Earlier this week, Oprah gave her viewers a first hand look into the mind of child molesters. They talked about why they do it, how they do it, and who they choose as their victims. It was an eye opening show that I suggest anyone with children in their home watch (Oprah Talks to Child Molesters) as it shed some light into the dark and dysfunctional world of the worst kind of sex predators.
Child molestation, child rape, or child sexual abuse, which ever term one wants to use they all mean the same thing. It is the inappropriate touching of a child by an adult in a sexual nature. In the United States and in most countries it is illegal for an adult to touch any portion of a child’s body with a “lewd and lascivious” intent. Therefore, even if it can be proven that the child was a willing participant, consent can not be used as a defense against child molestation charges. Children cannot legally consent to anything. Furthermore, they do not have the mental capacity, maturity, or knowledge to understand what it means to get sexually involved with another person especially an adult.
Adult indulgence in children for sexual gratification has remote historical precedents. Yet no other crime of moral turpitude evokes more moral repugnance, public outrage, and condemnation than the sexual victimization of children. According to the Justice Department, there are approximately four million pedophiles in the United States.
It is difficult to accurately assess the number of child molesters because many child molesters are not caught. The Justice Department reports the alarming statistic that one in four girls and one in seven boys will experience sexual abuse before the age of 18. In my opinion this is a disturbing statistic.
When I think back to when I was a child and in grade school there were approximately 30 kids in my class. If we assumed that in my class there were 16 girls and 14 boys, according to these statistics, it would mean that approximately 4 girls and 2 boys in my class were vicitims of sexual abuse by an adult. That is a disheartening and alarming assumption. And if it is true I wonder how many of them reported the abuse. Studies show that most children don’t report the abuse, primarily because they believe it is their fault. According to the Department of Health and Human Services only 20% of clinically identified victims ever report their experience.
Five minutes into watching the Oprah show I was disgusted. I almost changed the channel because I wasn’t sure if I could sit through an hour of listening to sick men discuss the tawdry details of satisfying their sexual desires with children. I decided that I would try and sit through it and watch as much as possible. Because frankly, even though I don’t have children of my own I have 2 young nieces and a nephew. I wanted to know what goes through the mind of these sick individuals. I wanted to know what made children so sexually enticing to them and how I could protect the children in my life.
I sat in my living room and I watched 65 yr old Lee tell of his relationship with a 5 yr old girl. A little girl that he described as a close family friend. So close in fact that the child called him “Grandpa”. “She relied on me quite a bit instead of her parents,” he said.
He sat there with his white hair and little beety eyes and talked about how he “loves” children. He explained how he loved the little girl and how he never wanted to hurt her. He just wanted to “make her feel good”. He talked about how he touched her vagina and her buttocks. He continued to say how he made her touch his penis and how he vaginally copulated her. The more he said the more repulsed I became.
All the men that appeared on the show were equally disgusting. Darren, talked about having sexual fantasies about his 12 yr. old daughter which eventually resulted in him acting them out. David, talked about sexually molesting his 5 yr. old relative when he was 8 yrs. old and how it lasted for 12 years until his victim finally reported it. As I sat there and listened to these men tell their stories there were a few things that were apparently clear.
First, all of them knew the child that they molested. They didn’t arbitrarily choose random kids they chose children that they knew and had a relationship with. According to statistics 90 percent of child molesters know their victims. Most are not strangers who lurk in the bushes, waiting to kidnap children. They are family friends, uncles, fathers, brothers and neighbors. In fact less than 10 percent of molesters are the strangers who are abducting kids you see on the news.
Secondly, they all sought out needy and vulnerable children. All the men said that their victims didn’t have anyone they could count on or trust. They use their vulnerability to get the child to trust them and once they did they used that trust to take advantage of them. David said he was able to seduce and rape his family member because she was neglected by her parents. “I was the only one there in her world who would listen to her, who would validate her,” he said. “That gave me such power over her.” This is why it’s important for parents to be there for their kids. To listen to them and to make them feel important. If they don’t, the child seeks out validation in any way they can get it even if it results in abuse.
Lastly, they all prepared and “groomed” their victims. They manipulate their victims in an effort to make the molestation feel good. According to the men on the show the “grooming” process started early and was sublte at first.
David said that he intitiated his grooming process by just listening to his victim when she spoke to him. Then it gradually escalated to listening with a hand on her shoulder, that was followed by “cuddling” on the couch. Until eventually the molestation started.
Darren, who abused his 12 yr. old daughter, said he’d give her back and foot rubs so she’d get used to being physically touched by him before he started touching her sexually. “It kind of creates a bond,” he says. “I knew it was wrong, but I justified it in my own mind by saying it was a special thing between us, and I wasn’t hurting her.”
These men are master manipulators and they knew exactly what to do in order to get their victims to do what they wanted. They all rationalized it in their heads as being ok because the children never screamed, never indicated that it hurt, and never told them to stop. These men thought that they were making their victims feel good.
I watched the show in its entirety and these child molesters said that there are things that parents can do to protect their children. First, be aware of what’s happening around you. Lee, the 65 yr. old man said, “If you’re at a party and you notice someone who spends more time with the children than the adults, that’s a red flag”.
Second, if you notice something fishy or see something inappropriate between an adult and your child, follow your instints because they are probably right. When Darren’s daughter first reported her abuse, Darren said he lied his way out of it. He urges parents to pay attention to their children’s cues and listen to them. “When they tell you someone touched me, you believe them, because kids don’t lie about that stuff,” he said.
This show definitely opened up my eyes and I hope it does the same for you. Let’s protect our children.