Invisible Target

Breaking the Cycle of Educator Sexual Abuse

Non-Fiction - Memoir
320 Pages
Reviewed on 08/12/2018
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Author Biography

Andrea Vaughan earned her master’s degree in clinical social work from Boston University. She has been educating the public about the prevention of child sexual abuse for fifteen years. Andrea is the author of Invisible Target: Breaking the Cycle of Educator Sexual Abuse, and she hosts the podcast, Andrea Speaks Out, which shines a light on healing from and prevention of sexual abuse. Her hope is that with education and prevention, every child will live in a world safe from abuse.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

Invisible Target: Breaking the Cycle of Educator Sexual Abuse by Andrea Clemens is a compelling memoir that brilliantly tells the story of educator sexual abuse, a story that is as emotional as it is enlightening, but one of hope, courage, and a woman’s resolve to protect the lives of innocent children caught in the hands of merciless predators. In this memoir, Andrea describes the abuse she suffered from her middle school teacher. She gives insights into her childhood, takes the reader on the painful journey from the moment she met the teacher to how the teacher groomed her for his insidious and heinous crime, to how she utterly developed trust in the teacher and through to the ultimate ordeal and painful betrayal. It took her a lot of courage after years of abuse and manipulation to break away from her abuser. The entire story is in this book and there is more than the story — there is a whole exposé on how such abuses happen and why most victims never find the courage to speak out.

Andrea Clemens’ book is a wonderful gift to parents, teachers, and children. Apart from telling the story of the author, it explores the psychology of an educator abuser and unveils the symptoms that administrators, students, parents, and society should watch for. Each chapter ends with questions that will help anyone understand if something is wrong with an educator-student relationship. The author offers insights and wisdom that help readers understand why millions of children abused by their teachers remain silent, the part the school system plays, and the levels of trauma the victim goes through. In the introduction she defines her subject: “When I refer to educator sexual abuse, I am referring to the alarmingly inappropriate actions of school employees who abuse their positions of power and manipulate children for their own pleasure and other selfish, misguided reasons.”

Invisible Target: Breaking the Cycle of Educator Sexual Abuse is poignant, flawlessly written, and at times raw. I salute Andrea’s courage and her pioneering work in educating society on the subtle, yet very dangerous and damaging nature of educator abuse. It’s a book that every parent should read and discuss with their children while they are in school.

Suzanne Jones

Invisible Target is a gut wrenching account of the type of abuse that happens every day, all over the world in schools and other systems where adults have power over more vulnerable individuals. Andrea's willingness to share her story cuts to the core of how children are groomed, abused and caught in a trap that feels impossible to escape. Andrea's book helps readers understand the nuance of the grooming process, and why some children are more vulnerable to becoming victims than others. Through her own story we can understand more clearly how and why abuse is hidden in plain sight and perhaps most tragically, the long term impact it has on the victims/survivors of educator abuse. Kudos for Ms. Vaughan for willingly sharing her trauma so that awareness and advocacy can be built around this pervasive issue. In my opinion this book is one of the most important of our time.

Genevieve Black

This is a story of a hero, a woman undone who has endured more pain than any young teenage girl should ever have to suffer.
As a survivor of sexual abuse myself from the age of 3 until 9 years old, i can truly attest to this being one of the most important books a parent, educator or survivor can read.
Andrea takes you through her story courageously, without holding back or sparing herself in any way, she lays bare the mechanics of grooming, the captivation and ultimately her fill emotional capture. It is gut wrenching and shocking, and also beautiful in the the hope that eventually comes, eventually.

This is a book that will open your eyes to a reality we would rather turn away from, it will open your heart wide and it will fill your tool box with an aresenal of tools against this rampant epidemic.

As a parent or educator or, bless you, a survivor, this is not a book to pass by.

Robin A. Greiner

This book should be considered a must-read for any parent, teacher, administrator, or anyone who works with children. Not only is this the courageous story of an abused girl/woman, but it is also an enlightening glimpse into what goes on in the mind of someone being groomed, being abused, struggling to break free from abuse, and even post-abuse. The story-line does not simply begin and end with the abuse, but rather starts with who she was as a young girl, travels through who she thought she was during the abuse, and ends with who she is becoming because of her experiences. Using insightful questions to consider at the end of each chapter, the author takes the time to educate us from her painful experience, challenging different reader groups (students, parents, teachers, administrators, etc) to reflect on different questions. While every case of abuse has its uniqueness, there are some similarities between abusers, and the author helps us understand some of those red flags, so we can be aware and educated to help stop abuse from happening.

Jen Theodore

This book is a must-read for students, parents, educators and district administrators. I came across Clemens’ book while researching educator sexual abuse and immediately purchased a copy. I am a survivor of educator sexual abuse and while it has been 25 years since my abuse began and nearly 20 years since it ended, I am still searching to make sense of all of it, especially now that I have children that are the age I was when it began.

Reading Clemens’ book was so empowering for me. Clemens is very poised, thoughtful and insightful and reading her words … for the first time in my life, I truly felt like someone else on this planet understood what I experienced and the feelings I had at the time and still struggle with, at times, today. I was amazed at how similar our stories were at times, and how different they were as well. I have read extensively on childhood sexual abuse and nothing I have read until this book adequately articulated the fear and shame I experienced. I have the utmost respect for Clemens and as the reader, rejoiced when the book ended and she described her life today – happy and successful and a strong advocate for others. While I was shaped by my abuse, I have never let it define me, and I have chosen, again and again, to rise above it and find peace with myself and the happiness I knew I deserved.

Clemens provides very thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter, directed at parents, students, educators and survivors. They are designed to make the reader explore difficult topics and open a dialogue with others – whether you are a student being “groomed”, a parent who suspects something or an educator/administrator looking to protect other students. Educator sexual abuse is an unfortunate reality and it needs to be talked about – Clemens’ memoir is just the tool to start the conversation. Pick up a copy, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Christopher Johnston

Andrea Clemens book is one of the best of the numerous books I’ve read about preventing sexual assault and child abuse. Her specific focus is on educator abuse; unfortunately, her in-depth expertise arose from firsthand experience, since she was abused by one of her middle school teachers. He spent years grooming Clemens, leveraging her difficult childhood to manipulate and coerce her into a protracted abusive relationship.

The good news is today she is doing very well, and educating the educators and communities as much as possible. We are the beneficiaries of her hard-earned knowledge and wisdom in how to recognize and combat educator abuse. Reading her story helped me better understand this all-too pervasive crime against innocent children who expect their teachers to protect not molest and assault them. Clemens provides an inside look at the twisted, dysfunctional and essentially delusional mind of a teacher who believes initiating a sexual relationship with a minor, a student is acceptable, even though he does everything to keep it secret. Then she closes the book with detailed statistics, lessons, and advice.

Invisible Target equips parents, students, faculty, administrators and the general public with specific behaviors to watch for and measures to counter these incorrigible predators. She also addresses what she’s done to heal herself that stands as an effective model for other survivors to follow. This book is an important contribution to the growing literature about prevention of sexual violence.

Chris Sniezak

Invisible Target is a well thought out book on a very serious subject. The writer's journey into her own painful path is clearly defined and laid out in print. She is a champion for the rights of children! Excellent read!

Amy Erramuospe

This book is A MUST READ for parents and teens. Amazingly written! I’ve read it 4 times already! FIVE STARS!

Kelly Haines

This book is a must read! As a survivor of middle school teacher sexual abuse it felt freeing to read that I was not alone. No matter how many people tell you they are a survivor hearing and reading it is transformational. I could relate with so many aspects of the book. I also recommend to parents, teachers, principals and any one dealing with young children. Knowing the signs of grooming and learning the behaviors of a preditor are clearly seen and shared in this book. The content is heavy, but the reality is right on.

Robert Martin

A brave accounting of a harrowing experience. Very well written and leaves a lasting impression.

Sherry Ellis

Invisible Target is a book that brings to light the problem of sexual abuse by educators on their students. Survivor and author, Andrea Clemens shares her ten-year experience of abuse at the hands of a former teacher.

While a difficult topic, it's one that needs to be addressed. This book equips parents, students, faculty, and administrators with knowledge of behaviors to watch for and what to do if it is suspected that sexual abuse is occurring. It's an important resource to help keep kids safe. Highly recommended.