Posts Tagged ‘how abusers groom victims’

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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On my blog entry entitled Removing the Secrecy to Remove the Shame, a reader posted the following comment:

Would you be able to do a post on grooming for sexual abuse and how a child can be made to think that they have ‘chosen’ to engage in sexual activities with the abuser and the shame that comes with that belief? ~ Dawn

Today I am going to share a story I read in a magazine on this topic. Tomorrow, I will address this question from other perspectives.

I cannot remember where I read about this, or I would credit the source. In a magazine, I read an article written by a convicted child sexual abuser about how he groomed his male victims. Here is a condensed version of what he shared:

This man targeted prepubescent boys. He would hang out at the mall at times when prepubescent boys were likely to be there. He knew that parents would drop boys off to take care of themselves, so they were unsupervised. He would look for boys who walked around alone and looked lonely. He observed where they went and would casually appear in the same places, occasionally making eye contact and giving a smile of acknowledgment. After he “happened to show up” at the same places a few times and reached the point of saying hello, he was no longer a “stranger” and could move in.

This man would notice that the boy was flipping through a particular magazine or looking at a particular game, and he would strike up a conversation. He made sure he knew a lot about the interests of prepubescent boys, so he could carry on a conversation with them.

This would move into something innocent like grabbing a bite to eat, where he got to know the boy better. He offered the boy what he was not getting at home – a father figure/friend. The “friendship” would deepen as he filled the void in the boy’s life. When the boy trusted him, they would spend time together in private.

Then came the “price” of the friendship. If the boy wanted to continue the friendship, then he has to have sexual relations with the man. This was not forced, but it was the “cost” of maintaining the friendship. The boy was welcome to walk away from the “friendship” at any point, but the end of the sexual “relationship” meant the end of the friendship. The boys he targeted were so desperate for the father figure/friend that they would give the “sex” in order to keep the friendship.

Then, when the boy wanted to end things, the man would let him go, no questions asked. The boy believed that he “chose” the sex, so he would not tell. The man got away with this many times before he was finally convicted of raping boys.

All of this man’s victims were groomed. The man took a normal need that all children have – to be loved and feel special to an adult – and used that normal need against the boys in order to have access to their bodies.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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