Child molestation

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Chelsea asked 12 years ago

Is it common for a victim of child molestation (age of 12) to be attracted to older men later in life?

1 Answers
Insight Psychological Staff answered 2 years ago

Hello, thank you for your question. Assuming this question is about you, I’m sorry you had that experience as a child.

We know that survivors of sexual abuse may have trouble in establishing interpersonal relationships[1]. Common relationship difficulties that survivors may experience are:

  • Difficulties with trust
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Fear of being different or seen as strange
  • Difficulty establishing interpersonal boundaries
  • Passive behaviors
  • Getting involved in abusive relationships

However, there does not appear to be a pattern of consequences from sexual abuse experienced in childhood specifically. In fact, the consequences of childhood sexual abuse vary from one individual to the next.1 Therefore, it’s important to look at your individual circumstances to determine if you’ve been impacted by the abuse later in life.

Given all of this, there are multiple factors that determine whether a victim of childhood sexual abuse would be attracted to older men later in life. This would depend on:

  • Who the abuser is
  • The age of the child at the time of abuse
  • The child’s gender
  • The context of the abuse, amongst other things.

When you experience a traumatic experience like sexual abuse, in a sensitive time such as childhood, it’s possible you may grow up with a tendency to re-enact the abuse, perhaps in an attempt to resolve the abuse and therefore result in a vastly different outcome.[2] This could lead you to be attracted to older men. Other people in a similar situation may not re-enact their trauma and may even become fearful of those resembling their abuser.

It’s also important to consider that you may simply be attracted to older men. This preference could be dependent on a variety of factors as to why you may be attracted to older individuals however, it is not exclusive to those who have experienced childhood sexual abuse. For instance, women may be attracted to older men for reasons pertaining to maturity, stability, life experiences, and confidence, amongst others.

Lastly, it’s important that when dealing with a child, adolescent or adult who experienced childhood sexual abuse, we do not make assumptions about how they attempt to resolve their trauma and be understanding that even though, there are some tendencies and patterns that are commonly portrayed, every individual will experience the after-effects of their abuse in their own way.

There is no “one size fits all” answer to why you are attracted to older men. However, if you wanted to investigate this further or would like support in dealing with the trauma from the abuse, we have compassionate and knowledgeable therapists who are here to assist you.

I wish you all the best.


[1] Hall, M., & Hall, J. (2011). The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Counseling Implications. American Counseling Association.

[2] Levy, M. S. (1998).  A Helpful Way to Conceptualize and Understand Reenactments. Journal of Psychotherapy Practice & Research, 7(3), 227-235.