Wednesday started out to be one of the most emotional days of my life. My grandson entered Kindergarten and the thought of him being out of my care for the first time scared me to death. I kept thinking about his safety. I’m the type of parent that doesn’t allow my children to really go with anyone. I have a small circle of family I fully trust, but anyone who knows me knows I question everything and everyone.
If the day wasn’t already full of emotions, I received several phone calls, emails and private messages concerning rumors of a couple being investigated for child pornography. My first instinct was anger. How dare they prey on innocent children? My best friend Lee Roberts and I run a non-profit organization, Advocates United for Humanity. We do everything in our power to stop these horrific events from occurring and now rumor has that it’s happening in the area.
I have been advocating, writing educational books and testifying before lawmakers for the rights of children for the last 10 years. The things I have seen and heard are more horrible than any award winning screen writer could ever bring to the big screen. These monsters did not come from the swamp or from outer-space and they don’t attack teenagers on a camping trip. These monsters live next door and attack the most innocent among us … our children.
Regardless of anyone’s opinions or personal beliefs, abusers are usually well-known and liked by both you and your child. Abusers can be a parent, relative, family friend, teacher, coach or anyone. They can be a man or woman, married or single. They can hold any religious belief, and have any sexual preference. These abusers seem as normal as you and I on the outside but are sick and twisted on the inside.
I wish people would understand anyone CAN be an abuser. Education or intelligence doesn’t prevent them from abusing, molesting or sexually trafficking your child. Abusers live and work among us; as a stable, employed, and respected member of the community … They become our friends and co-workers, and we quickly convince ourselves we know them, but the harsh reality is we don’t. This world is full of sick and truly evil people.
Abusers easily convince your child they are responsible for their wrongful behavior. They may threaten your child with physical violence against them, you, a pet, or loved one. They are good at manipulating and controlling children through fear. Control makes an abuser feel powerful. How could anyone feel powerful over a small, scared, defenseless child? Only a coward could …
Just because someone has a good reputation, a good job, nice house, fancy car, wealth or are a pillar of the community – they CAN still be an abuser. It’s not the weirdo on the corner you have to fear. Some of the biggest abusers are the ones you know, respect and trust the most. Be careful who you trust your child with. When someone tries to get close or takes a special interest in your child ask yourself why.
I can definitely say my career path has shaped the way I parent. I question everything and everyone. Regardless. I learned it’s important to look for signs of abuse, grooming behavior, strange interactions with other children and adults or my child’s behavior and to always ask questions. The best gift you can give your child is open communication and knowledge. The knowledge to speak out and protect themselves from these monsters. These abusers are pros at being deceptive. I know it really sucks that we have to teach our children that there are people out there that want to hurt them, but we do. I’d rather be vigilant than a vigilante after the fact.