Childhood Abuse, For Parents, rehabilitation, sexual abuse, Sexual Relations, Trials

Perpetrators . . . Know the Warning Signs

Genesis 50:20 – “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Heartbroken by the increasing numbers of child molestation cases in the news, Milton and I thought it appropriate to share this article excerpted  and updated from the book entitled We Survived Sexual Abuse! You Can Too! (ABC’s Ministries, 2016) In the book the article is entitled “For and About Perpetrators”, pp.  108-112.

Written by Pamela K. Orgeron, M.A., Ed.S., BCCC, ACLC


According to Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute, Inc. (2016), though studies have tried to link perpetrators with lower socioeconomic levels, research reports indicate that perpetrators come from all walks of life. In fact, they are hard to distinguish from anyone else walking the streets. Research results show “child molesters are as equally married, educated, employed, and religious as any other Americans” (New Information-A Typical Child Molester section. ¶ 11).

What about child and adolescent sex abusers? Why do they do what they do? Orgeron believes Rich (2011) answers those questions best:

They are all children living in a society of decreasing sexual taboos, changing norms and mores, and increasing sexual awareness and sexuality, who are trying to meet social, personal, and sometimes sexual needs in a secretive, emotionally empty, disconnected, antisocial, and dangerous manner. (p. 36)

The Grooming Process

Rich (2011) defines grooming as “where the perpetrator has spent a great deal of time building and developing a relationship in which there is the appearance of consent” (p. 23). National Center for Victims of Crime (2012, Home, Media, Reporting on Child Sexual Abuse, Grooming Dynamic of CSA) listed 7 steps to the grooming process:

1. Targeting an individual
2. Building trust (not always present)
3. Fulfilling a need or role in the individual’s life
4. Isolating the individual
5. Strengthening and building confidentiality around
the relationship.
6. Instigating sexual contact
7. Controlling the victim, often with threats. 

Bennett and O’Donohue (2016, April) identified commonly used grooming behaviors, including

• Any sexualization of a relationship between adult and child or teen
• Inappropriate gift giving, e.g. bikinis or bras purchased by a neighbor or teacher
• Age-inappropriate nonsensual communication with a child, e.g. telling him or her that that they are the only one who can really understand the adult
• Inappropriate or excessive touching of the child or teen
• Bribes in exchange for inappropriate contact
• Boundary violations
• Asking a child or teen to keep secrets
• And many others. (The Research section, ¶ 3)

Bennett and O’Donohue pointed out that just because any of these behaviors exist does not necessarily mean that a child is being groomed to be molested, but that the more of
these behaviors that are displayed, the greater the risk that the child or adolescent is being groomed for future sexual abuse.


For counselors/therapists

Dr. Phil Rich, author of Understanding, Assessing and Rehabilitating Juvenile Sexual Offenders (Wiley, 2011), advocates a holistic approach to treating juvenile sex offenders. According to Rich,

treatment is not the simple process reflected in limited and black-and-white prescriptive, and psychoeducational models such as relapse prevention, sexual assault cycles, and the simple correction of thinking errors, and that treatment involves a reciprocal and engaged relationship with our clients and not simply the tasks they must accomplish to “succeed” in treatment. We further see that the children and adolescents who are our clients are not just “juvenile sexual offenders” but whole people whose lives and behaviors can be understood only in the context of whole lives, not simply through their sexually abusive behavior. (p. xiii)

Kersting (2003, July/August) noted that because motives vary as to why perpetrators commit sexual offenses, “Psychologists have gleaned a number of important treatment insights in their research–the most basic of which is one size does not fit all” (Assessing dangerousness section, ¶ 1). Both Rich (2011) and Kersting support the notion that treatment needs to be geared towards each individual perpetrator.

The Good Lives Model (GLM) of Offender Rehabilitation (Ward, n.d.)

The GLM is one holistic treatment program developed by Tony Ward, PhD DipClinPsyc. Ward and his colleagues have continued to update and improve the program since it was first published in 2002.

The GLM is a strength-based rehabilitation framework that is responsive to offenders’
particular interests, abilities, and aspirations. It also directs practitioners to explicitly construct intervention plans that help offenders acquire the capabilities to achieve things and outcomes that are personally meaningful to them. It assumes that all individuals have similar aspirations and needs and that one of the primary responsibilities of parents, teachers, and the broader community is to help each of us acquire the tools required to make our own way in the world. Criminal behaviour results when individuals lack the internal and external resources necessary to satisfy their values using pro-social means. In other words, criminal behaviour represents a maladaptive attempt to meet life values (Ward and Stewart, 2003). Rehabilitation endeavours should therefore equip offenders with the knowledge, skills, opportunities, and resources necessary to satisfy their life values in ways that don’t harm others. Inherent in its focus on an offender’s life values, the GLM places a strong emphasis on offender agency. That is, offenders, like the rest of us, actively seek to satisfy their life values through whatever means available to them. The GLM’s dual attention to an offender’s internal values and life priorities and external factors such as resources and opportunities give it practical utility in desistance-oriented interventions. (Information section, ¶ 5)

More specific details about the GLM can be found at

For more information about perpetrators and where to find help for a perpetrator, Orgeron recommends contacting the following organizations: Association for the
Treatment of Sexual Abusers, Darkness to LightEnd Child Sexual Abuse, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), National Center for Victims of Crime, National Sexual Violence Resource Center and New England Adolescent Research Institute.

A Word of Caution

When I was a child I remember the catch phrases “Stranger danger” and “Beware of strangers”. Children today still need to be wary of individuals they do not know well. However, in most sexual molestation cases, the perpetrator is someone known to the victim–perhaps a minister, a teacher, coach, a next door neighbor, a close family friend, or even a relative, which brings me to the topic of next week’s blog: Incest–that “family secret” that no one wants to talk about but that every child needs to be protected from. 


Bennett, N., & O’Donohue, W. (2016, April). What We Know (And Don’t Know) About “Grooming” Behaviors. Neari News. Retrieved January 30, 2018 from

Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute. (2016). Tell Others the Facts. Retrieved May 20, 2016 from

Kersting, K. (2003, July/August). New hope for sex offender treatment: Research suggests psychological treatment helps reduce recidivism among convicted sex offenders [Electronic version]. Monitor on Psychology, 34(7), 52. Retrieved May 18, 2016 from

National Center for Victims of Crime (2012). Grooming Dynamic. Retrieved January 30, 2018 from

National Center for Victims of Crime (2012). Home Page. Available:

Orgeron (aka, Owens), (2016). We Survived Sexual Abuse! You Can Too! Personal Stories of Sexual Abuse Survivors with Information about Sexual Abuse Prevention, Effects, and Recovery. Madison, TN: ABC’s Ministries. Available for purchase at

Rich, P. (2011). Understanding, Assessing and Rehabilitating Juvenile Sexual Offenders (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Available for purchase at

Ward, T. (n.d.). The Good Lives Model of offender rehabilitation: A
strengths-based approach for lives in transition. Home Page.

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