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Female Abuse More Hidden

Women who sexually abuse children cause as much lasting damage to their victims as men, but are not treated as harshly by society, according to new Deakin University research.
Researcher Dr Rebecca Deering found women commit about 20 per cent of child sexual abuse but victims were less likely to report assaults by females than those who were assaulted by males.
She also found "health professionals and judges continue to dismiss these offences as anomalies and lapses of judgement".
Dr Deering from Deakin's School Of Psychology, investigated the impact on victims from disclosing the abuse, professional perspectives and the criminal justice system's treatment of the issue.
She found victims were less likely to report female perpetrators, which added to a perception the issue was not as prevalent.
"Rather than being considered abusive, inappropriate affection or sexual contact between an adult and a chld under 16 years is commonly considered as an act of seduction, an act that is often romanticised," Dr Deering said.
"The males concerned therefore rationalise it as an initiation of manhood. Even if they recognise it as abuse, reporting it would jeopardise their manhood."
Dr Deering said all victims interviewed for her study reported negative emotional consequences following the abuse, including depression, suicidal thoughts, fear, anxiety and difficulty expressing emotions.
"As adults, the victims experienced difficulty trusting women, low self esteem, isolation and confusion," she said.
Her research found it also affected victims sexually, with impacts ranging from excessive sexual appetite- particularly from male victims- to being unable to enjoy sex and celibacy.

Geelong Advertiser (4-5-2006)
Rebecca Tucker

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