sexual abuse

#MeToo: Sexual harassment/abuse/assault stories

Once again, a year after the last such Twitter trend (that time about handsy Trump), it’s time to Tweet about sexual harassment/abuse/assault again.  I’m reposting what I posted last year, now adding it to the #MeToo trend:

See juslikagrzly’s It has happened to me.  It has happened to you.  She writes about the pervasive problem of sexual harassment, by simply posting the stories of many women reacting to Trump’s banter on sexual assault.  She says,

It’s happened to me many, many times.  It’s happened to you many, many times — and Donald Trump’s vile and disgusting admission of sexual assault has brought the memories roaring back into my awareness.  It feels like being dragged down into a vortex of the shame, embarrassment, disgust, fear, and utter helplessness women experience when men have treated us like sexual meat.

One of the anonymous stories:

Watching the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings and wondering why she continued to work for him, all the while KNOWING EXACTLY WHY SHE CONTINUED TO WORK WITH HIM.  Feeling ashamed and embarrassed for her, myself, and all women who grit their teeth and put up with vile, disgusting behavior.

The stories have a common refrain: “I never told anyone.”  I didn’t talk about it, either.  I didn’t tell teachers.  I didn’t tell cafeteria monitors, even though friends told me to.  I didn’t tell my parents.  I didn’t change seats.  I just stayed silent, letting it eat away at my stomach until I had to get Pepcid for the stomach ulcer and medicine for the headaches and a splint for the TMJ.

I thought maybe it was the NVLD or selective mutism or shyness keeping me silent, but here I find plenty of other teenage girls who also said nothing, just put up with it.

Then, many years later, it happened again, online this time.  After many years of silence, I told my best friend, a man, what had happened back in high school–but now he turned around and told me the online stuff “wasn’t real” and I should “get over it.”

People say things are better for women and there is no rape culture.  But here’s Trump and Giuliani saying this is just “locker room talk” that men do all the time.  Trump’s apology was fake, as anyone who’s known a narcissist can tell you.  First he says he’s sorry, but then he turns right around and minimizes what he did, then deflects attention onto somebody else’s shortcomings.

Well, here are my stories, and I’m not silent about it anymore:

Elementary School

As a little girl, I loved wearing dresses.  I preferred them to pants.

Then one day in Kindergarten, as I walked to school, a couple of little boys cornered me and started lifting up my skirt.  I finally got away from them, but the damage was done: I never told my mom why I suddenly hated dresses and insisted on wearing pants all the time (except to church).

High School Sexual Harassment 

My freshman year in high school, I was sexually harassed by three guys, two of them together.

One of them kept making sexual comments to me at lunch, and once even put his penis on the table next to me.  I refused to look, but know he did it, because of the reactions of the guys around him.

I couldn’t stand the school’s chicken sandwiches after that because that’s what I was eating at the time, and it reminded me of it.

Now I know that I could’ve switched tables to get away from them, but at the time I felt trapped into sitting at that one table because that’s where I sat at the beginning of the year.  I didn’t realize that I could sit at a different table with other kids.

I’m not sure why I felt that I had to sit at that table, but it could have been an NVLD thing: “You can’t change the pattern you’ve already set!”

After lunch we would all stand by the door and wait for the bell; I can remember this guy doing or saying something while we stood in line, so much that I crouched down as if to protect myself.  But I just don’t remember what exactly he was doing.

The two other guys, who sat at the table behind mine in Biology class second semester, would spend the class period making sexual comments to me.  Once, one spoke so loudly to me during the lecture that the teacher stopped and scolded them.

I don’t know why I didn’t tell the teachers what was happening; a friend told me to do so about the lunch period bully, but something kept me quiet.  In fact, in general I was a passive recipient of bullying.  I just didn’t fight back.

Then there was the guy who called me up one day.  We were having a nice little conversation until he said he was playing with his d***.  I said something I now forget and hung up.  I never did find out who it was.  It sounded like he knew one of my classmates.

Then, of course, there were the catcalls, starting in middle school when my curves began to form, going on for years, sometimes at recess, sometimes while walking home from school.  Even a girl in my neighborhood made a sexual comment to me one day on my way home from school!

Religious and Sexual Harassment by a Teacher 

Meanwhile, my Photography teacher made at least one such comment as well.  (I don’t know why all this happened the same year.)

All first semester he’d been harassing me for being a Christian and having conservative values, even though I don’t recall saying a whole lot about them in class or much of anything, really, unless spoken to.

Other kids in Photography class joined in on the religious harassment, including a witch who told me her coven killed my cat (all I said was he went missing on Halloween and never came back), and one day started yelling at me that maybe God is the liar and the Devil is telling the truth–until a Jewish girl told her to quit it and leave me alone.

Then one day, during a work period, the teacher was sitting on a stool at a large table when I had to get around an obstruction of some type.  I don’t remember the details now, what the obstruction was, or anything.  But I didn’t want to go behind him to get around, because there wasn’t enough room and I’d run into his butt.

Rather than leave me alone like any decent man would do, he ridiculed me and told me to go behind him.

I don’t know why on earth I did this like an idiot–probably because I had grown up with the mindset that you do whatever a teacher tells you–but I started going the other way to go behind him, like an obedient student.

He started humming or moaning, and a girl said to me with wide eyes, “Better not do that.”

The following semester, I ditched that class and switched to a class on life skills.  He was a major reason why, both from this and from his religious harassment.

That year or the next, a letter to the editor of the school newspaper complained about an unnamed teacher who would sexually harass students.  I always wondered if the girl who “rescued” me was the writer and if she meant my Photography teacher.  (I must have forgotten her name already.)

All these things happened freshman year, and that year I began to get an ulcer from the stress.  After every lunch period, my stomach was in a lot of pain.

My junior year, I developed headaches from TMJ in my jaw, another stress-related condition, even though the freshman year bullies had either graduated or were no longer in my classes.

College Sexual Abuse

For my stories on this, see my college memoirs here, and look for Shawn and Phil.  Shawn is…complicated, a guy who kept pushing my boundaries and then saying he wasn’t attracted to me, and blaming me for everything he did.  Phil used various forms of manipulation and even tried to force me into anal and oral sex.

Online Sexual Harassment 

In late May or early June of 2009, while I was in an IRC chatroom with my best friend Richard, two of the admins started sexually harassing and bullying me.  Several of the other members–including a woman!–egged them on.

I did nothing to bring this on, had said nothing for some time, and probably wasn’t even watching the screen at first, while doing other things online.  I sat there in silent disbelief when they started doing this.

Then the Creep, one of the admins, because my handle was a hobbit, began making cracks like, was I hairy all over.  His comments turned to my private parts.

I just sat there in disbelief, not responding at all, when he started going on and on about how awful it is for women to not shave that area, and how his girlfriend shaves.

And then one of the other Creeps, also an admin, started insisting I post pics of that area.  I said nothing to these guys to bring this on; I don’t think I said a word through much of this.

I thought Richard would stick up for me, but he said nothing, at least not publicly so I could see it.

Richard quickly went onto a channel I myself had made recently for personal friends, so I could get away from these people and still talk with him.

While this stuff was going on, his wife Tracy came in the main chatroom.  I expected that she had seen everything and was going to give these creeps a piece of her mind, complete with her usual cussing.

But instead, when one of the admins told her I was being a b**ch for refusing to show him a picture of my private parts, she just said, “You know how hobbits are,” and started joking around and chatting with them about having a get-together at her house.

I finally told the main harasser to bite me.  The other admin said that was a stupid thing to say.  Richard even typed that he was “biting” me, basically participating now.

Then they kicked me off the channel, and banned me for several days.  I kept checking to see if I could get in, but just for information’s sake: I intended to have nothing more to do with that channel and those jerks.

These filthy creeps were actually friends of Richard and Tracy!  Nearly a year later, I learned that Richard told them they were being jerks.  But he never made them apologize or anything.  And they knew I was his real-life close friend, but did this anyway.

I was shaken and upset for days, trying to watch movies on TV, but this was constantly on my mind.  It was disturbing, made me feel gross. 

For probably at least a year, even making love to my husband would bring it back to mind, because of how gross it made me feel. 

This was no joking around–This was sexual harassment!  And Richard and Tracy did absolutely NOTHING to stick up for me!

As I wrote in an e-mail to Richard on June 5, 2009,

I’ve been feeling this massive boredom and sadness the past few days because of so many things happening at once….

This strange feeling of not knowing if I want to be around people or just hide away even from my best friends, waiting and waiting to hear that something has changed or been resolved….

I try to be happy and it almost feels like I’m manufacturing it, it’s not really felt.

I try to ignore the [IRC] thing, try to act like it’s not a big deal, but it just isn’t working.

I have to be honest with myself.  I have to put my finger on the problem: Why should I be upset about being banned from a place with people I don’t even like?

If that’s all it is, then I’d feel like an idiot.  So it can’t just be that.  Is it pride because I’m not the sort of person who gets banned from *anywhere*?  It’s part of it, maybe, but not all.

Is it the crying out for justice?  Maybe that’s it.  I want somebody to get chewed out.  I want apologies.  I feel humiliated.

That’s part of it: The humiliation.  I’ve been in flame wars before; I recall once sticking up for my friends and getting ridiculed for it, until finally the sysop put a stop to the whole thing.  I learned how not to feed the trolls.

But in this case I wasn’t even feeding the trolls.  I was just bored and playing a little here and there to pass the time, not being mean or nasty to anybody.

The humiliation comes from, mostly, being verbally abused for no reason and the others standing by and letting it happen–heck, some even joining in, saying don’t let the door hit me in the a** etc. etc., even a *girl* playing along like it was funny.

I remember it was [The Creep], [a few others], and possibly one other though I don’t remember now.  You say you were chatting with [The Creep]; I want to hear that you told him to knock it off and that he’s being an a****** to a dear friend of yours and that he’d better be apologizing to me ASAP because his “joke” is not at all funny.

I wrote about the guys in high school.

When Tracy came in I thought she’d seen everything and was going to chew out [The Creep], especially after he said I’m being b*****y for not posting obscene pictures of myself, but instead she just says “that’s how hobbits are” and starts joking with him and arranging some get-together….

I don’t want these people anywhere near me if that’s how they treat women.  All I ever did was be nice; I thought being your friend would mean good treatment; in return I got sexually harassed and verbally abused and banned. As far as I’m concerned, these are not good people.  Even as a joke–That just isn’t funny.

I feel sick inside.  I know you were disgusted by the whole thing as well; I’m not blaming you for anything.  I just can’t keep bottling it up.

I thought he would distance himself from them, stop hanging out with them, because they were so horrible, because they would treat a woman like that, because they were sexual harassers.

But no, he still kept going into that channel, still kept talking to the worst offender on the phone.  He occasionally brought them up in conversation.  I couldn’t understand how he could do this.

But he only mentioned them once or twice over the next year, so I said nothing–until I heard he was going to have them all over to his house in 2010.

In March of 2010, when my husband came home from D&Ding with Richard and Tracy one Friday night, he told me we wouldn’t be able to D&D with them the following weekend: They were planning to have those jerks from the IRC channel come visit them.

Here in my town.

In their house.

?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was irate, telling Jeff, “It’s disgusting!”

If I saw somebody sexually harass one of my closest friends, I’d have nothing to do with him!

How could Richard not cut these people out of his life for being so horrid to women, to one of his best and closest friends, to the one who helped him above and beyond what most people would do?

And how could he invite sexual harassers to his house?  Wasn’t he afraid of letting these people anywhere near his little girls?

I couldn’t quite bring myself to tell Jeff just what these people had said to me in the chat, but tried to make him understand that he would’ve wanted to punch them all out if he saw it.  It took quite a while before I could tell him just what went on.

I ranted about it to Jeff, wondered what I should do about it, what should I say?  We pondered the wisdom, or lack thereof, of an ultimatum.

Jeff told me I had to make a decision on what to do, whether to say that Richard should drop these friends.  He also picked up some brochures about a circle of respect, which he was going to “plant” at Richard’s house so the jerks would find it.

The party was cancelled, but I began to ponder the situation, what to do about it, how to handle it, whether it was my problem or his.

A week or two later, I had almost forgotten about it, when something brought it back to my mind again, making me feel dirty and gross with the memory of what the creeps had said to me.  So I knew this was important.

So I wrote an e-mail to Richard about it.  This was around April 1.  It took me some three hours, carefully crafting it so he wouldn’t feel like I blamed him or anything, and carefully leaving out any hint that he should drop these friends.

I used all the tips that counselors recommend for dealing with difficult conversations, without putting people on the defensive.

I kept out how I found it disgusting that he would invite these jerks to his house.  I restricted my request to him please refraining from mentioning the names of these people around me, to help me to get past this and move on.

After all, the time he spent with me was only a few hours every week or so, most of which were taken up with D&D, and he rarely talked about them around me in the first place.  So this shouldn’t be too much to ask.

He said no.  In fact, he wrote such a scathing e-mail–saying that he had actually written other drafts which he scrapped, which were even more scathing–that I thought here was proof that no, he didn’t care about me at all anymore.

I cried, and was so upset that it affected me physically.  I even had to ask a neighbor to take my son to school, because I just couldn’t handle it.

Instead of writing back, I called him up.  He told me I was being “ridiculous,” that I needed to get over it, that online sexual harassment isn’t “real” and he thought I knew that.  He said, “I love you like a sister, but you’re driving me crazy.”

He blamed me, treated me like there was something hysterical about getting upset over guys online making personal remarks about my genitals and ripping into me for getting mad at them and not showing them naked pictures.

He complained about “pampering” me.

He also talked like there was something ridiculous about not wanting to hear the names of your sexual harassers spoken around you.

Yet even my husband feels the same way, cringing at the very name of someone who has abused or otherwise mistreated him.  My husband thought I was not being at all unreasonable, and did not like how Richard treated me over this.

I just couldn’t stand that he would call this “ridiculous” or tell me to just “get over it”–or that he and Tracy were still friends with the main harasser, the Creep, after this incident, that a year later he was talking with them about a get-together at their house and in my city.

I told Richard I didn’t want these guys to know what city I lived in, who I was, or anything.  But he said they already knew.

He said the Creep was actually shy and quiet in real life, not like his online persona at all–but that didn’t impress me, because you’re still a jerk even if you’re only a jerk online.  He said he did tell these guys they were being jerks to me, but now he so downplayed what they did, made it sound like I was just irrational and silly, that I couldn’t believe it.

He talked as if these guys were just behaving normally and did this to Richard’s other friends, but those friends would play along and be good sports about it.  It made me sound like a combination of prude and party pooper.

In August 2014, old college classmate Persephone shared this webpage on Facebook, Next Time Someone Says Women Aren’t Victims Of Harassment, Show Them This.

I then shared it myself, along with a short description of the above incidents.  My friends responded:

cyber bullying isn’t real bullying either then I suppose?  And cyber sex with minors isn’t real pedophilia is it??  The one who needs to get over it is the person who wants to diminish what your truth is.  If you feel like you were victimized then you were.” –(my old friend Mike)

what the h*?  Also, that his wife participated is equally disturbing but all too common.” –(Persephone)

I replied,

Oh yeah, he also told me he had other friends who would go in that particular chat room with him, and could handle that kind of ‘joking.’  Making me sound like I’m just too sensitive.  Yet for some time afterward, I felt dirty because of the things they said.

Persephone wrote,

ew, that SUCKS – and so much wth?  The ‘you’re being too sensitive’ is such a go-to from narcissists, usually when they’re enjoying your pain.  ?  “

 

 

Response to Lauren Shifflett’s story of sexual trauma by church leader

I came across the following post through a WordPress plugin which brings up supposedly similar blog posts to link to in your own posts:

Now We Are Free by Lauren Shifflett

She writes of her sexual abuse and harassment by a youth leader in her church, but prefaces this with how she was bullied as a kid.  I saw similarities with my own experiences, but her comments are turned off (probably because people get mean), so I’m writing this blog response instead.

She, like me, was rejected as a girlfriend, but was a target of sexual harassment by her male peers.  This put all sorts of negative opinions of herself into her head.  She

couldn’t understand why ninety percent of boys found me repulsive and the remaining ten percent felt this strange need to expose themselves to me in some sexual way.

Same thing with me.  My first memory of sexual harassment was from Kindergarten.  I loved to wear dresses.  Every day I wore a dress, preferred them to pants.  Then one day on the way home from school, a couple of boys, smaller than I was, cornered me and kept lifting up my skirt and laughing.

My mother never understood why, all of a sudden, I insisted on wearing pants instead of dresses, because I never told her.

There was the guy who pulled up next to me as I walked to school, and opened the passenger door for me to get in, but I was too smart for him and walked on.

There was the middle-aged man who kept wanting to hug me at church.  It may have been perfectly innocent, but I didn’t know him and it made me feel weird, so I didn’t like him.  I didn’t trust him at all.  I don’t recall him doing this to other girls, just me.

In elementary and junior high, I got a lot of bullying in general because I was different from the other kids.  I couldn’t figure out what it was about me that set them off, because to myself I seemed normal.

No matter what I did in public, I began to feel very awkward about it.  For example, I preferred to always carry something or have my hands in my pockets as I walked, because just walking made me self-conscious.

In junior high, once some kid put a sign on my back during a fire drill.  I never knew what it said because I finally knocked it off, having felt it go on.  But everyone around me was laughing–even my teacher!

The teacher, who struck me as being a classic stereotypical nerd complete with pocket protector, should have known better, but he laughed anyway.

My freshman year in high school, I was also sexually harassed by three guys, two of them together.

One of them kept making sexual comments to me at lunch, and once even put his penis on the table next to me.  I refused to look, but know he did it, because of the reactions of the guys around him.

I couldn’t stand the school’s chicken sandwiches after that because that’s what I was eating at the time, so it reminded me of it.

Now I know that I could’ve switched tables to get away from them, but at the time I felt trapped into sitting at that one table because that’s where I sat at the beginning of the year.  I didn’t realize that I could sit at a different table with other kids.

I’m not sure why I felt that I had to sit at that table, but it could have been an NVLD thing: “You can’t change the pattern you’ve already set!”

After lunch we would all stand by the door and wait for the bell; I can remember this guy doing or saying something while we stood in line, so much that I crouched down as if to protect myself.  But I just don’t remember what exactly he was doing.

The two other guys, who sat at the table behind mine in Biology class second semester, would spend the class period making sexual comments to me.  Once, one spoke so loudly to me during the lecture that the teacher stopped and scolded them.

I don’t know why I didn’t tell the teachers what was happening; a friend told me to do so about the lunch period bully, but something kept me quiet.  In fact, in general I was a passive recipient of bullying.  I just didn’t fight back.

Meanwhile, my Photography teacher made at least one such comment as well.  (I don’t know why all this happened the same year.)

All first semester he’d been harassing me for being a Christian and having conservative values, even though I don’t recall saying a whole lot about them in class or much of anything, really, unless spoken to.

Other kids in Photography class joined in on the religious harassment, including a witch who told me her coven killed my cat (all I said was he went missing on Halloween and never came back), and one day started yelling at me that maybe God is the liar and the Devil is telling the truth–until a Jewish girl told her to quit it and leave me alone.

Then one day, during a work period, the teacher was sitting on a stool at a large table when I had to get around an obstruction of some type.  I don’t remember the details now, what the obstruction was, or anything.  But I didn’t want to go behind him to get around, because there wasn’t enough room and I’d run into his butt.

Rather than leave me alone like any decent man would do, he ridiculed me and told me to go behind him.

I don’t know why on earth I did this like an idiot–probably because I had grown up with the mindset that you do whatever a teacher tells you–but I started going the other way to go behind him, like an obedient student.

He started humming or moaning, and a girl said to me with wide eyes, “Better not do that.”

The following semester, I ditched that class and switched to a class on life skills.  He was a major reason why, both from this and from his religious harassment.

(We learned about such things as teen pregnancy, whether you should marry the teen father, domestic abuse, and watched movies about tough lives like one about teen runaways and The Burning Bed.)

That year or the next, a letter to the editor of the school newspaper complained about an unnamed teacher who would sexually harass students.  I always wondered if the girl who “rescued” me was the writer and if she meant my Photography teacher.  (I must have forgotten her name already.)

All these things happened freshman year, and that year I began to get an ulcer from the stress.  After every lunch period, my stomach was in a lot of pain.

My junior year, I developed headaches from TMJ in my jaw, another stress-related condition, even though the freshman year bullies had either graduated or were no longer in my classes.

Meanwhile, freshman year I had a couple of guys want to date me, but my mom wouldn’t let me until I turned 16.  After that, nobody seemed interested.  I now know that one guy was in love with me senior year, but never worked up the courage to say so, so I had no clue.  Even when I thought for sure a guy liked me, he’d insist that he didn’t.  Or date another girl.  But I was a target for harassment.

In college, a similar problem arose.  Outright sexual harassment didn’t happen so much, but once again, few guys wanted to date me, but even Christian ones preferred to use my body.  One claimed to love me, but turned out to be an abusive narcissist who sexually abused and kept trying to assault me because I did not want to do anal or oral sex.

The one who used me, ripped me apart constantly, then criticized me for being too “negative” and reserved.  How could I feel more confident and open when he kept essentially telling me I was unloveable?

And yes, you internalize this.  I felt much as Lauren did.  I didn’t have a boyfriend at 15 like she did, so there was no sexual activity back then, but I do know how this makes you feel like you’re just a weirdo who no one will actually love, and ugly.  My mom got upset with me for not thinking I was pretty, but how could I think so when this is how I got treated?  I felt ugly.

This is part of the reason why Richard found me so malleable, when he started paying all sorts of attention to me, calling me constantly right before he moved into my house, and then, while here, spending all his time with me.

He basically groomed me, through all this love-bombing and slowly but steadily making me think that his in-secret physical affection was appropriate for friends.  (None of it sexual, but it was way too much.)  When I got concerned about what he was doing, thought we had started an affair, and felt like absolute sh** over it, he said, no, no, no, this was all perfectly innocent FRIENDly behavior.

Then a few of his friends sexually harassed me in an IRC chatroom.  Just yet more of what I’d experienced in high school, only now online.  The whole story is here, too long for this post.  They began making comments about my genitals, totally unprovoked by me, and while Richard saw it all.  His wife even came online and talked about inviting these guys to their house!

But later on, when I asked Richard to not talk about the harassers around me because I was still traumatized by what they did, he said I was being “ridiculous” and that he thought I realized that online “isn’t real.”

I thought he was safe.  He planned to become an Orthodox priest, and had actually been a Foursquare preacher in his youth.  He manipulated my emotions and tore me apart, over a period of a few years.  He eventually even admitted to having hypnotized me without my knowing it.  He said it was to make me open up to him; I have often wondered if it was also to make me more open to his grooming.

Because he was convicted of choking one of his children, he can no longer become a priest, but I fear him still becoming a psychologist.  I hope the conviction will prevent that as well.  Todd says that Richard used his supposed superior knowledge of psychology to bully him; Richard did a similar thing to me.

I believe that Richard is a narcissist who zeroed in quickly on my vulnerability.  I had been married for years, so the lack of a boyfriend was a long-gone problem.  But I still felt the insecurities of those growing-up years, and was incredibly lonely for friendship.

(This is one major reason why I don’t want this man in my church or anywhere even touching my life.  I fear my own vulnerability, along with knowing that he is also capable of physical violence, having served probation for choking his kid.  He was once a mob thug, and has even threatened violence to my husband.  He is able to con people into thinking he’s a pious man with a big heart, so they end up doing his dirty work, as I did some of his when he screwed over his friend Todd.  I also don’t want his wife in my church, because she’s just as bad: She can pretend to be a decent person, but is extremely abusive, emotionally, verbally and physically–and when you recognize it, she smears you, as she did to Todd.  Both she and Richard have also mocked and tried to intimidate me, and have demonstrated stalker tendencies.)

Richard zeroed in, just as the youth leader, Luke, zeroed in on Lauren’s vulnerability.  Luke began an affair with Lauren, and when she tried to end it, began stalking her.  Then she suffered because of the lax response of her church, some apparently taking his side over hers, as her sister describes here.  She does not feel safe at that church anymore.

Just as I feel not at all safe when I think of Richard and his wife just casually showing up at my church again, as they’ve done from time to time, or even becoming part of it now that their church has merged with mine.

Church needs to be a safe place.

Reblog: What Christians Get Wrong About Sexual Abuse

At many conservative Christian colleges, identifying what the victim is responsible for becomes a central part of how administrations interact with them. Counseling processes and disciplinary actions all have a common bent: What do you, the victim, need to repent of? Where are you at fault? While this line of questioning is probably well-intentioned, it is based in a lie that abusers would love for us to continue believing: that victims are complicit in their own abuse.

It is absolutely vital that Christians do the hard work of earnestly evaluating how our beliefs about sin and redemption can create opportunities for abusers. Creation, Fall, Redemption—that is the glorious story of our faith. But Jesus also called for us to be as “wise as serpents,” and the New Testament is filled with pleas from the Apostles not to be deceived by wolves in sheep’s clothing.

–Read the full post by Samantha Field at What Christians Get Wrong About Sexual AbuseRelevant Magazine

 

On Listening to Your Gut (sexual predators, narcissists, abusers, etc.)

On free-range parenting sites (or, as we used to call it, just plain ol’ parenting), you hear a lot about teaching kids to listen to their guts, rather than across-the-board stranger danger.

Because after all, you teach kids to be scared of every stranger, then tell them to be more sociable at a party full of strangers–How is that going to work?

And what about when they need help from the actual predator, and need to speak to a policeman (stranger) or an adult (stranger) walking along the street?

(This has happened to me: A couple of girls came up to me one day as I walked home from work.  They said a man was following them home from school and they needed my protection, so I walked with them until they were safe.)

Instead, the free-rangers say, you teach your child basic safety rules (because you’re not stupid), but also how to listen to his or her gut.  Across-the-board stranger danger just feeds into shyness and anxiety, and keeps a child from getting help when they need it.

From Free Range Kids:

Freely translated from Dutch, the spokesperson of Child Focus says:

“If you teach your children not to talk to strangers, you create a fearful child. They will think that the world is generally a dangerous place with few safe havens.

A child must above all develop self-confidence and inner strength, and it does not happen by repeatedly hearing how dangerous strangers are.

Besides, there are many examples showing that “strange people” do good deeds to children. Just think of those who bring lost children back to their mom and dad on the beach or in a busy shopping center.”

For more on what Free Range Kids writes about stranger danger, see here.

I can see that.  If I didn’t let that old man help me find my way home one day in Kindergarten, I could’ve been hopelessly lost.

Or the time when I really was lost in the city at night, having slipped out while my brother was watching me.  Two people in a car found me and brought me home.  These were neighbors sent by my mother, but I didn’t know them.  If I didn’t trust them, I could’ve fallen prey to somebody far worse.

These were two times when listening to my gut, saved my life.  Safety rules are well and good, but we need more than just rules to keep us safe.

I just read an article about teaching your kids about sexual predators grooming them by gaining their trust.  I can see that, and I have spoken to my son about predators.

But at the same time, the article seemed to heighten anxiety about ANYONE who wants to hug your child.  Is my child supposed to be scared now if a harmless youth leader gains his trust?

Sure predators act kind and caring and gain trust, but so do perfectly innocent people who truly care.  I’ve had plenty of teachers and youth leaders who cared about me, who gained my trust, and became trusted mentors.  They NEVER harmed me.

There has to be a balance.  Our kids need to be able to tell the difference between a predator and an innocent person.  Along with telling them basic safety rules, and to not be scared of telling on a violator, we need to encourage them to listen to their guts.

But we also need this as adults.  As adults, we seem to go the opposite direction: telling ourselves not to be judgmental, so we don’t listen to our guts.

It also reminded me of Richard, when he stayed in my house by himself while homeless: I was never much of a hugger or into physical touch with most people, though I would give hugs when asked for.  But Richard began breaking down my reserve with little touches here and there, until finally he was giving me long, affectionate hugs.

Meanwhile, he also gained my trust, overwhelmed me with attention, made me feel I had finally found a best friend for life.  I was shy, quiet, and desperately lonely for friendship, because I was far from family and college friends, and have NVLD.  I was easily led.  He gained my husband’s trust, too.

If I hadn’t finally confronted him about it one evening, I wonder how far he would’ve taken this.  But he assured me that it was all meant purely in friendship, nothing more, and made me believe that people do this where he came from.

But if that’s true, then why did his wife, Tracy, become so furious when she found out about it?  She came from the same place he did!

Meanwhile, I know another guy who does the same thing, but in full view of his wife, who laughs.  Richard did this when he and I were all alone.

The more I thought about it over the past five years, the more it seemed that Richard was grooming me in the same fashion as a predator.  The same as the person who runs this website, who writes that her former pastor tried to groom her into adultery.  You’ll also note that Richard weaseled his way into my pocketbook as well, yet his financial situation never seemed to improve the entire time I knew him.

I can give another example of NOT listening to my gut, and the trouble it caused: Richard’s wife Tracy, who is very abusive and most likely has borderline and/or narcissistic personality disorder.  (I’m told that her mother has borderline and split-personality disorders.)

I got little hints before I met her–just knowing her from a web forum–that she was not the kind of person I should spend much time around.  She was very volatile and would go off on people on the forum.  Then she moved into my house, and I got to see firsthand what kind of person she is: Screaming tirades at people online, her ex, her kids, her husband….

My gut was SCREAMING at me that I should not be friends with her.  Yet she and Richard both tried to force me–through shaming, punishment, withholding, all sorts of things–to be not just friendly, but best buds with her.

Well, it all ended in tears, after years of her emotional abuse and mean-girl snarks, and then finally all-out verbal abuse and even stalking.  It has taken me years to recover from this trauma.

But then I can tell you another time when I DID listen to my gut, and things turned out well: As I told my son, when I was a little girl, a middle-aged man at my church kept wanting to hug me.

I didn’t even know him, which is probably why I felt weird about this, did not like him, did not want to be near him.  Eventually, he and his wife stopped going to my church.

To this day I don’t know if he really was a predator.  But you know why that is?  Because I listened to my gut and didn’t get too close.  So he never had a chance to DO anything.

But I also hugged and cuddled with Richard’s little girls all the time.  But then, they knew me.

Also, just last night I read about an archbishop who often visited little children at an African mission school; he’d open his arms and they’d rush for his hugs.  The writer saw this as an example of his huge heart.

So just wanting to hug a child, doesn’t make you a predator.  But I had a feeling about that guy at church.

I knew that neighbor was harmless.  I knew that old man was harmless.  I did not know if that guy at church was harmless.

I knew Tracy was harmful, but was forced to ignore my gut, so horrible things happened.

The gut is our friend, whether dealing with sexual predators or domestic abusers or con men or whatever the case may be.  It tells us things even when we try to rationalize them away.

People can argue over stranger danger and safety rules, or whether we should be suspicious of everyone who hugs children and gains their trust, but one thing is for sure:

We need to respect the gut.

 

 

Prevalence of porn leading to teenage girls forced into anal sex

Warning: Not for children.  Though teenage girls should see it.

My heart weeps at the thought that many young girls are now being put through what I was 20 years ago by my ex-husband Phil:

Pornography has changed the landscape of adolescence beyond all recognition by Allison Pearson

Some quotes:

A GP, let’s call her Sue, said: “I’m afraid things are much worse than people suspect.”

In recent years, Sue had treated growing numbers of teenage girls with internal injuries caused by frequent anal sex; not, as Sue found out, because she wanted to, or because she enjoyed it – on the contrary – but because a boy expected her to.

“I’ll spare you the gruesome details,” said Sue, “but these girls are very young and slight and their bodies are simply not designed for that.”

Her patients were deeply ashamed at presenting with such injuries. They had lied to their mums about it and felt they couldn’t confide in anyone else, which only added to their distress.

When Sue questioned them further, they said they were humiliated by the experience, but they had simply not felt they could say no. Anal sex was standard among teenagers now, even though the girls knew that it hurt.

 

….[M]ore than four in 10 girls between the ages of 13 and 17 in England say they have been coerced into sex acts, according to one of the largest European polls on teenage sexual experience.

Recent research by the Universities of Bristol and Central Lancashire found that a fifth of girls had suffered violence or intimidation from their teenage boyfriends, a high proportion of whom regularly viewed pornography, with one in five boys harbouring “extremely negative attitudes towards women”.

 

Mature women can generally make up their own minds about what they are and aren’t prepared to do in bed. That is a private matter among consenting adults, although I don’t know a single woman who thinks that a man insisting on anal sex is anything other than a depersonalising act of aggression.

For inexperienced teenage girls it’s a different matter. Their whole sexting culture sends them one crude, insidious message: buggers must be choosers.

I went through this with Phil, only unlike these girls, I refused to let him do this, knowing that I did not have to.

In response, Phil accused me of always needing to have my own way.  He tried punishing me through no sex at all for refusing anal.  He even tried an elaborate hoax to try to influence me into doing what he wanted.

Phil sometimes forcefully tried to turn me over.  Once in the middle of things, he pulled out and tried to get in the other way.  It didn’t work well from the top, but his attempt still qualifies as “rape” according to modern legal definitions in Indiana, where this happened.

He said maybe in other countries, THIS is considered the “natural” way.  He pointed to sex scenes in Clan of the Cave Bear, but didn’t seem to understand that the Neanderthals in that book were NOT having anal sex.

He told me one of his ex-girlfriends claimed it was the most pleasurable kind of sex for a woman.

And no, he never heard of lube.  The pain was excruciating the one time I grudgingly allowed it, and the pain keeps on giving: Bowel movements are absolutely horrid afterwards.

Yet somehow, I was the “bad” one because I wasn’t properly submissive to my husband, who expected obedience.

He even told his best friend how badly I treated him; the friend then turned around and scolded me.

And yes, Phil was into porn, particularly Hustler.

This was 20 years ago.  So this is not a new problem, but according to the above article, today’s Internet porn makes the problem far more prevalent–with girls who feel they HAVE to do these things.

A while back, I read a whole bunch of comments on some article online that claimed that lots of women love this kind of sex, and basically made detractors sound like prudes.

I’ve also read that the modern trend to be “clean-shaven” in unnatural places comes from the prevalence of porn.  I was once sexually harassed on the Internet by a guy who said he likes his women clean-shaven.  I never told him whether I was or wasn’t; he just attacked without provocation.

Yet my best friend Richard–friends with this guy–accused me of being “ridiculous” because, a year later, I still did not want to hear this guy’s name, and because “the Internet isn’t real [harassment].”

I’m teaching my son to NOT treat girls like this.  I tell him Girls are People, NOT TOOLS for guys’ pleasure.

My stories are hardly isolated.  So I keep them here on the Net to help other girls realize they don’t have to put up with this crap:

The story of Phil

Sexual harassment by Richard’s friend: Here and Here