Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] pp291-sebu-361274 November 8, 2001 20:29 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 14, No. 1, January 2002 (
Resiliency in the Victim–Offender Cycle
in Male Sexual Abuse
and Peter Adams
The prevalence of childhoodsexualabuse in child molesters is considerably higher
than that in the general population. This ﬁnding had led to the “victim–offender
cycle” being popularized as an explanation for sexual offending. However, not
all child molesters were victimized as children, so it is of interest to examine the
factors that contribute to the victim–offender cycle or, conversely, resiliency. This
study examined the “moderating factors” that may prevent a male victim of sex-
ual abuse from entering the victim–offender cycle. Two groups were interviewed
as part of the study: a “resilient group” (n = 47) and a victim–offender group
(n = 41). After correction for age and education level, the resilient group were
less likely to have fantasized and masturbated about the abuse, less likely to report
deriving pleasure from the abuse, more likely to have had frequent social contact
with adolescent peers and to have had more family and nonfamily support during
childhood. The ﬁndings support the need for multifactorial models of resiliency,
the victim–offender cycle, and sexual offending. Recommendations about the pre-
vention of the victim–offender cycle are made, including the need for a thorough
systemic assessment of all male victims of sexual abuse and the involvement of
their family system in counseling.
KEY WORDS: victim–offender cycle; male sexual abuse; resiliency; prevention.
Graduate student award paper in the victim/survivor category at the 18th Annual Research and Treat-
ment Conference of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, Orlando, September 1999.
Psychology Department, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
SAFE Programme, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
Statistics Department, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Psychology Department, University of Auckland,
Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2002 Plenum Publishing Corporation