Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Compliant Victimization by Susan L.

  There's a show on TV called Criminal Minds. I don't watch it very often because I find it to be rather gruesome at times. However, more than once, a concept is introduced that leaps out at me. I Googled "compliant victimization" that was mentioned on the show a couple of days ago and learned more about this idea. It has given me some answers regarding my own behaviour in the past.
  Generally speaking, this idea is about children who have been chronically sexually abused yet remained silent. Abusers are adept at placing responsibility for their actions on the victim. I'm not talking about the violent predator that snatches children from a schoolyard. They are very rare. This is the much more insidious abuser who has generally been placed in some situation of trust: a family member, coach, or teacher. There's an automatic acceptance of their authority from a child's perspective. They are groomed and seduced by someone who has an ulterior motive. A child is bent to their will and their desire and only wants to please.
  I remember a girl in grade eight who came out from behind the stage curtains in the gymnasium and shared that the gym teacher had "felt her up". She was pale and shaky. None of us knew what to do or say. I wonder what ever became of her. I know the teacher was never held accountable. Then I wonder how many more young girls fell prey to him.
  People often wonder why children don't stop this behaviour. Really? By the time any physical abuse takes place, the child is already trapped in a web of secrecy, fear and/or a sense of inclusion. The web can be built in minutes with the right words. Children trust. It's what they do automatically.
  As for being compliant or willing, abuse victims are pretty messed up. The word no has been taken out of the equation by the abuser. If  actions are disguised as a game, even children who don't want to "play" will continue to take part. It may be fear, it may be shame, it may be because a precedent had been set and they don't feel they can stop "playing" because it might hurt their "friend's" feelings. Such are the thoughts of a child.
  Sadly, the onus is placed on these young people. Questions are asked of children that only compound the shame and stigma of being a victim of abuse. To ask a child why they didn't say no is to place adult logic on a situation that is mentally and emotionally illogical.
  The idea of compliant victimization has helped me understand a little but more about why I stayed in my marriage so long. The foundation was laid for further violations of dignity, rights and autonomy early in the relationship. There were tacit, unspoken understandings of my "place" in the relationship which were etched in stone. I simply did not know how to change my situation. Fear, shame, guilt, and a desire to get it right kept me trapped. I was the responsible one. There was even an attempt to hold me responsible for his affair. Not!
  Thank You Lord, once again, for setting me free. May Your mercy and tender grace heal those who have lived with abuse in any form. May they find peace. In Jesus' name I pray.
  "He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him." Dan 2:22


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