Insights into paedophiles and power

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole’s article “We all know a Tom Humphries” (Weekend Review, October 28th) is chillingly insightful in its recognition that abusers very often appear to be normal, likeable people who harbour a clandestine impulse to control and disempower, which is at the rotten core of all forms of abuse.

But his assertion that sexual abuse, in particular, is a byproduct of a male dominated culture seems to overlook the fact that women, too, can be subtle masters of this and many other forms of abuse.

Sexual and social humiliation is not the sole preserve of dominant alpha males – I have worked with male colleagues who were mercilessly harassed by their (female) bosses, and know of others who, in childhood, were expertly groomed by female abusers.

It is true that the overwhelming majority of abusers are male, but that could be partly due to the fact that, traditionally, women had little power outside of the domestic environment.


Will the growing number of females currently holding positions of external power act in a more enlightened and egalitarian fashion than so many of their male predecessors?

The impulse to abuse another human being feeds into a lust for power that is not entirely determined by a person’s gender. – Yours, etc,



Co Westmeath.