How to spot a sex offender: Criminologist reveals the five common traits they share – and explains why their horrific crimes are often badly misunderstood
A renowned criminologist claims sex offenders have five characteristics in common and that their horrific crimes are often misunderstood.
Patrick Tidmarsh has spent more than 30 years working with thousands of sex offenders, including serial rapists, paedophiles and child molesters.
Dr Tidmarsh has managed prison treatment program for all types of perpetrators and believes debunking myths about stereotypes is vital to preventing sex crimes.
He said there were four main stages of life when a male sex offender is likely to start offending: puberty, late adolescence, middle age, and end of working life.
Dr Tidmarsh has observed five common traits in the sex offenders he has encountered over the past three decades.
The traits were first identified by New Zealand researchers Tony Ward and Thomas Keenan.
Criminologist Patrick Tidmarsh (pictured) has revealed the five common traits sex offenders share
The list of attributes include the propensity to refuse to accept blame, problems navigating the adult world, a sense of entitlement, objectification of women or children, and damage minimisation.
‘They find the adult world a difficult place to navigate. So love, friendship, connection, intimacy, all those things they find extremely difficult,’ Dr Tidmarsh told The Daily Telegraph.
‘They [also] tend to blame anything but themselves for what they do. It’s called “uncontrollability” in things, so [using justifications such as] “it wasn’t me. I was drinking alcohol. I was using pornography” etc.’
Dr Tidmarsh said sex offenders feel they should be able to what ever they want to make themselves feel better.
They also tend to perceive women or children as sexual objects and are ‘particularly good’ at minimising the nature of the damage that they do.
Dr Tidmarsh said the five traits combined formed the dangerous mentality that could lead to deviant sexual behaviours.
‘So you put those together, that’s when you get the set that makes that person much more likely to commit a sexual offence than someone who does not hold those views or does not see the world in that way,’ he said.
Dr Tidmarsh migrated to Australia in the early 1990s from Britain, beginning his criminology work in prisons and community settings.
The characteristics include the propensity to refuse to accept blame, problems navigating the adult world, a sense of entitlement, objectification of women or children, and damage minimisation (stock image)
Over the past 14 years, he has worked with Victoria Police to help detectives understand sexual offenders and better investigate their crimes, earning a Victoria Police Medal for Merit.
Since moving into policing, Dr Tidmarsh realised sex offences are often misunderstood in the way police and courts handed cases, arguing the voices of victims needed to be ‘better heard’ to improve systems.
He said those hearing about sexual crimes, including judges, juries, police officers, and friends and family members, initially respond to stories though their own subconscious biases.
Dr Tidmarsh said it was important to listen to both versions of events – the victim and perpetrator – and compare and contrast their accounts to determine the ‘whole story’.
He has released a new book called, The Whole Story: Investigating Sexual Crime – Truth, Lies and the Path to Justice.
THE FIVE COMMON TRAITS SEX OFFENDERS SHARE
1. Problems navigating the adult world
2. Refusal to accept blame
3. A sense of entitlement
4. Objectification of women of children as sexual objects
5. Damage minimisation