Intuition, Gut instinct and Missed Opportunities

* “Intuition is not independent of any reasoning process.  In fact, psychologists believe that intuition is a rapid-fire, unconscious associating process-like a mental puzzle.  The brain makes an observation, scans its files, and matches the observation with existing memories, knowledge, and experiences.  Once it puts together a series of matches, we get a “gut” on what we’ve observed.”  Dr. Brene Brown

 In the cases of Shawn Hornbeck, Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard and the three young women recently saved from captivity, we see an important role everyday individuals play in the success of these compelling stories.  For the few cases that come to the public eye, there are so many more that simmer in the midst of our communities, waiting to be revealed.  One person can make a difference.

  • We have to recognize that one person has made a difference.
  • We have to believe that any one person can make a difference.
  • We have to incorporate into our core that each of us can be the one person to make a difference.

We hear of missed opportunities, calls that could have been made, actions that could have been taken, which possibly could have led to an earlier resolution in these stories; based upon   Intuition or gut instinct.  Regardless of what we do know at this point, in each of these cases there does appear to be missed opportunities that could have brought these people freedom sooner.

– Whoa!  –

This is no way a pointing of fingers at any person or organization.  It is normal for the ball to be dropped, that is how we learn.  Being aware of missed opportunities and learning from them is a valid method to help all of us understand and become more cognizant of these types of crimes, more aware of our community, individual behavior and those odd things that nag at the back of our conscious.  If we hear more discussion of things people missed or dismissed and did not report we can examine and relate to that information.  Hopefully, that will either trigger our own gut instincts/memories or help us to be more aware in the future and thus become a more effective society in keeping our children safe and getting them help.

Simply stated we need to be more aware, more informed.  These villains, these predators, and the confused or lost souls that protect them live amongst us; friends, neighbors, and relatives.  Manipulation and deceit are not the middle names of these predators, they are their first names.  They can mislead detectives, police, forensic specialist, initially.  Therefore, you know they can fool and control the average person.  That is not our shame but a testimony to their expertise and the secret to their success.  We can hone our Intuition or gut instinct by learning the characteristics of the pedophile, become familiar with the cycle of grooming, and the personalities of those that protect the predators.  We may not all fully come to understand the psychology, but we can learn enough to:

  • understand sexual crimes against children happen all around us,
  • understand the importance of being an active part of the safety process, even if anonymously,
  • understand we should not feel badly about reporting.
  • understand the predators have the laws on their side, not the child.

Attempting to understand the basic reason why these abducted children or those currently being abused in their own home do not cry out is important.  Almost every parent I speak with says, “My children tell me everything,”  “We are so close, I know they would run away, yell and come running to tell me.”  That unrealistic self-assuredness is the strongest gift to the abuser/predator, especially if they are family or like family.  They use that false security we hold in our relationships and overpower it with their practiced deceit and manipulation.  The following excerpt from a Newsweek article sheds a little light.

 Young Shawn Hornbeck had plenty of chances to flee his captor.  So what made him stay?”

 Things aren’t nearly so simple, according to experts in child psychology.  A captor can confine a child with psychological barriers as much as physical ones.  “When a young child is taken from his family and isolated and perhaps threatened, and those threats are backed up by violence—all that plays a tremendous role in silencing the child,” says Dr. Terri Weaver, associate professor of psychology at St. Louis University.  Abductors “know how to create a paralyzing sense of fear so even when the captor is not present, the child feels he is omnipresent.”  As a result, she argues, people should “withhold judgment and blame on this child.”

These psychological barriers mentioned in the case of Shawn Hornbeck also occur when a child is being abused in their own home.  The child may be threatened with:

  • loss of someone they love
  • loss of their own life
  • told the predator will harm another child (if the child doesn’t cooperate)
  • told they (the child) will not be believed
  • told they (the child) wanted the “bad things” to happen
  • told everyone will blame them (the child).

Information does fall through the cracks therefore, it is also important to follow up, to call in with new suspicions, and to encourage others to do the same.  As we have seen, it takes many reports to get enough legal support for these entities to take action.  This success depends upon each individual accepting that the abuse of our children is a real problem.  Accepting each of us can make a difference and agreeing to the idea it is possible to stop this wholesale destruction of our children.  We can be a success and stem this tide if as individuals we trust our Intuition or gut instinct, become more willing to stand up, speak out and take action.  This choice to be proactive can be the difference in the length time it takes to locate missing children, like Shawn Hornbeck or to shorten the time it takes to remove a child from an abusive in-home situation.


* Quotation from; Brown, Brene Ph.D ., L.M.S.W. ( 2010).  THE GIFTS OF Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. MN: Hazeldon press

Sally’s Thoughts on the Subject

Due to events beyond my control I was unable to post the last Monday.  As I worked on this week’s blog, yes it will get out late, I noticed a FB post by a friend.  I asked for her permission to share her thoughts with you here on A Child’s Tears.  Thank you Sally

       I, for one, am for the “one strike, you’re out” policy with regards to sexually abusing a child.  I am sick of these people who prey on children and I am sick of parents who put blind trust in anyone with regards to their children. If someone comes around bearing gifts and/or constantly volunteers to watch your children – BE SUSPICIOUS!

       I love children and they are my ministry, but I don’t feel the need to be surrounded by them at all times.  It doesn’t matter if the person is male or female.  Serial child molesters seek out opportunities to work with children and will spend a considerable amount of time grooming the parents and the community before committing their crimes.  That is why when children speak out – no one wants to believe it of that person.  

       A serial child molester has an average of 70 victims by the time they get caught. Many of those children never come forward.  Don’t trust any organization that allows adults to work with children one-on-one.  Even teachers should keep the doors open and be visible at all times if they are working one-on-one with a child.  Coaches DO NOT need to take your child home with them. Neither do ministry leaders, scout leaders, etc.  There are times when you have to let your child out of your sight – but don’t let it become a habit.

       Also – we always want to make excuses for child molesters (or any criminal for that matter) that they had a hard life.  SO WHAT?!!!!  So do many of us and we don’t choose to commit evil!  A study not too long ago went into the prisons and surveyed child molesters.  At least 90% of them claimed to have been molested as children.  However, when they took the lie detector test, only about 20% of them passed.  (Meaning the convicts were lying about being molested as children.)  I heard this from a Tarrant County Forensic Investigator.  She said that a lie detector test does not work the way you see it on T.V. They ask the people the questions and then hook them up to the machine and then ask them the same questions. There are no surprise questions. They will say they were molested as children because they know that will gain them sympathy.

       1 in 3 girls, and 1 in 8 boys have most likely been molested by the time they are 18 years old.  Think about that.  Also, many of them don’t fit the “mold” of what a sexual abuse victim looks like.  They don’t all gain weight or act out.  Most of them suffer in silence. It is too painful and humiliating to share.

        If a child EVER tells you they have been abused – BELIEVE THEM AND REPORT IT! If they cry out to a person they trust and that person doesn’t listen and help – they may never cry out again.  In the state of Texas – EVERY adult is responsible for this – not just the people who work with children.

        There are two things that make it EXREMELY difficult even now.  First, even though teachers might be told what signs to watch for, they could account for many things and with all of the behavior issues in schools today you really can’t distinguish something based on behavior alone. Second, some teachers will not report when someone does disclose because they don’t want to rock the boat.  They are more worried about their job security than the child’s well-being.

       Many people still believe some of the old beliefs about what a child molester looks or acts like and most people are unwilling to talk about this subject, which is why it continues to happen again and again.  When you start talking about this issue people start squirming and want to flee. The only way to combat evil is to expose it to the light.

Sally Marie Peterson 

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