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The incidence of child abuse in serial killers


Fifty serial killers who murdered for the primary goal of attaining sexual gratification, termed lust killers, were studied to determine the prevalence of childhood abuse. Information regarding the childhood abuse sustained by each killer was obtained primarily from biographical books, newspaper articles, and online sites. Abuse was categorized into physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect and was then compared to societal norms from 2001. Abuse of all types excluding neglect was significantly higher in the serial killer population. For serial killers, the prevalence of physical abuse was 36%; sexual abuse was 26%; and psychological abuse was 50%. Neglect was equally prevalent in the serial killer (18%) and societal norm populations.

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Mitchell, H., Aamodt, M.G. The incidence of child abuse in serial killers. J Police Crim Psych 20, 40–47 (2005).

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  • Sexual Abuse
  • Childhood Abuse
  • Physical Abuse
  • Newspaper Article
  • Psychological Abuse