Profile of the Perpetrator (Mother)

More likely to be Caucasian, married and older (mid-20‘s-30’s+); marital discord likely

No clear patterns in regards to SES and educational background have been established

Majority are NOT psychotic, however may demonstrate characteristics of Cluster B Personality Disorders (especially Borderline, Narcissistic, Antisocial)

Majority (96-99%) are heterosexual 

Mothers may be emotionally immature, resulting in a reversal of roles with their daughters [may not be apparent to those outside of the family]

May be acting out her own abusive experiences or attempting to reclaim power over them

May or may not be sexually aroused - some abuse may be more in response to hatred of her own body and femininity

Abuse an average of 8-10 years often under the guise of normal care (dressing, bathing, caring for when sick)

Abuse is often violent

More likely to act on their own (contradicting previous research that suggests that female perpetrators are coerced to abuse by a male partner)

May isolate daughter and seem jealous of other adults who care about her daughter

Unlikely to admit abuse when confronted


Profile of the Father

May be emotionally or physically absent or uninvolved

May also be a sexual perpetrator or abuse child in other ways (with wife or separately)

May choose to support and protect wife over child

May also be viewed as a victim of the mother by the child 

May also demonstrate Cluster B Personality Disorder characteristics (similar to wife) or a dismissive attachment style  


Profile of the Female Child Victim

 May seek increased attention from female role models

May try to be perfect or is hard on self

May not be able to identify the abuse/actions as wrong

Has often been threatened or made to feel like the abuses is her fault (e.g. because you’re dirty)

Often demonstrates characteristics similar to other child victims of sexual abuse which raise red flags, however “normal” assessment questions may not lead to disclosure


Mother-daughter Dynamics

Mother and Daughter may seem enmeshed or lack proper boundaries

Mothers often view the daughter as an extension of herself

Daughter may seem more shy or scared when mother is around or look to mother for approval

Mother may prevent daughter from expressing herself in front of you and appear controlling

Daughter may seem to recoil or be uncomfortable even when her mother touches her appropriately in front of you

Daughter may be so “well-trained” to hide negative emotions that the red flag may be that her emotions seem forced, insincere or flat when talking about her mother or when her mother is around 

Mother may objectify daughter or seem to treat her as a possession 

Mother may socially isolate daughter or seem jealous when other adults show the child affection

Mother may seem to respond in superficial ways to daughter’s emotions and needs

 * artwork on this page created by an MDSA member