Overview: What is Scatolophilia?
Individuals who derive sexual pleasure from making obscene phone calls are called scatolophiliacs or scatolophiles. Scatolophila is similar to exhibitionism because it is a form of sexual assault intended to shock the victim and the aggressor often masturbates to the experience or to memories of it. Scatolophiles may use persuasive manipulation or frightening threats to keep the victim on the phone. Scatolophilia has decreased in frequency over the past years due to the increasing use of phone technologies such as caller ID, call blocking and phone conversation recorders.
The Victim's Dilemma
Many victims stay on the phone line because they are afraid that the caller will assault them physically if they do not comply. They may also be worried that the caller may even be outside their house looking in. Being verbally abused is an incredibly traumatic event. However, scatolophiles are rarely physically close their victims at the time of the phone call even if they claim to be and make threats. Receiving unwanted obscene phone calls makes the victim feel unsafe and may cause permanent emotional damage. Many victims may become afraid to answer the phone or to be alone in their own house.
Examples of Scatolophilia
Isolated instances of scatolophilia still persist even with phone technology. Most instances of scatolophilia involve a man calling and verbally abusing household members of a private residence. The caller may make reference to sexual activities and fantasies and later masturbate to the expressions of shock, fear and dismay.
Many modern scatolophiles use manipulative persuasive techniques. For example, in 2000 in Sweden a scatolophile posed as a sexology researcher and asked child subjects sexual questions over the phone. Coercive techniques can especially be observed in string of about 60 abusive phone calls from 1995 to 2004. In these phone calls, a man posing as a police officer forced food service workers to perform sexual acts on each other. The caller forced supervisors to victimize employees with behaviors ranging from spanks to strip searches to oral sex.
Therapy for Scatolophiles
Individuals who want to stop making inappropriate phone calls may benefit from sexual therapy for atypical turn-ons and seeing a professional councilor or therapist, especially one who specializes in sexual paraphilias. There may also be phone sex lines whose performers specialize in pretending to be an innocent receiver.
Tips for Protecting Yourself Against Obscene Phone Calls
- Install caller ID on your landline or cell phone.
- Block unwanted phone lines.
- Report the phone call to the police.
- Quickly hang up the phone as soon as you realize the caller is making obscene remarks.
- Consistently hang up the phone if he or she tries to call back.
- Keep a second phone line, such as a cell phone, close. This will allow you to call the authorities without hanging up on the scatolophile. Alternatively, you can try putting the obscene caller on hold while calling the police.
- Report the phone call to the phone companies who may be able to track the caller.
- Think about a stranger's phone requests before performing them. Do not be afraid to question authority figures if something seems amiss.
- Never give out personal information over the telephone.
- Keep a log of phone calls you've received.
- Install and learn to use recording features on your phone in order to collect evidence.
- Do not delete obscene phone messages; These can be used as evidence.
- Do not exhibit an emotional reaction to lewd suggestions. The scatolophile is looking for shock and awe, and he (or she) may leave you alone if you do not provide what he (or she) is looking for.
- Feign deafness or hard of hearing. Possibly ask if they are with the hearing aid company.
- Change your phone number if you still need to feel safer.
1. Granhag, P. A., Bengtsson, L., Leander, L. & Christianson, S. (2003). Children's memories of obscene phone calls: A case study of scatolophilia. Oral paper presented at Psychology & Law: International, interdisciplinary conference (Edinburgh, Scotland).
2. Andrew Wolfson. "A hoax most cruel". The Courier-Journal (Updated: Sunday, October 9, 2005, Access: 5/22/2007). http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051009/NEWS01/510090392
3. "Harassing and Obscene Phone Calls". Idaho State University. http://www.isu.edu/pubsafe/crime_prevention/Harassing_and_Obscene_Phone_Calls.html (Access: 5/22/2007)
Image from: When a Stranger Calls. http://movies.ign.com/articles/685/685418p1.html (5/23/2007)
Created September 21, 2007