A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

The Evil Power of Secrecy – Comments from Anna C. Salter’s Book

I am just beginning to read Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, & Other Sex Offenders [*Affiliate link]  by Anna C. Salter, a psychologist.  I suppose people wonder why anyone would want to read books on such an ugly subject.  I do it because I find it freeing.  The more informed I become about the mentality and evil tactics of abusers of all kinds, the freer from their deceptions I become.  Frankly, I like shining light on rats hiding in the darkness.  Truth does that.  When I was a teen, working on my uncle’s farm, I would sneak out to the chicken house at night with a flashlight and my .22 rifle.  Rats came up through holes in the floor at night and ate the chicken food and terrorized the chickens.  When I threw the door open and shined the light in, they scurried for their holes and if I was quick enough I might get one of them.  Shot a few holes in the chicken feeder too.  Now, later in life, I still like throwing doors open and shining light in and watching them run.

In the forward of this book, Gavin de Becker (author of The Gift of Fear [*Affiliate link])discusses the “spell” cast by our own minds when confronted with sexual abuse (and with domestic violence abuse as well, as we all know).  He says, “Naive parents are often unconscious co-conspirators in cases of sexual abuse, designing theories to explain the onset of a child’s sleep disturbances or eating problems or sudden fear of that same adult she liked so much just a week ago.”  We do that, don’t we?  When confronted with the deception of abuse, we think up all kinds of theories to try to explain away the seriousness and evil of the thing.  To admit its reality is just too… ugly.  And the evil is quite happy with all of this secrecy and denial.  It keeps its power in the darkness.  I think this is one reason the Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to eventually “tell it to the church” when sin remains hard and unrepentant.

De Becker goes on to discuss the denial:  “If a discussion requires explanation of harsh truths, some parents will try to wriggle away: ‘Talking about those things, you just bring them on,’ or ‘Yes, I know all about that stuff; can we please change to a happier subject?’  These parents are not stupid — to the contrary, there is brilliance in the creative ways that they exclude their children from the discussion.  ‘You’re so right,’ they say:  ‘Sexual abuse is an enormous problem, particularly for young teens.  Thank God mine aren’t there yet.’  No, sorry, says reality, the most common age at which sexual abuse begins is three.  ‘Yeah, but that kind of pervert isn’t living in our neighborhood.’  Sorry, says reality, but that kind of pervert is living in your neighborhood.  There is one child molester per square mile in the United States….  And for every cruelty done to a child, there is an audience of deniers that sees the signals and quickly closes their eyes. The solution to sexual violence in America is not more laws, more guns, more police, or more prisons.  The solution to sexual violence is acceptance of reality.  And one of the starkest realities is that sexual predators are stunningly effective at gaining control over their victims.”

All of this is one of the primary reasons that we talk about abuse of all kinds openly and without apology on this blog.  Exposure breaks the power of the secrecy.  Secrecy, among other things, keeps victims in solitary confinement, isolated from others.  Victims think they are the only ones.  And then one day, there comes a tapping — maybe still in code.  It is another prisoner in solitary nearby attempting to communicate.  Once the linkup takes place, the prison walls begin to crumble.  Truth really does make us free, as Christian found out when he and Hopeful finally made their escape from Doubting Castle:

“So when the morning was come, the Giant goes to them again, and takes them into the castle-yard, and shows them, as his wife had bidden him. These, said he, were pilgrims as you are, once, and they trespassed in my grounds, as you have done; and when I thought fit, I tore them in pieces, and so, within ten days, I will do you. Go, get you down to your den again; and with that he beat them all the way thither.

They lay, therefore, all day on Saturday in a lamentable case, as before. Now, when night was come, and when Mrs. Diffidence and her husband, the Giant, were got to bed, they began to renew their discourse of their prisoners; and withal the old Giant wondered, that he could neither by his blows nor his counsel bring them to an end. And with that his wife replied, I fear, said she, that they live in hope that some will come to relieve them, or that they have picklocks about them, by the means of which they hope to escape. And sayest thou so, my dear? said the Giant; I will, therefore, search them in the morning.

Well, on Saturday, about midnight, they began to pray, and continued in prayer till almost break of day. Now a little before it was day, good Christian, as one half amazed, brake out in passionate speech: What a fool, quoth he, am I, thus to lie in a stinking Dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty. I have a Key in my bosom called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any Lock in Doubting Castle. Then said Hopeful, That’s good news; good Brother pluck it out of thy bosom and try. Then Christian pulled it out of his bosom, and began to try at the Dungeon door, whose bolt (as he turned the Key) gave back, and the door flew open with ease, and Christian and Hopeful both came out. Then he went to the outward door that leads into the Castle-yard, and with his Key opened that door also. After he went to the iron Gate, for that must be opened too, but that Lock went damnable hard, yet the Key did open it. Then they thrust open the Gate to make their escape with speed; but that Gate as it opened made such a creaking, that it waked Giant Despair, who hastily rising to pursue his Prisoners, felt his limbs to fail, for his Fits took him again, so that he could by no means go after them. Then they went on, and came to the King’s High-way again, and so were safe, because they were out of his jurisdiction.”

Bunyan, John (2010-12-13). The Pilgrim’s Progress – Unabridged With Original Illustrations (Kindle Locations 1972-1980). www.graceflow.org. [This link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.] Kindle Edition.

* Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ  gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link

4 Comments

  1. Can’t help myself, I have to pick out the golden phrases from this one, as usual. Call me an obsessive collector of sound bites, if you like, but I want to memorize these phrases so I can use them in the future.

    “an audience of deniers” …….. “The solution to sexual violence is acceptance of reality.”
    “One day, there comes a tapping — maybe still in code. It is another prisoner in solitary nearby attempting to communicate.”
    And the recipe for rat catching: “Throw the door open and shine the light in:– they scurry for their holes and if you are quick enough you might get one of them.”

  2. Barbara,
    Are you finding similarities between violent sex offenders and domestic abusers in their tactics or thinking?

    • Jeff C would be better able to answer that question than I am, because he has read Anne C Salter’s book whereas I haven’t read it yet. But neither of Jeff nor I are experts on the violent sex offenders, we only go by what we have learned from experts like Anne Salter, Scott Allen Johnson, Patrick Crough, Dr George Simon Jr, Robert Hare, and others. Also, Carla Van Dam’s book The Socially Skilled Child Molester: Differentiating the Guilty from the Falsely Accused.

      What these experts say lines up with our limited experience of encountering or hearing about sex offenders in our lives and/or churches.
      [note: these links are Amazon Affiliate links]

  3. Finding Answers

    From Barb’s original post I suppose people wonder why anyone would want to read books on such an ugly subject. I do it because I find it freeing. The more informed I become about the mentality and evil tactics of abusers of all kinds, the freer from their deceptions I become.

    Another afternoon of re-integrating graphic memories of sibling sexual abuse. Only this time, there was the voice of the abuser disparaging those who have validated me, attempting to poison the well.

    And now I hear the words, “They wouldn’t believe you anyway,” I am still the frightened child, afraid of the dark, afraid of the monsters under my bed. (Figuratively, not literally.)

    The lights go on, though the corners are still full of shadows, full of sadness, full of pain. (I cannot get the memory-picture out of my head.)

    Like Barb, I want to read these kinds of books, they answer so many of my “Whys?”. Right now, I forage through the ACFJ blog, praying for the day I have put together enough pieces to pursue my reading and educational dreams. My dreams of researching and writing and supporting and finding ways to put together metaphorical pieces into a recognizable pattern.

    I used to build puzzles. A lot.

    Patterns fascinate me. (Including some of the WordPress gravatars. 🙂 )

    There is a pattern to the words I hear…the shadows are fighting the light.

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