Who sexually abuses children, anyway?

By Jennifer Hillman

Thinking back to the Disney movies that portrayed the “bad guys” when I was growing up makes me realize that the portrayal of a “bad guy” can get us in trouble. Unfortunately, those portrayals may also be stuck in some of your minds and can be dangerous to hold onto. That is why today, I will be discussing the reality of the real “bad guy” and what that can really look like so that you are able to better protect your own children from child sexual abuse.

Speaking of Disney, they finally got it right for my children’s generation! When I watched the movie Frozen for the first time, I was beyond excited (and I am guessing for different reasons than you were).  Yes, I loved the songs and characters and how the two sisters were the true love at the end. However, what really caught my attention was the “bad guy,” Hans. The writers do a phenomenal job at portraying what manipulators can, and in most cases look like. Hans is charming, nice, a prince, educated, and really good at what he does. He gets Anna right where he wants her by using her insecurities against her so that he can take over the kingdom. While she is swooned by this good-looking man that has suddenly taken a strong interest in her, he slowly works his charm to get what he wants (well, almost).

This is the image I need you to hold onto when it comes to sexual predators. They are not the big, bad witch all dressed in black or the frail, hunched-back witch with a long nose with moles all over it. No, sexual predators look like you and me. In fact, by looks alone, we can’t pick out a sexual predator and we need to constantly remind our brains of this because our eyes fool us to our detriment sometimes. So, I want you to place the following into your file folder. This is not by any means an exhaustive list; it is merely some tid-bits that I have come to learn from experience and from reading a list of books related to this subject:

  • Sexual predators include men, women, and older youth
  • Sexual predators are someone’s grandfather, uncle, cousin, aunt, in-law, teacher, brother, coach, minister, dad, grandmother, mom, spouse, etc.
  • Sexual predators include someone the child knows and that you allow to walk through your front door.
  • Sexual predators “find themselves” working with children either by their profession or through charity work
  • Sexual predators are nice, charming, can be well educated, pillars of the community, and sometimes good-looking
  • Sexual predators are found in poor neighborhoods just like they are found in middle class neighborhoods and the top 1% of the rich neighborhoods
  • MRI’s have shown that the frontal lobe (where emotion is held) on sexual predators can be non-existent. This allows sexual predators the ability to stay calm, poised, and lie straight to your face if you question their intentions.
  • The older sexual predators get and are allowed the opportunity to get away with abusing children, the more professional they become at their game of manipulation
  • Sexual predators are unlike any other criminal. They generally do not have a criminal record because they work very hard not to get caught. They are busy being charming and doing “good work”…they are not out stealing cars, dealing drugs, etc. Their focus is on getting their needs met and in order to be around children, they need to fool everyone around them.
  • Sexual predators hold themselves in the light and fool you into thinking they would be the last person on this earth to commit such a crime
  • It has been said that sexual predators are people that are “too good to be true”
  • Sexual predators use grooming techniques to lure you and your children into their game to get their needs met. I will discuss grooming in next week’s blog.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please share it with those you care about. If you have any questions or comments, please insert them below.

Jennifer Hillman is a licensed speech-language pathologist, producer of the AWARD-WINNING educational DVD, “The Five B’s”, mother of two and an active advocate and speaker for sexual abuse prevention education in the home, churches and in schools.

For more information on this topic and the AWARD-WINNING educational DVD on empowering children about body safety to prevent sexual abuse, go to www.baileybeebelieves.com.