Sexual Predators, Abuse of Power and Silence

Sexual Predators, Abuse of Power and Silence
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Sexual predators aren’t sick. They aren’t sex addicts, nor do they live only in the highest echelons of Hollywood. The brain of a sexual predator can hold its own in any common scenario. And, above all, they abuse their position of power to subdue their victims, always expecting the complicity of a social system accustomed to looking the other way.

We could say that we’re living in a very interesting moment from a social and psychological point of view. Everyone waited for this necessary moment. After the uproar over the case of film producer Harvey Weinstein, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the expansive wave caused in social media. There’s the name of another famous celebrity in the headlines every single day. Another fallen idol, another terrible story of sexual abuse and detractors who warn that what’s happening simply doesn’t make sense.

“What’s all this for? What are they looking for?”, some of us might wonder. We often hear testimonies of events that place over 10, 15, or 20 years ago. The veil covering these issues has fallen regardless of the time gone by because the wound continues to ache and bleed. Everyone was aware of this reality, but it was structurally silenced and implicitly consented. Now it’s coming into the light.

Nevertheless, we must remember that those voices have always been there, but we just didn’t pay any attention. Like the voice of Elijah Wood, who denounced in his time the existence of recurrent cases of child abuse in the back rooms of Hollywood.

It’s clear that the time has come, as simple as that. Our society has awakened and is ready to listen. Our world is more receptive than ever. We’re all connected. Heroes rise within a few days and idols collapse within seconds through social media. It’s a voracious scenario that mobilizes the masses and creates awareness. It’s also a place where, nowadays, and thanks to the #MeToo hashtag, we’re allowed to visualize situations that, as difficult as they are, could seem extraordinary. Or, in other words, non-daily or ordinary. However, these things happen every day. The victims of these situations: women and girls, for the simple reason of being female.

a woman with fragmented skin crumpled on the ground

The “illness” of sexual predators is their position of power

When a new story related to a Hollywood celebrity goes public, the term “sexual predator” always seems to come up. In this information age, people must define some expressions and words to avoid misunderstandings. In fact, an interesting article was published in “Psychology Today” only a few weeks ago. This article warned of something important: we shouldn’t associate sex offenders with sex addicts.

We put emphasis on this for a very specific reason. Every time an accusation against a famous figure comes up, it doesn’t take long for their lawyer to announce that their client will be admitted to a clinic to receive some kind of treatment. That was the case with Kevin Spacey, for example.

But make no mistake. Sex offenders aren’t always sick. When they commit sexual assaults, intimidate, and coerce others, they know exactly what they’re doing. The truth is that they use their power to violate the personal and sexual rights of other people.

Where does the power corruption begin?

In order to understand the impact of this power, we have to talk about the origin of these scandals. In fact, its origin was for many “the story of a child who reported his father and uncovered a whole system of corruption”. This particular child is Ronan Farrow, the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen.

He was just a teenager when he witnessed how society looked the other way when he reported that his father’s abused  Dylan, his 7-year-old foster sister. Harvey Weinstein was one of the people who managed to clean his father’s image and return him to his former glory.

Mia Farrow and her son.

This situation scarred young Ronan and his sister. The fact that society was capable of transforming the aggressor into the victim and the victim into someone disturbed shocked him. He was impressed by the secrecy that existed in Hollywood regarding sexual assaults and acts of pedophilia committed by men of great power in this industry. An industry accustomed to keeping quiet, to being an accomplice, and to using blackmail, threats, and extortion against anyone who dared raise their voice.

A brother’s perseverance

Since then, Ronan Farrow hasn’t stopped investigating and gathering information about several Hollywood sexual predators. His research progressed slowly until he focused on one person, Harvey Weinstein. He had enough information long before the scandal, information that included evidence and testimonies. However, he always got the same responses from newspapers, producers, and television channels: That’s dangerous information. Just forget about it. Turn the page and look the other way.

Until now. Until our society refused to turn the other cheek and look the other way.

Characteristics of sexual predators

Sexual predators appear in any context in which there are asymmetries of power. We can find them in workplaces, training sports groups, deans or professors in universities, team leaders in hospitals… They are people capable of crossing the line in order to attack, violate, or simply intimidate through words.

Besides that, it’s interesting to delve a bit more into the characteristics of their personalities and behaviors:

  • A desire for control: Most of us know that our freedom ends when we invade the personal space and the physical or emotional integrity of another person. However, sexual predators enjoy crossing this line and subduing others. They feel immense pleasure when they have enough control and power to subdue their victims.
  • Narcissism: Sexual predators consider themselves superior beings, especially compared to their victims. They think that only they have the capacity to make decisions. On the other hand, if they want something, the natural thing for them is for reality to facilitate it, no matter what others may say, think, or desire.
  • An antisocial personality: This feature is clarifying for this profile, even if may be contrary to what we observe from the outside. In this case, being antisocial doesn’t mean avoiding society. On the contrary, sexual predators adapt perfectly to their environment, but they do so with a very specific purpose: to get what they want. They enjoy taking risks and, in turn, don’t empathize with anyone.
  • Sex as a synonym for possession. Sexuality in this type of profile is very primitive. There’s no love and no respect. There’s only a mere desire to possess what is wanted in order to satisfy a sexual drive and reaffirm their position of power.
A woman with NO written on her hand.

Predators in everyday environments

In conclusion, this term isn’t new nor exclusive to the Hollywood world. “Sexual predator” refers to many people who are slowly being exposed. However, they will continue existing and they’ll have a much easier time they have the complicity, in the form of silence, of the environment.

Maybe this is the best moment… say their names. Reveal their faces. Stop looking the other way. We have lived in fear of those who have power for too long. There are thousands of victims who are forced to keep quiet and forget what they went through. Let’s stop this, be sensitive, be logical, and stop sexual predators before they strike.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.