I have the dubious pleasure (?) of having an ex BIL who is a convicted child molester. I didn’t know about it at the time I got married… Imagine my horror when I found out!
Let me tell you a little bit about BIL – he’s a bright, intelligent guy, who has a great sense of humor and is great with kids. He loves kids, and they love him. He doesn’t LOOK dangerous, attends church on a regular basis and generally comes across as “safe.”
However, he is a predator. His convictions? Two only. Those are the only two they can prove, and their nature, time period and other circumstances resulted in him not even having to register as an offender.
He molested one niece – inappropriate touching. There was no penetration, but he did touch the girl, taught her how to masturbate (more than just rubbing herself) and had in depth sexually oriented conversations with her. She was not even school age at the time.
He molested a second niece – this one involved actual sexual activity with a barely pre-teen and into teenage girl along with the same things he did to the other one. He told this one her breasts would grow if she allowed him to play with them.
There were other girls, but it couldn’t be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Because of a long list of circumstances not worth going into here – he served minimal time, and is not required to register as a sex offender. The molestations occurred about 20 years ago. There have been a few others since, though again, he has not been charged with anything.
Now that you know WHAT happened, let me give you a little trip into his mind. When I had my first child, and I found out about this, I was adamant that this man would never be alone with my child – never, under any circumstances. My attitude was met with outrage that I would not trust him, after all, everyone else still trusted him. He still worked with children, teaching them piano lessons, helping out with church events, etc. Why would I be so different?
Perhaps it was because I listened when he talked about his past.
Some of his attitudes literally made me sick to my stomach, but they also gave me great insight into the mind of a predator.
He honestly felt he had done nothing wrong. He had no remorse. His actual statement to me was that what HE did was not what caused any psychological damage to these girls (both nieces went through years of therapy) but it was society’s expectations and morals that put the burden on them, it was society’s fault they were messed up, not his.
He made an analogy of a box – that society wants to keep children in a box, and when someone like him opens the box to allow the child to explore the way they should be allowed to, rather than recognize the child’s needs, society stuffs the child back into the box, then crushes the box with the child in it.
To his way of thinking – childhood sexual exploration is normal and healthy and should be encouraged, not condemned.
He claimed the first events – with the preschool age niece, were natural and that the second events – with the older girl, were consensual acts.
Through many years of heated discussions with this man, I came to understand how twisted his mind was, and that there was nothing I could do to change his outlook. He honestly believed that young children were capable of making sexual choices and that it was purely the fault of society that any kids who DID “explore” sexuality had psychological impact.
Fortunately, we lived on the other side of the country and his dealings with my own children were minimal, and always in a group setting. But even on those few occasions I could see how he worked.
He was a charmer; the children loved his playful attitude and the level of friendship and intimacy he offered. He was an adult who got on their level. He was friend, playmate, co-conspirator. He offered the opportunity for children to go out and play with an adult (which parents loved!) so they seemed “safe” and “supervised” and the kids loved it because he was one of them.
He hosts a fireworks show every Fourth of July – and it’s a great show… And what kid wouldn’t be charmed by the opportunity to help set up something so “dangerous”? Parents love it because BIL seems “safe”, he knows what he is doing and allows the kids to “help” while keeping them out of harm’s way. All the while, he is ingratiating himself to both parent and child.
That is the way he works…
Does that imply that ALL people who befriend children, who are good with children, who love to teach children, are molesters?
NO! Emphatically NO!
But it is a tiny sampling of how a molester works. Of how innocent they can seem. Of how perfectly “normal” their initial actions are.
Do I judge everyone by his mold?
No. I have taught my children well. I have given them the confidence they can come to me no matter what and I have talked with them about the evil that some do and how twisted they can make things seem.
And I am careful – as any parent is. But I am not paranoid.
When, after learning of the horrible things BIL had done, I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “You hurt my kid and you will NOT have to worry about going back to jail, I promise you that. I will deal with you FIRST.”
I never trusted him alone with my children. I never trusted him alone with any children and I watched him like a hawk any time he was around.
Sure, I pissed him off. Ask me if I care.
Those who are trustworthy understand a parent’s reasonable need to protect their children. They understand a parent’s reasonable caution and suspicions – and they will work to EARN your trust.