Essay Sample on The Etiology of Sexual Aggression

Published: 2022-11-07
Essay Sample on The Etiology of Sexual Aggression
Type of paper:  Problem solving
Categories:  Sexual abuse
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 890 words
8 min read

Finkelhors precondition model

The motivation to abuse, either by own traumatic experiences or by inability to relate to other adults. A blockage of external inhibitors that normally block the desire to relate sexually with children. Among the individual factors that disinhibit are for example, the use of alcohol, the failure of the incest taboo within the family, among others. To socio-cultural reasons it refers to including elements such as social tolerance and the weakness of sanctions towards child sexual abuse, patriarchal ideologies of the possession of children, etc. social control, judicial repression, the action of the family and the community.

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Integrated model

According to this model, family experiences would have a fundamental relevance in the etiology of sexual aggression and also provide a theory about the transmission of sexual assault. It is argued that abusive families impede the development of effective interaction skills in children since mainly modeling occurs based on coercive style competencies.

Pathways model

According to this model, sexual assault is the result of mechanisms related to intimacy and social relationships that are dysfunctional. In this way, when the aggressor is observed from this trajectory, there would be serious stories of violations in his childhood, associated with sexual victimization and severe psychological abuse, combined with the development of an insecure attachment. It is argued that experiences of sexual abuse in childhood can affect the development of subsequent sexual scripts.

Single-Factor Theories

Cognitive Distortions

Cognitive/behavioral models: There are many theories that fit within this model, which explains sexual abuse by the behavior of the aggressor. Initially, it was thought that child sexual abuse was caused and was maintained by inappropriate sexual preferences of the adult. In this way, the offenders would remember their initial sexual experiences and these fantasies could acquire sexual properties of excitement.


According to this model, there would be difficulties in the emotional regulation of the aggressors, which have the potential to significantly influence the development of abusive sexual behavior. These deregulations include problems with the ability to recognize emotions, the inability to adjust emotional states that are experienced, difficulties in the management of anger, strong negative affective states, low mood, high amounts of anxiety. They use sexual behavior as a strategy to calm their unpleasant emotional states.

Deviant Sexual interest

According to this theory, the transgressors feel attracted to children instead of adults. Diverted sexual arousal is the main cause of abuse. According to this theory, abusers experience greater sexual arousal when faced with stimuli related to children than with adults. This model also includes research on the changes in hormone levels (specifically testosterone, male hormone), which appear in the blood and which would be related to the likelihood of sexual aggression.

Process Models

Relapse Prevention model

In the Relapse Prevention Model developed by Allan Marlatt (1985), it is developed in a change maintenance program. It is a group of strategies designed to acquire skills to prevent relapse, focused on maintaining the process of changing habits. The main purposes of the relapse prevention program are: Prevent the occurrence of initial lapses after committing to a habit-change program. Prevent lapses that escalate to a total relapse. From this model self-control must be trained in 3 areas: Acquire adaptive coping skills as alternatives to addictive behaviors promote new cognitions (attitudes, attributions, and expectations of results), and develop a daily lifestyle, including positive self-care activities and non-destructive ways to achieve personal satisfaction and gratification

Cycle of Offending

The "cycle of offending or victim circle" is the phenomenon in which either a victim becomes an aggressor, or an aggressor becomes a victim, being able to occur both individually and collectively. According to this theory, those subjects who become sex offenders develop a vulnerability that is the result of their childhood experiences. In this sense, we must bear in mind that the cognitive schemes of every human being develop in childhood, so it is very possible that, as a result of living unpleasant experiences at this age, there is a dysfunction in the cognitive schemes of these subjects with respect to their own image and to the world in general. Thus, it is considered that the failure to create effective attachment bonds between parents and children is the main factor that leads to the emergence of such vulnerability.


Of all these models, the most accurate one is the one developed by David Finkelhor. The four conditions are accurate. The person who abuses is motivated either by traumatic experiences of childhood or by the inability to relate to other adults. All people have a series of inhibitors, called moral conscience, self-control, etc., which prevent the execution of certain acts; however, these can be blocked by certain disinhibitors such as alcohol, drugs, violent impulses that contribute to precipitating the action. Social sanctions, judicial repression, the action of the family and the community can serve as external blockers as well; the failure or absence of these systems can favor the presence of sexual abuse. The presence of the three pre-conditions is not enough if the offender does not have access to a vulnerable person. The main strength of this model is that it is based on the relative prominence of physiological, cognitive, affective and personality factors, the model allows the prediction of subtypes of sexual abusers. To the extent that subtypes can be proven, they have the potential to guide intervention programs.

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