After a child or teen has disclosed the abuse to their parents or caregivers, there are many different common reactions that the they can have. What’s important is that the blame isn’t shifted from the abuser to the parents because they weren’t aware of what was going on. According to the National Children’s Advocacy Center, 9 out of 10 children who were sexually abused were victimized by someone that they knew (Sexual Abuse: Perpetrators, Grooming, and Prevention, 2015). While that may make outsiders wonder how the abuse wasn’t noticed, perpetrators of sexual abuse try incredibly hard to gain trust of the child’s entire family and make it seem like they are just protective over them. Once they have gained this trust, they find ways to be alone with the child which is often mistaken as their desire to help or a genuine interest in spending time with them (Sexual Abuse: Perpetrators, Grooming, and Prevention, 2015). For example, a perpetrator may make it seem to the parents like they want them to have time to themselves, so they will take the child out to give them some alone time. Often times they make it seem like they are doing the parents a favor so that they don’t even consider the possibility of anything else.
Once the perpetrator has gained access to the child, they tend to begin testing the child’s ability to protect themselves and figure out if they would communicate with their parent if something were to happen (Sexual Abuse: Perpetrators, Grooming, and Prevention, 2015). They also take advantage of the victim’s vulnerability, and make threats in regards to what would happen if they told an adult about the abuse taking place. In other circumstances the perpetrator also blames the victim and makes them feel responsible for it. These tactics make it incredibly difficult for a parent of a child to become aware of the abuse that is occurring, especially if the victim is a child rather than a teenager.
Sexual Abuse: Perpetrators, Grooming, and Prevention (Rep.). (2015). Retrieved http://www.nationalcac.org/images/pdfs/LocalServices/Prevention/ForParents/perpetrator-grooming-prevention.pdf Adapted from Protecting Your Children: Advice from Child Molesters (created by The Center for Behavioral Intervention, Beaverton Oregon).