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What Motivates Female Sex Offenders?

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Michelle Golland: Sexual abuse by females, while not as common and definitely underreported as abuse by males, does occur. Marlee Matlin, while on CNN's "Larry King Live" Monday, spoke about her own experience of sexual abuse at the hands of her female babysitter when she was just 11 years old.

female sex offender sitting alone

It appears, if the allegations are true, that part of the motive in the death of Sandra Cantu was that her killer, Melissa Huckaby, was sexually abusing her and may have killed her in the course of or in an attempt to hide the abuse.

A 2007 report by the Center for Sex Offender Management says that one half of sex offender therapy programs provide services to females. Approximately 3,800 adult women and 2,700 adolescent girl offenders were receiving sex offender therapy services in 2007 -- a number that's nearly twice the number of those served in these programs two years prior.

4 to 8% of reported cases of sex abuse were perpetrated by women. An estimated 1.6 million men and 1.5 million women were sexually abused by women when they were children, and among male offenders convicted and sentenced sexual abuse crimes, 24.6% of them were sexually abused by women.

Characteristics of female sex offenders

  1. Women between the ages of 22-33 years of age.
  2. They have experienced sexual abuse as children or teens and can have victimization histories twice the rate of men who sexually offend.
  3. History of alcohol and/or drug abuse.
  4. The majority are not mentally ill, but may experience depression or personality disorders.
  5. A majority are employed in professional jobs.
  6. They have difficulties in intimate relationships; or an absence of intimate relationships.

Victims of female sex offenders:

  1. A high percentage of victims are in the family or the perpetrator is close to the victim -- friend, teacher, coach, sitter or clergy.
  2. Victims are both boys and girls -- with a slightly higher number of girls.
  3. Younger children, under the age of 12, are more often victims of women over the age of 30 years of age.
  4. Children between the ages of 13-17 are often the victims of women who are between the ages of 18 to 25 years of age.
  5. Women do not tend to show a "victim age preference" in the same manner that male sex offenders do.

Categories of female sex ffenders

  1. Teacher/Lover: At the time of their offending, these women are often struggling with peer relationships. They perceive themselves as having romantic or sexually mentoring "relationships" with underaged adolescent victims of their sexual preference, and therefore, did not consider what they are doing to be wrong or criminal in nature.
  2. Predisposed: Histories of incestuous sexual victimization, psychological difficulties and deviant sexual fantasies were common among these women who generally acted alone in their offending. They tend to victimize their own children or other young children within their families or they are close too.
  3. Male-Coerced: These women tend to be passive and dependent individuals with histories of sexual abuse and relationship difficulties. Fearing abandonment, they were pressured by male partners to commit sex offenses often against their own children.

Bringing us Out of Denial
If what is being reported is true regarding the death and sexual abuse of Sandra Cantu, then one positive thing that can come out of this horrible situation is that more children, both boys and girls, will report sexual abuse at the hands of female perpetrators and we as a society will no longer deny the harsh reality of sexual violence at the hands of women. If we continue this cultural denial, we deny the victims the support they need to report the trauma and seek help in their healing.

Connect with Dr. Michelle Golland in the Community!


next: People I Want to Punch
42 comments so far | Post a comment now
Gigohead  April 14, 2009, 5:24 PM

What rock have I been hiding? How did I not know about women raping little girls? I have seen and heard of cases of women preying on young adolescent boys and I’ve read of cases of women having relationships with adolescent teen age girls (we had a case in NYC recently of a teacher who was having a relationship with a 14 year old girl) but I’ve never heard of a case of a women “raping” of a little 8 year old girl. I must have been too sheltered. This case has blown me away. Here I was thinking a man had done this.

RMX April 14, 2009, 5:25 PM

I was mentally abused by a few female teachers at school as a kid.My first grade teacher,Ms Landin (of Eagel Pass I.S.D.,Graves elementary)hated boys so much she even beat one poor guy up,at the time I was without understanding,but lord hold me back if i see that woman today.Thinking back this is why i have such a negative attitude of my self,an overwhelming guilt of beig a boy.To add insult to injury the woman’s grandaughter struck a relative of mine while driving drunk.Of course being a girl the city of eagle pass dropped the charges against her.
My greatest applause mom logic for bringing this out.
-RMX

Helene April 14, 2009, 5:49 PM

Thank you for this unfortunately timely post. I find the Cantu case unfathomable, and never even dreamed of the killer’s abuse history.

nika April 14, 2009, 6:34 PM

i guess it is possible,

it blows my mind - but that does not mean it is not possible,

i believe amanda knox is guilty (the seattle girl in italy) she helped a man rape a girl while she stabbed the girl to death.

I guess melissa raping and killing on her own is not so impossibly different.

it still boggles my mind that a woman could actually get pleasure from that. but again - i realize that what is hard for me to imagine can still exist.

I do think that somebody must have abused melissa when she was young - and maybe it was her grandfather in that same church - and in a sense she was recreating what had been done to her.

kitizen954 April 15, 2009, 12:46 AM

Dear RMX, did your relative survive? I am very sad to hear your story.

bucko April 15, 2009, 1:15 AM

What I want to know is the statistics involving the perpetrators and their affiliations with an organized church. It seems that many conservative Christian religions are very abusive of children, all in the name of a righteous upbringing. Certainly the attitude that allows for the mental and psychological abuse of children, when coupled with the notions of shameful sexuality, make for a powder keg of sexual abuse just waiting to explode. Churches are some of the worst strongholds for secretive and often hideously cruel behavior.

JRod April 15, 2009, 2:36 AM

These statistics are a little misleading in regards to females receiving treatment for sexually based offenses. There has been precedents set lately for those underage people who engage in “sexting” or sending semi-nude, nude and/or racy photos of themselves over a cell phone. These are being treated as sexual offenses. This could account for the rise in the percentage of convicted female sex offenders. Just my two cents…

David April 15, 2009, 8:10 AM

Anyone remember Mary Kay Letourneau? She was given a pass because she’s a woman… Her sentance would have been 30 years if she were male… Women are judged less harshly, by society, in sex abuse cases but the damage to the child is no less traumatic… Child abuse and related mental health issues are ignored while the government focuses on second hand smoke and seatbelts…

It sounds like this Huckaby woman was simply passing on the abuse she recieved and it went horribly wrong…

leslie h April 15, 2009, 1:36 PM

I WAS ABUSED BY MY GRANDMOTHER AS WERE OTHER FAMILY. WHEN I SPEAK OF THIS TO OTHERS I AM USUALLY MET WITH QUESTIONING LOOKS. MY HUSBAND WAS ALSO MOLESTED BY AN AUNT AND HE HAS HAD MANY LOSSES DUE TO HIS GUILT. I HAVE 3 GRANDDAUGHTERS WHO ARE NOW IN THE CUSTODY THEIR MATERNAL GM, I SAW HER TOUCH ONE OF THE GIRLS INNAPROPRIATELY, I REPORTED THIS TO POLICE AND CHILDRENS SERVICES. THEY DECIDED I DID IT IN RETRIBUTATION OF HER ALLEGATIONS THAT OF SEX ABUSE ON MY SON. WOMEN WHO ABUSE ARE CRUEL AND MAKE THEIR VICTIMS FEEL THEY ARE WEAK AND HELPLESS AND ONLY THAT CHILD CAN HELP THEM. KEEPING THAT CHILD GUILTY IF THEY DO NOT “HELP” IT WILL DESTROY THE PERPETRATOR. THERE WAS A WOMAN IN MY AREA WAS CONVICTED OF RAPE OF A 15 Y.O. BOY SHE AS GIVEN A SLAP ON THE WRIST 60 DAYS IN JAIL AND HAS TO REGISTER. BUT SHE VIOLATED THE TERMS OF PROBATION, NO BIG DEAL. AS FOR MY SON HE WAS ARRESTED AND PLED OUT AS THE LAWYER I PAID 15000 FOR A TRIAL PRESSURED HIM BY INTIMADATION TO TAKE A DEAL. ALL OF THIS WITH NO EVIDENCE, WITH THE TRUE PERPETRATOR A WOMAN NOW HAS HIS CHILDRE AND HIS LIFE IS WRECKED EVEN MORE DEVASTATING IS THAT HE WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO RAISE HIS CHILDREN A REAL SEX OFFENDER, A WOMAN, WHO WENT TO ANY LENGTHS TO GET THE GIRLS WILL DESTROY THEIR LIVES. i HAD NO IDEA THIS COULD HAPPEN, BUT WITH THE HELP OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM AND CPS IT WAS EASY FOR THEM TO DO THESE THINGS TO THE GIRLS. A SOCIOPATH IS ALWAYS THE ONE WHO BELIEVED AND ALL OF THE WONDERFUL LAWS MAKE IT EASY TO CONVICT A MAN AND A WOMAN GETS NOTHING. THERE ARE FAR MORE FEMALE PEDOPHILES THAN ANYONE KNOWS OR BELIEVES.

leslie h April 15, 2009, 1:46 PM

WOMEN PERPETRATORS ARE FAR MORE COMMON THAN ANYONE CAN IMAGINE.THE LEGAL SYSTEM
ARE SO EASY ON THEM. FAMILIES PROTECT THEM WHILE THEY RUIN THE LIVES OF THEIR
VICTIM. LAWS MAKE IT SO EASY FOR A MAN
TO BE CHARGED AND CONVICTED, YET WOMEN ARE GIVEN A WRIST SLAP AND WHEN ACCUSED AND TREATED BETTER IN SOCIETY. I AM GLAD TO SEE THIS ISSUE BE IN THE SPOTLIGHT AS FOR SO LONG SEXUAL PREDITOR ARE SEEN AND BELIEVED TO ONLY BE MEN!

RMX April 15, 2009, 7:25 PM

Kitizen954,No he died on El Indio Highway (Farm to Market 1021).Although he was drunk too,he was only walking.
I still can’t see how any person can get away for drunk driving,let alone for,drunk while under 21,failure to stop and render aid and driving under 18 after sunset.I know had the driver been me, I’d be in jail right now,unlike the “good” and “precious” Landin girl.

MACHIAVELLI April 20, 2009, 10:08 PM

This topic is important and requires much more attention then given.

Women who offend are insidious in nature. I believe it happen on all levels from the female college Professors to the single mom.

In other words from Park Avenue to Park bench.

TALIKING ABOUT THIS IS ONE THING, Surveying is another.

We often use the media to make a point as women; however, it tents to die as quickly as it is raised, a flicker of information is equivalent to a fallen star.

However, what is at hand is greater then any 15 second segment. Our children and those that raise them are in need of help.

As a community and a society we have a responsibility to pay attention to the hollowing cry of help our children endure alone, from the grave ~~ to the courtroom.

Change is needed, my question is when are we going to stop talking and start surveying the truth, so that children are speared, and a potential woman, is saved from her-self?

Programs , and mental health services are desperately needed…


Melissa April 21, 2009, 11:23 AM

I was sexually abused by my mothers lesbian partner when I was 2 -3 years old as well as physically abused. Both abuses were extremely violant. I have tried for years to find more information regarding this problem but was unable to find anything other than women sexually abusing boys or their daughters. Unfortunately the Sandra Cantu case has spotlighted this grossly under reported atrocity. There needs to be more services and support groups offered. I have received counseling several times throughout my life and I was always the first case of this kind for the therapist. If caring people can come together to help these children and abusers it would benefit everyone.

Maeby April 21, 2009, 3:10 PM

RMX i knew a super insane teacher named Ms Landin in elementary school also. It was in another small texas town too. Maybe she reigned her evil all over the place.i dont understand why these people teach if they hate so much.

Alethea Marina Nova May 3, 2009, 11:35 AM

And if I may be so blunt as to say, mothers can and do sexually abuse their daughters in ways that society does not want to hear. Here is a reality check for everyone; mothers sometimes force oral sex on their daughter or force their daughter to perform oral sex on her mother. And to the victim, this is the same as being raped.

Tryktueq June 28, 2009, 4:20 AM

Rem9Cj comment1 ,

Blonde Hair With Brown Underneath November 25, 2010, 12:18 AM

Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.

Pegboard Pot Rack November 30, 2010, 5:27 PM

cylicxp - Thank you, xzhwzeg.

Get Facebook Fans December 9, 2010, 6:53 PM

I didn’t understand that this sort of factor exists :O

Pound In Lawn Edging December 12, 2010, 12:14 AM

The Internet is like alcohol in some sense. It accentuates what you would do anyway. If you want to be a loner, you can be more alone. If you want to connect, it makes it easier to connect.


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