A Descriptive Account of Victims' Behaviour and Responses in Sexually Exploitative Interactions with Offenders

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Transcripts of chat logs of sexually exploitative interactions between offenders and victims that took place via Internet communication platforms were analysed to develop our understanding of this phenomenon from the perspective of the victim. The aim of the study was to examine victims’ behaviour and responses to approaches by offenders, as well as to ascertain victims’ motivation for their engagement. The data set comprised five cases, amounting to 29 transcripts, and was analysed using qualitative thematic analysis. Additionally, police reports were reviewed for descriptive and case-specific information. All offenders were men aged between 27 and 52. Victims were both female (n = 17) and male (n = 6), and were aged between 11 and 15. Our findings highlight that while the majority of young people in this sample appeared to engage in such interactions for reasons of curiosity and sexual exploration/experimentation, other cases involved serious offences of sexual abuse. The victims in these cases presented with a number of vulnerability factors. Findings are discussed in light of conceptualising young people’s negative online experiences along a continuum.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-632
JournalPsychology, Crime & Law
Issue number7
Early online date22 Feb 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Feb 2017


  • Online sexual grooming, sexual abuse, victims, sexual exploitation, young people