Experts reveal the lies sexual predators tell – and how they spot them

Since the #MeToo movement erupted in 2017, a global conversation has spilt across the media and social media about how sexual predators treat their victims – manipulating them, coercing them, and silencing them. But as public figures were convicted of sexual offences over recent years, from Jimmy Savile to Rolf Harris to Harvey Weinstein, there’s been something missing from the discussions: how abusers deny to everyone else what they’ve done, and how they behave under questioning.

When the authorities, the media, or members of the public confront someone they believe to be a predator, what techniques do the accused deploy? What are their defences, their manipulation tactics – and how do you spot them?

Dr Yvonne Shell is a forensic and clinical psychologist with 40 years’ experience working with sex offenders, and the author of a new book Revealing Rape’s Many Voices. Stephen Morris, also a forensic psychologist, has worked in the prison and probation system since the 80s, treating some of the most dangerous predators and child abusers in Britain.

“It goes in phases,” said Morris. But the first and most blunt form is “out-and-out denial. Even to the point of saying, ‘I was not in the room. I was not there.” It can also appear as a blanket denial related to their character, such as, “I don’t do things like that” or, “I’m a good person and would never harm anyone,” or, “I haven’t got a bad bone in my body”.

Crucially, said Morris, “They believe their denial – or appear to believe it.

“They may be denying because they’re full of shame. Sides of them might be owning what they’ve done but to say it out loud might be the most shaming, awful thing that they almost can’t bear it, so they don’t say it.”

The primary go-to emotion, particularly for men, will be anger. They respond by being really angry with whoever’s called them out on it.”

But while shame is present for most sex offenders, a minority do not experience it, said Shell and Morris. These can be the hardest to treat because they tend to fall under the banner of psychopathy or sadism, with a total lack of empathy for their victims, or actually enjoying harming people and witnessing their distress.

Source: Experts reveal the lies sexual predators tell – and how they spot them

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