This post on child sexual abuse is the first in a four-part series on sexual sin and kids. On Tuesday, biblical counselor and teacher Sherry Allchin tackles pornography.
Child sexual abuse is criminal and deeply wounds victims — emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Did you know that child sexual abuse is rampant? Crimes Against Children Research Center states that:
- 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;
- Self-report studies show that 20 percent of adult females and 5 to 10 percent of adult males recall a child sexual assault or child sexual abuse incident;
- According to a 2003 National Institute of Justice report, 3 out of 4 adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well.
Grooming Stage for Child Sexual Abuse
Recognizing abusers’ manipulation grooming tactics helps you — a parent, biblical counselor, or ministry worker — prevent “bad touch” before it happens. Tragically, no one really knows the number of kids who’ve been abused sexually. Victims feel fear and shame and confusion, and often remain silent..
“Grooming” begins with identifying potential victims and gaining their trust.
Among the most infamous examples of child sexual abuse is the case of Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State assistant football coach and founder of The Second Mile, an organization to help at-risk youth. Through this organization, Sandusky had access to boys. He was convicted in 2012 on 45 counts, including involuntary deviant sexual intercourse and indecent assault.
Two real “everyday” examples from women I’ve counseled:
- Brianna, age 11,attended a Christian summer camp with her parents. The parents were friends with the camp director. A middle-aged man, the camp director invited Brianna and a friend to the main house. While the three sat on the couch, the camp director told the girls they were pretty and special. He tickled them and put his hands on their legs. He gave them gifts. He slipped his hand under Brianna’s shirt.
- Nina, age 14, noticed that one of her underthings had a large hole cut in the crotch. She told her mom. Her mom spoke with the girl’s older brother, who admitted to cutting the hole as “a joke.” Her mom said to forget about it. Several weeks later he walked in her room in the middle of the night and touched her shoulder then her breast. Nina pretended she was asleep. He left. A few nights later, he “visited” again.
More on Brianna’s and Nina’s stories in a moment.
22 Tactics of Child Sex Abuser to Lure Kids
Here is a list of tactics some child sex abusers may use to lure potential victims. The word “child” refers to young children and teens of either gender. The abuser may be a man or woman. The list was compiled by the staff at Biblical Counseling Center.
1. Treating the child different from other kids.
2. Wanting to spend time alone with the child, making excuses to go places or have others leave.
3. Asking the child to do things that involve physical contact, such as giving back rubs or wanting help washing.
4. Doing things to a child that involve physical contact, such as giving massages or wanting to help you wash.
5. Accidentally-on-purpose touching the child’s private parts — brushing against breasts while wrestling or rubbing body against the child.
6. Looking at or touching the child’s body and saying it is an inspection or to see how the child is developing.
7. Putting lotion or ointment on child for no medical reason and while alone.
8. Accidentally-on-purpose coming in the child’s room while s/he is undressed.
9. Not respecting your privacy, such as entering a room without knocking or not allowing the child to close doors to bedroom or bathroom.
10. Asking questions or making accusations about sexual things between the child and her friends.
11. Teaching sex education by showing pornographic pictures, showing his body or touching the child’s.
12, Saying sexual things about to the child about his body or how he dresses.
13. Talking to the child about sexual things he has done.
14. Telling the child private things about his wife.
15. Saying the child is special, different, the only one who really understands, better than wife.
16. Treating the child like an adult while he acts like a kid.
17. Giving the child special privileges or favors and making her feel obligated.
18. Treating the child meaner than others.
19. Not letting the child have friends or do things that other kids his age do.
20. Telling the child not talk to her mother or other people about things that happen between her and the abuser.
21. Coming into the child’s bedroom at night, either for long talks, touches, or while the child is asleep.
22. Accidentally-on-purpose letting his robe come apart, walking without clothes on.
When You Suspect a Possible Child Sex Abuser
If a parent notices any of these tactics, lovingly and calmly ask the child questions without alarming her or him.
Many years ago when one of my daughters was 8 years old, she played at friend’s house while the dad — a respected civil servant and father of three — was home.
I asked my daughter what games she and her friend (a boy) liked to play. “Wrestling,” she replied.
My antennae shot up.
As calmly as possible, I asked a series of questions, like. . .
“Where do you wrestle?” (On the bed)
“Do you ever wrestle with the dad?” (Yes)
“Does he ever touch you in the places your swimsuit covers?” (No)
“Am I in trouble?” she asked.
“No, honey I just want to understand your game.” (And determine if that 40-something man sexually abused you . . . I thought to myself.)
“Does your friend ever wrestle in his boxers?” (No)
“What about the dad?” (No)
I asked several more questions. In the coming days, I watched my daughter’s behavior. Did she seem like the same kid I knew and loved? Or different? Was she more angry or sullen or fearful? Did she complain that her private parts hurt or that urination was painful?
I told her that it is very wrong for an adult to wrestle with a child. I told her she did nothing wrong, and I was very happy she told me about the wrestling game. She no longer was permitted to go into her friend’s home. And she stayed safe from child sexual abuse.
What I would do differently: I would have calmly confronted the neighbor with my husband.
Perhaps the neighbor meant no harm but lacked wisdom. Perhaps he was grooming my daughter. If so, could he have abused others? I confess I was selfish in thinking of my daughter’s welfare only.
What should you do if you suspect child sexual abuse? Some ideas:
- Contact the police.
- Encourage the parents to take the child to a medical doctor for an examination.
- Keep open lines of communication.
- Listen to verbal and nonverbal communication.
What Happened to Brianna and Nina?
Do you recall the stories of Brianna and Nina? Here’s what happened.
Brianna told her mom about the camp director’s inappropriate touch. The mom said the girl must have misunderstood. A few years later, while in high school, Brianna became promiscuous. She believed she “owed” sex to any boy who dated her. I wonder if the camp director’s gifts to her played into this false belief? She told me she felt dirty at first but stayed sexually active because she ached for hugs and promises of “I love you.”
Things didn’t get much better. She married then committed adultery. Brianna and her husband divorced.
Nina’s brother visited her bedroom a number of times over two months while she pretended to sleep. The molestation progressed. She became confused. She liked the sensation but knew it was wrong. When he attempted vaginal penetration, she shouted, “No!”
The brother’s visits stopped altogether. She tried to put it out of her mind.
In her 30s, she sought counseling, repented of her own sins (primarily anger and people-pleasing), and lovingly confronted her brother — who shared that he had been molested by an older female family member (not their mother) when he was 14.
By the power of Jesus’ love, Nina forgave her brother, she even felt compassion for him. She also asked the Lord for wisdom and never let her children visit their uncle without her present.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalms 147:3, ESV
Question: Are you interested in staring a biblical counseling center at your church to help the hurting have hope? Contact Tim at BCC.