WARNING: Occupying Myself blog entries may be triggering to some readers. At times I address the abuse in my childhood with humor, irony and sarcasm; this may offend many. Comments will be read and moderated.
Anyone who can coerce another adult will find it easy to manipulate children. Grooming is the term used to encompass all non-threatening forms of psychological coercion. A predator punctuates a string of gifts, shared secrets and preferential treatment with demands for sexual favors.This advantage-taking preys on the child-brain's inability to understand autonomy or foresee consequences. The already-understood rules of reciprocity are clear: you've been taking, so now you have to give back.
Psychologically grooming a child to participate in exploitative activities seems like a good strategy in theory. Grooming streamlines approaching a child for on-the-spot gratification of narcissistic impulses. Favoritism creates sufficient confusion and ambivalence in a child's mind so that the predatory adult never feels rejected or in danger of being made accountable. In short: psychological grooming is employed by a predatory adult to make a child see itself as 1) a subject of preferential status, 2) a willing participant in exploitation, and therefore 3) someone who deserves to be victimized.
You might think that an abuser who gives such preferential treatment to his victim would feel a correspondingly special responsibility toward that child. But, true to popular mythology (and to the fact that there exists no actual 'relationship'), it is this 'favorite' child that must be sacrificed to preserve the abuser's public image and their culture's status quo.
A child living in a predatory environment becomes a hostage. Because the abusing adult cannot risk disclosures (direct or indirect) of their secret. Not only is a sexually abused child taught an entirely false concept of self and relationships, they are also systematically isolated from normal-living peers and pro-social adults.
When I was about 18 months old, I developed pneumonia with a dangerously high fever. My mother spent the night putting the child her husband had made out of her misplaced trust in and out of an ice bath. He slept undisturbed, and, in the morning, got up, took the one family car and went to work.
Leaving Mom to desperately call through the phone book until a doctor agreed to come to the house. This practitioner also went to a pharmacy and returned with life-saving prescriptions.
That was the same year an ambulance was called to attend my infant sister the day she stopped breathing. You see, it wasn't that Mom didn't know how to recognize an emergency and get qualified help. But you can't hand a child living at the center of a secret over to professionally nosy people.
The specialness of staying up late to watch TV, bathing together, sitting together in church: all window dressing. And, under certain circumstances, a disaster waiting to happen. When it came right down to it, I had become expendable. Subsequent medical near misses were handled with the same disconnected denial.
These incongruous events littering the landscape of my past raise more questions than they answer. Who would I be today if I had not been specially-and-preciously made-and-chosen to be Dr. Frankenstein's favorite creation? (And should I even 'be' at all?) How did a primate species that evolved on the same side of the Congo River as bonobos begin to behave with each other like chimpanzees and baboons? Why did the Indo-Europeans leave the Caucuses obsessed with violence and ownership? Why do people continue to insist that that's the genome a god sanctioned to administer the planet? How many toddlers are having a near miss today?
Be well - your Westie loves you!