(Closed) Do you believe past sexual abusers can change?

posted 6 years ago in Emotional
Post # 3
12973 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Honestly, no, I don’t really believe they change.  I believe that they can learn more self-control and willpower to abstain, but I don’t believe it’s something that really goes away.  I think it’s something that you really have do some soul searching on, and talking to your husband about it to see his feelings before you make a decision. 

FWIW, I study criminology and I’ve taken courses in Sex Assault, Child Abuse, and Criminal Psychology… and everything I’ve read has convinced me that there is a much greater chance that they do not change than anything else.

Post # 4
2359 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I believe they will always be mentally unstable.   When someone does this at a young age, they may never sexually abuse again, but it may manifest itself in another way.   If they are older, i think they will always have it in them given the chance. 

Either way, it’s a mental thing, and they will always have some kind of mental issue i think. 

Post # 5
5075 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2012

no,  I don’t believe they will ever be able to change their impulses

Post # 6
805 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2013

No. I’m sorry.

Post # 7
6743 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2014

First, *hug* I am really sorry to hear how inappropriate your brother was to you. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and I’m sure if you ever told your Darling Husband, he would completely understand and be there to support you.  Though, I understand the desire not to talk about it with anyone. 

On to answer your question:  there’s a very high recidivism rate among sexual predators (much higher than other criminal behaviors).  I don’t know how young your brother was when he sexually abused you, but I do like to think it’s easier for children to grow out of behaviors like this than it is for adults, but that’s only because I wish to think that, not because I have done any research on it or anything. 

I would say to keep a close eye on your nieces and their behaviors and be there to talk to them – don’t put ideas in their heads – but just keep your eyes open if something seems off.  And, never leave your own kids with any man alone, including your brother. 

Post # 8
2697 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

No. And your brother’s recent apologies make me fear for his daughters as well.

@futuremrsk18: Never with any man alone? The not her brother part I agree with, but that seems excessive.

Post # 9
2359 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@futuremrsk18:  i agree that it may be easier for someone young to grow out of it but they will always be mentally unstable and it could come out in another way once older

Post # 10
4054 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

Firstly, I am very sorry you had to experience this.

It seems odd he would call after so long to apologise again. It could be that know he has children he knows quite how vile a thing what he did was. It could be that he’s apologising to you in order to excuse himself for current behaviour. I can only speculate.

I believe abusers need help, I don’t think the urges go away by themselves.

Post # 11
2891 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

If your brother was young when he did this like under 16 then I would say yes. I would wonder if he was being sexually abused himself. If he was older I don’t think I could trust him. I agree with PP he may have more self control but it is bound to mainfest in different ways.

Post # 12
286 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

No, I don’t believe that people who mess with children change.

You were older when he moved back, so that may be why nothing happened then.

I saw something on television once where some reporter (Barbara Walters? Diane Sawyer?) interviewed child molesters who were released from jail and every single one of them said that they were still the same, that a child molester could not change.  It is part of their makeup, or whatever.  Sick as it is to me, children simply turn them on. 

I’m sorry, though, that you had to go through that.  No one should have to, and it is in no way the child’s fault, and to some extent I think of it as a mental illness on the molester’s part if that helps at all. 


IMO I think you should tell someone about what he’s done in the past, because I don’t think he can change completely, and maybe he won’t do it to his own kids because he has some sort of protective thing going on there, but what is to stop him from doing it to yours?  Or the neighbors?  I would hate for you to find out in 20 years that he was molesting your niece/nephew and no one knew about it, and again it WOULD NOT be your fault, but I think you would feel incredible guilt over the situation, like you could have done something. 

Post # 13
16213 posts
Honey Beekeeper

I’m so sorry to hear about this! I know this is something that you’ll never be able to totally forget and something he’ll never be able to totally forgive himself for.

That said, I do think people who have made terrible mistakes can change. I’m not saying it’s easy, nor am I saying that all people who make mistakes do change. But I fully believe that they can, with a combination of the proper motivation and resources.

Post # 14
3886 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I think it’s impossible to give a yes or no answer here. I do think that some offenders can be rehabilitated to the point that they no longer act on their impusles, but I don’t believe the impulses ever go away forever; it just is longer and longer in between urges.

That your brother was relatively young when the abuse happened is in his favor, as someone who was able to act on their urges into their 30’s or 40’s will have a harder time resisting them in the future, much like a smoker who starts at 15 and quits at 20 is less likely to relapse than someone who starts smoking at 15 and quits at 40.

Perhaps your brother’s recent chat with you was spurred on by recent therapy. Many therapists feel it is therapeutic for their patients to apologize to their victims, and this is one of the core steps in AA’s 12-step recovery for alcoholics.

It’s useful to recognize that some offenders do not and will not victimize their own children; these offenders often do not see their victims as actual people but rather more like living, breathing dolls, and the personal relationship your brother has with his children may protect them from any wrongdoing.  If he sees them as individual people then he may be less likely to prey on them.  But that is a very big IF, as we all know there are many abusers who choose victims who are close to home.

I think you should give your brother the benefit of the doubt to some extent, as a constant barrage of people who do not trust him and expect him to fail in his recovery can make it more likely for him to recover. But I think you should also ask him some very difficult questions, such as if he is in therapy or has been in the past,  what made him choose you as his victim, how his knowing what he put you through has affected him, and what he intends to do if he does get inappropriate urges towards his girls.

Post # 15
9824 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

No, I don’t. I am so sorry for what you have been through.

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