Preparing Our Children For Abusive Situations

This post might offend some people.  It might be “oversharing”.  Some friends prefer to keep everything pleasant, fun, and uplifting.  I prefer to share any truth that might help someone.

As my children grow older, I have to warn them about unpleasant things and what to do if they’re ever faced with certain situations.  It’s been very discouraging to read accounts of what girls are dealing with in a time where pornography is more accessible than ever before, warping our youths’ minds as to what’s appropriate, real, etc.  I’ve read accounts of boys requesting certain “favors” before they have even kissed a girl!  Is romance dead?  My first romantic experience with a boy was him holding my hand and asking me respectfully a while later if he could kiss me.  He gave me an innocent peck on the lips.  The first time a boy called me, my brother got on the phone upstairs and threatened to flush his face down the toilet.  For some reason, it just didn’t work out.

I love to make people laugh, but I also feel a strong urgency to share experiences I have gone through in hopes others can be saved from being violated.  I want young men and women to know that no matter what, you should demand common decency.  Any peer who thinks you are meant to be used is not worthy of your affection. Ever.

I can’t believe the things that took me years to tell my parents about.  It’s not that I felt like I did something wrong.  It’s just hard to say out loud that I let these things happen to me.  I felt angry at myself and wished I could go back and do things differently.  My goal is to raise respectful sons and daughters who will also stand up for themselves.  You can’t predict every situation.  I knew about what to do if someone touched me inappropriately, but I never imagined what would later happen to me at school.

*THE FOLLOWING MAY BE UPSETTING TO SOME AND I WRITE IT BECAUSE I WANT THIS LESSON TO GET THROUGH.  IF THIS HAPPENED TO ME OVER 20 YEARS AGO, WHAT ARE OUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS FACING NOW?*

I’ve never told these stories in great detail and I wonder, “Is this what most girls went through or was I an easy target because I was petite and quiet?”  Believe it or not, I was very quiet in school.  I feared getting in trouble.  One guy called me out on it in 7th grade.  “You never say anything.  You just sit there and smile.  I think I’ll call you Smiley.”  “Oh, great.  I snagged someone’s attention by being quiet.” I thought.  I just wanted to blend in, not anger my teachers, and never be called on to say anything.  It took me quite a few years before I developed my more extroverted side.  I’m sure some friends are reading this in disbelief.  Me quiet?

I’m starting to shake as I write this.  I was in junior high when I needed another elective and settled on being a teacher’s assistant.  It was for an English class for kids who struggled in that subject.  I was happy to have a dear friend in there, but one of my duties included going into a back room to give students spelling tests if they had been absent.  This usually went fine, but with *Ron, he made a lot of off-color remarks.  I didn’t know what to make of him or his intentions.

Did Ron dislike me?  Did he resent that a fellow student was giving him a spelling test?  Was he embarrassed?  Did he think I thought I was better than him?  Maybe his behavior was a hugely inappropriate attempt to save face in some way.

Did he like me and think he was being funny?  Or did he think I would respond to his “advances” positively? (Were those advances?!)

Was I too eager to look for the good in people?  Did I believe that no one could truly be that disgusting?

Ron proceeded to ask me things like, “What’s up with that noise you’re making?  Are you horny or something?”  I glared at him and refused to respond.  I think my noise was me breathing.  Usually this means I enjoy not being dead.

I continued to administer the spelling test, choosing to ignore him.  When I tell my daughters this story, the lesson will be, “If any boy ever says anything like this to you, you walk away and tell the nearest adult – I don’t care how humiliated the boy will be.”  I should have ended the test right there.  I was probably thinking,”How do I tell the teacher that I didn’t finish giving him the test without calling attention to what happened?”  All of the students were boys except for my friend.  I didn’t want them to know how vulnerable I felt.

It got worse.  I again told Ron to spell something.  If I had been witty at the moment, I could have asked him to spell words like:

Principal
Detention
Suspension
Sex offender (that’s two words, but whatever)
Shut-up, Ron!
If you threaten to expose yourself again, my brother is going to flush your face down the toilet.

Ron said, “Hang on a second, I have to adjust myself.  I need to take my penis out of my pants for a little bit.”

Me today would have marched right back into the classroom and exclaimed, “Ron’s spelling test is over because he’s threatening to take his penis out of his pants!”

Me back then?  I didn’t want to show him he upset me.  I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction.  I wanted to yell at him, but if I yelled, I was going to burst into tears.  I don’t know why it was so important to me to try to show him he wasn’t bothering me.  I should have.  At the same time I was thinking ,”Yeah right.  Who would do that?”  I continued to stare at the test and he made various relieved sounds while his genitals were supposedly exposed.  I wasn’t going to look.  As I told this story to my oldest son, I said, “That wasn’t going to be the first time I saw that!”

I maintained my emotionless facial expressions until Ron realized I had no interest in him or his penis.  He said, “There.  I put it back in.”  I still didn’t look in case he was tricking me.  We finished the test and I avoided all eye contact until I exited the room.  I was fuming mad and I never told the teacher.  I should have.  I knew the consequences would be severe for him and I think I worried that his life would be ruined due to his extremely distasteful, awful, stupid judgment.  I also didn’t want to be grilled over whether Ron exposed himself or not.  I truly didn’t know.  I also had this idea that such a thing had to be reported immediately.  I could have told at any time.

Knowing what I know now, I’m betting Ron had plenty of exposure to pornography and had some twisted ideas about girls responding positively to that sort of behavior.  Because in pornography, women are turned on by everything and don’t require flowers, actual dates, respect, or having enough sense not to flash people you don’t know, barely know, or people you know well.  FYI, perverts!  Flashing people is frowned upon!  It’s not a mating call.

Because I didn’t report it, I’m now tortured by the thought that Ron really did what he said and moved on to victimize other people.  My brother is a cop and now works for the Pervert Unit (not the official name, but I think it has a nice ring to it), so when I hear stories about people he’s arrested, I want to cry when I think about what Ron might be doing nowadays.  Did he miraculously become a good family man or is he lurking in people’s backyards by their windows as he “is up to no good”?  I will probably never know.

My advice is to use all anatomically correct words with your children so they will always feel comfortable discussing such situations.  One of my sons immediately told me about what happened to him on the bus and it was because he wasn’t uncomfortable using those words.  We talked to the school right away because the little boy who acted so inappropriately obviously had something bad happen to him.

I have other stories, but I can only take so much at once.  I don’t have it in me to tell the gym teacher story right now.  It’s taken me years to get brave enough to share my writing publically – even about trivial things like cooking, so I publish this knowing not everyone will approve.  And please, don’t tell me maybe Ron had a disorder to explain his awful behavior.  He didn’t.

*Denotes the pervert’s real name.  Which was Ron.

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