Finkelhor’s Four Preconditions model attempts to explain
the behaviour of a perpetrator of sexual violence, and argues, that for a
perpetrator to offend four pre-conditions must be present.
Motivation is the first pre-condition, and suggests
that for the abuse to occur, the abuser will require motive, for example, a
sexual predilection for children, and/or a lack alternative sources of sexual gratification.
The second pre-condition, overcoming internal
inhibitors, explains how the thought process of the perpetrator to internally
justify their behaviour works. Finkelhor suggests that there are several ways
that a perpetrator may overcome their internal inhibitors, for example an
impulse disorder, senility, psychosis or failure of the incest inhibition
mechanism in the family (Ward
and Hudson, 2001).
inhibitors is the third pre-condition, and is where the perpetrator
creates the opportunity to carry out their objective. External inhibitors, such
as a child’s parents, may be overcome by the abuser ingratiating themselves
into the child’s environment, for example becoming active in a children’s
football team, thus creating an opportunity to get physically close to the
child on a regular basis whilst not arousing suspicion.
Overcoming victim resistance,
is the final pre-condition.
A perpetrator may overcome
resistance through a gradual process which can include normalising the
behaviour, for example, using persuasion to convince the victim that ‘other
people do this’ (Exploring Sex
Offender Grooming, 2013), or through stepwise
progression, which works by desensitising the victim to the assault. The
perpetrator begins with appropriate behaviour, which then systematically moves
to inappropriate behaviour (Exploring Sex Offender Grooming, 2013).
The victim may be persuaded to engage in the behaviour
because they want to maintain the relationship; this relates back to the third pre-condition
stage, where the perpetrator overcomes external inhibitors by ingratiating themselves
within the child’s environment, and the creation of a special bond between the
child and the perpetrator.
A perpetrator may also overcome victim resistance by perpetuating
the fear within the victim that, if they report the sexual violence, they may
not be believed or blamed.