Unspoken: Child–Perpetrator Dynamic in the Context of Intrafamilial Child Sexual Abuse

Carmit Katz*, Noa Field

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The literature on child sexual abuse (CSA) has contributed greatly to the understanding of child–perpetrator dynamic while mainly addressing the concepts of grooming and manipulation. Considerably less attention has been dedicated, however, to child–perpetrator dynamic in intrafamilial child sexual abuse (IFCSA). The current study examined how children perceive and experience the dynamic with their perpetrator parents in the context of IFCSA, as conveyed by victims. Analysis of 29 forensic interviews with children aged 8 to 14 years suggested above all, across all identified themes, the unspoken nature of IFCSA. Specifically, the children shared their surprise at the abusive incidents despite having described a long and unspoken grooming process. The children shared their understanding of the secretive nature of IFCSA although that too was unspoken, while illustrating the fear and terror in the family dynamic. Finally, the children discussed the elusiveness of the dynamic in terms of the natural and unnatural aspects of the relationship. The discussion addresses the unique nature of IFCSA and the family dynamic. The main implication for practice is the urgent need to modify existing instruction and training programs for practitioners to better adjust them to IFCSA survivors. More specifically, the elusive nature of IFCSA must be conveyed to both clinical and forensic practitioners who need to evaluate and intervene in with child survivors of IFCSA. In addition, the fear and terror that characterize the family dynamic and the unspoken, unbridled rule of the perpetrator fathers are of central importance in adapting interventions to children and their families in the context of IFCSA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)NP3585-NP3604
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • child–perpetrator dynamic
  • grooming
  • intrafamilial child sexual abuse
  • perpetrators


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