Does America Believe Female Sexual Abusers Exist? with Dr. Caitlyn Muniz

Season 4Episode 5April 1, 2022

Misperceptions abound about female-perpetrated child sexual abuse—and that harms victims.

Does America believe female sexual abusers actually exist? When we think about child sexual abuse, don’t we automatically picture in our mind a father, a stepfather, a Boy Scout leader, a male neighbor, a coach, or a priest? Our minds go there for a very good reason, and that is that 97% of convicted sexual offenders are, in fact, male. But we know that female-perpetrated child sexual abuse does exist.

What are the sort of perceptions—and misperceptions—that abound around this? What are the myths that exist about female-perpetrated sexual abuse? And how do these perceptions differ depending on who the woman is? What if it’s an aunt, or female clergy, or even a teacher? Maybe, most interestingly, as you’ll hear, a teacher most of all. We know from research that the traumatic impacts of female-perpetrated abuse are real and long-lasting. Does the general public actually believe the same? And how do we address the biases around this that may prevent victims from being believed and helped? Take a listen to our interview with Dr. Caitlyn Muniz.

Topics in this episode:

  • Why research this topic (1:58)
  • The focus on teacher/student cases (3:59)
  • Effect of authority roles (6:21)
  • Research findings (10:27)
  • What the general public might think (20:00)
  • Disclosures and reactions (24:30)
  • Cultural biases harm victims (34:23)
  • Advice for child abuse professionals (41:19)
  • Future research (44:00)
  • Share the episode (47:16)


Caitlyn N. Muniz, Ph.D., is assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at The University of Texas at El Paso

The Influence of Authority Role and Victim Gender on Perceptions of Female-Perpetrated Child Sexual Abuse,” Caitlyn N. Muniz, Ráchael A Powers, Child Maltreatment, July 26, 2021

For more information about National Children’s Alliance and the work of Children’s Advocacy Centers, visit our website at And join us on Facebook at One in Ten podcast.


Transcript to come.