What you need to know:
- Usually, a pedophile will start by developing a relationship with a single mother, even though his ultimate target is the child.
- Pedophiles who use dating to disguise themselves tend to like child-related activities to endear them to kids.
- Find out all you can about your new man before you introduce him to your child.
Defilement cases have been rising since 2018. The Economic Survey 2021 report shows that in 2018, a total of 4,767 cases of defilement were reported. This number increased to 5,397 in 2019 and 6,801 in 2020. The majority of these cases were not perpetrated by strangers. Rape and defilement are likely to be perpetrated by someone who is well known to the victim. This someone could be the man you are dating – who you have introduced to your child as a father figure and future husband.
Usually, a pedophile will start by developing a relationship with a single mother, even though his ultimate target is the child. “Once he establishes the relationship, he will have access to multiple opportunities to manipulate the child using guilt, fear, and even love,” says security consultant Patrick Gatobu.
“Some pedophiles may be predatory while others are opportunistic,” says child therapist Damaris Kamau. “The predatory will go out in a pre-planned manner looking to sexually assault a child. The opportunistic ones will not be as active as the predatory types but will not hesitate to assault a child if they find an opportunity to do so.”
Pedophiles who use dating to disguise themselves tend to like child-related activities to endear them to kids. When you introduce them to your child, they will form a habit of referring to your child using endearing terms. For example, they may start referring to your child in pure or angelic terms such as innocent, heavenly, divine, and pure. These terms may seem common in describing children but if you’re keen, you will realise they’ll be exaggerated and inappropriate.
According to Damaris, your new man may get closer to the child because of his ‘hobbies’. “If you have a son, he may be willing to show him how to build toy cars, or where to get the coolest toy games in town. If your son is into toys, he will most likely be awed," she says.
Further, according to Lucy Murage, a child counselor based in Nairobi, find out all you can about your new man before you introduce him to your child. This will help you form a profiling template you can use to judge his character. “Get him to share his background, especially his childhood. For instance, who was more authoritative between his parents, were there cases of domestic violence or abuse at home?” she says. It can be easy to misjudge the good relationship your child has formed with the new man you’re dating. But don’t rush to imagine you have found the right man who will love you and your child unreservedly. It is not unusual for a child to be friendly to the predator because of their innocence and lack of comprehension about abuse. “A child may compromise the innate ability to decipher good and bad behavior, ultimately justifying the criminal’s assault out of sympathy and concern for their welfare,” says Murage. She also points out that an abuser could defile and threaten your child into silence. “He may tell the child that he will hurt or kill you if she speaks about the defilement. To keep you safe, the child may stay silent about the abuse,” she says. This is why you must know how to spot signs.
How to tell if your child is being abused
- Watch out if your child relapses into habits that he or she had previously overcome like bed-wetting or fear of sleeping alone.
- Take caution if your child slumps into aggression, excessive baby tantrums, crying, and withdrawal.
- Watch out if your child has started refusing the company of certain persons, or going to certain places. These persons and places are often people he or she was previously used to or fond of.
- When bathing your child, examine whether they have unexplained bruises or sores.