How to Tell if a Molester Wants to be Made Well<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
J. Michael Sharman
Every college student learns the five stages of the grief process in Psychology 101: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Researchers and therapists say that people go through essentially those same five stages of grieving in all loss -- including the losses caused by a child molester's criminal acts.
Here's the irony: Since the essence of all losses is the loss of our internal or external peace, both the victim AND the perpetrator of crime will be grieving the loss of their peace.
In cases of child molestation, the victim grieves the loss of their internal and external peace which was taken from them by the criminal act of the molester. The child molester will rarely if ever admit it, but he also grieves the self-inflicted loss of his internal and external peace brought about by his own act of self-gratification at the expense of another.
When we have lost our peace, we have lost perhaps the most important aspect to our lives. "Peace be with you," was the greeting often given by Christ and His angels, and reminds us that first and foremost, peace is a gift from God. When someone steals our peace from us, they have stolen the divine. When we have cast it from ourselves by our own sinful act, we have rejected the sacred.
Problems occur when a wounded person gets stuck in a stage of the grieving process and remain at that level of woundedness, not able to move on to a balanced, healthy life. The recovery for the victim and the "rehabilitation" for the perpetrator both depend on whether they will allow themselves to go through the entire process or whether they will get stuck in one stage.
The victim begins coming out of the denial stage when she makes the first report about the molestation. As long as she keeps the molester's secret, she will be stuck at nearly the same pain level. Talking about it and telling others about it will begin the healing process for her if she is believed. When she is disbelieved or ignored, it is yet another offense against her, causing her to grieve even more deeply and protect herself even more.
The child molester starts to heal when he makes a sincere admission that he did wrong. The fact that this rarely happens helps to explain molesters' high rate of re-offending.
The molester may plead guilty to a crime, but then later claim he only pled guilty to avoid a lengthier prison term. He might admit he did the actions alleged, but deny they were intentional acts. He might say he only did the molestation because the child wanted him to, or because he "loved" the child.
Molesters will do all sorts of mental and verbal gymnastics to avoid admitting that what they did was pure and simple wrong.
A step-grandfather pled guilty to six felony counts of sexual abuse against his 10 year-old granddaughter. When he got out of prison after less than two years, we sued him. In response to our lawsuit, he claimed the child was not really harmed by his molestations and also said: "Defendant states that his admission that his actions were done with 'lascivious intent' be limited to the legal definition of 'lascivious intent' as it relates to the criminal violations of the law for which he was convicted." Huh? What other type of "lascivious intent" exists or matters?
Every molester I have sued has previously pled guilty to the crimes they were charged with, yet none have done a full and unevasive confession. One was a next-door neighbor yet denied knowing who the victim might be; another denied the event he pled guilty to had occurred and further denied he made any money whatsoever even though he worked full time. Another molester just denied absolutely everything --including his own name.
"Do you want to be made well?" Jesus asked a man who, for thirty-eight years, had been laying next to a healing pool watching others get better but who kept making excuses as to why he could not be cured.
The first stage of the grief process is the denial stage, and so the beginning of rehabilitation from molesting a child is confession. As a society and as a community, we should not believe a child molester has even begun his recovery until he personally makes a full, complete confession with no denials remaining, and with no blame being placed on the victim or others for his own criminal acts.
Until he has begun that first step toward being made well, we can be guaranteed he remains a sick and dangerous person.
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