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“Forgive Me” Ploy
Photo: Juliane Riedl
In the Bible, we are taught a great deal about forgiveness. Christ was adamant that if we do not forgive others of their sins, God will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15).

Nonetheless, I believe that forgiveness needs to be brokered through God when it comes to an abuser or molester because the offender does not believe he or she is guilty of any offense. Classically, abusers insist the victim is to blame. Asking forgiveness is often just a ploy to avoid detection and to control the victim.

Nowadays many of those who work or volunteer in any capacity with children or youth are required to undergo background checks and attend classes or on-line instruction regarding proper behavior. They are also taught to identify predatory behavior in others.

Not only children need protection. Adult men and women need it as well. Predatory or abusive behavior reaches across the scope of human relationships, from parents molesting or abusing their children, to abusive spouses, to abusive strangers.

I recently failed to recognize predatory signs in an elderly foreigner I first encountered on my chapel visits to a local nursing home. He volunteered to “help”—especially the ladies. At his request, I brought him to our church. Unfortunately, by the second visit, we discovered he wasn’t looking for God but for a lonely woman willing to take him to her home (she thought for lunch). He had other plans and became sexually aggressive. Fortunately, she fought him off.

Sexual Predator Warning Signs

I found a list of “Sexual Predator Warning Signs” on Dr. Phil.com There is not room for it all here, but had I been thinking “predator,” I would have recognized telling characteristics: “Great helpers—are there to lend a helping hand…insinuate themselves in your life…rationalizers… justifiers… manipulators… sense of entitlement…refusal to take responsibility for actions and blames something or someone else.”

(We once recognized those characteristics in an “upstanding member of the community” who proved physically and verbally abusive: a seemingly amazing person until the warning signals went off as he tried to cast a web of lies and deceit about a loved one he sought to control. When he failed to control us as well, he became angry and threatening.)

Forgiveness is essential to the healing of both victim and offender, but inherent on both sides is the struggle to forgive self: for the weakness, and for the lack of courage or physical ability to prevent the occurrence in the first place.

This is often a multi-layered work and only God can enable the healing. Quick words of “I forgive” diminish the magnitude of the offense (or attempted offense) and let the offender think his/her actions were of little or no consequence—the very thing offenders want to believe.

(The elderly man had also been “inappropriate” with a nursing home resident. I reported his actions to his family and notified the nursing home.)

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By Lois Pecce. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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