What we fear and what we should fear are often two very different things. (Perrin & Perrin)
Sex offender researcher Dr. Anna Salter tells us that, “There are two basic predatory types: the power predator and the persuasion-predator. The far more common offender is a persuasion-offender. This type looks for a vulnerable victim, someone who will allow him to be in control. Like a shark circling his prey, he approaches slowly and watches to see how people react to his advances.”
I have feared the powerful predator, where I should have feared the persuasive predator. I wrongly assumed that all predators used overt violence to take what they want — most in fact – do not.
What I fool I have been.
Grooming is a covert, coercive, and calculated process used to gain the trust and right of access to potential victims. The offender knows the end game, whereas the victim/bystanders know nothing of his nefarious intent.
The overwhelming majority of predators are persuasive ones.
“He begins a dialogue and with each favorable response he elicits, he circles closer… this allows him to test the waters and move on with nobody the wiser if things don’t go well. He is a coward, a crafty one, but a coward nonetheless.” Dr. Anna Salter
Cowards though they be, persuasive sexual predators are perceptive – they can see vulnerability with their eyes closed. They play on the legitimate desires of crushed creatures, inject whatever numbing agent is effective with that particular prey. In time they eat you alive. Oh, they have many things they can use to numb you – flattery, status, recognition, gifts, and a place at the “respectable” table. These gifts are like water to the weary, the downtrodden, the discarded, the hungry, and the hopeless. Persuasive predators play hard on the role of reciprocity. They engage in a game of giving to get. They know the end game – you do not. They offer seemingly small favors, flattery, softly stroking your ego, lifting your loneliness.
This is called coercion – it has NOTHING to do with consent. Coercion literally means “to surround, enclose, confine” by means of power; be it verbal, physical, relational. positional, financial, psychological, etc.”
Unbeknownst to you, the persuasive predator is doing little more than preparing his dinner. After sufficient grooming, you will be numb to his advances, caught in the web of his wickedness. No amount of tugging will free you. Nay, his smooth multi-legged approach ensures that the snare is well set. He is calculated, his threads invisible, his tentacles eviscerating, his call – your compulsion. Persuasive predators lubricate the hunger and hopes of their prey, spinning a soft, seduction that is slick with self-deception.
The prize? Human flesh. Your flesh.
He eats, wipes his mouth, and says, “I have done nothing wrong.”
He wrongly believes he is right.
I will not ever forget the slow lazy cobwebs of deceit that looks so similar to kindness. The stickiness of the spiritual words spun specifically to snare the unwitting, the unknowing, the already ashamed, the confused, the hungry, the hopeless. Even now, I brush off the invisible, eviscerating strands of spiritual seduction from my face. Long are the legs of spiritual spiders.
I wish to tell you that the clergy sexual abuse survivor is in a zero-sum game. She naively sought a shepherd, seeking nourishment for spiritual hunger, only to be eaten alive. Thus consumed she is blamed on all sides for bleeding on sacred ground and defiling the land. Her accusers claim, (she may be one of them), “Clearly you wanted to be eaten, you must have chosen it you seductive and tasty sheep.” The silenced and slaughtered sheep says “Nay, it is not so… I have lost so much blood, I’m still starving and over half of my flesh is ripped off.” She crawls away from the flock. She is blamed for being hungry, believing the shepherd to be the source of food when bewildered, she became it.
“Predation is not about desire from the victim, it is about coercion of the victim to give up themselves to the desires of the predator.” – Dr. Julia Dahl
My dear precious one… he played on your pious desires to fill his perverse ones. You were deceived. Your task is to find the source of vulnerability so that you will never be fooled and used as food again. Feed yourself with good things, so that you will eat and be satisfied. Get to know the Good Shepherd, so that another wolf will never tear you to shreds again. Knowing the truth will keep you from the lies.
“My sheep respond as they hear My voice; I know them intimately, and they follow Me. I give them a life that is unceasing, and death will not have the last word. Nothing or no one can steal them from My hand.” John 10:27-28