Most people believe that a normal looking, well educated person would never molest a child. This dangerous misconception allows child perpetrators access to trusted roles in our children’s lives. Child perpetrators admit to leading a double life. Many seek positions in society that allow them to work closely with children. Publicly they are responsible and caring. They are charming and likeable perfecting the ability to radiate a façade of sincerity and truthfulness causing parents to drop their guard.
The offender often will find reasons to spend time with the child alone, isolating them from peers and siblings to expel favouritism on them. Often telling the child they have a special relationship that no one else would understand. Once a child looks to the perpetrator for care, love, affection or guidance, they become vulnerable to the demands of the abuser. Younger children without the ability of language or knowledge to understand what is happening to them are at a higher risk from perpetrators.
To manipulate a child the offender aims at desensitizing the child by using normal situations for opportunities to introduce abusive behaviour. Touching may be “accidental” at first to test how the child will react. Blurring the boundaries of normal affection is the way a perpetrator keeps a child confused. Times a child is most vulnerable are while bathing, dressing or sleeping. Throughout the abuse the perpetrator is constantly assessing whether the child will remain quiet and keep the abuse a secret. Actions overtime often increase in severity with the offender using different tactics to sustain the abusive relationship. Some ways perpetrators will manipulate are:
· Using bribes
· Threatening physical harm
· Assuring the child that what is happening is normal or a process of teaching
· Promising the child that the abuse is a special form of love and will not cause harm
· Conveying an illusion that the child is free to choose
· Making the child believe that they want the abuse to continue
· Telling the child that no one will believe them if they tell or that it is their fault