A phenomenological inquiry into the lived experiences of adult male perpetrators of child sexual abuse

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University of Zululand
The study investigated the phenomenological inquiry into the lived experiences of adult male perpetrators of child sexual abuse. The study indicated that child sexual abuse is a global problem that has significant consequences for public health, that has been a prominent topic for public concern for more than a decade, but many basic facts about the problem remain unclear or in dispute. In this study, the focus was not on the victim but the perpetrator of sexual abuse. Sexual offending is one of the most heinous criminal acts and many theories have tried to explain sex crimes and sex offenders. The researcher aimed at enabling ten adult male sexual offenders to describe explicitly their lived experience of child sexual abuse. A semi-structured interview and audio-tape recording were used in which offenders were asked to describe their feelings before, during the process and after sexually abusing the child. Participants were sentenced and in treatment programmes at Qalakabusha Correctional Supervision Centre at Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal. They were all Zulu speaking Blacks and their ages ranged from 18-73 years. Svensson’s (1986) and Sedala (2001) phenomenological methods were used in analysing data. According to the findings of this study, the main significant elements that drove these criminals to sexually assault children were a conflictual adult heterosexual relationship, sexual issues they were apparently suffering, and the knowledge that other females had more than one sexual partner. Furthermore, the results suggested that perpetrators saw children to be sexually fulfilling, non-judgmental, non-threatening, and welcoming. The ramifications for future research, as well as the study's strengths and weaknesses, were discussed. The results might be utilized to develop methods and techniques of reducing the prevalence of sexual abuse.
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Community Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Zululand, South Africa [2024].