgrammeUniversity of Auckland
  • Fred Seymour
    • Psychology DepartmentUniversity of Auckland
  • Alan Lee
    • Statistics DepartmentUniversity of Auckland
  • Peter Adams
    • Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral ScienceUniversity of Auckland

DOI: 10.1023/A:1013077426928

Cite this article as:
Lambie, I., Seymour, F., Lee, A. et al. Sex Abuse (2002) 14: 31. doi:10.1023/A:1013077426928


The prevalence of childhood sexual abuse in child molesters is considerably higher than that in the general population. This finding had led to the “victim–offender cycle” being popularized as an explanation for sexual offending. However, not all child molesters were victimized as children, so it is of interest to examine the factors that contribute to the victim–offender cycle or, conversely, resiliency. This study examined the “moderating factors” that may prevent a male victim of sexual abuse from entering the victim–offender cycle. Two groups were interviewed as part of the study: a “resilient group” (n = 47) and a victim–offender group (n = 41). After correction for age and education level, the resilient group were less likely to have fantasized and masturbated about the abuse, less likely to report deriving pleasure from the abuse, more likely to have had frequent social contact with adolescent peers and to have had more family and nonfamily support during childhood. The findings support the need for multifactorial models of resiliency, the victim–offender cycle, and sexual offending. Recommendations about the prevention of the victim–offender cycle are made, including the need for a thorough systemic assessment of all male victims of sexual abuse and the involvement of their family system in counseling.

victim–offender cyclemale sexual abuseresiliencyprevention

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002