September 16, 2020 1 By Brian Khavalaji

“It’s hard to be a girl. It’s even harder with the prolonged closure of school. If crazy members of your ‘family’ aren’t already exploiting your innocence, there is a pack of ‘friends’ waiting to take advantage of you.”

When Oyoo Mboya posted that on Facebook, it kept me thinking; the high and shocking numbers of pregnancies still ringing in my mind. It must be hard to navigate through the tough times especially when you are surrounded by people who exhibit such traits as “psychopathy (lack of empathy and morals), Machiavelianism (tendency of exploiting others), and narcissism (grandiosity and self promotion.)” These are what Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D. calls “dark Triad.” They are personality traits that if someone have them, the scripts need to be re-written because they are dangerous.

Oyoo might just have touched the surface; the fact that people close to us may try/take advantage of us. It is even interesting in a situation where the victim do not have power over the manipulation, for example an innocent kid. Sheri Jacobson, a counseling and personality disorders writer argues, “Machiavellianism has been found to be more common in men than women.” She further says that anyone can be a victim, children included.

Manipulation has been with us for years. It is how perpetrators of child abuse get what they want without much effort. We live in a society full of manipulators. They do virtual signaling to portray themselves as being moral to those around them but truth is deep in their skin is the opposite.
Machiavellianism started a long time ago when one philosopher and diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli decided that rulers should be harsh to their people and their enemies. His school of thought also justified immorality and brutality as long as glory and survival was achieved.

Sheri Jacobson’s list of the manipulators include; prone to sexual encounter, can be very patient due to calculating nature, come across as charming and confident. This charming quality is what makes them look innocent. But unknown to kids and even adults is the fact that such people are self centered: their ambitions are on the top of their lists all the time.

There tactics

There is something Defend Innocence once wrote about. It is called grooming behavior. It is basically a situation where a perpetrator creates a ground of exploitation. He/she builds a relationship with a kid, the end goal being emotional manipulation towards sexual abuse. The following are a few tactics applied by groomers;

In the 1950’s there existed a catholic family in Sydney. The dad was ever drunk and always abused Martina, the daughter. At 8 years old, she joined a catholic school and it was here that she experienced cruelty from the nuns and the priest. The priest repeatedly had sex with eight years old Martina and scaring her, with other little girls, to be quiet and not make noise to Jesus. At one time, he even told Martina, after abusing her, to go and never tell anyone saying that he was going to talk to God about what he would do to them next. Such intimidation scared Martina and for a long time she and other young girls endured sexual abuse in that Catholic school.

Boundary testing
Perpetrators of sexual abuse use the slightest opportunities they have with children to test their boundaries. They may tell few sexual jokes and see how a kid reacts. With this, they are establishing the comfort zone of the kids. Then after that they may start touching the kid, from simple innocent touches to inappropriate ones. Martina, the one I have mentioned above, was made to play with the priest’s manhood. She would lick it. Then when she was done she would go play as the abuser devised ways of how he would enter her. And it happened, eventually.

These manipulators also share sexually graphic materials like porn to normalize sex. They spare more time with the kids, which means they are not people from far. They are not from a neighboring town or village. They are from our homesteads; our fathers, mothers, friends and cousins. As Defend Innocence puts it, “They are charismatic everyday people who earn trust of others.”

While the above is true, we need to look out for our kids. We need to ensure the people we trust with our kids are worth it. Additionally, we need to openly talk to them about opening up to us, especially where sexual advances have been noticed. Finally, our kids need to be told what is right and wrong so that they can detect manipulation and report it to us.