Ann Rule recently said “…impressive….right on target…” about my book Eyes of a Pedophile: Detecting Child Predators. I was thrilled to have such praise from the prolific author who started the genre. If you have an opportunity to hear her speak, don’t pass it up. She is filled with knowledge of crimes, criminal behavior and police procedurals. Ann Rule has been there and has seen it all. Most of us write from a greater distance; her stories are close and personal. I have read most of her books and found if I didn’t take a break from the genre, the stories of pain, deceit and murder darkened my days. Within those stories, we view the side of life most of us try to avoid.
For me, her horrific stories of crime and mayhem ring true. Many people I met over years while working in emergency rooms as a physician had similar stories. I met victims of violence, some survived; some didn’t. I met killers and the skilled law enforcement officers handling difficult situations. The night swallows many people, destroys families and changes lives. Some leave home, never to be seen again.
After growing up in a safe small town, I was naïve and complacent. But with repeated exposure to the criminal element through my work as a nurse and later as a physician in large city ERs, I learned my trusting actions were foolhardy. Over years of being stalked and threatened by violent drunks and drug-seekers that didn’t get their drugs, I became more cautious. Threatening phone calls and stalking led me to marksmanship classes, carrying a weapon or pepper spray, and most recently to Krav Maga self-defense classes.
Attackers search for vulnerable victims. Walking alone anywhere, especially in dimly lit areas while looking at a map, or searching for a car or your keys is very risky. These are the behaviors thieves and rapists watch for —someone unaware of their surroundings and defenseless. A great book teaching personal safety behaviors, providing scenarios and protective actions is The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. I purchased many copies and have given them to relatives and friends. I highly recommend the book for all women; men would benefit, too.
Sexual predators do everything they can to avoid apprehension, but when fantasies ignite and accelerate their desires, they act. They prowl for the right victim, the right appearance and in a location where they may not be caught or seen. By examining abductions of adults we often see them in risky positions and vulnerable to attack. These are the same circumstances with abducted children. They are often walking or bicycling alone, unaccompanied by an adult.
But child predators are not usually scary strangers, they are people we know. People we invite into our homes. No one fully understands the mental illness which drives men to seek children for sexual gratification, but as sexual fantasies swirl in their minds their thoughts are camouflaged by acceptable behaviors. These men are public figures and often those in authority, such as teachers, preachers and cops. The focus of my true crime book about Nathanael Bar-Jonah’s life of harming children is to teach readers common child predator characteristics and help keep kids safer.