I saw this info graphic called “Do You Know the Warning Signs of Abusers?” published by the Catholic Church in New Hampshire. http://www.catholicnh.org/child-safety/what-s-happening/
I am re-posting the graphic and adding a few extra warning signs that I have learned about.
I am posting this also to raise awareness for the adults who could potentially protect a child or teen from abuse. Also posting for the Family Court and it’s judges, Guardian ad Litems, and other staff- whose decisions could place a child in the custody of an abuser, or in the custody of someone who has the potential for being a serious risk to children. Recognizing the warning signs and taking appropriate action is vital to protecting children.
The abusive relationship I was involved in began when I was a senior in high school, and a man from the local area approached me in a online chat room. We talked about a little of everything, and he made me laugh, I thought he was a nice person. Only when I met Mr. X in person did I realize that he was so much older. I dismissed my initial reluctance because I wanted to believe Mr. X was a friend. I never wanted an intimate relationship, he was not even my type — what happened after this initial meeting was a result of controlling behavior, manipulation, intimidation and various forms of abuse. Instead of growing up, and growing into my own person, my spirit was totally broken and I felt trapped in an abusive relationship that I could not escape from.
THE WARNING SIGNS OF AN ABUSER OR CHILD PREDATOR
1) Prefers the company of children or teens to adults.
Has few, if any adult friends. Adult friends may only be acquaintances, the relationships are shallow or need based.
Another sign to look for is if the adult friends have a criminal or drug history, have behaved abusively, or engaged in anti-social behavior. The adult friends are dysfunctional or mistreat their own children. They may be people that you are afraid of, or people that you have been warned about.
2) Goes overboard with physical touching. Will insist on touching you or getting too close, even if you object. Does not respect your boundaries or personal space. Becomes angry, hostile or intimidating if you say “no” or try to set a boundary.
Also be aware if you asked for a friendship but the person is insisting on a more intimate relationship, or will touch you or make advances that you are not comfortable with. If you say “no” and state you are not interested, and that person is ignoring your requests, that is not healthy, and the behavior will escalate as the abuser begins to break down your will, and your boundaries.
Also watch if the person has a lack of empathy towards your needs. Does their emotional response indicate respect towards you or something else? Aggression, hostility and even a lack of emotion (they may appear to be cold, unemotional or detached) are all warning signs.
3) Bends established rules, norms. Encourages teens to break parent’s rules.
Mr. X did this but he also was very manipulative, and made it sound like he was on my side and my parent was against me. Mr. X often spoke about his own troubled childhood, and how abusive his own mother was to him in order to gain sympathy, and to win my trust.
4) Takes photographs of minors for no apparent reason.
Mr. X did this too – he carried a camera with him and took a large number of photographs of me. It got to the point where it scared me, and I would push him away, and he insisted on taking pictures, even if I felt uncomfortable. I really think the photos are a trophy for Mr. X. I later discovered in the basement a box of photographs Mr. X had of other teenage girls he once befriended. When Mr. X began to get close to his first cousin, Michelle Evills, he also took a large number of photographs of her. I found at least 100 photographs in a backpack, and remember how scary it was to see a clear pattern of behavior; that what Mr. X did to me as a young teen he is now doing with Michelle.
5) Showers a child or teen with special gifts or attention. May demand the child pay him back for the gifts, which may involve doing something they are uncomfortable with.
Mr. X did this with me, and he also adapted all of his adult interests and likes to meet my teenage interests and likes. I liked the cartoon “Winnie the Pooh” so he bought me a set of Winnie glasses. Now that I am older and think about it, makes me sick. It is not normal for an adult to be attracted to a teenager, and when an adult is showering a child or teen with gifts and attention they do so with the full knowledge of someone who is mature, and has had life experience. That child is not only vulnerable but being preyed upon by someone who is taking advantage of their innocence and trust.
Mr. X did the same thing with his cousin Michelle. Mr. X hates country music. He makes fun of country music, and calls his cousins “inbreeds” for listening to it. But Michelle loves country music. Mr. X then began to listen to country music and pretended to like it, just to win Michelle’s trust.
It gets worse… Mr. X wore this cologne when he met me, again I was a senior in high school just like Michelle was when he became interested in her. When the children were born, Mr. X stopped wearing the cologne. But once he became interested in Michelle, he began to wear it again for her. Mr. X even went so far as to get a treadmill, and run on it, in hopes that his fat ass would lose weight so he could fit into a pair of black jeans that he wore when he first met me. Mr. X wore those same jeans for Michelle.
6) Goes out of his way to spend time alone with a child or teen. Displays controlling behavior. Works to isolate a child or teen.
Also pay attention if friends, family, or others that you are close to feel uncomfortable around this person or express concern.
7) Shows preference for particular child or teen
8) Tries to meet up with the child outside of school or church. Promises to take the child to a special place. Promises to take the child to a place they want to visit (concert, event, vacation, party etc); the parent may have said “no” to taking the child to this place so it would be breaking the rules to take the child there.
9) Sends personal messages to child through text, message, phone, e-mail etc. Tries to conceal messages sent to child. Instructs child to keep messages a secret.
10) Provides drugs, alcohol or pornography to minors.
11) Babies a child or teen, treats them like they are much younger than they are. It will appear that the adult is trying to keep the child immature, where they are more easily controlled.
The adult may hold or carry the child when they are able to walk. The adult may use baby talk or invent a special language or words. The adult may insist on dressing the child in a much younger manner, or prohibit the child from becoming independent (having friends, going to school, dating, getting a job, etc). May call the child or teen by a special nickname, or a nickname that encourages immature behavior or conjures a much younger image.