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Part III – Female Sexual Abusers: Who are They?

January 13th, 2010  |  // ShareThis

By Roni Weisberg-Ross, L.M.F.T., Abuse Topic Expert Contributor

Part three of a three part series of articles.

There weren’t a lot of statistics, because no one thought it was a problem. But then in 1990, Ramsay–Klawsnick found that adult females were abusers of male adolescents 37% of the time and of female adolescents 19% of the time; and in six studies reviewed by Russell and FInkelhor, female perpetrators accounted for 25% or more of those abused. In 1996, The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect conducted a widespread investigation on the maltreatment of children. Of the three million children investigated, more than one million were identified as victims of abuse and of the one million, 12% were sexually abused. The sexual abuse of children by women, primarily mothers, once thought to be so rare that it could be ignored, constituted 25% (approximately 36,000 children) of the sexually abused victims. Furthermore, all of these statistics are likely underestimated because victims of this type of abuse rarely disclose. Finally, there is an alarmingly high rate of sexual abuse by females in the backgrounds of rapists, sex offenders and sexually aggressive men – 59% (Petrovich and Templer, 1984), 66% (Groth, 1979) and 80% (Briere and Smiljanich, 1993).

Why haven’t we, as a society, been aware of this problem? Most probably because women have been idealized as mothers and nurturers. They haven’t been viewed as sexual aggressors. And because they are caretakers and are expected to be emotional, warm and physical with children, no one notices or suspects them. Sexual abuse by women is rarely reported because their victims usually are their own children – who are dependent on them. Furthermore, these children either do not understand what is happening to them or do not think anyone will believe them. And for male victims, there is additional embarrassment and denial – they must have wanted it – men (boys) can’t be raped!

But women can be sexual aggressors. And even though the abuse they are capable of doesn’t conjure up violent images of attack and penetration, surveys show that women are capable of a different type of violence toward their victims, sometimes physical and almost always psychological and verbal. This abuse can penetrate the psyches of their victims more deeply because they are the one person who was never supposed to betray them.

What type of woman would betray her own child or another person’s child in such a manner and why? A profile of a female sexual abuser looks something like this: She would probably be a person with low self-esteem who may have had a history of severe emotional and verbal abuse and/or been a victim of childhood sexual abuse herself. In fact, a study by Fowler et al in 1983 maintained that 80% of incest offenders had been sexually or physically abused as children. There would be feelings of alienation and isolation and possibly the loss of a spouse or other adult partner. She might have a history of drug or alcohol abuse and less often a history of indiscriminate or compulsive sexual activity. There might be arrested psychosexual development; there might be a need to have power and control in some aspect of her life. But the common perception that any woman who does this has to be mentally insane is false. Only a minority of female abusers do not pass reality-testing measures. How the abuse takes place and with who may differ, but the personality type can be constructed from the above profile.

David Finkelhor, who has written extensively on this subject, maintains that there is a Four Factor Model, or to put it another way, there are four components that contribute in different degrees to child molestation:

1. Emotional Congruence – a satisfaction of emotional needs through the abuse of a child that is due to either arrested psychosexual development, immaturity or low self-esteem.
2. Sexual Arousal – probably due to familial conditioning through their own childhood abuse or early fantasy reinforced by masturbation.
3. Blockage – Age appropriate sexual opportunities have been cut off by either a traumatic sexual experience with an adult, sexual dysfunction, limited social skills or a marital disturbance such as the loss of a spouse. The latter has been described as a “Theory of Loss” phenomenon precipitating abuse.
4. Disinhibition – due to poor impulse control either because of substance abuse, a chaotic family background or psychotic mental illness.

There are women who are pedophiles and simply pursue children for the sex, but the female abuser usually falls into one of three categories:

1. Predisposed Offender – the abuser was herself abused as a child and she continues the generational pattern by abusing her own children. It is thought that she becomes an offender in an effort to resolve her own childhood sexual trauma.
2. The Teacher/Lover – she generally becomes involved with an adolescent male with whom she relates to as a peer. She may be looking for non-threatening emotional intimacy.
3. The Male-Coerced Offender – she is being led by an abusive male who she is extremely dependent upon. But she may eventually initiate sexual abuse on her own.

While the public is periodically shocked into awareness by sensational revelations of the second and third type of female abuser (i.e. Hedda Nussbaum, Mary-Kay Latourneau), it is the first type that we have to finally give a face to – she is the one that is quietly victimizing thousands of young children who have nowhere to turn for safety. And the children ARE young. Studies have concluded that women abusers victimize younger children than male abusers – probably because of their role as caretakers. If current research is correct and more female than male children are sexually abused, then it is logical to conclude that more girls may grow up to be sexual offenders themselves and there may be a significantly larger number of female sexual abusers than we had previously imagined.

It is up to us to put aside deep-rooted myths about females, and more specifically mothers, in order to deal with the widespread problem of child abuse and more accurately expose all types of child sexual abusers.

©Copyright 2010 by Roni Weisberg-Ross L.M.F.T. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to The following article was solely written and edited by the author named above. The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the following article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment to this blog entry. Click here to contact Roni and/or see her Profile

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Denver Daily News staff report

Thursday, January 14, 2010

MOTHER PLEADS GUILTY IN DEATH OF HER CHILD: A Denver woman has pleaded guilty in connection with the 2008 death of her 2-year-old son, Elijah Archuleta. Isela Reyes-Talamantes, 24, pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and is facing from 10 to 32 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections. On Nov.7, 2008, at about 11 p.m., Denver police responded to St. Anthony’s Central Hospital on a report of a child with severe burns. The child was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at the hospital. In exchange for her guilty plea, the first-degree murder charge against Reyes-Talamantes was dismissed. A co-defendant, John Vigil, is charged with first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death and is scheduled to appear later this year for a motions hearing.

MAN CHARGED WITH SEXUAL ASSAULT: Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey has formally charged a man in connection with an assault and sexual assault that occurred on Jan. 9 on the 3100 block of W. Louisiana. Ben Depue, who turns 49 today, is charged with sexual assault and third-degree assault. On Jan. 9, the Denver Police Department responded to St. Anthony’s Central Hospital in reference to a sexual assault. The suspect is accused of physically and sexually assaulting the victim after the two spent time drinking together and she refused to willingly have sex with him.

ARREST IN LABEL TAMPERING CASE: Jason Eric Kay, 38, of Longmont, was arrested yesterday afternoon without incident on charges of misbranding and altering food labels with intent to cause serious injury to the business of any person, prosecutors said.  Kay is accused of re-labeling one-quart tropical-mango flavored Gatorade bottles with labels depicting a photograph of professional golfer Tiger Woods and his wife Elin Woods on one side, and the word “unfaithful” on the other side.  Kay was held overnight in custody.  He will likely make his initial appearance in court today.

GRADUATION RATE UP: Data released yesterday by the Colorado Department of Education showed the statewide graduation rate for the calss of 2009 increased .7 percentage points to 74.6 percent. The graduation rate stood at 73.9 percent in 2008, 75 percent in 2007, and 74.1 percent in 2006. The Denver graduation rate jumped by 4.1 percent this year.

SUSPECT MAKES COURT APPEARANCE IN AIRPLANE SCARE: Muhammad Abu Tahir, 47, of Virginia appeared this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya for his initial appearance. At that hearing, Tahir was advised of the charges pending against him, as well as the penalty for those charges. The charges are interference with a flight crew, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison, and not more than a $250,000 fine, plus possible restitution. Tahir was arrested because of his Jan. 8 behavior aboard an AirTran Airways Flight #39 that was traveling from Atlanta to San Francisco. The plane was diverted to Colorado Springs airport because of Tahir’s unruly behavior, including assaulting a flight crewmember.


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Mother of scalded boy pleads guilty in 2-year-old’s death

written by: Jeffrey Wolf 1 hr ago

DENVER – A woman pleaded guilty on Wednesday to the death of her 2-year-old son in 2008 who died after being scalded in a bathtub.

The Denver District Attorney’s office says 24-year-old Isela Reyes-Talamantes pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death.

Denver Police say she brought her 2-year-old son, Elijah Archuleta, to St. Anthony Central Hospital on Nov. 7, 2008 with severe burns. He was pronounced dead shortly after he got to the hospital.

In exchange for her guilty plea, the first-degree murder charge against Reyes-Talamantes was dropped.

She will be sentenced on March 19 and could get up to 32 years in prison.

A co-defendant, John Vigil, is charged with first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death.

During a preliminary hearing it surfaced that Elijah’s then 4-year-old sister told investigators that Vigil had “got fire on Elijah in the bathtub.”

Pictures show that the burns to the boy were so severe that the skin on his forehead and chin had fallen off.

(Copyright KUSA*TV, All Rights Reserved)

via | Denver | Colorado’s Online News Leader | Mother of scalded boy pleads guilty in 2-year-old’s death.

Sumter Mom Charged with Killing Her 3-Month-Old Baby

Sumter, SC (WLTX) – Sumter police have charged a mother, Rayshana Harvin, with homicide by child abuse in the death of her three-month old son.

Harvin, 20, is currently booked at the Sumter County Jail.

Police say that about 3:48 a.m. Monday, officers got a call that a child was not breathing at a home on Byrd Street. Emergency personnel found an infant child who was unresponsive.

The child was then taken to Tuomey Hospital, where doctors were able to regain a pulse. Doctors examined the baby, and an x-ray revealed that the child had a skull fracture, officers say. The child was then taken to Richland Memorial Hospital.

At the time of the incident, the child was being cared for by Harvin. Investigators say they questioned Harvin about her child’s injuries at the police station, and at that time, she implicated herself in the physical abuse.

She was initially charged with unlawful abuse/conduct toward a child, but those charges were upgraded after the child passed away just after 3 p.m.

Two other children at the home have been taken into emergency custody by the Department of Social Services.

The case remains under investigation. An official cause of death will be determined by the coroner’s office.

Tony Santaella 1/11/2010 5:30:05 PM
January 11, 2010
Child abuse suspect evicted from apartment

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Charleston mother who was arrested for felony child neglect causing risk of injury was evicted from her apartment on Indiana Avenue.

Jessica McClure, 24, had eviction papers served to her at the South Central Regional Jail on Jan. 7 after her landlord decided “the property has been deliberately or negligently damaged by the respondent(s) <t40>…<t$>,” according to a filing in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

According to the filing, trash and clothes were strewn about the residence, and dog feces and urine were all over the floor.

The landlord asked that he gain “possession as quick as possible.”

McClure was arrested Jan. 2 after Charleston Police said she was forcing her 2-year-old son to sleep strapped into a vehicle safety seat on the floor of their garbage-strewn home because there was “not enough room for him on the mattress or couches, occupied by her and her adult visitors,” according to the original criminal complaint.

Police judged the residence to be “unfit for any child to inhabit,” according to the complaint.

Della Jackson and James Usher, friend and cousin to the defendant respectively, were also arrested in connection with child abuse resulting in injury after police found pictures of McClure’s 2-year-old son duct-taped at the ankles, torso, wrists and mouth, according to a criminal complaint filed Jan. 4.

McClure, Jackson and Usher are all being held at the South Central Regional Jail on a $100,000 surety or 10 percent cash bond each.

Did Elizabeth Johnson Give Her Baby to Strangers? Arizona Mom Faces Kidnapping, Child Abuse Charges

(Personal Photo)

(Facebook Photo)

(KPHO/Personal Photo)

PHOENIX (CBS/AP) Elizabeth Johnson, the Arizona mother at the center of the “baby Gabriel” case involving her missing son, has been charged with kidnapping, child abuse and custodial interference.

Photo: Elizabeth Johnson with her son, Gabriel.

PICTURES: Baby Gabriel Johnson Missing

She told police she gave the 8-month-old to strangers, but also texted the boy’s father that she had killed little Gabriel Johnson.

The Tempe Police Department said Sunday that Gabriel Johnson’s 23-year-old mother is being held at the Maricopa County jail on the three felony charges after being extradited from Florida, where she was taken into custody Dec. 30 after failing to show up for a custodial hearing in Phoenix.

Photo: Elizabeth Johnson.

PICTURES: Baby Gabriel Johnson Missing

She claimed, in an exclusive interview with CBS affiliate KPHO, that she gave the baby away in San Antonio. She made that statement after she had sent a text message to the father, Logan McQueary, telling him she had killed the infant.

Though authorities believe the baby has not been harmed, they are trying to determine what happened to little Gabriel, who was last seen with mother Elizabeth Johnson in San Antonio last month.

Police say she’s being held on a cash only $1.1 million bond.

PICTURES: Baby Gabriel Johnson Missing

Authorities are calling a Scottsdale couple, Jack and Terri Smith, “persons of interest” in the case.

The couple has said they befriended Johnson at an airport and that she wanted to give her son up for adoption. Terri Smith has said the child’s father, Logan McQueary, who is Johnson’s ex-boyfriend, wouldn’t go along.

PICTURES: Baby Gabriel Johnson Missing

January 8, 2010 – Couple Who Hoped to Adopt Baby Gabriel Johnson Now “Persons of Interest” In His Disappearance
January 6, 2010 – Arizona Baby Gabriel Johnson Missing After Road Trip; Mom Refuses to Help Police

gabriel johnson ,
elizabeth johnson ,
logan mcqueary ,
miami ,
san antonio ,
arizona ,
missing ,

Did Elizabeth Johnson Give Her Baby to Strangers? Arizona Mom Faces Kidnapping, Child Abuse Charges – Crimesider – CBS News.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Female Narcissist

This article comes from the website of Dr. Irene Matiatos (article reprinted with the kind permission of the author):

The Female Narcissist
by Irene Matiatos, Ph.D.

February 16, 2002

Abusive behavior in men or women can be a function of many underlying issues. Personality disorders or their milder counterparts (i.e., “traits” or “features”) are one underlying etiology. This article tries to help the reader understand the mindset of the female with NPD or with narcissistic features.

Like her narcissistic male counterpart, this lady harbors deeply held and undisputed irrational underlying beliefs that affect her feelings and behavior. Most of these beliefs are never questioned and are only dimly realized, if they are realized at all. While we all harbor irrational beliefs, those with personality disorders harbor belief systems that are deeply embedded and intertwined.

A Real Charmer

Dana is an extremely pretty 23-year old young lady. A delight on the surface, she has an uncanny knack of presenting herself extremely well to the target audience she wants to impress. She has a corresponding almost magical ability to make people feel verrrry good. She can WOW you! You’ll be gushing (or panting if you’re a guy), and there just isn’t anything you wouldn’t do to please her. She will continue to reward your good behavior as long as she needs you. After all, it is very hard work to be “on” so much of the time.

If she’s accomplished her mission and you are no longer useful, she spends less and less energy being perfectly charming and engaging. In most cases Dana has no real desire to be disrespectful, but as she “relaxes,” becoming more “herself,” she becomes quiet or mildly disrespectful.

A Typical Narcissist

The problem is that the only person Dana cares about is Dana. You are no more than the object who provides her with whatever it is she wants and needs: love, admiration, money, encouragement, support, etc. While she pretends to care, and indeed wants to care, the reality is that she doesn’t care. Her world starts and stops with herself. She hides that fact pretty well from most people; especially those who are consistently meaningful to her (i.e., parents, husband, siblings, boss, etc.). Most of these individuals would be shocked to hear this, and in fact would think you’re crazy!

Dana is typical as pretty female narcissists go. She relies on her beauty and her charm. She feels good about herself as long as she “has it over” anybody she considers “the competition.”

Few Real Friends

Parents are parents and too often love unconditionally, but friends and acquaintances don’t. As a result, while new people Dana meets like her, the more they got to know her, the less interested they are in her company. Except, of course, for the young men, most of whom vie for her attention.

Other than a childhood best friend with virtually non-existent self esteem, there are no friends. There are acquaintances and those who share her environment as well as the many men who surrounded her – all of whom she refers to as “friends,” but there really are no friends.

She explains this deficit by rationalizing that her peers disappoint her in one way or another. This one uses drugs, that one you can’t trust, the other one is jealous of her, etc. There is virtually no recognition that the reason people who are not related to her or have no sexual interest in her do not like her given how she treats them!

I’m The Best!

Dana is not content unless she feels she has it over her peers, especially female peers. She believes she has the prettiest face, the nicest hair, and the best figure – which she flaunts with her form-fitting, sexy, and hip wardrobe. She is always well-dressed, even when lounging around. “Studied cool” describes her style. While giving the impression of having thrown together any old top and pair of jeans, the trained eye can discern the hours and hours spent trying the outfits on, making up to appear not made up, etc.

Every asset she has, she flaunts. One weekend, invited to spend a weekend with some new friends at their family’s home in a poor section of a neighboring town, she found reason to make a 30-mile detour to her parents’ upscale, gorgeous home – to show it off – as though announcing her supremacy. Of course, she would never admit that’s why she came home. Her reasons are always framed in wording that casts her in a positive light such as “It’s my dad’s birthday, or, “I have to pick up something important I forgot.” Never an honest reason like, “I wanted to show off the house to intimidate them.”


Jealousy is a huge issue. Her own envy is as cut off from her consciousness as Wisconsin is cut off from the Atlantic Ocean. While she has no clue regarding her pervasive jealousy, it is sadly evident to the sensitive observer.

One year Dana didn’t get her cousin a Birthday present. While Stephanie routinely bought Dana beautiful and expensive gifts, Dana couldn’t say why she didn’t get Stephanie anything. When pressed, annoyed, she provided a series of senseless answers. “I made a deal with my friends that we were not to exchange gifts.” “Did you made that arrangement with Stephanie?” “No, but I’m not getting any gifts. We’re going to lunch. I’ll pay.” Not only did she not end up paying, Stephanie paid for both Dana as well as for Dana’s boyfriend!

The “problem” was that Stephanie, her peer, had gotten her life together. Also beautiful, she found her calling and was pursing an advanced degree with straight As – a feat Dana couldn’t hope to accomplish. She also had a rich boyfriend who adored her. You get the picture. When asked point-blank if she was jealous of Stephanie, Dana replied too quickly and with an affected laugh, “Jealous of Stephanie? WHAT is there to be jealous about?”

The Price She Pays

Part of the price Dana pays to manipulate others is the exhaustion required to be “on” much of the time. When caught with her vigilant guard down, she is not nice: often impatient, short, arrogant and condescending, reflecting her near chronic bad mood. Shopkeepers, boyfriends who try too hard and all the not-too-important people in her life who will put up with it are the unwitting victims. This is subtle. For example, one day she walked into her compulsively clean mother’s house and saw a leaf on the sparkling floor by her feet. Instead of picking it up, she asked, “What’s that?” Her mother, almost on cue, dropped what she was doing to pick up the leaf by her daughter’s feet.

The Devil in Disguise

The apparent angel is the devil in disguise.

A compulsive liar who needs to mislead to maintain her unblemished facade, Dana is not a mean or cruel person. This young woman really wants to do the right thing. While she derives a measure of immediate satisfaction from her cruelty, when forced to face her behavior, she is not happy she mistreats others. After all, a misbehavior is not in keeping with her perfect image of herself! When reality occasionally hits her and she is confronted with her condescending acts, she becomes upset with herself, often in tears. For a short time. Soon all is forgotten. Time heals or she takes solace in blaming others. When she presents her selectively-presented view, it sounds compelling. Until one realizes nothing ever seems to be her issue. Someone or something else is to blame – or the entire topic is dropped. No matter how much she has vowed to correct these behaviors, she does not. She cannot because she will not.

Why, Why, Why?

She cannot because she chooses not to face the truth about herself. She cannot face that her nature is in fact dark and very imperfect. She cannot face that she is no more special, no more unique, no more perfect than anybody else. Unthinkable! What can she possibly fall back on if she were to simply enjoy her many assets as well as accept and work around the impact of her many deficits?

She believes special rules apply to her, and she is not willing to give these up without a struggle. She’s secretly glad others haven’t figured out how to be as special as she is. Giving up her specialness in unthinkable. It does not feel good.

How, How, How?

Keep in mind that narcissism is a lifelong pattern developing from childhood and believed to have a biological basis. If deception and pretense have provided a lifetime of comforts and esteem supplies, why mess things up? Isn’t it more satisfying to concern herself with gratification in the moment? Why work when you can instead do just enough to get by? Better to spend that energy cultivating one’s external assets and targets. These yield immediate rewards.

After all, the only thing she compromises is herSelf, her integrity, her relationships. All the things she has never known or understood, but thinks she knows well.


With all these issues, the narcisstic woman (or man for that matter) cannot be trusted. They are not trustworthy – unless they are expending energy pretending to be trustworthy. So, at best, their trustworthyness is inconsistent. Like the male abuser, her moods are unpredictable. When frustrated, the energy demands of being “on” are too great. Her frustration slips away from her – and spills onto anybody unfortunate enough to be in the way.

In a Nutshell

To feel whole, a woman like Dana needs to be the center of attention, be the prettiest, the most fortunate, the most talented, the bestest. She cultivates others who will be manipulated by her to admire her, adore her, inflate her, love her, and overlook her pretense, lies and half-truths.

If she is questioned, she distances. This simple yet effective technique invariable affects the codependents in her life. On cue, they lay low and let the issue drop or chase her, thinking they must have done something wrong/ worrying that she won’t want to be with them. Should an admirer truly believe in her specialness and try too hard to win her, they are treated with contempt instead of charity. These people represent that which she despises: only the weak and common permit themselves to be demeaned.

The bottom line is that this very beautiful, very charming (and extremely manipulative) young woman has absolutely no concern for others apart from those who are in a position to provide her with narcissistic supplies.

Does anybody know a Dana? Even worse, have any men out there fallen in love with a Diana? (May God help you…)