A valuable article about childhood sexual abuse

How do sexual abusers gain the trust of their young victims and why do parents “let” them? How do they get by with it? Why don’t the child victims say anything? How can a mother insist she had no idea what was going on? These are questions that trouble people whenever the subject of childhood sexual abuse comes up.

I found an article online that offers a concise explanation of the “grooming” process. It is all valuable information, but I wanted to highlight this:

Mother blaming tactics

The myths around child sexual abuse often describe the reasons the offender sexually abused the child as being the mother’s fault. Some of these reasons could be that the mother was sick, worked long hours, or was frightened of the perpetrator. As a mother, you are not to blame for the sexual abuse. The sexual abuse of children is just one part of a system of trickery and abuse created to maintain secrecy, isolation and the offender’s absolute power over the child and all others in the child’s life. The offender sets up a web-like structure of traps, lies and distortions to isolate the victim and recreate the child as problematic in the eyes of siblings, the mother, friends, family and neighbours. In particular, offenders admit that their prime target is to destroy the child’s relationship of trust with the mother (Morris, 2003).

The relationship problems between mother and child that are commonly seen after the abuse is disclosed are more likely to be the result of a campaign of disinformation orchestrated by the offender. The offender’s actions create a context in which the mother and child are blind to his role in creating the difficulties in their relationship (Laing and Kamsler, 1990). In fact, one of the most common tactics by the offender is creating a division between the mother and child. The mother blaming shifts the focus from the offender to the mother, in search for someone to blame.

Research shows that the vast majority of mothers do not know that sexual abuse was occurring, and this is part of the offender’s campaign to keep the abuse secret. Offenders work hard to be seen as the idea father, uncle, grandfather, brother or a trusted family friend who is wonderful with children.

Read more here: Sex offender tactics and grooming

5 thoughts on “A valuable article about childhood sexual abuse

  1. Interesting. I have a bit of a different take in my situation. I believe a lot of sexual abuse is preventable. Sometimes we ignore signs even through they are glaring at us. Thanks for the post.

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    • Oh, I definitely agree that sexual abuse can be preventable — and I passed on this article in the hopes that it would help instruct and alert parents to see through the schemes of someone attempting to groom their children. I also know of tragic situations where parents knew — or strongly suspected — sexual abuse was taking place but, for various reasons, were afraid to take action. That is simply horrible. No child should be sacrificed in order to “protect” the parents, keep a roof over their heads, maintain family harmony, or avoid “scandal”. Nothing is worth the price of a child’s innocence and well-being. I cannot stress that strongly enough.

      At the same time, I also know that there are mothers of abuse victims who are unfairly accused of turning a blind eye or even being a knowing accomplice to the abuser. One woman described how her therapist kept insisting, “It is impossible for sexual abuse to take place in the same house as the mother without her full knowledge and consent” and that the therapist insisted she was lying about being shocked at the disclosure: “You knew! Every mother knows!”

      We help neither survivors nor their mothers when we are afraid to admit that child predators aren’t easily identifiable by their creepy demeanor and that mothers do not innately possess a creep-o-meter. Some people might ignore the signs; others don’t know what to look for.

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      • Totally agree. I always enjoy reading your posts. I find a strong connection with other survivors especially survivors that are believers. May God bless you abundantly today

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  2. Hi Rebecca,
    Thank you so much for your article, I am in a very tricky position where my ex partner took up a relationship with a new guy very soon after we separated and moved in together every quickly too.
    I found out that he had ellidgaly sexually harassed a minor (15 year old) that was working for him in his tutoring business in Townsville. The allegations were later supported by a written affidavit by the victim and her father. And it was at that point that I could bring it to my ex wife’s awarenes as my Solicitor had advised me not to make allagations without proof.
    That was last year, but still my kids live under the same roof as him and I’m made out to be the bad guy. The fighting in court and lack of amicability between us all due to the allegations and now also that the court orderd the children not to be left unsupervised in his care until the evidence could be tested this August, has driven my eldest daughter away from me and confusion between my other two daughters too.

    I have read and researched many sites and pages to figure out what I should do as I don’t want to let the girls down. My two younger daughters always say how the eldest 14 nearly 15 is always locked away in her room and removed from the rest of them.

    They have told me how the new boyfriend always hugs them and makes them say that they love him. They also told me that he flashed his backside to them in jest on two different occasions this summer.

    My ex wife denies everything and believes that the young girl is lying about the touching, but not about the texting that was alledgadly taking place where he was alledgadly saying “our relationship has moved to the next level” and “don’t tell your parents” Even though her statement comes years after it all happened…. Why would she make it up??? Why would her father make it up????

    I think it’s true that sexual harassment and abuse goes on right under everyone’s nose and it’s the traights described on the http://www.laurelhouse.org.au website to name one, but hundreds of others and your blog too.

    It’s very real for me and I Live in complete fear that one day one of my girls will come to me and tell me that the unthinkable happened.

    These manipulators are getting off on the challenge of dividing the children from the mother and father and making them feel responsible to a point that they even defend and protect him. All happening in my world today, and very little I can do apart from speak up here and wait for the next court date.

    I would love to hear what others have to say about this, am I right to pursue the safety of my children or simply accept that my ex has chosen a person that may be grooming and watching, and accidental touching until it becomes to much for him to control.

    This guy is a teacher of 14 and 15 year olds as well as tutoring other children in his own home.

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  3. You are 100% correct to take every action you can to prevent someone exhibiting any child grooming behaviours with your children or any minors.

    The stats are 1 in 3-4 girls and 1 in 6-8 boys are sexually molested, and in my opinion this is directly attributable to well-meaning adults normalizing (sometimes even encouraging or applauding) behaviours that are consistent with child grooming when they trust a person. Your ex-wife is not to blame, but she needs to be educated (likely not by you) on the warning signs and to realize that her own intuition about someone should be completely irrelevant if they are exhibiting warning signs – the cost is too great to children not to take this seriously. If they are good at what they do (and if a predator they are otherwise they’d already be caught) they have deliberately manipulated and blinded the parents, and almost always the greatest energy has been spent on the mother.

    Even if 99% of the behaviours consistent with child grooming from 99% of people that engage in them are innocent, accepting it as normal provides cover for predators. That asshole showing his ass is an example for sure of something that has to be directly confronted, probably by you. Additionally, if someone is exhibiting behaviours consistent with child grooming but they are innocent, they are creating a toxic situation for anyone that is suspicious of them, and also for themselves as you can imagine how bad it would be to be innocent and suspected by of such a deplorable crime. If the guy is innocent of criminal behaviour, you will have done him a favour by correcting his future behaviour.

    Having said that, the text you described is pretty incriminating and if you can take more urgent or drastic action to effectively separate that guy from your kids you should do it. The fact that the isolated girl is so defensive of him is EXTREMELY concerning. I don’t know what juristiction you are in but if there are some kind of child services government organzation someone professional should be talking to the girls to make sure they know what’s appropriate and not appropriate. Especially with teenagers, they have been manipulated into beleiving they are in a consentual relationship or that they initiated and have put the perp into a bad spot. I am in Canada so might not be able to point you in the right direction but I know that the Sheldon Kennedy Centre here in Canada would likely be a good starting point for a phone call and can probably help you no matter where you are.

    http://www.sheldonkennedycac.ca/

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