The question on everyone’s mind is why did Penn State Football coach, Sandusky, allegedly molest little boys? What makes adults sexually abuse children?
Unfortunately, the answer is simple: Child molesters are predators and they roam, hunt and kill to feed their own sexual pleasure. They are opportunistic sexual capitalists.
I get asked all the time. Aren’t child sexual abusers sick, mentally ill? After all, what normal person would do this to a child? Sorry to break it to you but unfortunately, most child sexual predators are mentally alert, stable, and of right mind. Remember, they are sexual opportunists– they are not sick or mentally ill.
By giving child abusers the label of “mentally ill” we excuse their behaviors as a medical condition of which they have little or no control. This is not the truth. The latest statistics show that approximately 20-25% of all men sexually abuse children. These are estimates because they rely on self-reporting, hospital and treatment center reporting and are difficult to quantify and prove.
On the science side (of which I am not, by any means, an expert) once you reinforce (physically reward) sexual behavior with an orgasm, you have sexual behaviors and appetites impossible to alter or change. Pavlov’s theory. Positive physical reward creates the behavior over and over. Sandusky hunted young boys for his sexual pleasure. Once he got the sexual reward, he developed an unstoppable appetite for more and more–even started a charity to ensure a continued supply of boys. His charitable work didn’t include girls because he wasn’t hunting them and had no appetite for girls. In the animal kingdom, once a wild animal develops a taste for humans, they must be stopped as they pose a life-threatening danger to everyone.
What Goes On In The Mind of A Predator?
Think about it. Think about yourself. I know this might be a bit uncomfortable but I want you to see what goes on in the mind of a predator. Just for a moment, think about your favorite sexual activity. Something you enjoy during sex. Couple that with the pleasurable physical pay-off of an orgasm. Now, I challenge you, for one week, to forgo this favorite sexual pleasure during sex.
You are probably not going to be able to do it.
The brain is hard wired by sexual activity with pleasurable pay off. Again, I’m not a scientist nor do I profess to be. But, in my humble opinion, sexual predators cannot be treated. It is near impossible to change sexual activity that results in pleasure and/or orgasm. Added to this is the excitement of secrecy, hiding, stalking, the illicitness, dirtiness, danger, the pretending, the double-agent-double role playing of loving father, coach, spiritual leader, teacher.
We’re not going to be able to get child sexual abusers to stop any time soon. We are going to have to be hyper vigilant and police them in our homes, offices, college campuses, family get-togethers, doctor’s offices, and in our churches and houses of prayer. And here’s why: It’s this writer’s opinion, that wherever you have children you have child predators. All those who kill to eat, all predators go where the prey is. If not they don’t survive. We need to stop being so naive. We need to get out of denial and into action mode.
Do perpetrators marry women with young innocent children? You bet.
Do pedophiles pick vulnerable single mom’s, overwhelmed by the burdens of single parenting, feeling guilty at having deprived their child of a father figure? Uh-huh.
Do pedophiles coach, teach, lead boy scouts, lead church, temple, synagogue child and and teen programs? Yes, you betcha.
Do celebrity pedophiles use their fame, money and power to entice parents to entrust their children with them? Yes, they do.
Predators have to be near their prey to feed off of them to survive. So wherever there are children, there are pedophiles and child abusers. Very few adults want to keep constant company with children. Those that do, are suspect. It ‘s not everyone. Yes, there are great math teachers who love teaching children. And there are wonderful Rabbi’s and Ministers and doctors and coaches that have giving and loving hearts and want to help raise the next generation of children into productive adults. But lurking near these good people is always at least one guy, one person the kids intuitively feel uncomfortable around, the one with no boundaries, the person who makes you feel “yucky” around. Trust your feelings, listen and trust your children. Children do not lie about being abused.
The second question I get asked is, “Why does a family member sexually violate a child in their own family?”
Incest aggressors and family perpetrators have a slightly different dynamic. They can be classic pedophiles, but typically are not. Men (and sometimes women) who sexually abuse within the family do it because it feels good to them and they can. That’s the horrible truth. It’s available and it makes them feel better. Maybe they had a bad day, lost their job, can’t find work, are frustrated, depressed, powerless, angry, and need a quick pick-me-up. A child is small, vulnerable, helpless. Think how big and powerful the perpetrator feels. And for a few minutes of pleasure and relief, they’ve conquered, they’ve won, they are temporarily satisfied–like a hit of cocaine, a puff of marijuana, a glass of wine, a pain killer. Except here, unlike other the other behaviors that hurt themselves, with child sexual abusers, the victims are devastated while the abuser feels just fine. The perpetrators get off scot-free while their victim serves a life long sentence.
What all abusers have in common is their complete lack of empathy for their child victims. They do not “feel our pain.” Sandusky did not stop when his boy victim must have screamed out in pain at being anally raped. The graduate student heard a “slapping sound” of an adult anally raping a 8 year old boy.
As a survivor the most painful and baffling question is why me, why did he pick me, why was I sexually abused? This is always the soul-question that haunts our daily lives.
Here’s the answer, in my opinion, and I’m so sorry to say it. Please forgive me.
We were available, we were easy, we were children and they could.
And your perpetrator, like mine, was able to guarantee your silence. And even if you did tell, and even if you were believed, you weren’t important enough to the silent partners’ survival to risk it all in order to protect you. The silent partner(s) like the top administrators at Penn State, even when there was specific evidence that Sandusky was raping a child in the showers on campus, protected themselves, the football team, and the money. The child victims were not even a consideration in the big picture. They, we, never are. Children have no rights, they have no power. They are consumers and the consumed. That’s it.
You might never know the real reason why you were sexually abused. Why does a lion pick out the baby gazelle, the one off to the side by herself, the gangly one munching grass in the early morning African sun? Why does the leopard pick the injured wildebeest during migration?
Predators are child hunters, looking for the innocent the most vulnerable the easy mark, the easy kill, the ones requiring the least effort for the biggest bang. Perpetrators are hungry and they need you to satisfy them.
And we, their victims, are left picking up the shattered pieces of the ravages of the victimization at the hands of people we loved and trusted.
If we as victims, and those who love and support us, use our voice, speak up, stand up, there is a much better chance of stopping the predators. They may stalk the baby gazelle but we need to be there to gather that baby in our arms, protect him or her, and as men and women, stop the predators with our power and our actions and our voice. We need to believe victims and speak for those who cannot yet speak for themselves. We need massive education and reform of the system. We need to focus on the children and not turn our backs on survivors.
Where were the voices of outrage and action? Where were the protectors of the innocent at Penn State? Do we really care that much about college football and entertainment, that we are willing to throw children to the lions for our pleasure?
I hope not, God, I pray not. Let’s not just oust an 84- year old football coach who was ready to retire anyway, or a University President who will have another job after this story has faded away. For those boy victims, this story will never fade away. They will be left with the handprint of sexual abuse like a tattoo that can never be removed, long after the fans have gone home, the trash collectors have picked up the empty cans, popcorn boxes and hot dog wrappers, and the Penn State stadium is empty. Those victims will be left to pick up the pieces of their torn and shattered childhoods. Let’s not abandon the victims. We have an obligation to watch over them, protect them, get them help so they can heal their lives. We have the same obligation to all victims of child sexual abuse. And the least we can do is to pass laws that protect child survivors and give them rights to hold the wrongdoers responsible.
I believe in you. I know you have a good heart and I love you with all of my heart
With Love and Gratitude
Shari Karney, Esq.
Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse