Sexual abuse is an extremely traumatic experience and in my work supervising sex offenders I too have been guilty of the common misconception that we all generally seem to have: when most people think of sex offenders, they envision men who sexually abuse women or young male or female victims. What is disconcerting however is the amount of sexual abuse based on reports by victims which has indicated that 40-60% of these offenses are committed by females, yet male offenders are prosecuted with much more frequency. What is even more alarming is that victims that have been sexually abused by both males and females report that the trauma of having been abused by a female has a more damaging impact, causing identity questions and feelings of betrayal. (Neofytou, 2022).
A large majority of the sexual assaults committed by females tend to go unreported for a variety of reasons: disbelief, embarrassment, and shame. Often the victims of sexual abuse and/or other childhood traumas themselves, their victims may be their own children or other young family members. Society views females are caring and nurturing, and it is therefore hard to even accept that these offenses even occur at their hands. In fact, at this point in time I only have one female sex offender on my caseload.
In the documentary Pervert Park, one of the residents of the trailer park, home to over 100 sex offenders, is a woman named Tracy, who was sexually abused by her father starting before the age of 5 and again later in her life as an adult. Tracy sexually abused her son when he was 11 years old, and sadly when her son was 16, he then in turn molested a 3-year-old boy. Not only does this show the cycle of trauma and abuse, it also serves to demonstrate the severe harm inflicted upon him as a child by his mother, a female sex offender.
All victims of sexual abuse need to have unfettered access to therapeutic counseling and trauma services not only to prevent revictimization but also to help prevent them from becoming the offenders of the future.
Köhncke, A; Barkfors, F. (2014). Final Cut for Real, & De Andra (Producers), & Barkfors, L. and Barkfors, F. (Directors). Pervert Park. [Video/DVD] DR Sales. Retrieved from https://video.alexanderstreet.com/watch/pervert-park
Neofytou, E. (2022, June). Childhood trauma history of female sex offenders: A systematic review. ScienceDirect. Sexologies, Volume 31, Issue 2. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1158136021000864#bbib0015