Predictors of victim disclosure in child sexual abuse: Additional evidence from a sample of incarcerated adult sex offenders

Child Abuse Negl. 2015 May;43:104-11. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.03.003. Epub 2015 Mar 23.


The under-reporting of child sexual abuse by victims is a serious problem that may prolong the suffering of victims and leave perpetrators free to continue offending. Yet empirical evidence indicates that victim disclosure rates are low. In this study, we perform regression analysis with a sample of 369 adult child sexual offenders to examine potential predictors of victim disclosure. Specifically, we extend the range of previously examined potential predictors of victim disclosure and investigate interaction effects in order to better capture under which circumstances victim disclosure is more likely. The current study differs from previous studies in that it examines the impact of victim and offense variables on victim disclosure from the perspective of the offender. In line with previous studies, we found that disclosure increased with the age of the victim and if penetration had occurred. In addition, we found that disclosure increased when the victim came from a non-dysfunctional family and resisted the abuse. The presence of an interaction effect highlighted the impact of the situation on victim disclosure. This effect indicated that as victims get older, they are more likely to disclose the abuse when they are not living with the offender at the time of abuse, but less likely to do so when they are living with the offender at the time of abuse. These findings are discussed in relation to previous studies and the need to facilitate victim disclosure.

Keywords: Child sexual abuse; Child sexual offenses; Victim disclosure.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Criminals / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Truth Disclosure*