The False Love Between Victims and Sexual Predators

“There are pictures of everything except the fondling and the oral sex that my father forced me to perform for him”

~ Joyce Allan

In certain cases of child sexual abuse, the victim is disbelieved because there are childhood photos depicting the child smiling with the abuser.

I have seen photos of children, who were severely abused for years, and whose perpetrator has confessed, where the children are smiling in photos with their perpetrator.

Children often love their abusers as well as hate them. Both children and adults feel several different emotions about a person or situation at the same exact time. More pointedly, child sexual abusers are not committing the abuse every minute of the day. Sometimes they were riding a bike with us, or building us a dollhouse, and once in a while… they made us laugh.

No one knows what pain lurks behind a photo. Children live in the moment, and it is usually during a vacation or family celebration that someone has a camera ready.

In my case, I clung to my father because my mother was cold and distant, showing no affection or love. Until my early thirties, I kept a loving image of my father in my mind -even though he was assaulting me- because as a child, my brain could not handle that both of my parents had abandoned and betrayed me. I gravitated to my father and convinced myself that his form of “love” and attention (the sexual abuse) was better than having none at all.

This kind of idealization is the child preferring the illusion instead of accepting what their parent is truly like –sort of a “denial via fantasy.”

Many victims speak of a positive relationship with their perpetrator. In one study, over half of the victims expressed love for their abuser.

The case of two young girls, who were being sexually abused by their father for years, provides a good example of the victim’s need to create a fantasy relationship with their perpetrator.

In this particular case, both girls were exposed to pornography and were made to play sex games with their father. One of the girls told her mother but the mother didn’t take any action and the abuse resumed two weeks later. The oldest daughter eventually told a teacher.

The father was convicted and sentenced to life, plus sixteen years. After he was incarcerated, both girls began to write love letters to him –despite the fact that the oldest daughter was repeatedly raped by her father. The girls even begged the court to let him go.

This bond can also be found between the victim and an abusive mother.

Detective Chris Hicks of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept., described the account of an eleven year-old girl whose mother threw her against a wall. Her head had been cut open, she was bleeding, and the mother’s roommate says the mother hit the child with a heater plate three or four times. Evidence showed blood on the plate, and the mother admitted to hitting the child with the grate.

The child’s story was in direct conflict with the all the evidence, and with the mother’s confession. The child’s version was to put the blame on herself. The victim said she “wasn’t being a good girl.”

The child was placed in temporary housing but kept asking, “When am I going to see my mom? I want to be with her.”

Detective Hicks says authorities often cannot get the truth from the victim, and the child will lie to protect the abusing parents. He said that children will sometimes defend the abusive parents, to the child’s death.

Melissa Salcedo was a victim of enslavement by her mother. She was not permitted to go to school, she was choked, she suffered beatings, was kept in a closet, and was forced to drink toilet water. The abuse lasted seventeen years, beginning at birth. Experts said it was one of the worst cases they had ever seen.

While standing in court on the day of her mother’s sentencing, Melissa, with choke marks and scars still visible on her neck, said to her mother “I love you. I miss you. I hope that when you get out we meet again.”

Melissa’s sister Gloria Salcedo was quoted as saying that she and their other siblings could not stop loving, or turn their backs, on the woman who gave them life.

Former FBI agent Kenneth V. Lanning has consulted on thousands of cases involving sexual acts inflicted upon children, and was an expert witness in both Federal and State courts on child abuse matters. Lanning says many child victims remain silent or deny the abuse when it is discovered.

The reasons for children to deny abuse are often based in fear and shame. Even if the abuse is discovered, they fear no one will believe them.

Sometimes the child knows they will not be protected and sense that they will be punished or removed from the home. Children know very well there are consequences for revealing abuse within the family –punishment by the family itself.

For some children, they deny the abuse because they like being special and feeling pleasure with the perpetrator, and the child often loves the abuser.



Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Child Abuse, Jennifer J. Freyd, Harvard University Press, 1996,

Does Incest Hurt Worse Than Grief? Cendra Lynn, Ph.D.,

Close to Home, Mark McGwire Foundation for Children and Big Year Productions, Vanessa Roth and Alexandra Dixon Producers, Discovery Health Channel, 2002

Behind the Playground Walls: Sexual Abuse in Preschools, Jill Waterman Ph.D, Robert J. Kelly Ph.D, Mary Kay Oliveri MSW, Jane Mc Cord, Ph.D, 1993, The Guilford Press page 242

Dissociation, Repression, and Reality Testing in the Countertransference, Jody Messler Davies, Memories of Sexual Betrayal: Truth, Fantasy, Repression, and Dissociation, Jason Aronson Inc., Edited by Richard Gartner, Ph.D, pages 60-61

Arts and Entertainment Channel, Investigative Report’s, L.A. Detectives, Juvenile Investigations Team “A Dangerous Mom”.

Source: L.A. Times 5/16/00 “Mother Gets 9 Years in ‘Slave’ Abuse Case”

Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis for Law-Enforcement Officers Investigating the Sexual Exploitation of Children by Acquaintance Molesters, Fourth Edition September 2001, Kenneth V. Lanning, Former Supervisory Special Agent Federal Bureau of Investigation, Copyright 2001 National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, page 58

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20 Responses to The False Love Between Victims and Sexual Predators

  1. little nel says:

    I still cannot blame my mother for the sexual abuse I endured in Julia Laythrope Hall in Los Angeles at the hands of the night matron.

    I blame the Los Angeles County Probation Dept. even though my mother was convicted of neglect. They hired a child molester to work in their facility and I had no choice but to endure the violations to my feminine soul while in custody. I had not committed any crimes and had experienced the emotional trauma of someone who had been kidnapped and raped.

    My parents committed crimes. The matron committed crimes. The County of Los Angeles was negligent. I paid the price for all those involved.

    I paid for my own therapy and education and it was worth it all. I did not repeat the abuse and neglect and my children thank me all the time for their happy childhood.

    • Alethea says:

      Little Nel, did you ever consider a lawsuit against the facility?

      • little nel says:

        Yes, but the records were misplaced, lost, or shredded, according to my attorney.

        I had to beg Michael Antonovich’s office for help to find the court records. It took about two years but I finally got them thanks to Mr. Antonovich’s efforts. I have the records that the county allowed me to have. Those records confirmed my presence in JLH.

        For some reason, all the data about Julia Laythrope Hall just vanished from the county records. I had heard that some children died in custody there. It was not surprising.

        The Los Angeles County Probation Dept. made me promise not to sue them if they let me “visit” the empty building, inside the juvenile hall (jail), some 40 years after my incarceration. They admitted that I was “housed” there and made me agree to all sorts of scrutiny, background checks, and surrender my driver’s license before admittance. It was emotionally draining for me but I was able to finally find some closure after the “visit.”

        I was told that I was “squeaky clean” according to the background check.

  2. little nel says:

    Hi Sunshine,

    “My mother was very inappropriate sexually. She flaunted her sexuality while shaming me.”

    My mother did that also. She even tried to seduce my friends.

    When my brother married a friend of mine and moved away, my mother moved the new bride’s brother into her home as her live in lover.

    She was 42 and he was 20.

    • SurvivorSunshine says:

      My mother openly flirted with an attractive male friend of mine when I was 18. She was 43. I wonder if she had affairs with men and women. She flirted with everyone and enjoyed male and female attention at all times.

      Thanks for sharing, Little Nel. I can relate. You’re lucky to have found a man who protected you. No one besides God has protected me. I’ve yet to develop consistently healthy relationships with anyone besides my own children. I pray God will finally bring healthy, supportive people into my life. Only recently did I began to discover how extremely in denial I was about how I was treated by my so-called friends and family. I went NC with all of them and am starting over.

      • little nel says:

        Hi Sunshine,

        My mother had an unsatisfied need for attention. Even in her 60’s she was committing adultery. Her husband caught her in bed with one of the construction workers who worked on remodeling their home.

        I had several friends who used to refer to her as the “sex addict.”

        I too, prayed to God to bring healthy, supportive people into my life and He did. I believe that God sent my husband to me.

        I did not give up my denial easily, facing the truth was too scary at first. I still catch myself wanting to slip back into denial when my gut feelings tell me something different.

        “When the road is rough, the reward is great.”

      • Alethea says:

        Sunshine, I only have God, my husband and my animals. I recently discovered that the “friends” I had allowed into my life have the ability to hurt me with their lack of concern for me, and their self-centered actions. I have had to cut them out of my life and concentrate only on my husband and the love of my animals. I am working towards a closer relationship with God as well. But I am over having friends. It’s a blessing in disguise though. I am happy to be alone and to be at peace with myself. I am happy to learn to believe in myself, support myself, and be a best friend to myself…..and to my dog…she is my best-friend.

        I have chosen to use this experience with these people, who hurt me, as a tool for greater inner strength.


  3. little nel says:

    “The child knows they will not be protected.”

    After experiencing life in a county home, there was no way that I would ever incriminate my mother or trust the police. The authorities had proven themselves to be my enemies.

    I instinctively knew that my mother was not sane. Her behavior was extreme to extreme, bipolar it’s called today.

    I learned to work around her problems. When she got angry I stayed away until she calmed down because she was only physically abusive when angry. The public library is where I went to avoid her wrath.

    I attached myself to families that loved and cared for their children and did everything I could to get invited to eat with them because there was little or no food at home on many days.

    • Alethea says:

      Little Nel, did your mother ever abuse in public, or in front of people who would have protected you?

      • little nel says:

        Yes, verbal public humiliation was a favorite tool. Every time I earned an academic scholarship, she threatened to take it away from me by telling the administrators that I did not deserve it.

        One of my mother’s many boyfriends did protect me once and she dumped him for it. She would keep me home from school as “punishment” and he found out about it, so he came over to the house and drove me to school.

        My husband is the only person in my life who effectively protected me from my family, for which I am grateful.

        I was 37 years-old sitting in a therapist’s office and crying to her that my mother came into my home uninvited and “beat me up” in front of my children. My husband was at work at the time.

        He and I threatened to file charges and have her arrested if she ever behaved like that again. My husband is the only man that I’d ever seen that could make her back down. She lamented many times that I married the kind of man that she always wanted.

        • SurvivorSunshine says:

          Yes, I was always publicly humiliated by my family, too. They enjoyed making me look bad because they were so threatened by my appearance, though I didn’t realize it then. I started to fight back as a teenager and was labeled unstable and crazy. To this day, even though I have two gorgeous and well-adjusted kids, I’m considered “off” by all of them. They can’t stand to see me excel or succeed in life. I’ve caught my aunts staring daggers at me or looking me up and down when I walked into a room, commenting on my appearance in a very phony way. Anytime I had something positive happen to me, like my wedding, they created drama or tried to take over. I’m not sure why I took it for so long. I guess because they were my only family left. I wish I went NC when my kids were babies. But now I’m stronger and teach my kids how to set boundaries.

  4. SurvivorSunshine says:

    I definitely engaged in betrayal blindness with both my parents and their families. I remember gushing about how close I was to my mom’s huge family and how supportive they were to me. I still find myself, after everything that he did, lauding my dad’s achievements in the music industry. Or creating an image of “Super Mom” for my mother, who emotionally abused me my entire life until she was killed at 18.

    I sometimes feel like BOTH of them sexually abused me. My mother was very inappropriate sexually. She flaunted her sexuality while shaming me. She and her sisters always accused me of being a whore and wanting sex anytime I wanted to have a social life as a teen. That’s why I left at 15 to go live with my father. He was, in my mind, my knight in shining armor and my protector from my crazy mom and aunts. I refused to believe he had hurt me in any way. His abuse was buried deep in my subconscious because he hypnotized me before he abused me as a young girl. I took trips with him, he bought me whatever I wanted, we always ate out at restaurants. I was spoiled rotten by my dad and was over the moon anytime he bothered to give me his attention.

    It drove his psychopath mother and my narcissistic mom nuts that he and I were so close. They were both visibly jealous. Looking back, I see now he enjoyed pitting me against them- the women who should’ve been protecting me from him. I didn’t fall out of love with my dad until I went to live with his family. I guess I was too old for him and he started to neglect me to the point of acting like I didn’t exist. He blame-shifted and said I was ungrateful and selfish; only worried about myself. We lived in the same city but he would only come to visit me at his sister’s house once or twice a week. His about-face was devastating and, thankfully, I created a social life and friendships with people that helped me through the realization that both my parents and their families were very disturbed.

    I ended up having to move back with my mom because he refused to support me. I was self-destructive until very recently (and still engage in self-defeating behaviors) because of these traumas and so many more. My story is very complicated but it helps to read these posts and comments.

    • Alethea says:


      Self-destructive behavior is very common in those sexually abused as children. So is self-punishment (which is what I had a problem with) and self-injury.

      I am curious if your father was in the military? Where did he learn to hypnotize you, or get the idea to do it?

      • SurvivorSunshine says:

        Yes, he was in the Navy straight out of high school. I’m not sure how many years he was in, but I do know he admitted to me once that he had thrown a fellow midshipman over board after getting into a verbal argument with him and he made a racist comment toward my father. He said the man was never found and my dad wasn’t implicated in his “disappearance.”. That terrified me for years but I never told a soul until I was questioned by the police after my mother and brother were murdered. My mom was even hypnotized by him when they were together. Who knows who else. He’s definitely a psychopath and I guess I should be relieved he’ll die in maximum security prison.

        • little nel says:

          “Self-destructive behavior is very common in those sexually abused as children.”

          I can attest to that. I would have self-destructed if it were not for other people who understood my pain and plight. They saw what I refused to see because of my denial.

          • little nel says:

            I also had a problem with self-punishment. I just kept it up until I got sick and tired of it. It had been a part of my life until I became aware that I was taught to accept punishment for no logical reason. It was crazy-making behavior and I was the only one who could stop it.

        • Alethea says:


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