This information contains triggers. It will also probably make every parent feel sick to their stomach but you need to know this. The predator grooms their target for abuse. The predator will typically start by making the child- the target- feel special.
The child or teen gets emotional or financial attention. Emotional meaning attention or praise. Financial meaning games, toys, clothing, jewelry, food, etc.
The child – the target- trusts the person- the predator. The child sees this person as a great friend or relative who is really fun and cool and cares for the child. Get this, typically the parents also see this person the same way. The parents usually trust the Predator. Sometimes the parents see this person as a blessing.
After the Predator has established trust with the child and/or family, the predator begins their preliminary sexual behavior by using safe touching (a rub on the shoulder, hugs, sitting close or playful touching like roughhousing).
At this point, no sexual boundary has been broken- or so it seems- because we can’t see the motives behind the generosity and friendliness. When the Predator takes it to the next level- a secret touching game- for example- the child will usually comply because 1) trust has been established and 2) they feel obligated- Remember all the kindness and generosity? Remember this is a really fun, cool person?
Eventually it gets very icky for the child. He or she has a bad feeling about it. The child begins to fully realize this is not right. Here’s the kicker parents. You have to hear this. Because most of us believe that our child would tell us if something every happened. No they won’t. And here is why…
In the child’s mind, they were a willing participant. They complied with requests. They let it go this far. They are to blame. They feel dirty and shameful.
Hear this, parents- this is the hook. They blame themselves. Wrongfully so, yes- but they don’t realize that.
Not only that, the Predator by now has laid a guilt trip on the child. Possibly YOUR child. “No one would understand our special relationship. You don’t want me to get in trouble, do you? Here’s a phone, iPad, new video game.” Or other bribe.
In the child’s mind, they’ve helped create this, they are taking bribes for silence and they are continuing in it. And we haven’t even mentioned the Predator’s threats to harm family or pets if word gets out.
That is why every parent is always shocked- I can’t believe my child didn’t tell me this was going on. And why every parent feels guilty when they find out it has happened to their child. Don’t. Please, if you are or were a victim or you are a parent of a victim, do not own that guilt. That predator knew exactly what they were doing. It’s the rest of us- the innocent children and unsuspecting parents who have no clue and fall victim.
If you suspect that someone is a victim of child abuse, call the child protective services division in your area or call your local police department. You don’t have to have proof- just suspicion.
And, if you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, there is help. There is hope. There is recovery. Contact Victim Witness in your area, they typically are associated with the District Attorney’s Office. Sometimes they are able to pay for counseling services for victims of crime. Or, you can do an internet search for therapists in your area. Be sure to find one with training in sexual abuse. In most states, children aged 12 or 14- depending on where you live- can consent to medical and therapy services without their parent’s permission. This is important for any teen who has a parent that is not safe, or who won’t listen.
This is a tough message. If anything has triggered you, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 RAINN.
Don’t suffer in silence. My friends, above all else guard your heart. So much love to you. Be strong- M
Watch the video version (breathy rant) of this at https://youtu.be/ud5lvzCRKjo
Photo credit: pixabay
Many of my therapy experiences with kids who have had multiple placements have been cut short due to, yes, another move. Foster parents are only human, of course, and can only handle so much disruptive behavior before they meet their limit of patience. Treatment of this kind is a lengthy process, and results in the form of “good” behavior don’t come quick. Placements are lost; kids are moved. And so the system goes.
Without running off on a complaint tangent over the current state of DHS/CPS affairs, and without focusing on the many reasons that total reform is imperative, I will give some hopefully helpful advice on working with these precious, hurting kiddos:
Photo credit: Stock photo (Microsoft)
Bless you, my fost-adopt friends and much, much love to anyone who was raised in the system. You are stronger than you know. -M
Subscribe to the therapist's mental health vlog at Can We Talk? or find me @TweetmentPlan.
foster care, behaviors, foster parents
Wondering if your child may benefit from counseling? Below is a list of some of the common signs/symptoms/indications to look for:
- Appearing sad, shy, withdrawn, disengaged, fatigued or worried
- Lack of compliance and/or aggression with authority
- Aggression with peers (hitting, pushing, yelling, biting)
- Trouble making friends (social isolation, lack of social skills, bullying)
- Neighborhood or community violence or disaster
- Parenting concerns (parent mental health or substance use issues, parenting skills, jail time)
- Home issues or transitions (new sibling, parental divorce, move to new home, homelessness)
- Grief and Loss issues (foster care, absent parent, death of loved one)
- Disruptive behaviors / getting in trouble at school
- Known or suspected abuse or trauma of any kind
No one knows your child better than you, so if you think something is off, of if you notice something going on with your child that is not on this list, by all means, take your child for a consultation with a licensed or pre-licensed professional.
LMFTs, LPCs and other master's professionals do not prescribe medications, so don't worry about an automatic prescription. (If a prescription is indicated, your therapist will refer you to a doctor who can evaluate and prescribe- plus, there are holistic options to explore, should this be an issue.)
However, a qualified professional should be able to meet with you and your kiddo to see if therapy might be beneficial. There are many therapeutic techniques to help you and your child in achieving your emotional, behavioral and social goals. An initial consultation may be in order.
This blog is for information/ entertainment purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for actual therapy.
Photo credit: pixabay
The Motley Ms.
Hi! My name is Melinda. I'm a saved-by-grace-er, lifelong learner, INFJ, health & fitness trynabe, Mom, #vanlifer, mental health vlogger, and Director & Clinical Supervisor at a Child & Family Therapy Practice in Northern California.
The Motley Ms
The Therapist's Therapy Blog