Dawn and Nadya were 9-year-old neighbors who enjoyed playing in the woods behind their homes. Another neighbor, Mr. Gomes, was a man who lived alone and whose property was surrounded by a very high fence with a gate opening out into the woods. The girls often wondered what was behind his fence and made up fanciful stories about what they might find. One day, the gate to the property was standing open and the girls timidly peeked in. They were surprised to see a play set including swings and a slide. The neighbor appeared at that moment. “Want to come in and try the swings?” he offered.“We better not,” Dawn told him, remembering that she had been cautioned not to talk to people they did not know. She took Nadya’s arm and the girls ran off giggling. For the next few weeks, the gate was frequently open and Mr. Gomes would frequently be pulling weeds or sitting in a chair just inside the gate. He chatted with them in a friendly manner but never invited them in again. One day, Dawn was ill and Nadya was playing alone in the woods. Mr. Gomes was by the gate of his fence and called to her. Once more he invited her in to play on the swings. Feeling by now that she knew him, Nadya agreed and enjoyed using the swings and the slide as Mr. Gomes joked with her and even took a turn swinging himself. She felt like she had a new playmate. As she was leaving, Mr. Gomes said, “Maybe you shouldn’t tell anyone you were here, especially not your friend. She might be jealous. Why don’t we keep it our secret? And when you are able to get out alone again, you can come back and see me.”Nadya was excited to have such a secret and was careful not to tell Dawn. Nor did she feel she could tell her parents. She began making excuses not to play with Dawn and then would take the opportunity to go out alone. Mr. Gomes was usually there and invited her in again, closing the gate after her. He began offering to push her on the swings so that she could go higher. He often gave her lemonade or cookies or small gifts of gum or candy, all the time insisting that it be their secret. When Mr. Gomes began touching her buttocks and chest as he pushed her or slowed her down on the swings, Nadya felt funny about it but said nothing. He was so nice and she did not want to wreck their times together. Then he put his hands in her pants and she might have objected but what he was doing felt kind of nice. She did not know when she began to feel ashamed of their activities. Perhaps it was when Mr. Gomes told her that she really could not tell anyone now as they would think she was a “nasty girl.” She did not know exactly what this meant but got his message.Soon after this, Mr. Gomes started taking pictures of Nadya and showed her pictures in magazines of young girls and boys in various stages of undress. He suggested that he take pictures like that of Nadya and maybe they could go into a magazine. When the girl first refused, Mr. Gomes told her that he was surprised that she would not help him get his pictures published after all he had done for her. Reluctantly, Nadya began to do as he asked.Dawn complained that she never wanted to play anymore, but eventually began playing with another neighbor who lived down the street. Dawn happened to see Nadya going into Mr. Gomes’s gate one day and jealously reported it to her parents. Dawn’s mother told Nadya’s parents, who confronted their daughter. Tearfully Nadya told them what was going on with Mr. Gomes. It was later revealed that the abusive neighbor had a record of molesting young girls in another state.
- Can you identify the progression that took place in this scenario?
- What factors may have contributed to Nadya’s abuse?
- Why was she chosen rather than Dawn?
- How did this perpetrator engage this child?
- What emotions might Nadya have after the disclosure?