The media is beside itself trying to understand why Shawn Hornbeck, the youngster kidnapped four-and-a-half years ago, remained a captive despite being on his own much of the time.
All the would-be psychologists on TV and in the press have been speculating wildly, coming up with a myriad of reasons such as a case of the Stockholm syndrome, for example, as to why the youngster did not flee his alleged captivity when he had many opportunities to get away from his alleged kidnapper.
None of these people know what they are talking about. They don’t have the vaguest idea of what goes on in the mind of a young boy who has been sexually abused by an adult, as I assume was the case with Shawn.
I do. Only those who have had that horrific experience can understand what undoubtedly happened to Shawn Hornbeck, and I’m one of them.
When I was eight years old I was sexually abused by a man who ran an after-school day camp. And after that first molestation, I was literally blackmailed into silence by him, making it possible for him to continue to molest me for a year without fear of being exposed.
People who wonder why child victims of sexual abuse remain silent about their experiences have to understand that after that first episode the molester takes ownership of the youngster for a variety of reasons including shame and threats to tell his parents their child is a sexual deviant.
In my case the reason why I didn’t run away although this man was molesting me for a year was simply this: he owned me.
As I wrote in my book, “Twice Adopted,” which I urge parents to buy and read carefully for their children’s sake (you can get it at Amazon.com), “It doesn’t matter if you are molested once or a thousand times; it’s the first incident that does the damage. That first act solidifies the molester’s ownership of you.”
Although I have no way of knowing if Shawn allowed himself to be photographed in a compromising situation as I was, if that was the case with him the molester’s ownership was solidly confirmed.
I allowed my abuser to take nude photos of me much against my will. He used those photos to blackmail me into silence by threatening to show them to my mother. That thought terrorized me. And it was enough to keep me silent.
I thought that if my mother saw those pictures she would know that I was what I then believed myself to be -- evil. Another hold a molester has over his victim, you see, is his understanding that his victims come to believe that the molestation is their fault, and their deep shame and guilt ensures their silence.