Monsters, Predators and child sex abusers.
The lurid headlines of last week, has given us the impetus to use them
as a springboard to possible discussion about the use of
language regarding abusers.
We cringe when we see or hear the word "Monster" or
"Predator" or other similar terms used to describe people who have
sexually abused children. We fear that the media's, legislators',and
others' use of these terms help to keep
the general public pointed in the wrong direction (e.g. - toward
strangers or people who are not more socially mainstream) and not toward
where the greatest and most common threat of sexual abuse to children
exists -- toward people within the nuclear and extended family and
within the family's social circle. Also that violent sexual crime is
what happens overshadowing the fact that most often neither is it
violent or rare. On the other hand it is the repetitive, pre planned
sexual acts across a spectrum, on a child and within the context of
grooming. A key to ensuring silence and non disclosure.
worry that when parents use these terms in discussions with or in front
of their kids to describe abusers, or when kids hear them used on the
news, or on TV shows, it may contribute toward their not disclosing
abuse or attempted abuse by a relative or friend of the family, or may
counteract other positive sexual abuse education they have received that
It seems like these terms are emotionally satisfying for adults who
are upset and angry (understandably), and for the media and
legislators who seek publicity and headlines, but are not helpful
toward protecting kids from sexual abuse.
Tulir's perspective is that the more we can calm the language down,
the more we can frame it as a mental health and public health issue, the
greater success we can have in pointing people in the most protective
(with inputs from Wendy Murphy)