BACKGROUND: Up till now there have not been any publications about criminogenic factors in subgroups of sexually violent offenders detained by hospital order in the Netherlands. AIM: To perform an explorative study of criminogenic factors in 16 child abusers, 22 rapists and 59 non-sexually violent inpatients detained by hospital order. METHOD: For our study we used a risk taxation instrument, a psychopathy check-list, Implicit Association Tests and self-report questionnaires. RESULTS: The child abuser group and the rapist group did not differ with regard to the risk of recidivism. The child abusers, however, scored lower on psychopathy and they associated submissiveness less with 'sexy' than the rapists did. When the three groups of offenders were compared, the child abusers and the rapists differed significantly from the non-sexually violent patients with regard to psychopathy. No differences were found between the three groups with regard to sexual preference, neuroticism, altruism, anger traits, hostility, and social skills. With regard to aggression, the child abusers scored lower than the rapists and the non-sexually violent patients. Furthermore, the child abusers reported more anxiety when voicing criticism than the non-sexually violent patients did. CONCLUSION: In view of the effect sizes of the differences found between the three groups, further research involving larger groups seems warranted. We also recommend that the svr-20 will be revised on the basis of a more valid factor structure. Rapists should be treated for both sexual and general violence.