In light of recent news articles about sexual abuse coming out of Pennsylvania, I thought it appropriate to consider this subject in brief.
I sat in my counseling office with a counselee and her mentor (on more than one occasion) who was telling me about her years of growing up in a conservative church environment and how she was repeatedly sexually molested. Some of the stories made my stomach ache and with others I found myself getting angry: angry at parents who didn’t believe their son or daughter, angry at youth leaders who did not address the danger, angry at church pastors and leaders that kept secrets and provided cover-up and, of course, angry at abusers.
Sex offenders will take years to infiltrate a place to carry out their sociopathic behavior. They will slowly and methodically work on building relationships so they are trusted and believed. Sex offenders’ scope out their victims, finding the one(s) whom they believe they can dominate. They feel entitled to do what they do because they see their victims as persons who desire to be dominated, need to be dominated. They take their time to target persons who need them for some reason, making them even more vulnerable.
Here are some signs to look for:
- They do not make themselves stand out or act creepy. They work hard at looking and exhibiting “normal.” They work a normal job and live in a normal neighborhood.
- They are giving extra, special, generous and consistent attention to a victim they have targeted. They are charmers and gift givers.
- They will create an environment of need. They desire the victim to need them for some specific reasons. This gives them power and control to manipulate.
- They play on emotions and will sulk, become “depressed,” express words of rejection, play the victim and could even threaten self harm all in an effort to take advantage of their victim and receive their pity.
- They lie a lot.They lie about where they have been, what they have been doing, what they’re thinking and almost everything else in an attempt to give their victims what they think they desire to hear or need.
- They will be steadily pushing boundaries. There will be suggestions of behavior that crosses boundaries that will lead to unwanted actions.
- They will disempower their victim by expressing love in an attempt to isolate and move away from other trusted relationships.
- Eventually, as the victim becomes more uncomfortable, the predator becomes more aggressive and even violent because they are feeling desperate.
We don’t spot them because they blend in and we’re not naturally looking for a predator. In fact, most of us can’t even relate to such evil. With the signs above you can watch out for your children within your extended family, your neighborhood, your child’s school, sports activities and yes, your local church.
Psalm 55: 21 says, “His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.”