Sexual Abusers - Who are These Child Abusers?

Child sexual abusers have certain common characteristics. We examine who these sexual abusers are and personality traits of child abusers.

If trying to protect a child against child sexual abusers, one might want to know what to look for to indicate someone is a child predator. It would be convenient if we could spot a child abuser in a crowd to make sure they didn't come anywhere near a child.

Unfortunately, sexual abusers do not wear black hats nor can any one characteristic tell you who they are. Child abuse offenders often look, and act, just like everyone else. In fact, many times the family of the child has a relationship with the child abuser either because he (or she) is a family friend or because he is a member of the family.

Who are Sexual Abusers?

There is no single type of person that is a sexual abuser. Sexual abusers can be men or women of any age or socioeconomic status but are generally known by the child as only 10% of child sexual abuse cases are perpetrated by strangers.1

  • 60% of sexual abusers are known by the child, but are not family.
  • 30% of sexual abusers are family members.
  • Sexual abusers are mostly men, whether the victim is a male or a female
  • Women are the child abusers in 14% of cases where the victim is male and in 6% of cases where the victim is female.
  • 25% of sexual abusers are adolescents.

Read more information about Why Are Children Sexually Abused?

Characteristics of Child Sexual Abusers

While a sexual abuser can be anyone, many sexual abusers share certain traits. In a Canadian study, 40% of convicted child sexual abusers were sexually abused as children and they tended to choose victims close to the age at which they were victimized.2 Child abusers may also be frequently aggressive as one study found that 50% of child victims experienced force as part of the abuse.3

Child abuse offenders have personality characteristics that facilitate the sexual abuse of children. For example, child abusers are attracted to children sexually and are willing to act on these impulses. Sexual abusers also must:4

  • Overcome the internal barriers against sexually abusing children
  • Overcome the external barriers against sexually abusing children
  • Overcome the child resistance to sexual abuse – includes manipulation of the child into involving them in sexual activity and then coercing them not to tell others about it

Because of these necessities, child abusers may appear very charming or likable in an effort to win the trust of the child and those around the child.

article references

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2021, December 17). Sexual Abusers - Who are These Child Abusers?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Last Updated: December 30, 2021

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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