I didn’t watch Leaving Neverland but listening to the men being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, I can tell you this for sure, the men are 100% accurate in stating that they were not able to identify that what was going on with them as a child was actually abuse. People ask why these guys or for that matter any accuser would continue to defend someone that was harming them. Be very clear, a child does not know that what they are feeling or dealing with is defined as abuse unless someone has actually educated them on what that looks like. It’s like getting a stomach ache and throwing up and not being able to hold any food down. All you know is that you don’t feel good, but you don’t know that it’s the flu or food poisoning unless someone has educated you in what that looks like. Why would they continue for so long to defend this man that they now say abused them? They had a certain love and affection for this man that they had no idea was inappropriate. Adult predators understand the art of emotional manipulation. They understand that once loyalty is formed in a child, you can continue to foster and grow it no matter what those circumstances are. A predator knows their prey so well that they can manipulate every ounce of love and affection felt for them. It is truly unfair to expect a child to know that what is going on with them is considered abuse unless someone has actively educated and taught them what that looks and feels like.
My grandmother was married to a man that we will call LW. He was a master manipulator. This man used the love that I had for my grandmother to get information from me that would eventually lead to the murder that I witnessed at age 4 ½. This man knew that my mother and my uncle had a substance abuse problem and would use his money and resources to garner their loyalty. LW knew that I had a desire to have a father in my life because mine was absent. He also knew that I knew about his involvement in the murder that took place in 1980. Over the years LW would use his resources and money to garner my loyalty. My grandmother and this man would eventually divorce but again he was a master manipulator and use money and resources to get my aunt to betray her own mother.
As we get older, we get wiser. That is just a fact. No one is born knowing what abuse and predatory behavior are but, as you get older, he can start to tune in to some of the social issues in our world. You start to understand some of the most broken systems that we have in our society. Child abuse, family violence, and predatory behavior have always been something that I have found very intriguing and because I was sexually assaulted by my uncle, continue to find interest in the legal and civil progress in dealing with those that take advantage of children. During my college years as a residential advisor, we did a lot of training on sexual abuse, domestic violence, and being able to look out for it in our dorms that we supervise. Doing more research on my own because I’m such a curious soul, and really starting to look deeper into predatory behavior in all forms, I learned how people find weaknesses in an unsuspecting person and exploit it. The more reading I did the more I began to recognize that LW is a master manipulator of women and children. I started to think that must be why he had no children of his own. He knew how to find someone’s weakness and use his personal finances and resources to garner loyalty and silence about his behavior and participation in some pretty devious activities.
In my early adulthood, I finally cut this man off completely. I recognized that he would use my uncle and my mother’s weakness for drugs and their need for money to continue to manipulate them so that he could stay in their life and in close proximity to others that he wanted to be close to. I spent more time speaking to my grandmother about the sort of mental and emotional abuse that she suffered during her time being married to this man. I remember so many times being afraid of how a situation was going to end when I was a kid. I spent a large portion of my childhood living with my grandmother and her husband. I would call the police and hide under the bed until they came to handle the situation. I recognized that his infatuation with my grandmother’s brothers was so deep that he would do anything to stay in their good graces. Even though we never spoke about it after that initial conversation, the day after the murder, this man knew that I had a crystal clear memory about the part that he played in the murder. But I was a child, who would listen to me? However, he continued to spend his money on the things that I needed, not because he cared but because my silence mattered.
It’s so ironic when you look at a situation once you have removed yourself, how clear it can be. While I was away from my family during my college years, I would hear about what was going on and every so often come home for visits and see with my own eyes that my perception of things when I was a child is so much different than the reality of the situation as an adult. What seemed like someone just being nice to a kid, you can see as an adult that it’s a textbook form of emotional manipulation and predatory behavior. So, when people say that a kid is lying, when they say that an adult is lying about something that happened when they were a child, we may want to refrain from judging and jumping to a conclusion. Reflect on your own childhood experiences to see if you still feel the same about every person as an adult as you did when you were a child. Instead of judging, maybe we should do more self-reflection and even venture out into unpacking some of the things that took place when you were a child that as an adult you know are wrong or at least questionable. Instead of judging, try to understand. Kids are pretty basic. When you’re nice to them and you give them attention and buy them things, they love you. They want you around. They want to be around you. Predators know that. So, they do all of the things that a child wants to get their loyalty. They then proceed to satisfy their own physical or emotional needs. One thing I will say about this entire Michael Jackson & R-Kelly saga is that I have not seen one time where parents have been held accountable for enabling any of this to happen to their kids. it is unacceptable and it is time for change. It is time for parents be held accountable for the things that are happening to their kids. The people that are required to protect their children are knowingly having them participate in dangerous and toxic situations. In every situation of predatory behavior that has been exposed, parents have removed themselves and downplayed their responsibilities and tried to place blame on other people. That is no longer acceptable and it’s time for legslation and constant public outrage on this issue.