One of the characters in my suspense/thriller, “The Poison Cup,” is a pedophile. While researching for the novel, I learned the profile of sexual predators:
- They often are trusted family members or trusted friends or neighbors.
- Risk emboldens rather than deters them.
- They instill fear to control and silence their victims.
- Children tend to accept without question what adults tell them and thus submit to the abuse.
I used this information to create the character of Orville Wooten. The following is an excerpt from the novel:
There was no sign of anybody, no sound except the crickets playing their maracas. Frannie listened to their music for a moment, longing to be safe in her yard. It was black as ink here beyond the streetlamps. It was then she smelled cigarette smoke.
She couldn’t see anyone, but she knew someone was there. Like the creepy feeling after walking into a spider web, a tingle crept from her neck down her spine. It doesn’t make sense that Jenny should be gone so long. Where is she? What could she possibly be doing?
The shadows moved. Suddenly, there was a man standing not three feet from her. She could see his dark outline and the red glow from the cigarette ash. Frannie called out in a quavering voice, “Jenny, are you there?”
She imagined Jenny emerging from the shadows and saying, “Let’s go, Miss Chatterbox.”
But Jenny did not answer, nor did she appear. Frannie’s heart rose into her throat. The man was not looking in her direction, just smoking and looking at the ground.
Then, the stranger came out from the shadows and spoke. “You shouldn’t be out this time of night all alone.” His voice sounded nice, not harsh or scary. He tossed down his cigarette and ground it under the heel of his boot. He came close. She saw he wore a baseball cap that hid half of his face. “Has somebody forgot you?” he asked kindly.
“I don’t know,” Frannie whispered. He didn’t seem scary. He seemed nice, even kind. Struggling to speak, she said, “I’m with a friend.”
“Well, where is this friend? I think you’ve been forgot. Want a lift?”
Bored and weary of waiting, Frannie considered his offer.
Later in the story, the reader learns that he takes his victims to an old hunting cabin in the woods where several nail-biting scenes take place.
When you were a kid your mother probably never used the word “pedophile” or said what they do to little children. You were too young to understand. She said, “Never take candy or accept a ride with a stranger.”
I remember while walking to school when I was about seven or eight, a neighbor two blocks down from our house offered several other kids and me a ride to school because it started to rain. She was taking her two sons and let several of us neighbor kids pile into the back seat of her vehicle. I got in, but as soon as I did, I heard in my head my mother’s dire warning and scooted back out. Even though this mom was an established resident, not a newcomer, I walked to school in the rain rather than accept the ride with someone I didn’t know.
Today pedophiles aren’t limited to hanging around playgrounds to find their prey but pose an even more subtle threat to children via the internet. Their online presence covers them with a faceless anonymity. They can pose as another child through email and online chats.
Parents need to be vigilant about protecting children and reporting things that are strange. Even if you turn out to be wrong, it is better that your kids stay safe than sorry! Below are resources to learn more about pedophiles and how to recognize them.
- parthttp://www.nsvrc.org/projects/child-sexual- assault-prevention/preventing- child-sexual-abuse- resources