Vail Valley Voices: Sexual predators count on silence
Vail, CO, Colorado
As parents of a sexually assaulted-raped daughter, we would like you to know that most sexual predators have similar methods for luring their victims. Our daughter was raped by her Christian high school theology teacher, a person in a position of trust.
Our daughter was not hurt physically and for this we are very grateful. However, the emotional trauma will have unimaginable long-term effects. It is devastating for all involved, there are no winners.
Families are destroyed and a living hell on earth is created. A life sentence has been delivered. The fallout from this victimization is immeasurable.
Eighty-five percent of sex offenders know the person they victimized, and this was true in our situation. Had we known the modus operandi of a sexual predator, we as parents might have been able to recognize what was happening to our teenage daughter and relate that to her.
Most sexual predators know their victim and use similar manipulative techniques and behaviors to weave their web. This is called the grooming process. They choose the victim, gain their trust, isolate and assault. It’s like they’ve read the same manual on how to con, dupe and trick their victim.
If we can help educate other parents and their children by exposing the very common traits of these predators, we might be able to make a difference.
Offenders use methods to become closer to their victim. They find ways to create a trusting relationship with the victim as well as the victim’s family.
Sexual predators look for vulnerability, and a child makes a perfect target. A minor is simply not equipped to handle the situation. They should never be shamed nor be judged because they might have gone along with the plotting perpetrator.
Going along with something because of fear is not consent. In fact, a minor is not legally able to give consent for anything in the United States.
In Colorado, one out of four women and one out of 17 men have experienced a completed or attempted sexual assault in their lifetime. Eighty percent of sexual assault victims are under age 30. One out of three women will be raped in their lifetime.
People seem to know these statistics but don’t truly realize their impact and never quite appreciate how sexual assault-rape is running rampant in our communities and schools.
From the day our children are born, we teach them how to be safe: don’t talk to a stranger, don’t get into a car with a stranger and don’t allow people to touch you inappropriately.
We never could believe that any of our family members or friends would ever do such a thing to our child! These events happen to others, not us.
The silence surrounding this issue is mind boggling. When this happened to our daughter, our phones went dead. The silence was deafening.
Now we have come to understand that many people don’t know what to say or do and believe that it is too private to discuss.
If our daughter was found dead along the banks of a river, someone might have reached out and said something. We all know what to do with death, but not with sexual assault-rape.
We must all try to talk about sexual assault and confront the issue, not hide and sweep it under the rug any longer. A sexual predator relies on silence from the victim and society.
As parents of a rape victim, we urge you to seek as much information as possible now! Seek out the names of sex offenders and where they live in your community.
Ask police and other experts to talk to your church groups, parent groups, etc. They can explain some of the methods that predators use.
These behaviors may seem innocent on the surface but are part of the manipulation they use to lure their victims. Knowledge is power. Parents and children who are educated on predator behavior can help prevent this horrific crime.
The Brooks are Cordillera residents.