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#351580 - 01/22/11 03:38 PM Survivor Story on NPR, This American Life
Awake at Last Offline

Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 77
Loc: Chicago Land
I mentioned this in another post, but I think it deserves its own place on MS. This weeks "This American Life" (Ira Glass) has a twenty-three minute radio story by a male survivor. The story has been published in a paper in Denver, but I am sure the radio version will have greater impact. The episode, called "Slow to React" airs this week on public radio stations that carry this (very popular) show. In Chicago it aired yesterday and was repeated today. The MS segment comes after a short introductory segment and is called ACT 1: "When I Grow Up." It deals with abuse, keeping secrets, looking for the perp later.... I don't want to spoil the story. Nothing very graphic, but it triggered me emotionally. After Sunday 7 p.m. you can download a free MP3 file (on their site and after Monday it is available as a podcast on i-tunes and other places. All explained on their website. This is worth a listen.

#351654 - 01/23/11 12:35 PM Re: Survivor Story on NPR, This American Life [Re: Awake at Last]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5781
Loc: Lyons, CO USA
I just heard it. It is powerful, may be triggering to some. There are some inaccuracies on numbers (i.e., the number of victims per pedophile, but in the end, the number is questioned).

All in all, very worthwhile to hear.

Blissfully retired after 35 years treating sexual abuse

#351725 - 01/23/11 10:19 PM Re: Survivor Story on NPR, This American Life [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
pufferfish Offline

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA
It's at this location:

I consider it worthwhile.

(You have to get past the podcast on not knowing you're pregnant)


Edited by pufferfish (01/23/11 10:50 PM)

#351882 - 01/25/11 10:58 AM Re: Survivor Story on NPR, This American Life [Re: pufferfish]
Darkheart Offline

Registered: 08/30/05
Posts: 331
Loc: Illinois
It is sooooo powerful. I heard it the first time on the radio on my way to work...I had to pull over...major triggers for me, but it is so worth it...

My Story...

#351899 - 01/25/11 01:22 PM Re: Survivor Story on NPR, This American Life [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
LandOfShadow Offline

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 684
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
ome inaccuracies on numbers (i.e., the number of victims per pedophile,

I see all kinds of numbers about this. Perhaps I could ask:
What do you think it is?
What do you know for sure? (a range?)
What can you prove? (probably a bigger range?)


Et par le pouvoir d’un mot Je recommence ma vie, Je suis né pour te connaître, Pour te nommer

And by the power of a single word I can begin my life again, I was born to know you, to name you

Paul Eluard

#351915 - 01/25/11 03:30 PM Re: Survivor Story on NPR, This American Life [Re: LandOfShadow]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5781
Loc: Lyons, CO USA
The number of victims is not an average. My statistical understanding is somewhat limited but it has to do with the "mean, median, and mode" (I think).

The number used in the report is very high, well over a hundred victims. I think the number used is the average number of victims in a range. So, if you had one pedophile with 200 victims, many offenders with one, the average number of victims is 100, even though most offenders may have only one or two victims.

Again, my math/stat understanding is limited but in a nutshell, I think the number they used was the average range, not the true number of victims per pedophile.

Remember, in the end of the story, he believed that his perpetrator did not have more victims, which from the number/average quoted, would mean that he is a rare exception rather than perhaps the majority.

In my experience treating abusers, the vast majority have usually one to three. Occasionally, I see someone with multiple victims, but never triple figures, rarely over ten. Some of this is supported by sexual history polygraphs so that may be as accurate as we can get.

Part of the problem is that early research on a CONVICTED population indicated large numbers, as the example above dealing with range. This number is frequently quoted although the researchers don't accept the number anymore.

Blissfully retired after 35 years treating sexual abuse

#351941 - 01/25/11 08:42 PM Re: Survivor Story on NPR, This American Life [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
Ever-fixed Mark Offline

Registered: 01/02/10
Posts: 732
Loc: United States
Ken has the right end of the stick on this. I've been trying to track down this number to find out how the research reached such a high number of victims per pedophile offender.

I found a reference to this number on "The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers" web site:

Offenders who seek out children to victimize by placing themselves in positions of trust, authority, and easy access to youngsters can have hundreds of victims over the course of their lifetimes. One study found that the average number of victims for non-incestuous pedophiles who molest girls is 20; for pedophiles who prefer boys, over 100.

There is no footnote that directly refers to the citation, but does have a list of References that might have included the source study. Most of the references to this statistic that I've been able to find lead back to the ATSA web site.

I also found this citation in "Sex Crimes: Patterns and Behavior", by Stephen T. Holmes, Ronald M. Holmes which says, in part:

Pedophiles arrested for their crimes against children often report that they have molested before (Petrosino & Petrosino, 1999). Al CArlisle, a recently retired prison psychologist, estimates that a pedophile may molest as many as 100 children before he is caught (Carlisle, 2006).

However, I think the ultimate source of this statistical nonsense is a study referenced in the following section from "The APSAC Handbook on Child Maltreatment" by John E. B. Myers (all emphasis mine):

As previously stated, sex offenders are believed by many lawmakers, policy makers, and the public to have high recidivism rates. One often sees this statement: "The average sex offender has over 100 victims." This statistic comes from a 1987 study in which immunity was granted to sex offenders to encourage honest disclosure about their offenses (Abel et al. 1987). The mean (average) number of reported victims for pedophiles who molest boys was 150; the average for pedophiles with girl victims was 20. However, the median (mid-point) number of victims was 4.4 boys and 1.4 girls. The "average" incestuous offender had fewer than two victims. The authors explained that some individuals in the study engaged in a very large number of abusive acts, skewing the mean, and that the median values better approximate the typical behavior of sexual abusers. In other words, the majority of sex offenses are committed by a small number of predatory or pedophilic offenders.

From this I think it's safe to say that, as Myers concludes, this number from Abel et al. is a statistical anomaly resulting from a wildly skewed datapoint in the dataset.

P.s. I don't like nonsense data, and get really annoyed when folks don't cite their sources clearly to allow you to verify what they are saying. smile
P.p.s. I listened to the TAL story and found it very powerful.


Everybody here's got a story to tell
Everybody's been through their own hell
There's nothing too special about getting hurt
Getting over it, that takes the work

- "Duck and Cover" by Glen Phillips

#351974 - 01/26/11 07:37 AM Re: Survivor Story on NPR, This American Life [Re: Ever-fixed Mark]
catfish86 Offline

Registered: 10/27/09
Posts: 832
Loc: Ohio
Well, that is very informative and important to know. There seems to be 2 types of offenders. One is the incestuous that tends to focus on the limited targets within their influence. The other would be the classic priest, youth leader, coach, teacher etc that puts themselves in a position of trust. Fascinating that abusers of boys are able to attain far higher nunbers. Thanks for your research. I learned something.

God grant me
The Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference.

#352049 - 01/26/11 05:17 PM Re: Survivor Story on NPR, This American Life [Re: catfish86]
DanM Offline

Registered: 11/09/07
Posts: 540
Loc: So. California
I want to thank you for mentioning this radio broadcast and to Allen for providing this link. It was very powerful listening to it and it also triggered some very strong emotions within me.

I was also molested by an older boy who was the son of one our neighbors. Instead of keeping the secret for 25 years, I kept mine for 40 years. It is amazing how powerful and crippling shame, guilt and embarassment can be.

Like the writer of the article, I was also afraid to become a father and to bring a child into this world. A few years after I was married, my wife became pregnant and I was terrified of the thought of bringing an innocent defenseless child into this world. As a result of my panicked and irrational reaction, my wife ended up having an abortion. A year doesn't go by that both my and I don't grieve the loss of that child. Not only did my abuser take my childhood/life, he made me take the life of my unborn child.

I don't know if I will ever be able to forgive myself for asking my wife to what she did. It wasn't until almost 30 years later that she learned why I responded like I did. I sometimes wonder how I was able to survive and remain married for 30 years.

I am deeply sorry if I hijacked your posting, but this really raised some deep emotions that have been suppressed for a long time.


#352050 - 01/26/11 05:32 PM Re: Survivor Story on NPR, This American Life [Re: Awake at Last]
WriterKeith Offline

Registered: 12/30/10
Posts: 980
What an interesting telling of his story.

For those who have yet to hear the broadcast, the story is about 1/3 of the way through the program. Here is the link:


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