Child abusers are Master Manipulators who will groom parents as well as children. This makes both parents and kids their victims.
A lot of you have probably seen the posts that have been circulating lately about the ways in which child abusers groom the parents and carers of their victims first, and about children being more at risk when their mother takes a new partner.
While we know that all of that is very true, we really cannot say often enough that the blame must always rest with the abuser.
No one can blame a single parent, or anyone for that matter, for wanting to be loved and share their life with someone special. Child abusers are very good at manipulating that and capitalising on it for their own gain. They can come across as the most loving, caring and generous people we have ever met – that’s all part of how they get close to their targets.
Even happy couples raising their children together can fall victim to it. It could be the caring teacher who offers extra tutoring, the scout or sporting leader who takes a child away on a camp even when the parents can’t afford to pay for it, the kind neighbor who offers to babysit to give the parents a much needed break. Many times it’s even a trusted and loved family member.
This is why we often see expressions of total shock and disbelief when the truth finally comes out.
Does this mean we need to wrap our children up in cotton wool and never trust anyone with them? No, not really. We all need to ensure that our children are educated, socialised and healthy. Cutting them off from all outside contact would do more harm than good and it won’t protect them from an abusive family member.
What it does mean though is that we need to be having open and honest conversations with our children from an early age. We need to listen to them, watch their behaviour and believe them. Every child needs to know protective behaviours and who they can go to if anything goes wrong in their life. It also means that we really need a register that people can access to check on the history of any prospective new person in their child’s life.
This was clearly illustrated recently when a convicted abuser was charged with a new offence and his shocked girlfriend revealed that she had children herself, children that this ‘man’ had had contact with.
We need to safeguard against both abuse and against hampering our children’s development.
Raising a child is a huge responsibility and honour. We all feel at a loss sometimes, they don’t come with instruction manuals, but they are worth every ounce of love, support and protection we can offer them. (GE)