The Insidious Nature of a Pedophile.

The horrific abduction and murder of the Queensland schoolboy (Daniel Morcombe) who went missing from a bus stop on the Sunshine Coast in December 2003, triggered a traumatic memory in my own life for ….. 

I too was abducted from a bus stop at the age of thirteen and lived to tell the story.

Strange as it may seem, the trauma of that long forgotten event has come back to haunt me after all these years and illustrates the insidious nature of Child Abuse.

As I followed the story of Daniel Morcombe in the media I couldn’t help but feel that could have been me, but for the grace of God!

Perhaps the word haunt is too strong a word, because at 75 years, I am able to process & articulate the experience objectively, without fear or trauma and with a great deal of compassion for victims of child abuse.

Recently I told my story to some of my colleagues who I call the “Old Codgers”, most of whom are retired Pastors.

As we chatted our conversation developed into a serious discussion about the harmful effects of child abuse in our society today and how to handle Pedophiles from a Church and Parents perspective.

Interestingly one of my colleagues, had also been abused as a child growing up in an Orphanage. 

The scars of his experience could have left a deep mark but for the grace of God and his conversion to Christ, which set him free to become a life long Pastor and Minister of the Gospel.

I was encouraged to tell my story with the view that it might help parents to protect their children in teaching them about “Stranger Danger” as it is called! 

My story goes back to the year 1952 when I was a 13 year old red head. I was standing at a Bus stop on North Terrace waiting to catch a Bus to Glenelg to spend the day with my best friend Ian Scannell.

A stranger pulled up in what I remember as an old FX or FJ model Holden car.

He didn’t get out of the car but rolled down the window and said something to the effect, “G’day Blu where are you going”? I said “to see my friend at Glenelg.” He said “I’m going there, hop in I’ll take you.” 

Foolishly my pre adolecent mind quickly calculated that I could save my  2/- (two shillings) bus fare to buy a milk shake later. Ian lived at Tod Street Glenelg North, which was not far from a milk bar at Glenelg.

With that simple childish logic and trusting nature I slipped into the front bench seat of his Holden sedan and began a journey that seemed to last an eternity.

I expected him to follow the bus route down the Anzac highway but instead he drove down to West Beach and along the isolated Tapleys Hill road past where the Recreation Reserve now stands.

Large sand dunes where on the side of the road.

This was prior to the current Adelaide International Airport being built at West Beach. It was an isolated area on the Adelaide coast.

No sooner had we started our journey he began to slowly groom me by talking about girls.

I quickly became suspicious and anxious, as it was not the kind of language or information I was used to hearing in my family or knew much about for that matter! I was scared!

As the journey progressed so did his verbal sexual grooming and I began to realise I was in danger.

“Every body does it” was one line I vaguely remember he used repeatedly in his attempts to seduce my pre-adolescent mind. 

He seemed to take a long route to Glenelg which I thought strange.

When we came to Tapleys Hill road his conversation became even more sexually explicit which frightened me to my core.

With his free hand he began to grope my private parts. 

I started to panic but remembered my Mother’s advice when I was much younger. 

Freddie” she said, “never let anyone touch you down there!

I pushed him away but he persisted, primarily using flattery & sexual innuendo to try and seduce me!

By this time I was becoming increasingly terrified and talked incessantly about my father & mother, particularly about my father being a Pastor and a Missionary to India.

My little mind somehow thought that my father’s status in life would be a deterrent to being molested. 

As his advances became more aggressive I started to really panic and talked non stop about Jesus and my love for Jesus.

My mother told me if ever I was afraid to call on the name of Jesus which I did!

With one hand on the door handle, (I remember the ribbing on the door handle similar to the one in the picture)  and my right hand pushing away his groping left hand, I prayed and prayed and kept talking about Jesus and calling on the name of Jesus.

Instinctively I had worked out a strategy that I would run for my life if he stopped the car and hide in the sand dunes.

I kept talking about Jesus and my family and all the stories that my mother taught me from the Bible.

This seemed to unsettle him as he couldn’t get a word in and didn’t know how to handle my excited or panic stricken prayers and talk about Jesus.

Was someone looking after me that Saturday afternoon? I’m sure there was and ever since I unequivocally believe in the presence of Angels. Psalm 91:11.

The old song about “Holy Ground”  – with Angels all around, means a lot to me! Here is my son David singing it at a National Assemblies of God Church Conference.

Well, I can hardly say that sitting in that car was a “Holy ground” experience but one thing is for sure there were three of us in that car that day, with the third being an Angel. Psalm 34:7

Eventually we passed the sand dunes and came into a semi populated area of Glenelg North. I was relieved to see houses but was still not out of danger. 

By this time I was speaking unnaturally in an excited manner, as fast as I could, about Jesus and was very apprehensive as I kept resisting his advances.

At no time did I stop talking! 

Some may ask, was I speaking in tongues? I would like to think I was but to be honest I can’t remember.

I was so petrified I talked incessantly about Jesus.

I think my childish innocence and continuous quoting of Bible verses that my mother taught me must have unsettled him and kept him at bay, or was it an Angel?  

Then for some reason his groping hands and explicit grooming suddenly stopped.

The car slowed as we approached a cross street corner at which I made my escape.

Without having  to disconnect a seat belt (cars did not have seat belts in those days), I frantically opened the door, fell out of the car before scrambling to my feet and running for my life. 

I ran a couple of street blocks and stopped to get my bearings, then continued to run as fast as my legs could carry me until I reached my friend Ian Scannell’s home in Tod St. Glenelg and breathlessly told him and his mother about my ordeal.

From that day to this I have never repeated that story other than to my family and I’m glad to say the trauma of that event has had no negative effect upon me.

Strangely however, when Daniel Morcombe’s story broke in the news, and again when I saw the re-enactment of Daniel’s story on ‘60 Minutes’, a moment of anxiety swept through my emotions and a feeling of ‘guilt’ went through my mind.

I asked the question why him and not me? That could have been me!

Note: Often innocent victims of sexual abuse experience unexplainable feelings of guilt, which is one reason they don’t tell anyone!

In writing about my experience, I do so with the hope that it may help Parents talk to their children about sexual protection even at a early age.

I was 4 or 5 years old when my mother first said to me “don’t let anyone touch you down there” while she was scrubbing me down one day in the bath.

Pastors too need to be alert to the evil nature of Pedophiles in the church and know how to handle them.

With the increasing size of congregations in this twenty-first century, one can never tell who is sitting in the pews.

Here are a few tips I have gleaned along the way that I kept in the back of my mind when I was actively caring for a large congregation as a Pastor.

This is not an authoritative view but rather a few pointers that may help Pastors, Church Leaders and Parents discern the presence of Sexual Abusers or Predators.

It must be stressed that one or two characteristics on their own do not necessarily indicate that the person is an abuser or a potential abuser.

However several provide reason for concern. Such a person needs to be monitored and observed carefully.

If you have a concern with respect to these characteristics it must be reported to the leadership.  

 

General Indicators of a Perpetrator of Child Abuse.  

  • Most abusers don’t relate well to people their own age.
  • Is over friendly with children.
  • Has low self esteem.
  • Has been in the church a short time and wants to get involved in the children’s ministry.
  • They can seem obsessive when they say “They Love children”.
  • Are often found wondering around children’s church areas.
  • May remove themselves during a service to have time with children in the toilets.
  • Give gifts. This is an attempt to demonstrate ownership of the child or win them over.
  • Carries photo of the child indicating these children love him/her.
  • Give extreme affection to a child – front on close hugging – always touching or flirting. 
  • Withdrawn or placid.
  • Can be single or married. 47% of child abusers are married.
  • An over emphasis on morality – legalistic or inflexible. Could be a reflection of his own bad actions.
  • Strong denial of offence or any intention to offend.
  • Convincing in their protests of innocence – has developed them as a defence mechanism.
  • Avoid screening processes or attempts to do so.
  • Attempts to engineer opportunities to be alone with a child – babysitting targets single parents childminding at conferences.
  • Offers to take the child shopping or on outings or pick up from school.
  • Dislikes submission to authority, prefers to work alone and is negative or dismissive when the subject of sexual abuse is raised
  • Spends considerable time with children.
  • Voices opinion in sex education, suggesting that children are not taught properly.  

DOMESTIC INDICATORS  

  • Shows improper behaviour towards developing daughter.
  • Showers with children at in inappropriate age.
  • Expects an open door policy in the bathroom.
  • Attempts to get a child on lap even when the child or adolescent resists.
  • Exhibits inappropriate hugging and or kissing.
  • Attempts to shut down mother – daughter communication.
  • Children do not want to be home alone with them.
  • Is jealous of daughter boy friend.
  • Daughter is treated more like a wife in conversation or discussions.  

I stress that one or two characteristics on their own do not necessarily indicate that the person is an abuser or a potential abuser.

In Conclusion, in this day when western society is thoroughly confused and devoid of a Biblical moral compass, even to the point of legalising the unnatural  practice of Homosexuality in “marriage” on the basis of civil rights and “love” , one must be alert to the vagrancies of a Culture that accepts these practices that are clearly unproductive and condemned under the Judeo/Christian ethic of morality.

Interestingly Pedophiles also claim to genuinely “love” children and claim civil rights.

Who knows where that will ultimately lead to, in a secular society that is void of Biblical moral boundaries?

The best advice I can give to Parents is to bring your children up in the fear of the Lord with a sound Biblical basis for morality.

Teach them to quote scripture from memory e.g. “my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” etc.

Teach them to respect their body: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Leviticus 19:28; Matthew 10:28; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Talk to them at an early age to care for their body’s private parts and resist anyone playing unnatural games with them.

Finally teach them to call unashamedly on the name of “Jesus” when in trouble!

This may sound like a religious superstition to the secular mind or unbeliever but personally I know it works when enacted through faith in Christ.

There is supernatural Power in the name of Jesus. The Bible verses I learned at the meal table during our family devotions were a powerful spiritual deterrent when I needed it.

 



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