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Archive for August 24th, 2010

In my last blog entry, I shared an example of one child abuser’s story for how he groomed his victims (prepubescent boys) for sexual abuse. Today, I would like to focus on other ways that abusers can make their victims feel responsible for “choosing” the abuse.

Children are not naturally shy about their body parts. Children who have not experienced abuse often run around their houses naked and think it is quite funny and fun. Child abusers will take advantage of this very normal behavior to make the child believe that he invited the abuse. For example, a child might run around naked after a bath and kiss an adult that he loves. The child abuser treats this innocent kiss as an invitation to abuse, making the child believe that he is responsible. The child believes that the kiss is what initiated the abuse when, in actuality, the child abuser took advantage of the child’s innocence.

Child abusers might give the child a lose-lose option to make the child believe that he is “choosing” the abuse. For example, a child abuser might tell a child that something very bad will happen (such as harm to someone she loves) unless she agrees to “have relations” with the child abuser. This is blackmail and coercion, but the child does not see it this way.

Also, as with the story I shared yesterday, a child abuser will manipulate a child’s need and twist it so the child believes that he invited the abuse. With the example I shared yesterday, the child abuser targeted children whose strong need to feel loved and special was not being met in their lives. The child abuser offered to fill that need at the price of being abused. The child’s need to feel loved and special (and not lose that feeling after finally having it) overrides the child’s ability to make an informed decision about entering into a sexual “relationship” with an adult.

Bottom line – A child is not a “short adult,” so she had no way of comprehending what a “sexual relationship” means. She does not have all of the information to make an informed decision. Children do not have a need for sexual contact, but they do have needs to feel loved and special to an adult. Adult abusers know this and use it against the child, leaving the child feeling responsible. It is never the child’s “fault” – a child does not have the ability to make an adult decision about a sexual “relationship” because a child is not an adult.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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