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The Sexual Abuse by Women of Children and Teenagers

Summary of UK TV programme - Panorama - BBC1 - 10 pm Monday 6th October 1997


The sexual abuse of children by women was once thought to be so rare it could be ignored.

In this programme the victims tell a different story.

Summary

This was a vivid and horrific programme in which the victims of sexual abuse by women told disturbing stories of emotional and physical damage: It was acknowledged that the scale and nature of these attacks had been severely underestimated and there were examples of women using excessive force with implements such as chair legs and cutlery.

A surprising 86% of survivors of sexual abuse were not believed when they said the abuser was a woman.

Many myths were exposed, such as the one that women only sexually abused when coerced by men - they in fact played the lead part. Also the myth that women are incapable of cruelty - what was shown was beyond belief.

But despite the seriousness of these offences, women generally escaped custodial sentences.

Statistics

The programme claimed that:

People find it difficult to believe

The issue strikes at the core of what women perceive themselves to be:

Society excuses female abusers

What tends to happen is that the female sexual abuser is excused in some way.

Women are seen as victims

Women are seen as victims rather than enemies or perpetrators of any abuse.

Disbelief the biggest trauma

More traumatic to be sexually abused by a woman

Violent and sadistic attacks

Across the board

The research showed neither class nor age were barriers to their behaviour. We can't make assumptions about the type of woman who will sexually abuse a child - sexual abuse is committed by:

Female abusers acquire positions of trust

Eternal victims

The need for more work


Click here to see the full transcript


Related stories:

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 Facts about Domestic Violence. Information provided by the Men's Health Network to raise the public's awareness of the danger men and children face when living with a violent spouse or mother. Many "facts" about domestic violence are published in the media. Are they true? Domestic Violence Factoids is an assessment by Dr. Richard Gelles, one of the best-known, and perhaps most controversial, researchers in the area of domestic violence against men and women.

 Working with Violent Women. by Erin Pizzey, author of Prone to Violence. Ms. Pizzey was the founder of one of the first modern battered women's shelters in the world. She found that of the first 100 women who came to her shelter, 62 were as or more violent than the partners they tried to escape from -- only to return to their partners time and again because of their addiction to pain and violence, violence that they persistently did their best to bring about.

Related: Dealing with Anger

John Lee on Anger: An Interview, by Bert H. Hoff.

Facing the Fire, a review of the book Facing the Fire: Experiencing and Expressing Anger Appropriately.

A lot of anger is directed at ex-wives, especially just after the break-up of a marriage. You might also want to check out our section Men, Love and Betrayal, which explores dealing with the grief, anger and loneliness at breakup, and whether it's possible to trust and love again.


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