Friday, September 26, 2008

Pedophiles, hebophiles, and sexual coercers - same acts, different target ages

Brian's Opinion

The problem of sexual abuse and assault is a well known, but underreported problem in all societies. People are outraged at sexual abusers of kids, but similar tactics used against adults are not as outrageous, even though the motives and goals of each predator are the same. Tactics used by one group often are found in the MO's of other groups.

It is well understood that children cannot consent to sex based on lack of experience and age compared to adults. It is also well understood by most that there cannot be true consent when there are sexual encounters between people in authority (like prison guards, therapists, or other professionals), even with adult targets. However, it's not well understood that predators and abusers ALWAYS come from a position of power over their victims, and that there can never be true equality between any victim of any sort of abuse and their perpetrator.

According to Leigh Baker in her book Protecting Your Children Against Sexual Predators (St. Martin's Press, 2002), child molesters go through 5 stages of abuse - detection, where vulnerability to sexual predation is assessed, the approach, subjugation, where control is gained by "friendly reminders" which escalates to more overt control, grooming, using "subtle and devious methods" to isolate and get physical gratification from the victim, and the actual abuse. The key is control, secrecy, and manipulation to keep a victim ensnared until they can escape.

The sexual coercer uses power in much the same way as a molester does, and in fact, some have explicitly compared pedophile seduction tactics to "seduction community" tactics. If an adult seducer uses these tactics against adult victims, their is no detectable difference except for age and illegality. Seductive sociopaths (or sociopathic seducers) worm their way into a vulnerable adult victim’s life by seducing, them attacking them in ways similar to pedophiles.

If the same acts characterize each group, then perhaps the same goals also characterize each group – power and control over vulnerable populations through “relationships” and sexual encounters. The names - pedophile, child molester, hebophile, or sexual psychopath differ due to different targets, but the purpose of their predation is the same - gaining power and sexual control over a non-consenting victim. Consent can never be there if the victim did not have information that she (or he) could have used to protect herself against the grooming.

Adult relationships feature changed boundaries. Boundaries have to change in order for a “partner” to gain access into another’s life, unless the partner was a friend from birth. A person’s boundaries did not always include their spouse, “boyfriend” or ”girlfriend” – boundary changes had to occur in order to accept a partner as a partner. However, boundaries can be changed in a sadistic, manipulative way, too. This is how many sexual coercers operate.

1. Changing boundaries of the victim
2. Turning victim against parents (whether 15 or 30, still a sign of control)
3. Manipulated sexual activity
4. Escalation of power and control

If this is the case, one can simply extrapolate from sexual abuse cases featuring teens or adults who have formal authority over others to figure out the true dynamics of sexually coercive relationships, as well as directly from websites such as Cyberpaths, Womansavers, and Lovefraud.

The ultimate goal of most relationships are sexual encounters. Even with the Christian (and Muslim) ideal of virginity until marriage, the goal of marriage is sexual unity, among other things. So the expression, not the goal, is different from the “no sex until marriage” crowd.

Perhaps those who compare the grooming tactics of pedo- and hebophiles to the seduction tactics of adults are far closer than they have even realized.

In fact, different predators have been compared to each other, as in this excerpt.

Former FBI Special Agent Robert Hazelwood, Dr. Park Dietz, and Dr. Janet Warren conducted a six-year study together on twenty women who had been the wives and girlfriends of sexual sadists. They used a protocol of 450 questions and published the results in the third edition of Practical Aspects of Rape Investigation. Most had been persuaded to engage in a variety of deviant practices, but in seven cases the men had killed numerous victims, engaging their partners in the crimes.

The woman all seemed normal. They were from middle class backgrounds and usually had no criminal record. They weren't abused or mentally ill. The thesis of the study is that the males targeted vulnerable women with low self-esteem and then gradually made them compliant. A similar dynamic plays out with teacher-predators, with the exception of the final step in the five-step process that the offenders followed to transform their partners:

· Identification: They know whom to target
· Seduction: They use all the normal techniques
· Reshape the target person's sexual norms
· Social isolation
· Punishment

· The women end up going along with what the men want, because the men have used psychological manipulation to change how they think and behave. Similarly with the teacher/offender situation, while it may be true many boys are willing to have a sexual relationship, it's also clear that the superior position of the teacher, her authority and her seduction tactics have some effect. Like male offenders, these women apparently feel entitled to do what they're doing and they engage the boy in a shared secret that feels exciting. They target them, use enticements, reshape their thinking about the appropriateness of what they're doing, and isolate them as a way to make them keep the secret. Those who threaten would then be taking the final step in this process.

If the same problems are present, then the same solutions should work. This means that loved ones (including parents) can recognize and stop those that can prey on their kids at any age. It may mean intervening and using drastic measures (i.e tactics similar to that one would use to detect predators of minors) to counter the predator's attacks.

Students should be taught that educators who cross the boundaries do so in a very innocuous manner. The process of grooming starts with seemingly innocuous relationships and gradually increases in intensity." (p. 104)

Coercers act the same way.

"The child molester has found a home in the world of youth sports, where as a coach he can gain the trust and loyalty of kids - and the prey on them. (p. 30)

A seductive sociopath finds a home with a "partner" where as a husband or boyfriend he gains the trust/loyalty/love of women to prey on them.

Relationships involving sociopaths should be seen in the same manner as teacher/student, therapist/patient, or guard/inmate sex because if a sociopath is only looking for power and/or sex, then there can't be a peer relationship with a sociopath and his victim, but only intimate or coercive sexual exploitation. If there is no power imbalance in the relationship, then he can't exploit it. Sociopaths prey on people's kids, regardless of whether they are kids in actuality or adults. Parents have a role to stop sexual predators, and this includes predators who prey only on legal adults. If a mother is concerned about letting predators have access to kids through age 18, she should be just as concerned about sociopaths gaining access to her kids after 18.

Parents should have access to their children's relationships, even atfer 18, 21, 25, or even 30. If someone has a child, and their child is seeing or even married to someone, parents should be involved. If the grown child's partner doesn't want parents involved (including in-laws), it should be a red flag.

If a sociopath preys on adults in the same way a child molester preys on kids, then the same tools that protect kids from child molesters should also protect adults from sexual predators. Education, parental (or other adult involvement), and tougher laws have helped in the fight against child sexual predators. They should help in the fight against adult sexual predators.

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