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“My companion attacks his friends;
He violates his covenant.
His talk is smooth as butter,
Yet war is in his heart;
His words are more soothing than oil,
Yet they are drawn swords.”
How often do you hear a story about someone bringing horrible suffering into the lives of others? Or perhaps you think about the person who brought so much trauma into your own life. The natural human response to such horror is to wonder, How can anyone do such things?
Sex offenders can look into the faces of their victims and dominate their will and individuality. The offenders are not harmed by the effects of their behavior because they carry a dark entitlement to rule another person. Sex offenders believe that you, the victim, cannot fight and that you don’t know the difference between your person and their need to dominate you. Sociopaths seek out different types of targets, from infants to children to adolescents to adults. The predator could be someone who assaults his date, his spouse, his coworker, neighbors, or a younger person he has authority over as a coach, priest, youth pastor, teacher, or professor.
Below are 6 tell-tale signs of a sexual predator. The most important thing to sexual predators is to act coercively, persuasively and out of range of an observer. They do this because they are addicted to being predators. If caught, they can’t keep victimizing. Thus, they target unsuspecting, untrained people who need them in some manner—for grades, for coaching or playing time, for a potential job or promotion, for family unity, for financial stability, for community acceptance.
People who prey on others look and act like everyone else. In fact, they often go out of their way to appear trustworthy to gain access to those they seek to victimize.
Let’s take a deep breath, open our minds and allow ourselves to accept that there are people who truly think and act this way. They’re people we or our families and social groups trust or have trusted. You’re not alone and this is your opportunity to be “wise as a serpent [grasp the cunning of the predator] and gentle as a dove [live directed by the Spirit].”
Here are 6 Tell-Tale Signs of a Sexual Predator:
1. Sexual predators set the trap for their targeted victims by reassuring them that they are indispensable in meeting their needs. They volunteer their services and time. They see you as “special,” “gifted,” “talented,” and “worthy” of their one-on-one attention. The attention they give you is swift, generous, flattering, and constant. An expectation of secrecy, which is rewarded with gifts and privileges, along with threats that telling would result in injury for those involved, or those who know, is introduced here. This is also where sexual contact often begins.
2. Sexual predators isolate you by convincing you that others are not as “for you” as they are. You might hear one of them say, “Do you see how your family doesn’t really celebrate your accomplishments? You deserve so much more.” “Did you see how your friend left early and didn’t even make you a priority when you were talking with her?”
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3. Sexual predators feel entitled to you. Often asking the person they’re targeting for favors or developing a quid pro quo: “I helped you with your paper, now you need to give me your time on Friday night.” These are expectations that are not arranged in advance, but, instead, are sprung on the person who is positioned to feel guilty for saying no.
4. Sexual predators set up a double standard. For instance, you can’t be late but they can. You can’t spend past the budget but they can. They need you to be friendly and welcome them home at the end of the day, but they can be withdrawn, moody and unavailable. You can’t need a break from sex, but they can demand it of you. You can’t have a life outside of them, but they can do as they please with their time, interests and activities. He will crowd out your legitimate wants and needs to the point where there is room for only him. You will begin to not exist.
5. Another top priority of sexual predators is to create Stockholm Syndrome in their targets. This is a sympathetic play on the target’s compassion and pity. When you don’t do his bidding (i.e., by making him your top priority), he will sulk, stalk you, harass you through social media, or even threaten suicide. He may say you’re rejecting him “like everyone else in his life.” A violator, once caught, has confessed to researchers, psychologists and officers of the court that his favorite part of violating you was getting you to feel sorry for him. If you take pity on a person who has major character flaws, he will use your pity to trespass all over you, your values, your priorities and your other relationships.
6. He lies about big things and insignificant things. Anything from what he picked up at the grocery store to his grade-point average in school to the sport he played to where he was after work. The best wisdom here says after the person has lied to you three times, move on. Over time, the lies will become more costly and damaging.
Protect yourself from more serious violations by reading the signs early and accurately. Take the decisive action needed to remove yourself from a suspect relationship. Remember that true love looks out for our long term best interests, has our back and gives us the benefit of the doubt. Love has nothing to do with control, subjugation, or fear of reprisal.
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Mary Ellen Mann is the author of From Pain to Power: Overcoming Sexual Trauma & Reclaiming Your True Identity. She is also a licensed clinical social worker and President of Mann Counseling Group, P.C., a private practice operating in Denver. She received her Bachelor’s in sociology from Westmont College and a Masters degree from Columbia University. Recently she helped develop the first interactive website for survivors of sexual abuse, LastBattle.org, to help survivors, their family, friends, and Christian leaders and professionals who care about this population. Mary Ellen lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.