Fathers with a history of child sexual abuse: New findings for policy and practice – Child Family Community Australia

July 5, 2012


The trauma of child sexual abuse can manifest in many areas of victim/survivors’ lives, including their attitudes towards parenting and their relationships with their children. This paper outlines the key findings of the limited research that has investigated how a history of child sexual abuse can influence men’s perceptions and experience of fatherhood, and also discusses some of the reasons why this important topic remains largely excluded from public, academic and policy discourses. This paper will be most useful to practitioners and policy-makers who work to support men, parents and/or families.

This is an abridged version of “Child Sexual Abuse, Masculinity and Fatherhood” (Price-Robertson, in press), accepted for publication in the Journal of Family Studies Volume 18/2-3 (December 2012) special issue on Fatherhood in the Early 21st Century (ISBN 978-1-921980-02-2).

Key messages

  • Many men who were sexually abused as children face unique experiences and difficulties in connection with fatherhood, including fears that they may abuse their own children, problems with physical contact or displays of affection with their children, and overprotectiveness of their children.
  • The issue of child sexual abuse impacting on men’s perceptions and experience of fatherhood remains largely excluded from both popular and professional discourses.
  • The first step towards improving policy and service responses to these male victim/survivors is to raise awareness of the difficulties they may face with regard to fatherhood.
  • As there are strong disincentives to male victim/survivors themselves revealing their difficulties with fatherhood, it is likely that service providers, practitioners and policy-makers will need to play a leadership role in promoting awareness of this issue.

A word of caution

This paper regretfully contains baseless ideological dogma about “masculinities” and “angry men’s movements” that takes away from what would be an otherwise very useful piece of work. Authors and journal editors need always to check the validity of such convenient interpolations before publishing. This is no different to double-checking statistical data before rushing to cite them.

Full publication


Rhys Price-Robertson is a Senior Research Officer with the Child Family Community Australia information exchange at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The author is grateful for the helpful conversation, advice and comments from Gary Foster, Antonia Quadara, Daryl Higgins, Elly Robinson, Amy Watson, Ken Knight and Cathryn Hunter.

Publishing details

CFCA Paper 6
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, July 2012, 7 pp. ISSN 2200-4106 ISBN 978-1-922038-01-2

Please advise the CFCA information exchange team if you are citing this paper.


Copyright information

Source: Fathers with a history of child sexual abuse: New findings for policy and practice (http://www.aifs.gov.au/cfca/pubs/papers/a142143/index.html)

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