No Sympathy for Perpetrators

05/06/2016 10:40 am ET | Updated Jun 28, 2016
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 I Am Not That Person. Just not. I admire those who are. But it’s not me. What am I talking about?

I have very little sympathy and no empathy for child molesters. Like – none. It isn’t in my DNA. I don’t feel bad about that. I have seen the landscape of families littered with the fallout of abusers. Children’s lives altered forever, mother’s hearts shattered into tiny little pieces at the news HER child was sexually abused. I’ve seen stunned grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers shake their heads as if clearing vision when disclosure occurs. Shrapnel is indiscriminate. Collateral damage affects the entire family.

The bomb dropper? The perp, predator, molester, whatever name one wishes to affix to the person, who satisfied an urge of their own without a normal adult’s interest in the child’s well-being? I engage in mental mayhem. I imagine horse hoof nippers taken to certain anatomical parts. Instant eunuch. Yes.

Every time I’ve been interviewed, I’ve been asked, “Why do you think he (Hastert, Cosby Duggar, Fogle) does it?” I don’t know. Because he’s a sociopath? Pedophile? Predator? Unhappy at home? Was himself abused as a child? Abusing power – believing one’s own press, using one’s fame or fortune to exploit, thinking oneself above the law – is an interesting theory with those four, but Dad?

I asked the question “why?” repeatedly for about a year in therapy. “Why did my dad think so little of me, he would hurt me in this way?” “Why was I so unlovely that my mom couldn’t find her “mama bear” instinct in protection of me?” “Why, why, WHY?”

I will never know. When I disclosed our family’s dirty little secret, Dad denied it publicly but privately diminished it, justified it, shrugged it off with ‘boys will be boys – it happens’ nonchalance, attempted to gain sympathy, then launched into full on attack. I worried each of those responses into mangled wads of thought. Then, seeking relief from his abandonment of family and spiritual values, of decency, of protection, of loving me, I asked, was it his family of origin? Was it Mom? Us girls? It doesn’t matter whether you are ten or thirty, at the very center of your being you believe it was you. Something was somehow wrong with you. If only I could answer the question “why” I would know it didn’t happen because of me, right? So WHY?

Only some questions don’t have answers. Clearly, I wasn’t going to solve the mystery of the universe, or lead the movement to world peace. I couldn’t even find the answer to “why?” Further, “why?” left me anxious, uncertain, feeling unlovely and unloved.

So I learned to ask a different question. “What now?” Utterly empowering.

Laura Landgraf is the author of The Fifth Sister: From Victim to Victor - Overcoming Child Abuse, and would love to hear from you. Facebook, Laura Landgraf, Twitter

 

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