One of my clients was a pre-school boy in the primary care of his biological mother. The biological father and his wife were concerned about odd behavior when they had custody for the summer. I was asked to meet with "Tyler". During one of our sessions (which were always play therapy), I used the term "time out" for a toy. I set the toy aside on a chair and told it that it was in "time out" for five minutes. Tyler's reaction was atypical behavior.
During the next session, he announced he wanted to play "time out". I watched as he enacted yelling and strange behaviors with dolls. Since I was unable to understand what he was trying to show me, during the next session I asked him to show me using sand tray (a form of play therapy) what happened when he was in "time out". He was quite verbal at age 5. He explained that "time out" was when he, his mother, the live-in boyfriend, the boyfriends teenager son, and a toddler half-brother had to be naked and mommy, the boyfriend, and boyfriend's son, touched him and made him do things he didn't like. He demonstrated with dolls the positions he was made to be in and showed me what the adults did to him even imitating their voices as they told him to do certain acts. The father including the teenage son is a demonstration of multi-generational training. Can anyone who is not a child predator possibly understand a father "bonding" with his son while raping a child? That is very difficult for any of us comprehend.
Child abuse had not been suspected. The bio father and stepmother (now the boy's adoptive mother) were concerned about their son being withdrawn and afraid at seemingly innocuous triggers. They confirmed that when they had used the term "time out" with Tyler, he had an extraordinarily terrified response. We realized just how deceptive a tactic that was. When Tyler visited his safe parents, he would tell them his mother or Franklin (mom's boyfriend) had put him in time out. The natural response was "Why? What did you do wrong?" The response served to reinforce messages that Tyler was somehow bad for being in time out and shouldn't tell any more. But he did try to tell. Thank goodness.
I filed a report immediately after the session where "time out" became known and the bio father was able to have emergency custody granted. The judge listened to my testimony and honored the knowledge, much to my great relief. It did not appear Tyler had yet dissociated, although his relaying the details of the abuse told me that had been the objective. (See more on this topic at the dirtiest secret blog.)
As further example of the length pedophiles will go to make the child sound unbelievable, they use names of other members of the child predator community in the victim's presence to match those of people who have died or names of living relatives of the victim. Over the course of many weeks, the 5-year-old Tyler's story surfaced. Numerous times he referred to "Franklin's mother".
Franklin and his son were cited in the touching and sexual acts for which my little client had no vocabulary except for the names of games that any adult would think is innocent. Neutral names were also given to sex organs. "Franklin put a 'hammer' into my butt." Anatomically correct dolls helped to clarify the language for me and correct terms were provided. Franklin's mother was mentioned several times as someone who lived outside of the home although it sounded as if Tyler only saw her when there were many others also touching children.
During the custody hearing, the defense attorney cited some of my documentation where Franklin's mother was mentioned. He asked me if I would be surprised to learn that Franklin's mother had been deceased for a number of years. Knowing that world, I responded vehemently that the child knew SOMEONE as Franklin's mother as a tactic to make the abuse appear unbelievable. The judge granted full custody to the safe parents.
That's one child. I don't know the statistics, but I hate to think of how many children are returned to the traumatic setting of pedophiles 24 hours a day because of not believing the child or a therapist who didn't recognize a sign of abuse, let alone know signs of dissociation if that had been part Tyler's symptoms.
The first time Tyler relayed other children were present and played the same games, he told me their names. When I conveyed the information to the bio father privately, he indicated the names went with his young cousin's names who couldn't possibly have been in the state where the child had been abused. After realizing "Franklin's mother" was a tactic, I was able to ask Tyler if the names he had given me for the other children made to play the games were the same "John and Mary" who were his cousins. He felt safe enough to tell me that they were not and described the differences. This is where knowledge of the perp mindset is critical. The bio father naturally would have questioned the veracity of his son's report of that incident. It made perfect sense following the court hearing.
Perps use whatever personal information they have on the child (or dissociated part of an adult targeted for abuse) to make the victims appear as liars.