State of Mind Blog

Updates on Murray’s Writing

Who Let the Bogeyman into Neverland?

murray schane state of mindThe bogeyman was Michael Jackson!

The truth is surely now out. A very practiced pedophile MJ employed all the documented wiles of a pedophile using his enormous public image and adoration as a child-like angel of innocence and beneficence.

But he knew how to groom his little boy victims and their families as well. He may have believed he loved these little boys but he surely induced them to trust, honor and deeply love him. He was persuasive but never forceful. His love came with the careful sexual seduction of the committed pedophile.

All over his child-fantasy Neverland were hidden, guarded sites for secret sexual trysts, boy and man.

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There is little doubt that Michael Jackson felt love for his boys and that he allowed himself to join with them as a near equal in their childhood.

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All this is revealed in the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, where two of his boy victims, now men in their thirties, speak the truth. And their anguished families join in. Their stories are almost unbearably convincing.

In her post-screening interview of the two men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, Oprah Winfrey probes the dynamics of pedophilic modus operandi: beginning with the selection of a target—an attractive and apparently somewhat vulnerable child — the pedophile begins what is known as a grooming process.

The social misconception of the nature of pedophiles largely clouds the victim and his family’s awareness. This is a person known to the family, or someone who insinuates himself into the fond regard of the family. But his eye is on the child, whom we makes known to the family as someone special, a child needing his attention: for extra educational tutoring, for sponsoring the child’s ambition, for guiding his spiritual development.

Then, allowed to be alone with the child—having earned the complete trust of the family— he offers the child inntense,  special attention, with special access to exciting events or activities or grown-up privileges. Like Jackson he plies the child with love and forms a deep and eternal-seeming, always secret bond. And he introduces sexual acts as the expression of that bond, as the culmination of their love. But he also warns the child of the need for absolute secrecy and loyalty because the world would condemn them and punish them and break them apart.

There is little doubt that Michael Jackson felt love for his boys and that he allowed himself to join with them as a near equal in their childhood. But it was ultimately a sexual passion for the boy that would eventually leave when the next boy, younger and innocent anew, would come his way. The next seduction was an unavoidable temptation. And boys were always around in droves. Jackson had only to make his selection and fall in love — his truncated, deceptive love — again and again.

Oprah makes clear that the danger is when someone shows more interested in your child than you do. And that someone is always a person you trust and like.

There are now many organizations addressing this issue. I am president of the board of directors of MaleSurvivor.org. Since 1995, MaleSurvivor has been a leader in the fight to improve the resources and support available to male survivors of all forms of sexual abuse in all various contexts: home, schools, religious institutions, military units, prisons, human trafficking programs — everywhere in the US and around the globe.

We are a community built upon a unique foundation of respect and mutual partnership between survivors themselves and the professionals who work with them. MaleSurvivor provides a life-sustaining, internet-based discussion forum and chat room for survivors to connect and support each other. There are over 14,000 users.
We also provide vital resources to help survivors link to therapists, support groups, and other healing resources. The Hope, Healing and Support Team provides a free, confidential email resource to the public.

Malesurvivor – in collaboration with MenHealing — is also organizing a colloquium to bring together dispersed but unconnected programs and services across North America that service male survivors. The plan is to create a collaborative, functional network uniting these services under a branded system.

Many of us attended and participated in the conversation hosted by Oprah after the screening of Leaving Neverland on HBO.

Watch it!

4 comments on Who Let the Bogeyman into Neverland?

  1. David m Fromm,Ph.D.,LP says:

    The work you are doing for this group is brave and to be admired.

    1. Murray Schane says:

      Thanks!

  2. Lee Friedman says:

    Thank you for sharing this excellent written piece. It describes the grooming process with blunt, concise honesty. When I was growing up, child molesters lurked in shadows. They were strangers. They snatched children. They did not express love – only hurt and abuse. Victims were not confused or felt affection for them – they wanted to escape. Or they ended up on milk cartons. And while all wary eyes were averted to watch for such evil, into that void steps the groomer who hides in plain sight, perhaps even a trusted member of the inner circle of family and friends.

    This is not a story about Michael Jackson. It is about two child victims of sexual trespass. And it is a story about the universal nature of grooming that transcends class, wealth or status. It is difficult to watch for those of us who recognize how – in so many ways – that was our story as well when we were kids. Because Neverland doesn’t have to be the superstar with a magic kingdom of candy and flowers and carnival rides. It can be the older friend who plays big brother and buys you ice cream. Or who grooms your mom to trust him to babysit you. Or take you out hiking. Or camping. Many of us have emerged from our own Neverlands. And maybe it doesn’t fully hit us until we are left so suddenly breathless to hear our own truths come out of the mouths of Jimmy and Wade.

    1. Murray Schane says:

      so well said. Thanks!

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