The Relation of Childhood Abuse Experiences to Problematic Sexual Behaviors in Male Youths Who Have Sexually Offended

  • Kathryn A. Davis
  • Raymond A. KnightEmail author
Original Paper


Psychological abuse and sexual abuse, either alone or in combination, have been implicated as developmental antecedents of problematic sexual thoughts and behaviors in studies of sexually aggressive males (Jesperson, Lalumière, & Seto, 2009; Knight & Sims-Knight, 2011; Levenson & Grady, 2016; Seto & Lalumière, 2010). Recently, psychological abuse perpetrated by a male caregiver has emerged as strongly associated with subsequent hypersexuality in adult males who had sexually offended. In a study of 529 adult male sexual offenders, Kingston, Graham, and Knight (2017) found that male caregiver psychological abuse was the most prominent correlate of hypersexual thoughts and behaviors in adulthood, above and beyond the effects of other abuse types, such as physical abuse and sexual abuse. Consequently, we hypothesized that, among juveniles who had sexually offended, higher self-reported levels of childhood psychological and sexual abuse, in contrast to other types of childhood maltreatment experiences, would covary with higher subsequent levels of normophilic sexualized thoughts and behaviors. Consistent with Kingston et al., Male Caregiver Psychological Abuse accounted for a significant amount of the variance in subsequent reported hypersexuality in this juvenile sample. Furthermore, this factor also emerged as a significant correlate of deviant sexual behaviors and fantasies, such as paraphilic interests and pedophilic preference. Sexual Abuse was also found to be significantly associated with hypersexuality. These findings provide additional support for the demonstrated relation between psychological abuse by a male caregiver and subsequent problematic sexual thoughts and behaviors. These data are also consistent with other research that suggests a gender symmetry effect in the impact of parental discipline and the differential effect of male caregiver abuse on male children.


Childhood abuse Juveniles Sexual offending Hypersexuality Paraphilia Pedophilia 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, MS 062Brandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

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