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BOOK REVIEW: The Socially Skilled Child Molester

By Ox Drover

I recently read The Socially Skilled Child Molester: Differentiating the Guilty from the Falsely Accused, by Carla van Dam, Ph.D.

Carla van Dam, Ph.D., is a clinical and forensic psychologist who has practiced in the U.S. and Canada, and taught in several universities. She is well known in the community of those who focus on primary prevention strategies to help end child sexual abuse. One of her previous books was Identifying Child Molesters: Preventing Child Sexual Abuse by Recognizing the Patterns of Offenders.

Several of the reviews of this book pretty well sum up my opinion of this well-written book.

The Socially Skilled Child Molester provides a thorough description of common types of child molesters, most importantly, distinguishing between ‘grabbers’ and ‘groomers.’” Kelly Simonson, Ph.D.

“A provocative analysis of four types of smarter, richer, socially skilled and often litigious offenders as opposed to the cruder, more frequently captured types. Such offenders, whom the author calls ‘groomers,’ usually spend more time cultivating the good graces of family members, neighborhoods, and whole communities rather than selecting and seducing their victims. These offenders are usually regarded as upstanding pillars of the community, and include businessmen, priests, judges, coaches, teachers and volunteers…” Thomas R. O’Connor, Ph.D.

“Carla van Dam carefully describes the various child molesters who sit next to us in our churches and synagogues, go to the theater, and eat in the same restaurants with us. They continue to harm children because they fool us into thinking that such nice guys couldn’t do such a terrible thing.” Lenore E. Walker, Ed.D. (Dr. Walker was a pioneer in the defense of women who faced criminal charges for attacking their long-time abusers. Her books include The Battered Woman, The Battered Woman Syndrome, Handbook of Child Sexual Abuse, and Abused Women and Survivor Therapy.)

Having personally been well acquainted for a number of years with one of the most prolific child abusers, totaling over 1500 victims, Charles “Jackie” Walls, III, who is currently serving life without parole in Arkansas Department of Corrections, I know how easy it is for these “socially skilled” child molesters to pass for “upstanding citizens” in the community for decades, all the while doing damage to so many. Though I never liked Jackie because he was an obvious narcissistic creep, it never dawned on me, I never had the faintest inkling, that he was living this dual life of upstanding family man and Boy Scout volunteer of the year during the daytime, and monster at night.

Dr. van Dam’s book gives a clear and precise directions for spotting the warning signs in a predator who is socially skilled and highly thought of in the community, who presents himself as the “too good to be true” businessman, priest, rabbi, physician, nurse, volunteer, etc., who is too helpful, too private, too attentive to children, too touchy with children, too involved with image management, too one-sided in relationships, always giving, never taking, too opportunistic, too superficial, too prone to violate boundaries of personal space and privacy, too aggressive when confronted, too quick to drop friendships when children grow older, too likely to disappear when contact with children is denied, altogether too charming . . . and, too good to be true.

Dr. van Dam divides her book into 10 chapters, as follows:

Chapter 1. “Understanding the Problem” focuses on the fact that the “groomers,” as she calls them, are well-socialized child molesters and behave as if they were addicted to sexual contact with children.

Chapter 2. “Child Molesters in Their Natural Habitat” familiarizes readers with the operating styles of the groomers and allows them to notice the often-predictable practices so that readers can more effectively prevent child sexual abuse.

Chapter 3. “Current Practices” provides the reader with information on the inadequacies of the way child sexual abuse is addressed by communities.

Chapter 4. “Not All Child Molesters Are Alike.” This chapter gives a closer focus on the vocabulary used to describe sexual misconduct. Child molesters do much damage to children by first carefully grooming adults in order to gain access to children.

Chapter 5. “Common Misperceptions.” This chapter focuses on groomers’ excuses and explanations when their conduct is challenged. These are hackneyed clichés that are often misconstrued as sincere. Everyone needs to know these well enough to recognize them when they occur.

Chapter 6. “Accurately Differentiating Danger.” This provides the framework to understand how the behaviors of groomers often vary from those whose conduct should not be worrisome. It points out that behavioral patterns of successful groomers vary significantly from those who are not child molesters.

Chapter 7. “A Framework for Understanding Child Sexual Abuse.” Using an iceberg as an analogy of the groomer’s behavior, this chapter gives information to the reader about how to expose the groomer’s operating strategies to protect children.

Chapter 8. “Interviewing Child Molesters.” This shows the reader that though groomers are incredibly successful liars, the lies they tell can be identified, and are often predictable. This allows the reader to be less gullible and better protect their children.

Chapter 9. “Predicting Risk.” This chapter deals with differentiating convicted offenders from the less to the more dangerous.

Chapter 10. “Incorporating Corroborating Evidence.” This chapter brings all the information together for both professionals and for families in ways to network in the community to protect our children from predators.

This book, in my opinion, is a must-have for anyone who wants to protect children, in their own home and in the community. While Dr. van Dam does not think that all pedophiles qualify as psychopaths, she does say that they “lack empathy, and experience no real remorse as shown by their actual behaviors.”

Although this book focuses on child molesters, many of the practices that the groomers use are familiar to some of us who have met sociopaths who looked like such “good people” and turned out to be such bad nightmares. The book may also be interesting to people who want to understand more about how a bad person can hide in plain sight.

To purchase the book, go to Amazon.com:

The Socially Skilled Child Molester: Differentiating the Guilty from the Falsely Accused.



98 Comments on "BOOK REVIEW: The Socially Skilled Child Molester"

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  1. Genevieve79 says:

    Thank you so much Oxy! I realised overnight that he was just as horrid to me in the beginning as he has been now. Back when I was 16, right at the point he decided to discard me, before I had done anything that could be considered making a fool of myself/shameful, I recalled how he was exhibiting the same nasty behaviours he has been doing since we got back in touch recently. If I wasn’t guilty of anything then and he still behaved like that, how could I be guilty now? And there I found my healing! xxxxxx

  2. kim frederick says:

    Genaveive, None of it was your fault…not the initial grooming and not the initial discard, not the last disgard….I’m not sure why you cantacted him, but I’m assuming it was something that you needed to do in order to get closure. You were 16 years old, got sucked into something and dumped, cruelly, and you were probably stymied about what had happened.

    Most of these creeps have a tremendous fear of grown women with a sense of self. They find them very threatening…They need the absolute adulation of a pliant, and niave young girl who looks up to them. That’s how they get their N supply.

    Now, in your thirtys you are too much for him. Too wise, too competant…that will never do! Trust me, he’ll go out and find another, on and on ad infinitum. It’s just what they do.

    Quit doubting yourself in this!!! Not your fault. He was inferior to you in every way, and he’s a pig to boot.

  3. Denise Guiney says:

    Genevieve,

    I have seen this done to the woman after me. Lead her on, promise her everything make her feel special, use her as a financial crutch, distract her at work then torture her by disappearing on her and finally accuse her of stalking. Mean Mean Mean. Then tried to tell her he and I were back together, in love and going to be married (he did not ask me!) Even put up photos of me on his Facebook (he never had them up there before). Total lack of conscience led him to think I would actually buy this story and not work out what he did to this woman. Nothing is more gross than seeing someones attempts to use you to flick off someone else they have abused.

  4. Ox Drover says:

    I thought there was an article about this creep, but can’t find it if there is, so this is as good a place as any to comment about him.

    This jerk is the perverts pervert! He wrote and sold this “how to” book for perverts and child molester and Florida prosecutors Bought one over the mail/internet and so they prosecuted him though he lived in another state. They caught hell for doing so though, but personally I think they did okay by prosecuting him.

    (doesn’t HE LOOK LIKE THE KIND OF GUY WHO COULD ONLY GET A CHILD FOR A SEX PARTNER???) CREEPY!!!!! but anyway, I was really disappointed when I read today that he only got probation.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/04/07/florida.obscenity.arrest/index.html

  5. ksm says:

    Hi I have an important question;

    my ex path brought something up to me after we had been in a relationship for around 3 months. He asked me if i’d spoken to my daughter (aged 11) about sex. I told him no not yet. He then asked me if i’d told her what masturbation was. I started to feel uneasy but he started to laugh and said (from memory) “i only ask because when i was a kid i got told it was bad to masturbate so i hardly ever did it and also one of our friends said that when she was young she thought it was a bad thing to do too, so you should tell your daughter about it now so she doesn’t feel bad about wanting to do it”.

    I told him that I will talk to her about it when the time is right and that I don’t want to talk to him about it again. He brought it up 2-3 times again later on in the relationship but would make jokes about my sensitivity toward the topic.

    After he said this I felt weird about him being near my daughter. In the back of my mind I didn’t think he would do anything but I thought it was terribly strange for him to be concerned about what my daughter wants or does in private. I am no longer with this man and am recovering from being with him for just over 18 months.

    I am extremely close with my daughter and I know that he never touched her or even near got the chance to.

    What do you think about this?

  6. ksm says:

    I also just remembered another thing!

    he told me that he was worried that my daughter might get angry at him about something and accuse him of touching her! he said that one of his friends from work had gone to jail because he had been blamed for touching his girlfriends daughter but that he didn’t do it and that the daughter was just getting him back for something.

    he says that a lot of kids use this and then regret saying it when the guy goes to jail for it. he said that if that happened to him he would loose it and go crazy for being blamed for something he didn’t do!

    what does this mean? i’d hate to think he was grooming me!

  7. behind_blue_eyes says:

    ksm;

    Our gut instinct are often correct about child predators but then denial takes over. For example, one of my uncles always made me feel uncomfortable around him. He would often make comments having sexual innuendo that I thought inappropriate, and he also was homophobic (I am gay).

    One Thanksgiving, we were at his house and we watching a movie later at night and I thought him laying on the floor cuddling his then 10-12 year old grandson odd. Years later, I learned he sexually abused both his daughters.

    In addition, his son has all the traits of being sexually abused as well: low self-esteem masked by tearing down others, substance abuse problems, homophobic, bed-wetter into early adulthood. I have no direct evidence he was sexually abuse by his father, just a strong suspicion. Interestingly, his grandson also has low self-esteem and substance abuse problems but I have no direct evidence he was sexually abuse by his grandfather.

    Still, my gut was correct about my uncle, at least given he sexually abused his two daughters, both of whom have low self-esteem and substance abuse problems.

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