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03 Mar 2003

Why do teenagers commit sexual abuse?
What would make teenage boys of about 17 molest and rape a 7 year old? It's not gang-related and happened in mid-class neighbourhood in the 80's. Was it different back then - that the child might have provoked them? (in the absence of pornography as known today). Would these boys still remember such a deed in adulthood (as no doubt the 7 year old is haunted with as an adult)? Do you see any purpose in the victims' searching out of these rapists? Would they even remember her or would the perpetrators of such a crime be completely without conscience? Are they considdered paedophiles? Is it likely that they would have gone on to rape / sexually abuse others - or that it might have been a once of situational crime? Thank you for your input.
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

Dear Dainii,
Important but very difficult questions. Not a great deal is known about what makes molesters do what they do. If the events are not reported, they keep their sleazy reasons to themselves. If the matter is reported, and here is some sort of inquiry and case about it, then their focus tends to shift towards self-justification and trying to escape the likely consequences --- so what they might say about their actions and motivations are suspect and probably self-serving rather than accurate.
"Provocation" by the victim is unlikely to have played a part. OK, there are some occasions when some youngsters are suprisingly provocative and flirty towards older people ; but adults ( and 17 year-olds are fully equipped to act as adults in this regard ) are supposed to know better than to respond to such behaviors, even if they do exist, without recognizing that a 7-year-old is in no way able to understand the situation or its possible consequences, or to have suficient power to control the situation.
By the way, I think great damage arises from the law's customary assumption that 17-year-olds are somehow naive and innocent little angels, who ought not to be held fully responsible for their decisions, while mere months later after the chronological irrelevancy of their 18th birthday, hey suddenly are assumed to have become adult and responsible. Tosh !
The boys are likely to still recall something about the deed, but probably not a lot, especially if they escaped major consequences at the time.
I see no value at all in the victim seeking out her rapists. In fantasy, one might long for such a confrontation, where the beasts will confess, weep, and beg forgiveness. In practice, this is so rare as to be not worth considering. In practice, they are rarel;y if ever concerned to enable their past victim to feel better ; and such experiences can merely add to the victims pain.
It's impossible to guess that the longer-term outcome would be in such people. Some may indeed be so shocked by what they realize they have done, as to avoid such possible actions carefully in the future. Some are psychopaths who feel little for other's feelings, and may have continued to be abusive of others, in this or other ways. How they have been afected, is their affair, and not fruitful for the victim to speculate about.
What is actually important is for the victim, if still troubled by recollections of the event ; and/or if troubled by whatever conclusions they have drawn from the experience, about themselves or the world in general, to seek expert and experienced therapy, to work through the issues, set herself free from bonds to this past event, and become more able to enjoy the free future she deserves.
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