At one time, the director of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation defended members of their organization, who had been accused of being child molesters, by saying their innocence was evident by their graying hair, their manner of dress, because they smiled a lot, and were healthy. 1 *
Perpetrators of children can be very charming to other adults and look like perfectly nice people. Child abusers often display normal behavior with children when they are not molesting or abusing them. Those who hide their dark side do everything they can in order to convince others they are innocent. They know how to manipulate people and present a ‘good’ image’ in public.
People assume that sexual predators of children must be “demonic,” but this belief is a blanket of protection for all child abusers who do not outwardly look or act evil. Child sexual abusers are not demons; they are human beings with evil alive in their soul. External influences and emotional experiences, which take place in early childhood, are usually the cause of psychiatric disorders and criminal behavior. Labeling a sexual predator as a demon, or even as “evil” is society’s attempt at self-comfort. This way, the so-called “good” people relieve themselves of any guilt over their own transgressions, and they give themselves permission to not have to help or even try to understand child abusers, or to believe that their beloved co-worker or their friendly neighbor could have harmed a child in such a heinous way.
Some people feel that a woman who kills her child because she is hearing voices is “sick,” but that child sexual abusers are “evil.” The action of killing a child, or sexually molesting a child, are both evil; but the person –the human soul—is not usually evil itself.
Nearly every human being has malignant thoughts, and sometimes people act on them –especially those who have a history of child sexual abuse, extreme physical abuse, or torture. People who commit evil sometimes do good for others and engage in kind thoughts. More importantly, “good” people are very capable of committing atrocities if the conditions are favorable. The Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram Obedience Experiment are two perfect examples of how ordinary, mild mannered people –who most would consider “good”– can commit torture or inflict pain on innocent persons. The Milgram Obedience Experiment demonstrates how even women can easily participate in hurting another human being, and do so while listening to the screams of the victim, merely because an authority figure is telling them to do it. Philip Zimbardo’s The Lucifer Effect explains these two studies and how anyone can be capable of committing atrocities, or become a part of them by remaining silent. 2
Incest victims frequently come from what appears to be the “All-American” family and no set profile exists for a child molester or for a child rapist. 3
If you do a search on the Web for “evil” your results will probably bring up people like Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, or mass murderers. You might even get Charles Manson in your search result window, but at least Charles Manson was not a hypocrite.
If you do a search for my parents, you will not find their names or faces under the word “evil.” The true human face of evil is every child sexual abuser who appears outwardly good. Evil deceives. It shows itself with the face of goodness and with outward pleasantries and niceties. True evil puts on a police uniform with a badge that reads, “To protect and serve” and then sexually abuses a little girl. True evil wears a nice Sunday dress, goes off to church and prays to God appearing “good” in front of others, and then she comes home and turns her head to the crime of incest going on under her roof, and then threatens into silence, the child who dares to try and tell.
This material is taken from my soon to be published (online) book titled, America’s Ugly Secret: Evil Sits at the Dinner Table. ©Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author.
* The False Memory Syndrome Foundation was founded in 1992 by the parents of Jennifer J. Freyd, a highly respected psychology professor and memory researcher, who privately accused her father of sexually abusing her as a child. Jennifer’s father denied Jennifer’s memories and her parents formed the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Jennifer’s mother is the executive director of the FMSF. In their book, Misinformation Concerning Child Sexual Abuse and Adult Survivors, Whitfield, Silberg, and Fink, offer documentation which supports Jennifer’s accusations. 4
1. Freyd, P. (1992b, February 29). “How do we know we are not representing pedophiles?” False Memory Syndrome Newsletter.
2. The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, Philip Zimbardo, Random House, 2007
3. U.S. Dept of Justice of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice Research Report Child Sexual Molestation: Research Issues, Robert A. Prentky, Ph.D. Raymond A. Knight, Ph.D., Austin F.S. Lee, Ph.D. Jeremy Travis, J.D. Director Christy Visher, Ph.D. Science Advisor to the Director
4. Misinformation Concerning Child Sexual Abuse and Adult Survivors, Whitfield, Silberg, and Fink