There are many studies that link child sexual abuse to that person becoming a perpetrator in later life, and Diary of a Predator: A Memoir is a perfect case study of that–Brent Brents committed crimes that were a direct reflection of the abuse he received as a child.
If you look at Jerry Sandusky’s childhood circumstances, you can see that he could very well have been a victim of child sexual abuse. When Jerry Sandusky was six–a vulnerable age–his family moved into an upstairs apartment of the Brownson House, a recreation center for troubled boys. By all accounts, thousands of troubled youth passed through that center, which included facilities for basketball, football and baseball-and which would have included locker rooms with showers (details from Jerry Sandusky’s case include him sexually abusing boys in a locker room shower).
The following is from a study by the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2001:
The risk of being a perpetrator is enhanced by prior victim experiences, doubled for incest, more so for peodophilia, and even higher for those exposed to both peodophilia and incest. This suggests that, in this selected sample, the experience of being a victim of peodophilia may have a more powerful causative influence in giving rise to the subject becoming a perpetrator than does incest, and the joint experience of being exposed to both peodophilia and incest has the most powerful effect.
This view is supported by the frequent clinical finding that the abuser’s target age-group is usually limited to the age when he was himself abused. The abusive act is a traumatic one — however cooperative the victim might appear to be — and the change from being the passive victim to the active perpetrator, making use of the mechanism of identification with the aggressor, is the way in which some victims repeatedly attempt to master the trauma. The use of psychological mechanisms, particularly splitting and denial, which enable the abuser to believe he is being benevolent when he is being abusive, are further characteristics which the victim acquires through his identification with the perpetrator.
-It sounds like that’s exactly what Jerry Sandusky did. And it’s definitely what Brent Brents did–he became a perpetrator in order to try to gain control over his feelings of helplessness, rage and victimization.
It does not excuse the horrible actions of either man, neither Brent Brents nor Jerry Sandusky. But it does help explain them.