Why try to understand?
The first thing to say is that understanding why people sexually abuse does not remove their responsibility for their actions. The responsibility for the abuse lies with the abuser, and never with the victim.
Understanding why people abuse, however, is important because it can help us prevent them from carrying out the abuse and work out the best ways to protect children.
A range of factors
When someone decides to sexually abuse a child, a range of factors are likely to play a part.
Sexual gratification can be a motive for abusing a child but it is not the only one and there are usually also other motives at play.
Other motives people might have to abuse a child include:
- The desire to control someone and feel powerful,
- A need to manage or act out difficult emotions,
- A desire to gain status in the eyes of others,
- A need to feel close to someone.
Most child abusers are not only sexually interested in children. Children are often targeted for sexual abuse simply because they are usually more vulnerable than adults.