The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions: Abuser Manipulation

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(trigger warning: child abuse)

Circumvention of #boundaries is a common manipulation tactic.

EXAMPLE: Abuser builds alliances w/the family since you will not see them. This can seem casual and friendly. “Just because we broke up doesn’t mean I have to stop hanging with your family”.

And it doesn’t. As long as boundaries and privacy, are respected.

Popular culture reference: In the film, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” When Tina Turner tries to make a break from Ike Turner, her mother is the one who tells Ike Turner where Tina has run to.

EXAMPLE: Abuser makes excuses to have access to the victim by “needing to see the children” in the presence of the victim.

He/she wants to see the children but only if they get the opportunity to see you too. And/or take the opportunity to get information about you from the children.

EXAMPLE: The child abuser convinces a stern parent to allow a child to join an extracurricular activity so that they can have access to that child.

This is the same child who:

may not be able to be on the internet unsupervised by an adult…

may not be unable to spend the night with school friends…

may not be able to hang out with friends unsupervised by an adult.

BUT

violin lessons,

singing lessons,

football practice,

cheerleading,

tutoring,

choir rehearsal ……….just might be all the access that an abusive person needs.

It was all the access that Jerry Sandusky needed.

Underprivileged at-risk youth were raped for years while participating in an extra-curricular program under convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky at Pennsylvania State University. Parents thought that they were helping their children to have more in life.

In the book, Silent No More, Survivor Aaron Fisher talks about how he tried to leave the program when he was a child. The older he got the more he tried to end the torture he was being subjected to. He tried.

As you are reading the book, you know the outcome. And yet, you keep hoping for a different one.

His struggle to speak.

His struggle to go against the pressure to be “grateful”.

His struggle to please other people who wanted to please Jerry Sandusky.

His struggle to survive a hell he had no idea existed. He was a child. An innocent, mischievous, child. A child.

Jerry Sandusky convinced Aaron’s naive family (they couldn’t even imagine that man was as horrible as he was) that it was important, critical even, to Aaron’s future that he ‘stay in the program’. JS just wanted to maintain access to young Aaron. The program was a cover. A clever mask.

His “care” and “concern” for at-risk children was a mask too. A clever disguise that fooled so many for years and years.

And so…..brave Aaron had to suffer child rape even longer. A child had to suffer.

In his powerful memoir, he also talks about the guilt that his family still deals with because they just didn’t know.

They missed the signs.

They didn’t want to hurt Jerry Sandusky’s feelings who still had legendary status at this time.

It was important to this family that they appear grateful that someone of his “status” would take an interest in their child.

Listen, you can be well-meaning and well-intentioned. You can live that.

These are great things to be.

However, is it possible your good intentions can lead to someone else’s suffering?

Is it more important that you seem “nice”/”kind” or is it more important that people are safe?

We MUST STOP putting the needs of strangers and non-loved ones above our own needs.

We MUST STOP putting the needs of strangers and non-loved ones above the needs of our children.

These strangers and non-loved ones may be perfectly great people, but our ultimate responsibility is to ourselves, the people we love, and the most vulnerable amongst us.

Prioritize your own safety over the “feelings” of others.

Prioritize your child’s safety over the “feelings” of others.

Please, live safe.