Surviving a Predator
Dr. Phil talks with teens who have been the victims of pedophiles.

"My life should be pretty good right now, but my son is emotionally out of control," says Richard Hatch, the first winner of the television show Survivor. He describes his 14-year-old adopted son, Chris, as "a really, really bright kid." He says, "I would have never believed that Chris would have gotten involved with a pedophile."


Chris was taken from his biological parents and put in foster care when he was 3 years old. "My mother was a prostitute so I saw a lot of guys come and go ... It was definitely abusive and traumatic, but I never really understood it so I didn't know what was going on," he says about some of the men who molested him.


Richard adopted Chris when he was 7 years old. "Chris' start has damaged him in a way that's very, very sad," Richard says, explaining that Chris acted sexually toward him at first. "There are few people who Chris doesn't talk back to. He has a very difficult time with responsibility."


"I speak my mind and I say it how it is," Chris admits. He even started a cheating ring at school where he would do other kids' work and charge them. "I have gotten into a lot of trouble. I don't think before I act."

"I suspected Chris might be harming himself so I made the decision to tape his telephone conversations to protect him from making choices that would be really dangerous," Richard explains. When he listened to the tapes, he was in shock. A 28-year-old called

Chris and spent the entire night talking with him, telling Chris how much he liked him. "I want you all to myself," the man told Chris. "I want to please you."

Chris made plans to meet this man the following day, telling him they were "getting into a whole lot of fun." Richard called the police. The police department found Chris at this guy's house hiding under his bed. The man was arrested. "They asked him why the 14-year-old boy was there and the pedophile said, 'Because I'm attracted to him.' To this day, Chris still doesn't think he was in danger," Richard explains.


Richard worries because Chris still seems interested in this man. "He thinks that these two were meant to be together, he writes about how much he loves him and misses him. He took a knife and carved this guys initials into his arm," Richard says.


Richard worries what Chris will do next and how to prevent him from getting in more trouble. "I feel no responsibility for these incidents, nor do I feel these incidents could have been prevented," Richard points out. "It's outside my area of my expertise. It's why I called Dr. Phil."

"What is your greatest fear for him now?" Dr. Phil asks Richard.


"He wants to get back with this guy. After two phone conversations, he wants to be with this guy. He would live with him if he could. He thinks he's in love with him," Richard

explains. "My greatest fear is that I've underestimated his emotional damage and that he could be dead soon."


"You are dead on to be concerned about this. You're not being over-reactive," Dr. Phil reassures him. "This is an incredible risk."


Richard explains that Chris was on his paper route when a 64-year-old man called him over. That man then gave the 28-year-old pedophile Chris' phone number. "That guy called that night. They talked until five in the morning." They talked the next day at length and then met in person.

Dr. Phil points out that Richard inherited Chris and his problems. "Children learn what they live, and what he's learned is that the only male attention that he had been able to get before coming

into your life, was inappropriate male attention " the molestation and that sort of thing ... He's learned to be devalued to the point that that's what he thinks he's worth," Dr. Phil explains. "So here he goes to this pedophile ... he's telling him what he wants to hear, giving him that attention, treating him like he's something really special, and that of course is music to his ears." Dr. Phil explains that Richard needs to bond with Chris and help him understand his self-worth.


Acknowledging that Richard stepped up at a time when Chris had no family or home, and that Chris feels loved and valued by him, Dr. Phil cautions Richard. "He says that you have a temper and that he frustrates you and pushes your buttons and that you'll call him 'stupid' or 'idiot.' You have to understand, dad, those things have a huge gravity on this young man. Number one, because you're his father and naturally you look up to your father, and because we know he's been invalidated," he says. "While that may be something that's just a flash of anger for you, it burns his psychological skin in a way that can last for a really long time."

Dr. Phil introduces Chris and asks him about the pedophile.


"Do you feel like you were in danger when that took place?" Dr. Phil asks.


"No," Chris says.


"Why not?" Dr. Phil pries.


"Because I felt comfortable," Chris says. "If I felt like I was in danger, then I don't think I would have felt comfortable. So I went with my instincts."


"What do you think about the fact that your dad disagrees and thinks that you were absolutely in danger, and has been monitoring your phone calls, spying on you, checking up on you, tracking you?" Dr. Phil asks.


"I am definitely upset that that happened, but I can't stop him," Chris replies. "I think it's rude. I don't like it, and just to know that somebody's taping your phone conversations when you're talking to your friends about stuff that you don't talk to your parents about."


"I absolutely 100 percent understand and agree with your sense of violation about that. I think that that is a wrong thing to do. I think it's a terrible thing to do," Dr. Phil says to Chris. He turns to Richard: "I think you shouldn't have done that, and God bless you for having done it."

"Your dad's job is not to be your friend, not to be your buddy, not to even be likeable. Your dad's job is to get you through childhood and adolescence to adulthood safe, secure and prepared

to have the best chance for succeeding in this world," Dr. Phil tells Chris.


Dr. Phil points out that oftentimes parents must appeal to a child's greed. "There's an interesting element of kids; they want what they want when they want it, and they want it right now. So I think you turn that to your advantage here," Dr. Phil says to Richard.


He turns to Chris, "I want you to understand that you can earn more freedom, more latitude, more of everything in life than you could ever cheat, steal, manipulate and get inappropriately," he says. "Be smart and recognize your dad wants to trust you. Your dad wants to be able to know that you're going to do what you say you're going to do when you say you're going to do it the way you say you're going to do it. I truly believe we could have found you dead when you got involved with this predator that took advantage of you." He asks Chris: "Are you willing to say, 'I have nothing to hide, so I will just live transparently. I will do what I tell you I'm going to do. I will not lie.'?"


"I would try it," Chris says and looks to his dad. "Would you try it?"


"Oh yeah. Have we not been trying it? I'm behind it 100 percent," Richard says.

"I don't think he would be," Chris retorts. "You lie as much as I do."


Dr. Phil addresses Chris. "With freedom comes responsibility ... And you've got to understand that if you violate that, the price is high. To get that trust is a big responsibility."


Dr. Phil turns to Richard. "There is something that I absolutely


disagree with you about, 100 percent," he says, noting that Richard has said that he has no accountability for what Chris is doing. "This is a family system, and nobody lives in isolation. You guys need therapy as a family ... Richard, you've got to get involved here so you can learn what role you have to play and what things you can do so this young man feels respected by you, instead of intruded on by you, and respects himself enough to say, 'I'm going to hold a high standard.'"


Dr. Phil reassures Chris. "I want you to be safe and secure, and I want you to accept and respect yourself for the brilliant and valuable young man that you are," he says. "Your dad is in your life because he wanted to be. He's here today reaching out for you."