Sex, Seduction, Power, and Love

My letter in the Washington Post today (regarding “Ex-swim coach gets 7 years in sex case”):

“I loved him.” Those were the three most important words in Rick Curl’s sentencing hearing. Kelley Currin’s sentiment has been echoed by victims everywhere, including Jerry Sandusky’s. “It was awesome. I loved it,” one boy said of his relationship with the football coach. I felt the same way about the coach who abused me. In my 14-year-old mind, we were having a love affair.
Parents must understand: Children can be manipulated and seduced. All of us crave love and affection, especially from charming, successful adults. Statutory rape laws are based on this premise: Young people are not developmentally capable of handling complicated and dangerous emotional situations.

Our message should not be, “If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, tell me.” Unfortunately, they’re not going to tell us. Even in the face of disturbing and damaging sexual contact, they’re going to preserve their “special” relationships with beloved mentors, coaches, teachers and priests.

Instead, we need to give children and teens this message: We know how powerful love can be. Then we need to demonstrate the power of our love by protecting them.

3 Responses to “Sex, Seduction, Power, and Love”

  1. Penny Hastings Says:

    So very true, Mariah. There is too little written about the abusive people in positions of power over children…be they coaches, teachers, parents, clergy. Every child needs to feel special. These preditors pick up on those that are particularly needy and take advantage. How can we recognize, then help these children? Thanks for your voice on this very complicated issue.

  2. Mariah Burton Nelson Says:

    Hi Penny, And thanks for your supportive comment!

  3. Valerie Fries Wade Says:

    Mariah, you hit the nail right on the head. It is usually not the strangers that hurt us so deeply ~ but those that “love” us. As a child I too, feel victim to one that convinced me that I was “special”.. I agree with the message – but unfortunately, as in my case, my parents were not there to protect me. I am not sure who would have been in my life that could have given me that lesson… it does take a village to raise a child, so perhaps we (society) need to get that message out.

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