Can a woman abuse a child

Abuse of children : When women become perpetrators

Oliver was six or seven. The mother bathed him and showered him off. He was about to wash his intimate area himself when his mother, soap in hand, explained by the way: "Your little cock belongs to Mommy all alone!" And washed the son himself. The fact that what she did and what she said frightened Oliver, who has long since grown up, is also borne out by his meticulous memory. Those moments were glaring, he never forgot them. Half angry, half grinning, he later told his friends: "She really believed that." His mother's deeds were not difficult. But hard enough for him.

The explicit statement, emerged from the mother's unconscious, was in any case a verification of the inexpressible: a mother abuses her child. A woman's assault on a child's body attacks the child's trust and physical integrity, as does a man's assault. But women as perpetrators are taboo. "Child molesters" were initially unknown strangers, until fathers came into view as the perpetrators. Research has only been interested in female child sex offenders (FCSO) for a few years. In the police crime statistics, such cases also rank in the lower single-digit range in Germany.

20 to 30 percent are perpetrators

Current research comes to different conclusions. The team of Safiye Tozdan, Peer Briken and Arne Dekker at the Institute for Sexual Research and Forensic Psychiatry Hamburg University Hospital Eppendorf, for example, assumed in a study from 2019 that 20 to 30 percent of sexualized acts on children were committed by women.

The data collected during surveys should not come as a surprise. After all, wherever abuse occurs, women are also involved, mothers, partners, grandmothers, stepmothers, female relatives, and neighbors. They are directly or indirectly involved in acts by looking the other way, keeping silent, covering up, assisting, manipulating children, benefiting or taking the initiative themselves. Oliver's mother was a disappointed housewife, her husband a successful lawyer. With the power over the child she fooled herself into validity, the sexualized aspect may have compensated for a decline in lust in the marriage.

Most of the time, the boundaries of those who violated the boundaries were crossed themselves, the distinction between you and me was not clearly established in their childhood. Later, the child is sometimes seen as part of my own body, “with which I can do what I want”. Female acts can be characterized by repetition, revenge and sadism, point to personality disorders or narcissism, to self-esteem or addiction problems. They are committed by weakly intelligent as well as highly sophisticated perpetrators - and everything in between, in all milieus.

Big dark field

The large dark field is not only due to the shame of the victims, which is greater for female perpetrators than for perpetrators, and greater for affected girls than for boys. Women who could abuse girls and boys entrusted to them could not be true, since the image of the mother is either religiously connoted or secularly exaggerated. From the icon of Mary to the mother conjured up on Mother's Day as “the best”, female instinct and maternal intuition are the guarantee of a program written by nature.

But human motherhood is culture, it is learned socially, as the French philosopher Elisabeth Badinter explained in her book “Mother's Love” in 1981. Mother's love, according to Badinter, is a myth. Humans are not animals, neither care nor nest building follow genetically fixed procedures. If maternal love is not experienced and passed on, and the deficit is not dealt with therapeutically or in some other way, then instead of maternal love, disorders are passed on, trauma, breaks that can lead to the instrumentalisation of children, right up to sexualised violence.

Due to a lack of further training, youth welfare offices and family courts usually continue to rely on the myth of motherly love. Again and again children are handed back or left with mothers, even if they are in a relationship with a criminal record. This is what happened in the Staufen case. In April 2017, the judge Eva Vosskuhle had sent a nine-year-old from his foster family back to her mother, and thus also to her partner, a pedagogical criminal convicted by the same judge. The condition: The man should keep his distance from the child. But the couple sold the boy's body as a sex object via the Internet. It was "a crux of this case that the mother was not on the screen as the perpetrator," regretted Stefan Bürgerlin, the Freiburg judge entrusted with the process.

Women commit acts together with a partner

In the current Münster case, too, nobody had the two women on the radar as sources of danger, who seem to be involved in the case: The now imprisoned mother of the main suspect, Carina V., and his partner, Sabrina K .. The perpetrator mother, say investigators, should do so Son knowingly left their allotment arbor, which he had converted into a studio for abuse videos with children, including high-tech surveillance inside and out. There the 27-year-old also abused the ten-year-old son of his partner.

The court had known about their relationship with the criminal record for years. The pedo criminal is said to have shown repentance and understanding, but the child's mother refused to cooperate. Nevertheless, according to a spokesman for the Münster District Court, there was “agreement” that “the proceedings can be ended without interfering with custody”. Only now was the boy taken into care. What did his mother want? And what did the mothers of the other children in Münster, who were also exposed to sexual violence, know?

Women who perpetrate sexual violence against children are basically not new to the public; they could have been noticed long ago at least as the female half of criminal couples, because it is not uncommon for women to commit acts together with their partners, as in the Staufen case.

Open complicity

Especially in the most serious, most brutal cases of abuse and mistreatment, which up to now have penetrated into the bright field, couples were often active together. In Belgium there were Marc Dutroux and Michelle Martin, in Great Britain Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, in California Jonathan Allen and Ina Rogers and David and Louise Turpin. The couple structure, through the element of overt complicity, makes it easier to affirm and cover one another in lawlessness.

Some element of female complicity, it seems certain, can be found in any case of sexual violence against children. The tragedy of the most frequently affected group of children under ten is that they need the protection of the mother who betrays them directly or indirectly.

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