Juvenile and Adult Female Sexual Offending Behavior: Research, Assessment and Treatment Susan Robinson, LICSW June 14, 2013 Scotch Plains, New Jersey
Objectives • Provide overview of research on juvenile and adult female sexual offending including typologies. • Learn about assessment and clinical needs. • Review recidivism research. • Discuss probation implications.
Culture of Denial “That she might seduce a helpless child into sexplay is unthinkable, and even if she did so, what harm can be done without a penis?”
Culture of Denial “When treating the female offender, it is important to recognize that the psychological dynamics of the female offender are identical to those of the male offender.”
Culture of Denial “Pedophilia is considered to be a condition afflicting only males… Reported cases of female pedophilia are so uncommon as to be of little significance.”
Culture of Denial • “Pedophilia… does not exist at all in women” (Freund et al., 1984) • “Research on female sex offenders rejects the use of this term because of its irrelevance to female sexuality” (Dunbar, 1999)
Culture of Denial Referring to mother-daughter incest – “One in a million…a reasonable but probably high estimate.” (Abramson & Pinkerton, 2001)
Female Depictions Seducers Not Offenders
Females Depictions Temptresses Not Rapists
Statistics • 2009 stats: In the US alone, 208 females under age 18 for forcible rape and 5,337 females under 18 were arrested for other sexual offenses (excluding prostitution) (FBI, 2009). • 1% of adult sex offenders who abuse children are female (Groth, 1979). • Women are responsible for between 4% and 5% of all sexual offenses (Cortoni & Hanson, 2005; Cortoni, Hanson, & Coache, 2010).
Current Thinking “Aggressiveness is gendered and… attention must be devoted to the particularities of male and female violence” (Cavanaugh, 2002, p.i).
Current Thinking • “With respect to human sexuality, there is a female human nature and a male human nature, and these natures are extraordinarily different” (Symons, cited in Pinker, 1997, p. 461).
Review of the Research • Study Limitations • Small number of studies and comparison studies • Small sample sizes • Lack of statistical analysis • Unrepresentative samples • Poor generalizability • Reliability/validity concerns with archival data • Limitations of self-reported data
Sexual Victimization Histories of Sexually Abusive Girls • Appears to be the area of greatest gender difference: • 95.5% of the girls had sexual abuse histories vs. 69.9% of the boys (Hickey et al., 2008) • 63.6% of the girls had sexual abuse histories vs. 50% of the males (Kubik et al., 2002) • 72% females vs. 50% males (Miccio-Fonseca, 2000) • 77.6% girls vs. 44.3% boys (Mathews et al., 1997) • 100% girls vs. 63% boys (Bumby & Bumby, 1997)
Sexual Victimization Histories • Descriptive Studies • 72.7% had sexual abuse histories (Weedon, 2011) • 97% of girls (Howley, 2001) • 100% girls (Hunter et al., 1993) • 100% girls (Johnson, 1989)
Sexual Victimization Histories • Often abused at young ages: • 64% of girls prior to age 5 vs. 25.8% of boys (Mathews et al.) • Median age 4 for girls vs. 7 for boys (Hickey et al.) • Median age 3.8 (Howley) • Median age 4.5 (Hunter et al.) • 54% of girls prior to age 6 vs. 33% of boys (Miccio-Fonseca)
Sexual Victimization Histories • Often victimized by multiple perpetrators: • Mean number of perpetrators for girls was 4.83 vs. 1.75 for boys(Kubik et al.). • Mean number of perpetrators for girls was 4.5 vs. 1.4 for boys(Mathews et al.). • Median number for girls was 3.5 vs. 1 for boys (Hickey et al.) • 74% of girls abused by two or more perpetrators (Howley). • Mean number of perpetrators for girls was 5 (ranging from 2-7) (Hunter et al.).
Sexual Victimization Histories • Many girls have been abused repeatedly and severely: • 75% of girls had been victimized three or more times vs. 20% of boys. • 71.4% endured anal or vaginal penetration vs. 22.2% of boys (Kubik et al.). • 72.5% of girls reported being the victim of force and aggression vs. 45.2% of the boys (Mathews et al.).
Sexual Victimization Histories • Many girls have been abused by female perpetrators: • Girls were more likely than boys to be abused by both females and males (57.1% vs. 30.1%) (Hickey et at al.). • A female perpetrator abused 32% of the girls (Howley). • 3x as many girls than boys reported having been sexually abused by a female perpetrator (Mathews et al.). • 60% of girls had been abused by a female perpetrator(Hunter et al.).
Sexual Victimization Histories Girls more often abused by relatives (85.7% vs. 57.4%) and/or both relatives and acquaintances (57.1% vs. 28.4%) (Hickey et al.)
Other Maltreatment Histories • Many sexually abusive girls experience multiple forms of maltreatment: • Female adolescents “are more likely to have been maltreated in a variety of ways compared to their male counterparts” (p.77). • Physical abuse (63.6% vs. 40%) • Neglect (70% vs. 36.4%) • Exposure to family violence (62.5% vs. 22.2%) (Kubik et al.)
Other Maltreatment Histories • Hickey et al: • 90.9% emotional neglect • 77.3% physical neglect • Schwartz et al: • 95% neglected • Howley’s study: • 82% physical abuse • 71% general neglect • Mathew’s et al: • 60% physical abuse vs. 44.9% of boys. • Bumby & Bumby: • 75% physical abuse. • 42% emotional or physical neglect.
Other Exposure • Girls more likely than boys to witness domestic violence and sexual deviance within home (Schwartz et al., 2006). • Girls more likely to be exposed to inadequate sexual boundaries in the home (77.3% vs. 41.3%) (Hickey et al., 2008).
Conclusions Regarding Victimization Histories • Kubik et al: “[F]emales who committed sexual offenses tended to have more severe histories of maltreatment than their male counterparts” (p.81) • Mathews et al: “In comparison to their male counterparts, the developmental histories of the juvenile female perpetrators reflected even more extensive and severe maltreatment” (p.192).
Conclusions “Biological and socialization factors create a higher threshold for the externalization of experienced developmental trauma in females than males… [I]t may be that females are generally less likely than males to manifest the effects of maltreatment in the form of interpersonal aggression or violence and that females who develop such patterns are generally those who have experienced remarkably high levels of such developmental trauma in the absence of environmental support for recovery and the presence of healthy female role models” (p.164).
Mental Health Disturbances Among Sexually Abusive Girls • 59.1% had PTSD vs. 26.4% of boys and 40.9% had RAD vs. 15.4% of boys (Hickey et al.). • 50% had PTSD vs. 9.1% of boys (Kubik et al.). • 83% had received prior mental health treatment; 83% had histories of depression (Bumby & Bumby). • Over 1/2 had a mood disturbance and almost 1/2 of girls met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD (Mathews et al.).
Suicidal Ideation • 44% of the females had attempted suicide vs. 15% of the males. 50% of the females came from families where someone had attempted suicide vs. 8% of the males (Miccio-Fonseca). • 80% received prior mental health; 60% had histories of suicidal ideation and attempts (Hunter et al.). • 58% had histories of suicide attempts (Bumby & Bumby).
Stealing, Truancy, Running Away • 49% had run away; 39% engaged in truancy (Howley). • 33% arrested for stealing; 58% had run away; 58% had been truant. In comparison study, the girls had higher truancy rates than the boys (Bumby & Bumby). • Higher rates of stealing (74.2% vs. 52.8%) and truancy (43.8% vs. 27.6%) among girls than boys (Ray & English). • 60% had run away (Hunter et al.).
Academic Problems • 80% had a learning disorder (Tardif et al., 2005). • 60% had below average IQs, 50% received special education services (Howley). • 83% had academic difficulties; only 1 was classified as learning disabled. In comparison study, females were retained at least one grade in school at a significantly higher rate than males (Bumby & Bumby). • 40% had learning disabilities (Hunter et al.).
Sexual Abuse in Caretaking Roles • 11 out of 12 offended while they were babysitting. None abused strangers (Bumby & Bumby). • Females appeared more likely to offend while babysitting (Mathews et al.). • 67.9% of offenses occurred while babysitting. None abused strangers (Fehrenbach & Monastersky).
Use of Force • Considerable force used in most cases (Hendriks & Bijleveld) • No differences between males and females in regards to level of coercion (Kubik et al.). • 40% of girls used force during at least one of their offenses (Hunter et al.). • All the girls used force or coercion to gain victim compliance (Johnson).
Motivations for Sexual Abuse • Sex offending more about anger (approx. 60%), most often towards main caretakers, than sexual curiosity or stimulation (Howley). • Resistance to cultural scripts • Protection by perpetration • Trauma reenactment
Motivation • To what extent does the desire for sexual arousal and stimulation motivate girls to sexually abuse? • Girls may be less likely to disclose sexual arousal due to lack of awareness of their sexuality and arousal response, in addition to scripts that teach them to deny their sexuality. • Lack of physiological measurements
Attachment and Sex • Perpetrating is “often motivated by the desire to establish or maintain an emotional relationship” (Turner & Turner, 1996, p. 41). • “Where attachment has proven unsatisfying as a source of nurturance, girls may resort to precocious sexual involvements in a bid for attachment rather than for actual sexual gratification… [W]here the attachment system falters, the sexual system may come into play in substitute fashion”(Salzman, 1990).
Mother-Daughter Dynamics • Disconnected relationships • Anger at mother for sacrificing relationship for abusive partner and/or for failing to protect. • A need for differentiation: • “[F]emale offenders may have perpetrated in order to differentiate themselves from enmeshed, victim-identified mothers, and/or to act out rage at their mothers, who failed to protect them from other offenders” (Turner & Turner, p.17).
Mother-Daughter Dynamics • Johnson (1989): • Mothers were extremely dependent on daughters; significant role reversals. • Mothers had abuse histories and adopted a victim stance in relating to the world. • Girls may have sexually abused due to a “reaction formation not only stemming from their own victimization but against the almost complete dependency and victim status which their mothers modeled for them” (p.582).
Typologies: GirlsPredisposed Offending • They sexually offend primarily due to their own sexual abuse histories or individual/family psychopathology. • Severe abuse histories • Co-morbid diagnoses • Attachment and empathy deficits • Criminal orientation or exclusive sexual offending
Typologies:Experimenting/Exploiting • Their primary motivation is sexual curiosity. • Their sexual abuse histories appear secondary. • Crime of opportunity • Low levels of psychopathology • Lack social skills and prior sexual experiences • Naïve
Typologies:Peer-Influenced Offending • Offending due to pressure from peers or group involvement. • Unassertive, dependent, easily influenced • Least likely form of sexual offending for females (or is it?)
Finkelhor, Omrod, & Chaffin (2009) • Female sexually abusive youth were more likely than their male counterparts to offend with others (36% vs. 23%) as well as with adults (13% vs. 5%). • They were, however, more likely to be considered victims at the same time they were offending by investigators.
Vandiver (2010) • 52% of the girls had at least one co-offender vs. 19% of boys. • Social amplification occurs when girls offend with a co-offender. This is not the same for boys. • Arrestee age: boys were significantly older. • Those who acted with someone were likely to have a male co-offender and have more than one victim. The victim was typically a girl.
Typologies: Women • Mathews, Matthews & Speltz (1990) • Self-Initiated Offenses: • Intergenerationally Predisposed • Experimenter/Exploiter • Teacher/Lover • Accompanied Offenses: • Male Coerced • Psychologically Disturbed
What about MYLF? • “Stop saying that teenage boys who have sex with their hot, blonde teachers are permanently damaged. I have a better description for these kids: lucky bastards” (George Carlin, New Rules, 2007). • MYLF websites • Lucky lads or not? • Adult females pursued by teenage males
Syed & Williams (1996) • 19 incarcerated female offenders • Teacher/Lover (1) • Angry/Impulsive (1) • Male Coerced (4) • Male Accompanied (familial) (3) • Male Accompanied (non-familial) (2)
Nathan & Ward (2001) • Co-offending subtypes: • The compliant victim: Psychologically disturbed with strong dependency needs. Will set up her own children. • The rejected: Sexually rejected by male partners and resort to sexual contact with children. Pathological jealousy and rage. • The willing ally/imposter: Psychologically disturbed with pathological self-esteem issues. They attach to dominant male with paraphilias and/or antisocial traits.
Saradjian (1996) • Study of 50 female offenders • Women who initially target young children (Predisposed offenders) (14) • Women who initially target adolescents (teacher/lover) (10) • Women who are initially coerced offenders (male-coerced) (12) • Atypical offenders (10) • Perpetrators of ritual abuse (4)
Saradjian Continued • All female sole perpetrators have sexual abuse histories. • Women usually start abusing when they are in maternal roles. Victims are most often female children. • Many do become aroused from children’s pain. • All have negative view of self. • Many have low sex drives. • Lack of substance abuse.
Saradjian Continued • Endogenous opioids and Serotonin are involved in sex offending. • The women’s abuse histories are evidence of a history of a release of endogenous opioids. • The women had excessive exposure to endogenous opioids and became physiologically dependent on them. • Intense stress leads to reduced levels of Serotonin: impulsive behavior.
Vandiver & Walker (2002) • 40 female registered sex offenders in Arkansas • Most of the offenders: only one sex offense, no other criminal history • Females significantly more likely to be first time offenders compared to male registered sex offenders.
Prentky (2004) • Type A: severe child/adolescent abuse leads to severe adult abuse by partner including rape, DV, and coerced sexual abuse of children (Male-coerced typology + personality disordered) • Type B: appear to seek out partners with common pedophilic interests; etiology unclear (Male accompanied offenders)