Excuses, excuses, excuses. Why did my grandfather sexually abuse children?

Child molesters often hide in plain sight, disguised by normality. My grandfather was one of them.

He was a family man, retired, living in a nice house with his wife. All seemingly normal.

So why did he sexually abuse children? 

I am one of his victims. And I find most responses to this question, leave me feeling angry and offended.

Explanations from those that knew him

One speculation was because my grandmother no longer slept in the same room as him. But I don’t agree with this misogynistic concept that it’s a wife’s duty to have sex with her husband, and I don’t hold her responsible for his actions.

Another suggestion was because he was ‘too tight to pay for prostitutes’. To me, this sounds like another outdated view that men ‘need’ sex and therefore he had no choice other than to pay to satisfy his sexual urges, or use a child’s body and save some cash.

The rape of a child is a violent act of contempt, not an expression of sexuality or affection.

Mike Lew, Gay Men and Childhood Sexual Trauma: Integrating the Shattered Self

His attack on a boy was thought to have occurred because he had ‘gone a bit gay in his old age’. I’m also offended by this association of homosexuality with child abuse.

I acknowledge how difficult it must be for those who like or love the perpetrator when the bombshell of disclosed child abuse explodes. In this position, I would also be grappling for reasons to try to reconcile the person I know with their crimes, crimes that devastate many lives in addition to those of the abused.

But I find these comments hurtful as they minimise his actions, as if they weren’t that bad. They were.

Explanations from those that didn’t know him

I’ve also heard countless speculations that he assaulted children because he himself may have been sexually abused as a child. After some research, I was pleased to find that this abuse-to-abuser hypothesis now receives much less support than previously. [1] [2]

This negative stereotype adds even more shame to that which I already carry for the crimes committed against me, and it can also be harmful. It may prevent disclosure of abuse if the survivor feels that they won’t be trusted around children. And many victims report fear of becoming offenders, or of feeling discomfort around children, anxious that they may harm them.

It would be more helpful to only assert that the vast majority of survivors do not go on to molest children, not least because they know first hand how it feels to be on the receiving end of this crime! Indeed, I’ve never heard a victim of wallet theft consider becoming a pickpocket because of their experience.

In this excellent podcast, ‘Bad People,’ Dr. Julia Shaw, a psychological scientist at UCL, affirms that not all people who commit terrible crimes suffered trauma in their childhood.

Furthermore, I feel angry when I hear that the perpetrator may have been abused in childhood, as it removes the responsibility for his actions away from him and transforms him into a victim, eliciting sympathy.

Explanations from the internet

Further research suggests various reasons why adults may sexually abuse children such as they were depressed, lonely, angry or stressed, had problems forming relationships with peers, or other difficulties in their lives such as divorce, bereavement or job loss. [3] [4] [5] [6]

I don’t buy any of them. Most of us have suffered at least one of these during our lives yet don’t consider abusing children and I’m baffled at how doing so could help anyone cope better with these situations.

The paedophile himself reasoned that he molested children because he loved us

Another reason given is sex addiction. But again, I find this problematic as it hints at perpetrators not being in control of their actions when they clearly are. 

I don’t even accept a sexual attraction to children as a reason to abuse, as I understand there are those who are attracted to children who don’t molest them. We all have sexual attractions to some people, but does sexually assaulting them cross our minds? For most of us, no.

Although I believe many of these reasons may be factors in why offences occur, or triggers, none of them feel like an explanation to me and they belittle the horrendous experiences I endured.

Explanations from perpetrators themselves

Perpetrators convince themselves that the child seems mature, they are ‘introducing’ the child to sex, the child enjoys the abuse or would say ‘no’ if they didn’t want it, or the child is too young to understand or remember amongst other vile, vile, vile excuses.

The vile excuse from the man who abused me, was that he molested children because he loved us.

Oh no, no, no, no, no! Even as a child I sensed that his actions didn’t come from a place of misguided love but from a place of malice and cruelty. That’s why it was so frightening. 

His assaults weren’t accidental, they were a choice. A choice that he made time and time again over many years, to use children’s bodies for his own sexual gratification with no consideration for his victims whatsoever.

He flaunted his domination and control by abusing me in front of adults, taunting them to dare to challenge his cruelty. But nobody did.

His assaults were premeditated. He would hunt me down when I was alone, pressuring me to keep quiet about the sordid things he did to me, fully aware that what he was doing was wrong. But he did it anyway.

After his attacks, he would just walk off, indifferent to the distressed child that he left alone to process the ordeal just endured. But I wasn’t able to, I was just a small child.

With police involvement, he lied under oath, pleaded not guilty and feigned dementia to prolong the torture of a court case for me. It was only when the net closed in around him enough for it to be in his own best interests to admit he was guilty and change his plea, that he eventually did. 

He never once showed remorse. That’s how much he ‘loved’ me.

My own explanation

I respect other’s analyses of why other sex offenders abuse children and can only pass judgement on the man who abused me.

But I don’t believe for one minute that my abuser was a good man who did bad things, rather he was a bad person who pretended to be good.

I understand that people feel placated when empathising with a perpetrator and want to share that with me.

I will never forgive him, nor do I wish to. To me, his actions were unforgivable, plain and simple

But I’m infuriated every time attention is turned from the hurt and suffering that he purposely caused, to the pain and harm that he may, or may not, have suffered.

This focus completely disregards his need to wield fear and control, to dominate and manipulate others, his utter selfishness, inflated sense of entitlement, lack of empathy and willingness to smash moral boundaries to harm children.

I’m unable to see beyond his crimes and I will never forgive him, nor do I wish to. To me, his actions were unforgivable, plain and simple.

There are no excuses to abuse children and reasons given for my abuser’s behaviour, sound to me exactly that, excuses. Excuses that hurt and offend me.

As does hearing that he wasn’t ‘all bad’.

Instead of living as a loving grandfather cherished by his family, he chose to live as a despised, dangerous paedophile.

Why? My own reasoning is because he was a spiteful, sadistic man.

2 thoughts on “Excuses, excuses, excuses. Why did my grandfather sexually abuse children?

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