Various psychological theories exist in the literature to explain the behavior of men who commit child sex offences, including the belief that child sexual abuse (CSA) is a predisposing factor for the transition from victim to offender. These theories are, however, unable to explain the fact that while most victims of CSA are female, most perpetrators of CSA are male. The sex specificity of CSA in terms of victims and offenders suggests that the experience of CSA and its psychosocial effects may be different for boys, compared to girls. We hypothesize that CSA experiences may involve risk factors that affect the development of sexually abusive behavior for boys, rather than girls. Our aim was to determine whether the literature provides evidence of a cycle of abuse from victim to offender, and, if so, to document its characteristics. We undertook a comprehensive literature review of studies on both victims and offenders, including studies which revealed the following: age of onset of CSA, duration of abuse, gender of the abuser, the relationship between victim and abuser, grooming behaviors, the types and severity of abuse, and disclosure of abuse. While we found no evidence for the existence of a cycle of abuse for female CSA victims, we discovered evidence to support the existence of a cycle of abuse for male CSA victims who had experienced particular abuse characteristics. As an original contribution to the literature, we identified four factors that may be associated with a boy's transition from victim to offender as well as the methodological issues to be addressed in future research. Based on criminological theories, we argue that these four factors share a common theme, that is, that they represent experiences of power (for the abuser) and powerlessness (for the victim).
Keywords: child abuse; cultural contexts; offenders; sexual abuse; sexual assault; sexuality.