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What is Frotteurism?
Frotteurism is the term used for the intentional rubbing up against or touching of another, usually unsuspecting, person for the purpose of sexual arousal. A person who engages in Frotteurism derives sexual pleasure by touching other people in sexual ways without their consent and sometimes without their knowledge. Frotteuristic activities commonly occur in crowded public places where the victim might not even recognize the unwanted contact as frotteurism and might assume it was accidental. Settings include elevators, escalators, buses, trains, subways, or crowds in general. In the past, it had been thought that perpetrators often imagine they are in an intimate relationship with the victim, however there has been no corroborating evidence for this claim. The person generally tries to escape detection after touching the victim. Some frotteurs will wear some sort of wrap around his penis to mask any evidence of ejaculation. Such wraps have been used as evidence to prove intent in criminal cases. The most of extreme of frotteurs will simply masturbate onto their victims.
What Are the Symptoms?
Sexual behaviors involving touching and rubbing against a nonconsenting person are officially called frotteurism if (1) they occur over a period of at least six months and are coupled with recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies and urges and (2) the fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Frotteurism generally begins during adolescence.
Who is the Typical Frotteur?
Most perpetrators are males aged 15-25 years. Frotteurism has also been noted to be common among older, shy, inhibited individuals. The vast majority of victims are female.
What are the Causes?
There is no general consensus in the medical community as to what causes frotteurism. However a few theories do exist: 1) that an incident occurred in which the individual accidentally rubbed up against someone in a crowded area and became aroused, thus causing such an activity to become a conditioned stimulus for sexual arousal, 2) differences in the brain of a frotteur exist that cause a lack of impulse control, or 3) negative childhood experiences including abuse led to the development of the sexual disorder. According to surveys conducted in the 90’s, one-third of the subjects had admitted to engaging in behavior that would meet the definition of Frotteurism. Though most men have experienced the urge to touch an attractive woman they see in public, persistent performance of these behaviors is indicative of a paraphilia and unconventional sexuality.
What is the Treatment?
Treatment typically involves psychotherapy and behavioral therapy. Medications can also be used. Behavior therapy is commonly used to treat Frotteurism. The frotteur must learn to control the impulse to touch non-consenting victims. Medroxyprogesterone, a female hormone, is sometimes prescribed to decrease sexual desire.
When Should a Person Seek Treatment?
Frotteurism is considered a form of sexual assault and may be a criminal act. Seek help from your health care provider or a mental health professional immediately.
Last Updated June 2012