Saturday, April 30, 2016

What Dennis Hastert Tells Us About Sexual Predators

While Christian Right extremists and the Catholic Church hierarchy consistently try to depict LGBT individuals as sexual predators who lurk in restrooms and other places seeking to molest children, these claims, like so much that comes from the lips of these "godly folk" are lies.  The truth is something very different, including the fact that most child molesters are heterosexual males. And in the context of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, having been raised Catholic and been an altar boy in the 1960's, I would argue that much of the abuse was due not to the alleged homosexuality of abusive priests, but rather the near psychotic obsession with repressive views on sex and sexuality within the Catholic clergy that created truly emotionally and psychologically disturbed individuals. The requirement of priestly celibacy only intensifies such dysfunction.  Indeed, it took years of therapy for me to overcome the brainwashing I received as a child and youth growing up Catholic. A piece in Chicago Tonight looks at the true profile of sexual molesters in the context of Dennis Hastert's admitted abuse of some of his students.  Here are excerpts:
Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert is going to prison for violating federal banking laws.
But at his sentencing yesterday, Hastert acknowledged that he sexually abused students during his time as a wrestling coach in far west suburban Yorkville.
Hastert's high-profile disgrace has renewed questions about the nature of sexual predators and what parents and communities should know about them.
Char Rivette is the executive director of the Chicago Children's Advocacy Center, which coordinates the efforts of child protection staff, law enforcement professionals and medical experts in dealing with an average of more than 2,000 child sexual abuse reports each year.
“In general, a common profile is that the perpetrators are known to these children. Over 90 percent of children who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know,” Rivette said. “It’s not rape by a stranger, it’s generally someone who has developed a relationship with this child, and usually their parents also, and who creates scenarios and contexts within which they can successfully groom and find situations where they can act out against these children.”
According to Rivette, Hastert might not fit the description of an outright psychopath or pedophile. But his apparent state of denial at Wednesday’s sentencing is common for an abuser.
“Obviously Hastert was a coach, a teacher, a citizen of the community and he had to know that deep-down what he was doing was wrong and harmful and inappropriate,” she said. “Yet he was still compelled to do these things, so he must have come up with rationalizations to just kind of get him through this and allow him to do this without the guilt, without the shame, without the understanding that what he was doing was harming these children.”
When it comes to the survivors, Rivette said, it’s also common for them to not speak out and to feel shame or guilt.
“If you are able to disclose and someone believes you, it’s a big key to actually getting trauma treatment and actually moving on. If you don’t, what I see is a lot of emotional struggles throughout life, a lot of inability to form healthy relationships as an older adult, really a lot of struggles with substance abuse,” she said.
But Rivette said the good news is that we’re getting better at addressing these issues in the wake of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal and now Dennis Hastert.
To stop sexual abuse of children, the first step is knowing who the predators are and not falling prey to animus based lies or psychotic sexual dogma.  It is also important to recognize that all too often the real predators are the very ones seeking to demonize and stigmatize others. I don't think it is a coincidence that sexual abuse by conservative Christian clergy is common despite all of their rantings against sex and sexuality.  The more they condemn something, the more likely they are to be the ones engaging in it or fantasizing about it. 

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