The mind of a sociopath is clever and persistent, and derives pleasure from seeing others in pain. With no remorse for having inflicted pain, he or she continues the rampage with precision and cunning.
This pathology is often experienced by survivors of physical or sexual abuse, who hold the secrets of abuse within their souls. The reaction of silence to protect the abuser for fear of retribution is part of the abuser’s power play.
Sociopaths teach their victims to be afraid, while their disruptive and traumatizing behavior serves to silence them and seducing them into believing that they are nothing without their abuser.
More than 150 gymnasts testified against Michigan State University physician Larry Nassar. And more have shared their horror stories of physical abuse by gymnastic Olympic trainer John Geddert.
Both men worked at the same gym. They seemed to work in tandem as predators, protecting the dirty secrets of physical, sexual, and verbal abuse of not only the gymnasts, but of the parents as well.
In a March 2018 article by Majlie De Puy Kamp, parent Lisa Huchins was quoted as saying. “It’s a tough sport. It takes tough parents and tough kids. The culture is toxic. To be the best, we believed kids need to be coached with a certain degree of threatening. John was really good at pitting parents against each other to keep it that way. He wanted to control what the parents and kids said or did. And if any of you stood up to him, your kids paid.”
With constant humiliation, insults, and inappropriate touching, it’s clear the abuse was rampant. Yet the cries of the children who dreamed of being gymnasts — whose families carved out lives devoted to the dream of good schools, Olympic Medals, and fame and fortune —were silenced.
Somehow the desire not to see or know what could be happening is the greatest grief of all.
Many of the parents were made to think that what they saw, heard, and experienced was not true, and if they wanted their child to be the best they would need to join the group.
Some parents may have made the dream of gymnast daughters their own dream — a dream that was worth turning a blind eye to the abuse.
In their defense, they were up against skillful sociopaths who knew how to play on their desire, and keep the parents exactly where the sociopaths wanted them.
The grief these families face in the aftermath of the horrific exploitation and manipulations of these two sociopaths is a painful journey, and a story that needs to be heard. The voices shout out and in the sharing the release of grief begins.
Edy Nathan’s new book is called It’s Grief: The Dance of Self-Discovery Through Trauma and Loss.
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