Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] PL100-162 December 9, 1999 1:55 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2000
Attachment and Coercive Sexual Behavior
Stephen W. Smallbone
and Mark R. Dadds
This study examined the relationships between childhood attachment and coer-
cive sexual behavior. One hundred sixty-two male undergraduate students com-
pleted self-report measures of childhood maternal attachment, childhood paternal
attachment, adult attachment, antisociality, aggression, and coercive sexual be-
havior. As predicted, insecure childhood attachment, especially insecure paternal
attachment, was associated with antisociality, aggression, and coercive sexual
behavior. Moreover, childhood attachment independently predicted coercive sex-
ual behavior after antisociality and aggression were statistically controlled. The
hypothesis that paternal avoidant attachment would predict coercive sexual be-
havior independently of its relationship with aggression and antisociality was also
supported. Posthoc analysis indicated that maternal anxious attachment was as-
sociated with antisociality and that paternal avoidant attachment was associated
with both antisociality and coercive sexual behavior. These results are consistent
with criminological and psychological research linking adverse early family expe-
riences with offending and lend support to an attachment-theoretical framework
for understanding offending behavior in general and sexual offending behavior in
KEY WORDS: attachment; coercive sexual behavior; aggression; antisociality.
Although demands for effective treatment of sexual offenders have tended
to concentrate research efforts on the more immediate precursors of coercive
sexual behavior, developmental antecedents have continued to be a focus for re-
searchers and clinicians concerned with understanding andtreatingsuch offenders.
School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Mt. Gravatt Campus, Grifﬁth University, Queensland
4111, Australia. Fax: (07) 3875 5608; e-mail: S.Smallbone@mailbox.gu.edu.au.
School of Applied Psychology, Grifﬁth University, Queensland, Australia.
To whom correspondence should be addressed.
2000 Plenum Publishing Corporation