The image that comes to mind when we think about a person who commits a sexual offense is more often than not, male. While it is true that the vast majority of sexual harm around the world is committed by men, women can – and do – commit sex crimes. In this episode of Beyond Fear, Alissa interviews Alexa about her expertise on female sexual offending. Alexa sheds light on this important, understudied and often misunderstood issue.
The names that come to mind when we think about women who sexuall offend are those that have become household names: Mary Kay Letourneau and Debra LaFave. Both were attractive, relatively young school teachers who sexually abused younger boys. However, we cannot and should not reconcile all sexual abuse committed by women with that which was committed by these two women.
Sexual abuse by women happens for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are similar to those we understand about men who sexually offend and some are quite different. It is important that we recognize and understand these reasons so we can promote prevention efforts.
A few important things we do know:
- Women who sexually offend have significantly high rates of all forms of abuse and family dysfunction in childhood.
- Approximately 10% of sex crimes are committed by women.
- Women are likely to offend with a co-offending male partner.
- Sexual abuse by women causes similar harm to sexual abuse by men, but it is far less likely to be reported.
For an interview with Debra LaFave click here.
For a transcript of episode 11 click here.