Childhood, often hailed as the most luminous phase of life, is adorned with the radiant hues of happiness, innocence, and boundless enthusiasm. It is a time when the world gleams with positivity and hope. However, this luminosity is tragically overshadowed by a heinous crime that casts a dark pall over the lives of countless children – child sexual abuse. The innocence that once illuminated their lives is brutally shattered, leaving behind scars that can last a lifetime.
Within the sombre realm of this issue, disconcerting facts from reputable sources paint a grim picture of the situation prevailing in our society. The year 2021 witnessed a staggering revelation from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) that there were a heartbreaking 1,49,404 cases of crimes against children, which makes it mandatory to study the mindset of an abuser. This haunting figure brings to light the vulnerability that many young souls face in the very spaces that should be their sanctuaries.Disturbingly, a substantial 36% of these cases fell under the purview of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. This alarming statistic underscores the unsettling reality that nearly every third crime against a child pertains to a violation of their sexual integrity and security.
In the face of these distressing numbers, it becomes necessary to delve into the psychology of those who perpetrate such heinous acts, the mindset of the abuser. This article explores the typical characteristics of a child sexual abuser and tries to understand their way of thinking. What drives an individual to commit such unspeakable acts? What compels them to betray the very innocence they were once entrusted to protect? These are the unsettling questions that demand exploration as we attempt to comprehend the deeply unsettling phenomenon of child sexual abuse.
Why to gain an insight into the mindset of an abuser?
First let’s know who is an abuser. “Abuser” is any person who treats another person in a cruel or violent way, especially sexually. “Offender” and “perpetrator” tend to be the most frequently used terms to refer to individuals having allegedly committed or been convicted of committing a crime of sexual nature, which have a broader meaning – committing crime of any sort.
Following are the reasons why it is important to know mindset of an abuser :
- Supporting Victims’ Healing: Victims of abuse frequently hold themselves responsible for what they have gone through. Understanding the mechanisms of abuse can provide victims a sense of validation and healing by assisting them in realizing they were not at fault.
- Future Victimisation and Crimes Can Be Prevented: We Can Protect Potential Victims By Understanding The Patterns And Triggers Associated With Abusive Behaviour. This can entail teaching adults and kids how to spot abusive behaviour and fostering conditions that support open talk about these problems.
- Stopping Recurrence of Abuse: We can assist abusers in addressing the reasons that contributed to their abusive behaviour through interventions, therapy, and education, furthering altering the mindset of an abuser.
- Promoting Accountability and Rehabilitation: Recognizing the seriousness of the offence is crucial, but addressing the underlying causes of abusive behavior can also help to reduce the likelihood that it will happen again. Creating opportunities for abusers to take responsibility for their behavior and seek treatment can help end the cycle of abuse.
- Understanding Abuse Without Excusing It: Acknowledging the causes, psychology, and environment that contribute to abusive behavior does not justify or excuse it. It aids in our understanding of the complicated elements that influence people to engage in such behavior.
- Giving Assistance to Offenders: Some people who engage in abusive behaviour may have underlying problems that contributed to their behaviour. Understanding these problems will enable us to interact with them empathically, urge them to get professional assistance, and perhaps even stop further abusive behaviour.
8 Reasons Why Abusers abuse
There might not be any justification for abusers but there are various reasons why abusers abuse, most of which are psychological in nature.
- Cycle of abuse
Within the complex dynamics of childhood abuse, it’s important to recognize that many individuals rise above their painful pasts, strength, and positive change. While some survivors of childhood abuse may, unfortunately, find themselves in harmful patterns, it’s crucial to emphasize the potential for healing and transformation. The journey from victim to victor involves a range of factors that can lead to a positive outcome.
- Healing: Some individuals who experienced childhood abuse rise above their pasts, using their inner strength to break the cycle. They channel their pain into personal growth, seeking healthier ways to cope with the world.
- Healthy Relationships: Many survivors of abuse forge healthy and nurturing relationships, proving that healing is possible. By seeking positive connections, they create an environment of support and love.
- Control Over Anger: While anger is a natural response to past abuse, some survivors react to this emotion toward healing and advocacy. They become powerful methods for change, working to prevent abuse.
- Reframing Power and Control: Instead of abusive behaviours, some individuals strive to redefine power and control in their lives. They find their true strength lies in treating others with respect and empathy.
- Seeking therapy counselling, and support, survivors of abuse can break the cycle and choose a path of healing. They learn healthier behaviors and effective ways to manage emotions.
- Abuser can be a Pedophile
Serial child rapist Rehan Qureshi has probably abused nearly 100 children. By his admission, since his first attempt in 2015, he would target 10-12 children every month and managed to prey on at least one or two of them. He confessed that he had attempted to rape so many children at so many different spots that he couldn’t even remember all of them. He had even told his mother that he was attracted to children, but she did not take him seriously, said police sources. This is a known case of Pedophilia.
According to the World Health Organization, pedophilia is “sexual preference for children, boys or girls or both, usually of prepubertal or early pubertal age” (WHO 2010). It’s important to recognize that while some individuals with pedophilic tendencies may be exclusively attracted to children, others might experience a combination of attractions towards both children and adults. It’s noteworthy that this condition involves the majority of cases being among men.
Dr. Klaus Beier reminds us that individuals who are suffering from pedophilic inclinations are not fully responsible for their behavior but also there are instances where individuals accept responsibility for their desires, making strides toward healthier choices. That’s why it is important to differentiate between those who experience these desires and actively resist acting on them versus those who engage in harmful actions. Individuals can reduce these urges through various means, such as channeling their emotions, seeking support, or focusing on their conscience, morality, and empathy.
- Compulsive sexual behaviour
Sexual Addiction is the realm of promoting sexual well-being, it’s essential to understand compulsive sexual behavior, often referred to as sexual addiction. This phenomenon involves an overwhelming surge of sexual thoughts or behavior that can become challenging to manage and lead to mindset of an abuser.
While some individuals may experience fantasies that involve minors, it’s important to address these behaviours. The factors contributing to compulsive sexual behaviour are varied and multifaceted. By exploring these elements with a compassionate perspective, we can better understand the situation:
- Scientific insights indicate that changes in brain pathways might play a role in compulsive sexual behaviour. By acknowledging this early, we can support healthy brain function.
- An imbalance in brain chemicals can contribute to compulsive behaviour. By focusing on equilibrium, individuals can embark on a journey towards emotional balance.
- Addressing issues like depression, anxiety, or addiction is a vital step toward cultivating mental wellness.
- Resolving family conflicts can foster an environment of understanding, acceptance, and support. Strong family bonds play an essential role in the journey toward healthier choices.
Cognitive behavioural therapy and medications can be a part of their treatment.
- Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)
This refers to a variety of crimes and actions that involve sexual abuse or exploitation of a child for financial gain. The child is viewed as both a sexual and a commercial object. Commercial sexual exploitation of children is a type of coercion, and such abuse against children is equivalent to modern-day slavery and forced labour.
It includes an “abuser”, frequently referred to as a “customer” or “client”, a person who pays to sexually abuse children for his or her own gratification. He or she utterly ignores the reality that child sexual exploitation is a criminal offence as well as a significant violation of a child’s human rights.
Examples of crimes and acts that constitute CSEC:
- Child sex trafficking or the prostitution of children involves the recruitment, harbouring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronising, or soliciting of a minor for the purpose of a commercial sex act.
- Child sex tourism involving commercial sexual activity: With the sole purpose of taking advantage of the lack of proper law and legislature on sexual activity and prostitution in certain countries, such vacations are planned as “sex escapades”. Such people seek thrills from travelling to another country for the purpose of paying to have sex with children. Nonetheless, it has been emphasized that child sexual exploitation happens in the context of domestic travel and tourism too and is not limited to border crossings.
- Commercial production of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is a huge contributor to mindset of an abuser.
- Online transmission of a live video of a child engaged in sexual activity in exchange for anything of value.
“The love of power is the demon of mankind!”- Freidrich Nietzsche
Some abusers take pleasure in harming children and get aroused when left alone with them. This is more likely to happen if the abuser is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. Born out of the feelings of helplessness and lack of control in their lives, they take such abusive steps in pursuit of claiming power, albeit in front of children.
- Media Influence
A large percentage of mainstream television shows feature sexual content. The internet’s increased accessibility has substantially boosted the availability of pornography online, with thousands of individuals logging in every second to watch sexually explicit content. This has serious repercussions for the innocent children who are exploited as the “performer” or “viewer” of such media.
Child Sexual Abuse Mate: As bizarre and disturbing as it sounds, is a heinous reality of the present era. After immersing themselves in such media, some adults try to justify their act of watching child pornography. They do so by stating that they would never engage in sexual activity with a child in person or that no “real” child is being hurt, not realizing that the images they are viewing are crime scene photographs and that there is a real survivor behind this distasteful imagery. Girls, boys, teenagers, and children are portrayed as sex objects in this culture. Alas, despite the manipulative, coercive, or persuasive visuals in mainstream pornography, it is widely seen because of its addictive nature, thus encouraging abuse!
- Section 14 of the POCSO Act 2012 criminalises “use of a child or children for pornographic purposes,” and the punishment includes:
- At least five years in jail with a fine.
- In the case of a second conviction, the punishment can be extended to seven years along with a fine.
- Section 15 of the Act also prohibits “storing or possessing child pornography”, and “transmitting, propagating, displaying, or distributing” it in any manner. The punishment includes:
- 3 to 5 years in jail for storing or possessing child pornography for commercial purposes
- Situational offenders
Situational offenders represent a distinct category of individuals who may not inherently possess a sexual preference for children or adolescents. However, they engage in the sexual exploitation of children when presented with opportunities.
For example, when someone is home alone to look after a child, they might take advantage of that situation.
This highlights the importance of understanding this behaviour to create effective prevention strategies. Situational sex offenders often exploit those children who are within their reach, including those they may have a connection with. Adolescents in their early years can unfortunately become targets.
It’s important to recognize that these individuals are not driven by sexual fantasies. Experts propose that a significant portion of child sexual exploitation cases involve situational offenders.
We should empower ourselves with the knowledge that can aid in early intervention and prevention. Raising awareness about situational offenders helps us work collectively to safeguard children from potential harm and ensure their safety. Ultimately, through education and measures, we can contribute to a safer environment for children and adolescents.
Adults who engage in child sexual abuse convince themselves of their actions by falsely believing that:
- Whatever they do to the child is okay.”
- The victim deserves it.
- Abuse is not detrimental.
- It is a means to feel strong and in control.
- Children’s affection is sexual.
- Age has no bearing on what they are doing.
In this way, they make themselves and others believe that child sexual abuse isn’t a crime and continue doing this horrific act.
Is it that simple to identify a potential abuser?
A Government of India, Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) study in 2007 which interviewed 125,000 children in 13 Indian states revealed that the prevalence of all forms of child abuse is extremely high with sexual abuse amounting to 50%. This major state-sponsored survey in India reported the prevalence of CSA as 53%. In this survey, the majority of the abusers were people known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility. Several reports indicate that , friends, close relatives, acquaintances and employers at workplaces are the most common abusers.
The mindset of child sexual abusers is a complex and disturbing topic. Identifying abusers on the basis of certain traits, habits or behaviors is challenging because not all abusers exhibit the same patterns. Anyone can be a SEX OFFENDER. Stepparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, neighbors, babysitters, religious leaders, teachers, coaches, fathers and moms are examples of people who may sexually abuse children. They come from all genders, social classes, races, and religions and they might be homosexual or heterosexual.
But to control and prevent the crime, here above are some warning signs or red flags that might indicate that an individual needs further scrutiny and investigation. Society must work to prevent child sexual abuse through education, raising awareness and implementing effective prevention and reporting measures. If you suspect or know about child sexual abuse, it is essential to report it to the appropriate authorities to protect the child from further harm.
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