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Why Me? (Part 8 of 8)

I was targeted.

I was chosen by my perpetrator.

Those two sentences were so freeing to me. During the early days of my healing, I regularly repeated them.

I could now add:
  • They were bigger and more powerful.
  • They didn’t have the right to hurt me or take advantage of me.
  • They were hypocrites. They tried to manipulate me into believing the lie that they did this out of love for me. Instead, they were doing it to meet their own addictive craving.
If my perpetrators were still alive, here’s something I would like to say to them: You kept saying you loved me, and I know it was a lie. Love never hurts or destroys another.

Why Me? (Part 7 of 8)

In the previous blog I introduced David*, a registered sexual offender who has been working toward his own healing.

He told me that of the many boys he had molested only three of them later confronted him. They asked him, the perp, why he had chosen them.

Naturally, he wasn’t going to incriminate himself, so he had four standard responses.

* “You were such a wonderful child, and you wanted me to do it.”

* “You kept hanging on to me, and I did it to make you feel better.”

* “You were such a lonely kid, and I felt sorry for you.”

* “You said you liked it, or I wouldn’t have touched you.”

Before I responded, David said, “I was able to make them feel guilty for what I had done.”

Yes, we were chosen. And manipulated.

We did nothing bad;
something bad was done to us.

Why Me? (Part 6 of 8)

In 2012, at a writers conference in Leesburg, Florida, a man heard me being interviewed for an article on male sexual abuse. After I hung up, he sat down next to me and told me that he was a registered sex offender.

For the next 20 minutes David* confessed what he had done before he was caught, convicted, and imprisoned for three years. He didn’t excuse himself, and many times tears filled his eyes as he felt the guilt and shame of his behavior.

“When I targeted a victim, I showed a lot of interest in everything he did or said. It wasn’t real, but that’s how those needy boys perceived it.”

David also said, “I touched the boys when I knew they were ready. They felt they were receiving affection from me.”

He shocked me when he said, “I had no trouble spotting vulnerable children. I could sense they felt isolated, didn’t like themselves, were insecure, and had been pushed aside or ignored by their families.” And the most telling statement was this, “I took advantage gradually and in such a way that my targets felt they had willingly chosen it.”

Tears filled my eyes, making me unable to talk for several minutes. He had answered a powerful question for me.

I was targeted for sexual assault.
I did not choose to be molested.

Why Me? (Part 5 of 8)

In 2011, an article in USA Today profiled serial molesters. It came out because of the charges against coach Jerry Sandusky at Pennsylvania State University. Donna Leinwand Leger interviewed psychologist Michael Seto, director of forensic rehabilitation research at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group in Canada.

Here are excerpts from that article.
  • “Serial child molesters seek out vulnerable children and cultivate relationships with them . . .”
  • “They are not picking children at random . . .”
  • “They are seeking out children who will be more receptive to their approach—children who may be socially cut off, impoverished, lacking a father figure.”[1]
Experts have a name for what those predators do by giving gifts, having outings, sleepovers, and other ways to have physical contact with their prey. They call it grooming. That is, they gain a child’s trust and ultimately get them accustomed to sexual behavior.

“When the grooming starts, the child may like the attention. They like the individual. The children are oftentimes very conflicted,” said Ryan Hall, a forensic psychiatrist in private practice in Lake Mary, Fla.[2]

* * * * *

[1] “Predator Profiles Mere Sketches” by Donna Leinwand Leger, USA Today, November 16, 2011, 6A.
[2]Ibid.

Why Me? (Part 4 of 7)

We needy kids carried an invisible sign on our forehead that perpetrators sensed. That doesn’t put the blame on us. Perpetrators took advantage of us because we were driven by basic, human needs.

Think about those who molested us. They were people we knew— authority figures or individuals we should have been able to trust. We were programmed by God to trust. We needed someone who made us feel wanted. Loved.

My male perp used to tell me I was special and said countless nice things to me. He invited me into his room and fed me snacks. I ate while I sat on his lap.

Think again of what I mentioned above:

1. He said the words (special).

2. He treated me as special (invited me into his room).

3. He gave me gifts (food in this case).

4. He held me (on his lap).

None of those described so far are in themselves evil. As a kid I’d sit on anyone’s lap who wanted to hold me. Few adults held me, so I gravitated toward any who extended their arms.

The four things mentioned above were the preliminary steps of the old man prepping me. Because I didn’t resist, my molester took the next step. His holding led to brushing my hair with his hand, stroking my face, and telling me what soft skin I had. He knew what he was doing. He sensed my need and manipulated me to satisfy his evil craving.

As a child I was victimized;
As an adult, I am a healthy survivor.

Why Me? (Part 3 of 7)

“Why did that person choose me?” I can’t tell the number of times an anguished man has asked that question. It usually comes in the midst of deep pain and often through many tears.

Although every situation is individual, I’m convinced of one special reason—which I touched on in the previous blog entry: We were needy kids. Those four words probably sum up everything.

We didn’t feel loved by our parents (or the parental figures in our lives). That doesn’t mean they didn’t love us; it means that we didn’t feel that parental love.

Like all children, we were born with the need to be loved and nurtured—that’s basic to any kind of emotional health. All of us were born with “skin hunger,” which becomes satisfied by being held, kissed, embraced, and patted. Those are normal needs, and most loving parents don’t need anyone to tell them to kiss their offspring.

We didn’t receive enough of those loving touches. That left us needy and, in our immature childhood, susceptible to anyone who treated us warmly.

We also yearn for the right words and spoken in soft tones. Each of us needs to feel we’re special to our parents. This doesn’t mean we’re the only ones they love, but we yearned to believe those parents brought us into the world to shower us with love. Discipline is part of that, of course, but most of all we need to hear those magic words, “I love you.” I’m not sure any of us hear them often enough.

Not once in my childhood did I ever hear either of my parents say those words to me. Did they feel loving toward me? Possibly—and that’s my way of giving my parents (especially Dad) grace.

I know why I was chosen: I was a child with unmet needs.

Why Me? (Part 2 of 7)

Why did my perpetrator choose me?

Katariina Rosenblatt (mentioned in the previous entry) pointed out significant reasons we were selected as targets. Here are three of them.

1. Abuse within the home normalizes that type of treatment. One of our frequent commenters, Roger, has made several references about what his father did to him. Why would he question the ongoing behavior as a young child? The molestation took on a form of normalcy.

2. Economic disadvantages, such as coming from a single-parent home. My parents were poor and I was the fifth of seven children. I rarely got attention and never any affection at home. Hence I was open to anyone who showered me with attention and affection (even false affection).

3. Seeking a father figure to fill a “daddy hole.” Although we’ve discussed this before, we can overemphasize it. I believe part of our hardwiring—part of being a creation of God—is the inborn need for fatherly affection. If we don’t get that in childhood, most of us search for someone to fill that role for us. Too often, it’s a perpetrator who knows how to spot needy kids.

We become the target because of a normal, childhood need.

Because of our natural need for affection and attention 
perpetrators took advantage of us.

Why Me? (Part 1 of 7)

“Why? Why did it happen to me?” That’s one of the most common questions I hear from survivors. Sometimes they add, “I never did anything to deserve it.”

Nobody deserves it.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I’ve come up with a few.

In 2014, I was the ghostwriter for a book titled Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor.[1] In the first chapter I contrasted Katariina Rosenblatt’s experience with mine. The biggest difference is that she was seduced into sex trafficking at age 14. That could have happened to me. (And yes, the sex trade wants boys, too.)

We pointed out that Kat lived in Florida and I lived in Iowa. Cec “wasn’t caught up in human trafficking [but] he easily could have been lured into the sex trade. He had many of the same problems and conflicts I did.”[2]

Most of us weren’t grabbed by some pedophile lurking in the dark; our perpetrators were those we trusted.

Kat, who works with survivors of sex trafficking helped me understand the profile. I’ll share that in my next blog.

[1] Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor by Katariina Rosenblatt with Cecil Murphey (Revell, 2014).
[2] Ibid.