Childhood attachment, childhood sexual abuse, and onset of masturbation among adult sexual offenders
Written autobiographies of48 incarcerated adult male sexual offenders (22 rapists, 13 intrafamilial child molesters, and 13 extrafamilial child molesters) were used to generate retrospective self-report measures of their childhood maternal and paternal attachment, childhood sexual abuse experiences, and onset of masturbation. Contrary to expectation, the offenders as a combined group more often reported secure than they did insecure childhood maternal and paternal attachment. There were no differences between the three offender subgroups with respect to maternal attachment; however the rapists and the intrafamilial child molesters were more likely to report insecure paternal attachment than were the extrafamilial child molesters. There were no differences between these offender subgroups in the frequency with which childhood sexual abuse was reported. However, offenders with insecure paternal attachment were more likely to report having been sexually abused than were those with secure paternal attachment. Sexually abused offenders in turn reported earlier onset of masturbation than did those who were not sexually abused. These results are consistent with contemporary attachment models linking insecure childhood attachment to childhood sexual abuse, and with traditional conditioning models linking childhood sexual abuse, early masturbation, and sexual offending.
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment