Mind of a Predator
As the nation watches what may be one of the worst cases of sexual abuse of children ever, we wonder: What makes a pedophile? The possibilities will frighten you—but not for the reasons you may think.
(page 4 of 6)
He would tell her she was a fat little girl, that she was an ugly little girl. He would victimize her with the foulest of language. And as he did, she convinced herself that it wasn’t happening to her, that it was happening to the little girl with her head down on the basement floor. She had already trained herself to focus on the beautiful flowers outside of the window.
The abuse didn’t end until she was 11. “My father walked in on us,” she says. “First, they spoke to him, and then they spoke to me. I lied to protect him because if I told them the truth, I knew it would kill my parents.”
Those were the 1960s. Sexual abuse and rape were not part of the public conversation. Rather than report the man, her parents took him to see a priest. “Yes, a priest,” the woman says. “You see, that’s what they knew then.”
She did not see the family friend again for another 15 years. By then, she was a married young mother. Though her abuser is now estranged from her family, he remained a minor part of her mother and father’s life.
The man once confessed to the woman that it was compulsion—he knew his behavior was wrong, but he loved the attention. “Thank God it was only oral sex,” she told him. “Thank God that we didn’t allow it to go any…”
But it did go further, he told her. Didn’t she recall? There was much more.
Hearing his revelation was like being left for dead, and it began the great magical act of her disappearance into a world that would become, over the next few decades, a haze.
Her abuser, though he expressed his remorse to her, was never arrested, tried or convicted.
A big part of the treatment for sex offenders is teaching them to avoid the situations that have led them to trouble,” Foley says. “I see people who are socially inadequate, have a history of being rejected by adults, and suddenly, they see a child as a surrogate. Pedophilia becomes a sexual orientation. They develop an attraction to sexually immature people.
“Some people say, ‘It’s the only thing I’m interested in. Did someone give me a choice when I was a teenager? No, it’s just the way it happened.’ Their situations and their preferences are mirrors of each other.”
While talking on the phone from his home in Oklahoma, Wayne Bowers watched Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on television speak about several incidents of sexual impropriety that Roethlisberger had been accused of, all of which threaten to derail his career. Bowers calls Roethlisberger a man with no boundaries.
“The way you keep your boundaries safe is to know what your triggers are,” Bowers says. “You need to honor those, or else you’ll never come to the edge of your boundaries.”
Page 5: Mind of a Predator, continues...