Touched is a story about the sexual abuse of Robbie, a twelve-year-old boy and raises issues about the motivation and behaviour of paedophiles. The book uses multiple narratives, each of the four sections being narrated by a key person in the story - the boy's mother, the boy himself, the man who molested the boy, and the wife of the child molester.
"There’s something about a boy, some boys, when they reach the edge of puberty... that touches me in some way, some really deep-seated way. I don’t understand it. I’ve never understood it. But it fills me with desire..."
Houseman is portrayed in a relatively sympathetic light. He is a married man with three daughters, aged 16, 10, and 8 none of whom he molests. He is only interested in boys. He is not a monster but someone who genuinely believes that he is in love with a child and doesn't understand why the rest of the world can't accept that the child loves him back. He abuses several boys, his first victim being a 10-year-old Filipino. He submits his victims to anal and oral sex.
In some ways, Robbie appears not to be deeply hurt by the abuse itself, though the police investigation, the court experience and the reaction of his family all hurt him deeply. On the other hand, the experience has clearly had a traumatic effect on him; his ability to form normal physical relationships is adversely affected.