Last night, I joined a community of adult survivors of abuse as a guest on Bill Murrays blog talk radio show sponsored by the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. After presenting the point of view of the Sex-Wise Parent , I turned the tables and asked the panel of experts to share how the current and constant coverage of the Sandusky trail was affecting them.
” Watching the Sandusky case on the news is very triggering for me, many of the things he’s accused of doing to the boys was done to me” replied one man who had been a long term victim of a pedophile as a child. “His story is my story”. “Do they have an instruction manual?” asked another man only half joking “It’s as if they’ve studied the art of seducing a child and share the secrets of the trade with each other — the stories are just so similar!”
By now, only the most sheltered among us have not heard about ‘grooming’ the term applied to the seduction process a pedophile uses to get close to a child, gradually moving from friendship, to affection, to physical affection to sex. Thankfully, parents are learning to be vigilant for signs of grooming behavior from an adult directed towards their child; a special friendship, extra attention, excessive time alone without the parents or other adults present and other activities more appropriately shared among peers rather than between adult and child.
Then, one of adult survivors made a comment that left me breathless:
“He not only groomed the kids, he groomed the whole community”
What an important insight! How does one seduce an entire community? Think of the attributes Americans typically apply to an upstanding citizen, and how they were allegedly bastardized by Sandusky; charity (The Second Mile) and professional status (his position at Penn State) to name the two most obvious. His good deeds brought citations from a President and a US senator and seem to have bought him enough good will that initial allegations were brushed off as impossible.
We’re all going to learn a lot of lessons as this trial progresses, and this is an important one to consider: How does a pedophile groom an entire community? Would we recognize the signs if we saw them? Weigh in!