Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Female Sex Offenders

Seduction of a Secret

Dr. Park Dietz
Dr. Park Dietz

Former FBI Special Agent Robert Hazelwood, Dr. Park Dietz, and Dr. Janet Warren conducted a six-year study together on 20 women who had been the wives and girlfriends of sexual sadists. They used a protocol of 450 questions and published the results in the third edition of Practical Aspects of Rape Investigation. Most had been persuaded to engage in a variety of deviant practices, but in seven cases the men had killed numerous victims, engaging their partners in the crimes.

The woman all seemed normal. They were from middleclass backgrounds and usually had no criminal record. They weren't abused or mentally ill. The thesis of the study is that the males targeted vulnerable women with low self-esteem and then gradually made them compliant. A similar dynamic plays out with teacher-predators, with the exception of the final step in the five-step process that the offenders followed to transform their partners:

  • Identification:  They know whom to target
  • Seduction:  They use all the normal techniques
  • Reshape the target person's sexual norms
  • Social isolation
  • Punishment
  • The women end up going along with what the men want, because the men have used psychological manipulation to change how they think and behave. Similarly with the teacher/offender situation, while it may be true many boys are willing to have a sexual relationship, it's also clear that the superior position of the teacher, her authority and her seduction tactics have some effect. Like male offenders, these women apparently feel entitled to do what they're doing and they engage the boy in a shared secret that feels exciting. They target them, use enticements, reshape their thinking about the appropriateness of what they're doing, and isolate them as a way to make them keep the secret. Those who threaten would then be taking the final step in this process.

But there are more victims involved in such incidents than the boys themselves, and we should not forget them.

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