Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why I hate "To Catch a Predator"

I really, really dislike Dateline's segment To Catch a Predator. First of all, it's bullsh*t. People go to sleep all happy after watching the show, secure in the knowledge that the bad guys have been caught. Well, actually they aren't. The truth is, most survivors of childhood sexual assault were abused by someone they know. It was either a relative, family friend, etc-not a stranger as Dateline portrays.
As a survivor myself I find it frustrating to watch this show. Everything is wrapped up nice and neat in an hour or so. Dateline never explores the real issues surrounding the aftermath of child sex abuse. They won't do a segment on the survivor community because they know what they would show, our drug addictions, our failed marriages, the way we abuse ourselves, would not make for good TV. I have had more than one person me "It's all about ratings baby. Don't take it personally!!!" Arseholes........I can tell you what to do with the Nielsen ratings if you lean in real close, OK? C'mere........
I see this a lot in volunteer work I do. Many parents still, in 2008, will not get help for their child that has been abused. The parent themselves are ashamed/embarrassed/horrified at their inability to protect their child. So they lock it away. They pretend as if it didn't happen, as if their child wasn't hurt, as if their child will forget what happened.

We never forget.

As we watch our parent shut down and refuse to discuss the topic it reinforces what our abuser did to us. If our parent won't talk about it, then we must have done something wrong, right? When we watch tv and see Dell the decoy being rescued it plays a # on us. Why are these children helped? Did we do something wrong, is that why we are left alone as a child to deal with this? I honestly thought that, btw. I really did think that without knowing it I had done something so awful no one wanted to help me. Talk about re victimization!! Since our abuser was family or a friend, does that make it OK? If it's OK then why won't our parent talk about? But it's not OK, we are taught that in school. We do the right thing, tell our parents about "bad touch" and.................nothing happens. What did we do wrong? These are some of the questions we ask ourselves.
To Catch a Predator also gives a false sense of security. When the majority of what you see on TV shows stranger rape/sexual abuse society starts to believe it. I truly believe that is why the plague of child sex abuse is exploding across the world right now. Our culture has refused to acknowledge child sex abuse for too long and now we are paying the price.
My own extended, maternal family will not talk about my cousin the abuser. They know he did it and yet I am the one they turn their anger on. Why can't I just forgive and forget? Why do I make an issue out of it, the incident(s) were so long ago? The child as a scapegoat is disgusting to me. Not one of these people has EVER reached out to me. When I found out a year ago my mother had told these people a few years earlier about the abuse, I had a hard time. I still to this day do not understand how you can learn that someone you loved or professed to love was abused and not reach out to them. My dad tells me that these people are probably uncomfortable and while this is probably true, their inability to see past themselves destroyed any respect I had for them.
So much can be healed with being open and acknowledging a person's abuse. You may not always know what to say, but believe me when I tell you that a smile, a hug, or a "let me know what I can do to help" does more than you will ever know.

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