Yesterday, as I went past my neighbor’s house in my wheelchair I thought, “If he asked me to go in his backyard to see his new blooming flower, alone, would I go?” Yes. I would have. Had I made the decision spontaneously. Had I not had established boundaries and been mindful and PAUSED before making ANY decisions involving being alone with a man, I would have said, “Yes,” enthusiastically! IF he would have asked. IF, I would have gone. Then I would have put myself into a completely avoidable situation that could have POTENTIALLY been unsafe for me. Do I want to be afraid of all men? No. Do I want to avoid being raped again? YES! I am more concerned with NOT being violated than I am with being anything but cautious for the rest of my life. I become comfortable. I let my guard down. Repeatedly, I have made these mistakes. Just yesterday I ran into a man that came up to speak to me alone but in a roadway. I completely and 100 percent trusted this man. I have actually been in situations alone with him many times. I have known him for over 10 years. He proceeded to tell me about his erectile dysfunction. I was caught completely off guard. The conversation went down hill with his oversharing of his penile function and his manly needs. Ten minutes before these words were spoken I would have easily gone right onto his back porch with him alone. I considered this a huge wake up call. Why risk it? If am alone with a man then the opportunity is there. If I am never alone with a man, I’ve just cut my chances in being assaulted again. Assaulted is using the word lightly. Over 10 years ago, my best friend’s husband sexually violated me and left me in fear for my life while being held against my will in his locked garage. I was looking for my best friend. She wasn’t there. He asked me to sit down while he looked for her, then he locked the garage door. I never ever could have known or seen signs that he was capable of this. I had no warning. Choosing to be alone with a man does not place the blame on me for anything that ever happened to me. I am taking being alone with a man off the table now, though, for the remainder of my life. He got me though. He got me alone. Do you know how he got me?
There are some common denominators for how predators choose their victims. Now, as a child I would not have noticed, been aware, or even known these signs. Had my parents not allowed their 11 year old clean an old man’s house for him (left alone with a man) then I would not have been molested. Being molested and later raped was not my fault. Not seeing the signs were not my fault. Child molesters/rapists/ predators carry the full responsibility of their crimes. As I have gotten older though I have become acutely aware of the ways that some pick their victims. If anything, through my experiences, I can share what I think will help to protect an innocent person from being a victim. I would like to share these revelations.
I would like to use the remainder of this blog to discuss some red flags that predators will give. The only thing you need to do when you see these red flags is RUN! Online predators will behave similarly. They hunt. They are hunters. They escalate. Each ploy/game/attempt failed will just give them more insight to what does work. My blog for example makes me a prime candidate for a predator. I have had a blog written about me recently and hash tagged “child porn” so that everyone who read it looking for child porn would then be rerouted to my blog. If this is not a perfect example of a predator AKA an individual whose intention is abuse is then I don’t know what is. This man assumed I wrote a warning for women about him. I am given lesson after lesson about men and their predator ways. I cannot ignore these lessons. I must share them.
Some common red flags:
Is this man helping you, being there for you, listening to you, supporting you, out of the blue? At a time of vulnerability? Is he all of a sudden present in your life when you are at your lowest?
Are you currently ill, or helpless, when this man comes of the woodwork to be there for you?
Have you just had a falling out with a family member, been sexually abused, broken up with your boyfriend, lost your job, had a death in the family, and all of a sudden this man swoops in to make it all better?
Is this man over connecting? Are they making their life examples so similar to yours that you feel a connection where there is none? Example A. “I’ve had a dog die too. I know how hard that can be.” B. “I know how it feels to have health problems and be isolated, I have health problems too.” C. “ My family no longer speaks to me either. Maybe we can make our own family. I will be like a big brother.” D. “ I am lonely too. I know what being alone” feels like. I will be here if you need a friend to listen to you.” E. “ I’ve been through what you’ve been through.” F. “ I had a sister who had that happen and I am devastated for you.”
Is this man acting like he is willing to fight for you? Have your back? Is he using your need for safety against you by promising to be your savior when you didn’t ask for one? Example: A. “ I will kill him if I ever see him.” B. “ If anyone is mean to you or hurts you from now on they will have to deal with me.” C. “Just send them my way and I will take care of them for you. No one messes with you from now on!”
Is this man making you a “we” team now? Example: A. “We can take care of this together.” B. “We can fight this battle together. You are not alone in this.” WE. You are a team now.
Is this man trying to make you feel like you are special? Is he trying to make you feel like you are different and worthy of his time because you are just so important? Example: A. “ I hate most people but you are different.” B.” There is just something about you that stands out to me and makes me drawn to you.” C. “ I think we were meant to find each other because I don’t even like women your age but you are just special.” D. “ I feel like we are soul mates.” E. “ If you were my sister/wife/ mother/ child, I would feel like the luckiest man on earth.”
Is he using techniques such as being overly angry for you, pitting you and him against the world? Giving too much personal information so you feel you aren’t the only one who is sharing? Is he repeatedly asking you personal questions?
Is he trying to overly convince you that he is a nice guy?
Is he telling you how wonderful he is? Is he claiming to work with the elderly, work with abused animals, abused women, abused children, a wounded veteran? Is he being fake noble? A man with such integrity and values that you could not possibly turn him away or YOU would be the bad person? Is he such a “nice guy” that he is saying you would be crazy to not have him in your life?
Is he asking you to be alone with him? Is he putting you in a position that you would need to be alone with him unnecessarily? Is he in a position of power that is intimidating? Does he make you feel like even if you don’t say no that you are consenting?
Have you had a “bad feeling” when you are around him that you are ignoring or shrugging off or minimizing because he has overcompensated for how willing he is to help you “through this hard time”?
Predators look for young, old, weak, broken, formerly abused, vulnerable, sad, helpless. I can say that I am a survivor all day long but on my blog I also write about my vulnerability, my challenges, my losses, and details of abuse. I am the perfect fish for a shark to circle around me long enough to find a little moment to enter into my life especially on social media IF I am not paying attention. I have written previous blogs warning women of predators. Some of the male responses were “ Are so you saying I am a predator because I care?” And, “ So all men are predators?” I talked to my husband at length about this. My husband would have never commented on a blog that has the pure intention of protecting other women. Any man who is offended or has a problem with me warning women and protecting women against predators, should search their own souls.They should take a look in the mirror and find out where this guilty conscience is coming from. A real man would applaud my efforts to protect women and children from predators. And there are predators EVERYWHERE. Every single woman I have ever met has been abused by a man in one way or another in her life time. Every woman. She may have only told me. But her inability to report her abuse does not take away the reality of it. Now I write a blog on abuse. Women have told me their stories. Previously I was a volunteer chaplain in nursing homes and hospice. I heard hundreds of “death bed confessions” of rape and abuse. There are thousands of women just like me who have not been victims, not just once but countless times.
Predators look at my blog. Lots of predators looking at my blog. I drew them out and because they were offended, but too stupid to realize that by commenting they are giving themselves away as predators themselves. “I’m a good guy though.” Are you? Because my husband is the best man I have ever known but he has never had to convince me he is a good man. Ever. He proves it. He would only ever support a blog that is written to connect to and protect other women from predators. Only a guilty man would have something negative to say. So check your comments at the door, they will not be approved. This blog is for women.
If you have had a life change whether it is ill health, loss, mental health challenges, recovering from abuse, at this point in your life, a man is not the person who needs to be your savior. A man that you do not know, a male neighbor, etc. I don’t need to lower my defenses so a man can make me feel safe. I have a husband. If I did not, I would lean on and seek out women to help me through my recovery and challenges. A man is not the person to be the one to be on your team, fix you, be angry for you. Especially a man who seeks you out whether it is on social media or just out of the blue in your life. If you are already vulnerable then allowing a man in is very dangerous. Unfortunately, there are predators looking for women just like you and me. They are looking for this pool of women that are damaged and trying so hard to recover. They will use every technique that they know works because it has worked for them in the past.
The man who got me in his garage gave me no red flags. I was simply crying. Sobbing. My dog had just been attacked. I was vulnerable. He knew of my recent health decline. He was a predator. There were some common denominators, in me, in that moment, that made him swoop in for the attack. He was laying in wait for that perfect opportunity to pounce on me and that he did. In the past, I could not have prevented that from happening. I was not to blame for the trauma he caused me.
Today, I would not enter the garage alone. Today I won’t go into my neighbor’s back yard with him alone. Today, if my neighbor gives TMI (too much information) about his erectile dysfunction, I will walk away, and he will forever be in the red zone of threat. I will NEVER trust him again.
A few days ago I read through all of the comments on my blog. It took a man that I did not know, 20 times of asking my daughter’s name and age for me to answer the question. He was, again, a man. I taught him that it takes 21 times to get exactly what he wants. I looked at exactly when he entered my blog. It was when my dog had died. That is when I got the first comment. Unfortunately, online a woman giving me support for the death of my dog could just be a man pretending to be a woman. We just don’t know. My point is, be careful who you let into your personal space on social media. It won’t take long or much probing if you are in a weakness state to get your address and the next thing you know they will be offering to buy you a ticket to visit them and the will make everything better. It happened. It happens.
Look for red flags.
Keep your eyes open.
Notice how you are when this “perfect” man has appeared who coincidently has a similar life to yours, conveniently, to fit right in.
We were born with an instinct. Many of us through continued abuse whether it is sexual, domestic, verbal, or emotional, have lost some of that instinct. Denial, minimizing what we have gone through and outright ignoring the abuse leads to further numbing of instinct. We are left with hypervigilance, PTSD, and yet no instinct to tell us what we are to really be afraid of.
I have found this book to be very helpful: https://www.amazon.com/Gift-Fear-Gavin-Becker-ebook/dp/B0036Z9U2A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508217906&sr=8-1&keywords=the+gift+of+fear+by+gavin+de+becker
The Gift of Fear. It speaks of some of the topics I have spoken of and how a rapist will use some of these techniques to attack.
Whether this man is your best friend’s husband, a deacon at your church, your friend’s father, your pastor, your boss, your neighbor, there have to be boundaries. We have to be able to strip their titles, our comfort levels, and reinstate boundaries and rekindle our instinct. We have to teach our children. We have to teach our girlfriends. We have to teach women everywhere.
I know there are some instances where there is absolutely nothing a woman could have done to prevent being raped. I will say this over and over again. I know this because I have experienced it first hand many times. There were others who could have protected me though, seen the signs, spoken up, protected me. If only we could see the signs of abuse in other women and children and see the red flags in the predators going after them. We can. We just have to look.
I feel like, had someone sat me down and had this conversation that I have written, it would have opened my eyes to red flags and common factors and techniques used by predators, years ago. I discussed all of this with my daughter. This blog post has been part of conversation between my husband and me and my daughter and me all week. There will be a ripple affect. She will discuss this with her friends. I will discuss it with my girlfriends. One person at a time.
My intention is to protect women. That is my only intention. I am well aware there are men who are raped, and abused. I know many of them. This is from a woman’s perspective as rape survivor and survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I wish I could speak for men who have been abused in this blog but I am speaking from my own experience as a woman who has been abused repeatedly by men. This blog is written by a woman for women and their daughters and their friends and their grandmothers and their mothers. This blog is is written in hopes of protecting women by sharing real life comments and experiences. What I have written in quotes are all things that have been said to me or written on my social media by men I know and men I do not.
I have seen on social media this #metoo to spread awareness of the amount of women who have been sexually abused. I would like to take that further. Way further. Coming forward, speaking your truth takes real bravery. I commend any woman who can do that. Now lets go to the next step NOW and start implementing some protective boundaries, looking for the red flags, and for the love of everything good…tell your daughter to stay in a group and never be out alone at a party, alone in an alley, alone walking to her car, alone with a guy she does not know, alone with her best friend’s brother, alone with her best friend’s father. Teach them how to NOT be alone and don’t put them in situations where they are alone with men. It is our job to protect them to the best of our ability. My parents did not protect me. They sent me to a ski school where I was alone with a man who molested me. They took me out of the country and left me alone with a man who molested me. They sent me to my first job out of state where the man who picked me up from the airport committed statutory rape against me. The let me clean a man’s house alone as a child. These are 4 separate incidents that were completely preventable had my parents chosen not to leave me alone, as a child, with a man they did not know. Our children, all children, women, girls, matter and deserve protection from predators. They need to hear it all of this. We MUST protect women. One woman at a time.
Please share this and comment your own suggestions and experiences for boundaries and protection.
My friend over at A Thomas Point of View has written of her experiences and survival. I honor her with this post as well as every woman who has persevered after the devastating affects of abuse and rape.
I Know Not – A Thomas Point of View