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Child Sexual Assault - Dominance, Authority and Aggression

NCJ Number
A N Groth; A W Burgess
Date Published
21 pages
This article reviews the literature on child sexual assault, develops a clinical typology based on the motivational structure of the offense, and examines the clinical implications resulting from the typology.
A sample of 137 men convicted of sexual offenses against minors and a sample of 74 underage persons who were identified as victims of sexual assault were included in the study. The descriptions of the assault given by offenders, those given by victims, and the version reported to the police were analyzed in order to develop a typology. Several issues operating within a sexual arena were observed: dominance by authority as a way to ensure sexual activity over time, intimidation and exploitation as a way to establish control, and aggression through sadism as a way to execute revenge. The sample population groups fell into two groups: sex pressure and sex assault offenses. Clinical work with offenders and victims indicates that, for both, sexuality is not the primary issue but becomes the arena in which psychosocial issues are played out. Issues of dominance, power, authority, and control are developmental life concerns both to victim and offender which are lived out in the context of the offense. The psychodynamic considerations of forcible child assault appear to surround the vicissitudes of aggression. For the sex pressure types of offenders, there appears to be a general inhibition and suppression of aggression. The sex assault (exploiter) offender reportedly channels aggression into issues of power and control, and for the sadistic type of pedophile, aggression is eroticized and released with uncontrollable intensity. A table, 20 references, and case studies are included.