Frotteurism is a condition wherein a person derives sexual gratification by rubbing body parts, especially pelvic area against the body of another. A Frotteur is the person who has frotteurism as a sexual disorder and usually victimizes unsuspecting and non-consenting adults or children. The act of practicing frotteurism is known as frottage. Frotteurs commonly target victims who can be touched rapidly and a hasty escape can be made without provoking any kind of retribution. Hence frotteurism is mostly experienced in crowded public places such as elevators, fairs, subway of buses. Another form of frotteurism is when the frotteur rubs or brushes his hands against the genitals of the victim.
Most frotteurs are men and their victims are usually adult women. As the condition is a deep-seated psychological disorder, sustained frotteuristic conditions can start impacting the person’s social, occupational and interpersonal areas of life. A frotteur fantasizes a fleeting exclusive relationship with his victim while he is rubbing himself against another person. The fantasies, desires and urges of frotteurism, as a result, can limit the social interactions of a person and put him in situations where he can be even arrested for misdemeanor. Severe cases of frotteurism can develop into sexual molestation and abuse by the frotteur unable to control his urges. In some cases, persistent frotteuristic behavior is also considered as sexual assault and can be considered a criminal offense.
Unlike other paraphilia, Frotteurism doesn’t develop with sexual development during puberty. Experts believe that the first incidence when a frotteur accidentally rubs him against another and feels sexual pleasure is the foundation of this condition. Upon realizing the source of sexual gratification, a frotteur discovers the condition and starts exploring it with other victims. Apparent causes of frotteurism are –
- Hormonal imbalance: Due to excessive production for male reproductive hormone, Testosterone, sexually deviant behavior can develop in men. A Frotteur is able to derive sexual satisfaction by a brief contact with a stranger in public place and usually does so with non-consenting victims. A Frotteur is also plagued with constant fantasies, desires and urges to touch or rub against others; which is caused by surging testosterone levels.
- Abusive childhood: If a person is subject to emotional and sexual abuse during formative years or during puberty, development of sexual paraphilia becomes highly likely in such individuals. Sexual frustration can also be vented out via frotteurism.
Frotteurism is a sexual condition which a person doesn’t openly admit to and tries to claim it to be accidental occurence. As a result, it is very difficult to identify and treat a frotteur unless he is caught with repeated incidences or seeks professional help on his own. The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of mental disorders recognizes frotteurism as a paraphilia and have established following criteria for diagnosis of the condition –
- The person must be suffering from frotteuristic urges, fantasies and behaviors for at-least a duration of six months
- Person must feel personal, social and occupational distress due to the continuing frotteuristic urges. Such a person is known to be afflicted from frotteuristic sexual interest and rarely acts upon these urges.
- Person is unable to control the urges and have repeatedly victimized non-consenting adults and children by touching them, rubbing the pelvic area against their hips or thighs. The frotteur may have also fondled the breasts of a victim in an unexpected situation. Such a person is considered to be suffering from frotteuristic disorder.
Although frotteuristic disorder is a rare condition and very few men suffer from a chronic state of this disorder; frotteuristic acts and sexual interest is not uncommon. Many frotteurs engage in singular incidents and restrain further urges due to social and moral pressures. Frotteurism at workplace can also lead to sexual harassment charges; hence frotteuristic sexual interest seems like a much safer option to frotteurs.
Frotteurism is a hyper-sexuality condition and is generally treated with a combination of psychological and physiological treatments. However, without the willingness to change in the frotteur, none of these treatments can actually be effective.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: This is the most widely accepted treatment for frotteurism as it works on the foundation of helping a frotteur realize that his behavior is inappropriate. Reality therapy is a type of cognitive behavior therapy which helps a person consciously control frotteuristic urges and thereby control the life around him.
- Behavioral restructuring: Aversion therapy is a commonly adopted behavioral restructuring measure, wherein a person learns to see his frotteuristic urges and behavior in a negative, anti-social light.
- Hormonal treatment: Use of SSRIs and anti-androgen is quite common in people suffering from severe frotteuristic disorder. However, due to their multiple side-effects; this treatment option is avoided in persons suffering from frotteuristic sexual interest.