Child molesters like to place the responsibility for their acts on their victims. A common ploy to accomplish this is a threat.
Sometimes the threat is delivered directly to the child: “If you tell anyone I’ll hurt your mommy.”
But often the threat is sent in code, or delivered by proxy to a larger audience, a family, members of the faith and defenders of the faith.
Because child molesters lack the ability to empathize with the child their identity is attached to something else… their sexual obsessions, a group of fellow molesters, an institution which nourishes and protects abusers and provides every kind of security for now and evermore. As such, the “naming” of an offender compels the group or institution to defend itself. We’re seeing this today in the Catholic Church.
Molesters are inventive with their threats and the way they are delivered. Borrowing from cases of domestic violence, it is common for example for a wife-beater to injure or kill a family pet to set the tone. “Disobey me and this is what will happen to you.” The word’s need not be spoken. The violence itself is the message.
“Do you want to see your grandmother left without someone to care for her?”
Pedophiles don’t have to resort to violence to send their message. Some of their threats appeal to a child’s own identity, or sense of belonging, or their neediness:
“Do you want to ruin the family name?”
“Do you want people to call you a pervert?”
“What would happen to you if I went away? If the family split up? If we lost everything?”
“People go to jail for doing things like this.”
That’s a pretty big burden for a young person to carry.
Another tactic is to blame (e.g. place responsibility on) the victim, preemptively or not:
“He wants it.”
“She didn’t resist, so I went ahead.”
“She’s the one who sat in my lap.”
Indirectly, the threat may appear as an omen made in the presence of the child:
“Children can get an adult into trouble.”
“Children know enough now about ‘inappropriate touching’ to get any adult they want into trouble.”
Now, the child is afraid that he or she may get into trouble for getting the abuser in trouble.
I’m not Catholic, but I can imagine a Priest saying
“If you have sex outside of marriage God will send you to hell.”
The intentions here are for the victim to remain silent. A victim who remains silent is what the abuser desires, and perhaps prays for.
If you have some examples feel free to email me and I’ll compile them on the site.