Kids Motherhood

Not My Child: Protecting My Son from a Sexual Predator

Not My Child: Protecting My Son from a Sexual Predator www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Stacy Harrison

Several years ago, our family was befriended by a community acquaintance with whom we shared some extracurricular activities. Over time, this man (I’ll call him Bob), began paying attention to my two-year-old son. He’d ask my son for high fives or hugs and offer to take him for walks when my son grew antsy at events. At a summer picnic, he asked if he could take my son over to the playground, “So you have a chance to visit,” he said. I didn’t know him well, so I politely declined.

From time to time, Bob came by our house with his grandchild, stopping to chat with us in the yard. More than once, he asked if my son could walk to the park with the two of them. I always came up with a reason to keep my son home with me.

One day, when my second child was just weeks old and my husband was gone to work during the day, Bob knocked on my front door. He made small talk about the baby and asked how I was recovering, or if I needed anything. Then, he asked if he could take my two-year-old to his house to pick out a kids’ movie from his collection and bring it back to our house. Once more, I declined. He persisted, despite my reasons. I stood my ground.

That evening, I talked to my husband about Bob, explaining that my intuition was telling me something was off. Bob was just too interested in our son. He had offered too many times to “take him off my hands.” We didn’t have any evidence to exclude him from our lives, but we agreed to use extra caution when Bob was around our children.

“I don’t know what it is,” I said, “but someday we’re going to find out there’s more going on than what we see.”

A few months later, Bob’s computer was malfunctioning, and he asked my husband to help him get it operating smoothly again. Bob left the computer at our house, and my husband went to work on it one night while the two of us hung out in the living room.

“Ohhh, no,” my husband said — a look on his face I’ll never forget.

I knew immediately that my suspicions were confirmed. Bob’s computer files were full of child pornography.

The computer was turned over to the police, who recovered 64 pornographic images and 7 sexual videos of boys, along with online chats where he solicited photos of young boys and girls from other predators.

Bob was sentenced to nine months in the county jail, followed by five years of probation. He is back in the community, now, as a registered sex offender.

I’ve thought about Bob and our family’s experiences with him dozens of times over the past five years. My responses range from panic to pity, disgust to fear, intense anger to deep sadness for his brokenness.

What does a mother do with all of this? What can a parent take away from an encounter like ours? How can we use it for good instead of being eaten alive by anger or fear?

This is my starting point. It took years to reach the point of being able to write down our experiences and offer these suggestions to all parents, yes, all parents, whose children are at risk of sexual abuse.

1) Trust Your Intuition

Looking back, it’s easy to see why I said no to Bob’s many requests to take my son away from my care. But what about that first time? Or the second? What if I had allowed him to just take my son for a walk around the block? Would it have opened the door to future interactions? Would I have let my guard down after one experience turned out okay? Could my own child have been a victim of abuse?

The what-ifs are chilling.

But I didn’t say yes. I didn’t allow that door to be opened because from day one, my mother’s intuition said, Uh-uh. Hold your son close.

Of course I can’t be certain of Bob’s motives, but I’ll be forever grateful for the feelings that compelled me to keep my toddler son in my care so that I never had to wonder about what had gone on beyond my view.

Parents, if your intuition tells you to steer clear of a person or situation, there might be a reason for it. Maybe you won’t find out until years later. Maybe you’ll never find out. But your child is your treasure, and you always have the right to say no.

2) Talk to Your Children

Since my son was only two years old at the time of our experience, I couldn’t offer much verbal guidance about potential threats, but I did tell him, long before the evidence came into the light, that I did not want him to go with Mr. Bob. He could say hello or give him a high-five, but if Mr. Bob asked him to go somewhere, he should stay with mom.

Now that my children are older, we are working to educate them about boundaries in order to prevent sexual abuse by adults, or even by other children.

We also talk to them about darkness in the world. They are aware that some people are mentally ill in ways that compel them to harm others. And we don’t always know who is unsafe or safe until much later on.

3) Disregard Stereotypes

Before this experience, my ideas about sexual predators were admittedly shaped by film and television. Obviously, most offenders are not parked in their tinted-window kidnapper vans beyond the school playground. This man was a churchgoing, job-holding married man with children of his own who was connected with our family through our regular activities.

Sexual predators are anywhere and everywhere. They could be in your church, or at your child’s school. They could be coaches or music instructors. They could be babysitters. They could be family members.

When we understand that offenders are living and working with us, we are more likely to take efforts to educate ourselves and our children about abuse prevention.

4) Be Aware of Your Vulnerabilities

Hear me, please. Predators are watching us. They are involved with our lives. They are observing us, trying to identify weak spots.

I was a young mom when Bob took interest in our family. I was adjusting to life with a toddler and a newborn. I was exhausted. Bob was someone who could offer relief — someone who wanted to help me.

He showed up at the right time and volunteered to do things no one else was offering to do.

It’s unlikely that sex offenders will knock on our front doors and take off with our children. They take their time becoming involved with our lives, building relationships and earning trust before doing their irreparable damage.

I was suspicious of Bob’s motives, but what if I hadn’t been? What if I was under more duress? What if I was a single parent, or lacking a solid support network? What if I was ill or broke? Would I have conceded more easily then?

Yes, abuse crosses socioeconomic boundaries, but those who lack support and resources may be easier targets. Being aware of our weak spots can help us to exercise extra caution with potential threats.

Moving Forward

I never want to think of this experience as our one close call – the time we were spared from abuse. I want to use it to educate our family and ward off future offenders. I want it to do the same for your family.

No matter how uncomfortable it may be, we caregivers need to be eyes and ears for one another, keeping watch for people or situations that could possibly be dangerous to any children. We must be willing to approach one another, and willing to listen and receive concerns with a spirit of openness and togetherness.

Not all incidents of abuse can be prevented by adults, but cautious vigilance by caregivers can contribute to safer homes and communities for all children.

***

I look at my oldest son now, almost seven years old, friendly, inquisitive, innocent. Long eyelashes and a smile that shows every tooth.

I see him clearly, still, at two years old, wearing a red baseball cap and clumsily running across playground wood chips at that summer picnic.

I see myself too, standing there with a baby strapped to me, tired and sweaty, still sore from my recent c-section, but madly in love with my boys.

I watch my son bend over and examine something on the ground. He picks up a thick wood chip, turns it over in his long fingers, then zooms it through the air, making buzzing noises with wet lips.

I don’t remember if anyone else was around in that moment – if I was making small talk with another mom, or standing alone. I don’t know where I sat when it was time to nurse the baby.

I don’t remember if there was potato salad at the picnic, or who won the game of horseshoes going on behind me.

I don’t know if anyone else’s eyes were on my son at that noisy playground, but I thank God every single day that mine were.

 


For tips on educating parents and children about sexual abuse prevention, follow these links:

Talking to Your Kids about Sexual Assault

How to Protect Kids from Predators, Kidnappers 

Recognizing Sexual Abuse 


Read more of Stacy’s work at her personal blog, Revisions of Grandeur. Connect with Revisions of Grandeur on Facebook, or follow Stacy on Twitter.

*Featured image via Canva

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About the author

Stacy Harrison

Stacy Harrison lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with her husband, three sons and a Goldendoodle who wasn’t supposed to shed. When she’s isn’t moonlighting as a wrestling referee (Living Room Floor Federation), Stacy enjoys writing non-fiction, primarily to-do lists and grocery lists.

Visit Stacy’s blog, https://revisionsofgrandeur.com/

  • eric wood

    Thank you so much for sharing this Stacy. This is a crazy mixed up world and it very difficult to tell who can be trusted. Better safe than sorry.

    • http://revisionsofgrandeur.com Stacy Harrison

      It sure is. Better to be cautious until we deeply know and trust someone than to take a chance. Thanks for reading and taking a moment to comment, Eric.

  • Kathy at kissing the frog

    This is so important Stacy. Thank you. Sharing!

    • http://revisionsofgrandeur.com Stacy Harrison

      Thank you, Kathy. It IS important. I’m glad so many parents are talking about this tough topic. I appreciate your feedback, and the share as well. Have a great Sunday!

  • gigi4747

    Interesting that you raise the issue of single parenthood. I used to go to the Perverted Justice website occasionally (PJ is the group that used to help Chris Hansen do his predator stings) and one of the first things that predators try to ascertain is who is at home. They usually try, it seems, to figure out if there is a dad in the picture. As I recall, the PJ person who was posing as a young teen would often make it seem as though dad was living elsewhere. This protective effect is probably one more way in which fathers who are present and involved in their kids’ lives are a deterrent to their children’s becoming victims.

    Also, I am a regular churchgoer and I think you are right to be wary of everyone, including people at church. We let our guard down at church sometimes I think and no doubt predators take advantage of that.

    • http://revisionsofgrandeur.com Stacy Harrison

      Interesting info about Perverted Justice. Yes, the weaker the support network, the easier it is for a predator to work his/her way in. It’s so important for parents, single or not, to belong to a tribe or community where other trusted adults present!

      Thank you for reading and taking a moment to comment. I’m glad you agree that we adults need to be vigilant about kids’ safety no matter where we are.

      Best regards, Stacy

  • http://christinslade.com/ Christin

    This was excellent and I just want to applaud you for sharing this experience. I have been in similar situations where I felt my intuition kick in and allowed them to win. My suspicions may not have been confirmed before my eyes, but I won’t doubt them.

    • http://revisionsofgrandeur.com Stacy Harrison

      Thank you, Christin. I think it’s wise to acknowledge those intuitions and allow them to help guide our decision-making. I never want to live in fear, but I also don’t want to regret ignoring my better judgment on safety. I appreciate your kind comment, and wish you the best in caring for your family.

  • JilliBean

    So how do you choose who to trust? The predators could be your brother-in-law, a teen from your church’s youth group, a neighbor,…, ANYONE! How do you ever hire a babysitter? How do you allow your child to have a sleep-over at a friend’s house? How can you trust anyone?

    • http://revisionsofgrandeur.com Stacy Harrison

      JilliBean, I don’t intend to be alarmist about this topic or insinuate that we should live in a state of fear or paranoia. But yes, I do hope to heighten awareness that predators could be, or may already be, involved in our lives. This means different things to different people depending on their comfort level. For our family, this does mean that we will sometimes sacrifice in the name of our kids’ protection. If we have plans, but don’t have a babysitter we are confident we can trust, we will stay home. If our kids are invited to a sleepover at the home of someone we don’t know well, we would decline the invitation. If that makes us weird parents, we’re okay with that. Our kids are at the top of our priorities, and while they are young, it’s our job to protect them while equipping them to protect themselves.

    • jennastamps

      We have strict rules for our family about the questions you’ve posed. No male babysitters, period. We don’t let our children sleep over at a friend’s house, but rather, we allow “late-overs”–if there’s a party, we pick them up at 10 p.m. (or 9, or 11, depending on the age of the child), and if there are activities again in the morning, we take them back in the morning. Sometimes the kids think it’s weird, but the parents are very understanding. Our kids are totally used to this rule because we’re consistent. We actually have had a couple of sleepovers with friends, but it’s only allowed if one of US stays over, too! In certain situations, this can work out really well! We also allow sleepovers with cousins (and only because we are confident with our siblings, the parents, none of whom are single. Both aunt and uncle are present).

      Which brings me to my next point–we don’t let our kids play at a neighborhood friend’s house if the MOM is not home. Even if we know the dad. Even if we trust the dad. Mom has to be home. They can wait until that is the situation before they go over. Otherwise, they can play at our house. We did have one neighborhood mom get upset wondering why we didn’t trust her husband, but I explained sincerely that we had nothing against him, but that this is a rule we use for EVERYBODY. In FACT, we also do not let neighborhood kids play at OUR house unless I (Mom) am home. When I leave, even if my husband is home, friends have to go home. Sometimes this makes our kids have to move the playdate to outdoors, which is often a great thing 🙂 … or they can just wait until I get home. (If the friend is in the care of a single dad, with no mom around we may make an exception to this rule, but we use extreme caution, and we only make allowances if we feel extremely confident about this person.)

      Basically, we don’t worry so much about “How can you trust anyone?” as we focus on “We don’t trust the SITUATION.” Men should generally not be left alone with other people’s kids. Exceptions are rare, not the rule.

      • M. E. Stephens

        Jenna – I find your trust of women kind of disconcerting. I wonder why you came to the conclusion that moms are safe, but dads aren’t. I have not looked up the statistics, but I would assume that men are more prone to offend than women; however, women are too often enablers. There are women who know their husbands are child molesters and they do nothing about it.

        I had a friend as a child who was molested by her dad for years, including the years that I was going to their house to play and to stay overnight sometimes. Her mom knew that he was molesting her and did nothing about it. He molested at least one other girl – their babysitter – and possibly my friend’s sister. My mom was a pretty good friend of that mother and trusted her to look out for my safety. The truth was, she wouldn’t have and didn’t. If she had been looking out for the safety of other girls she wouldn’t have any sleepovers. But a mom who won’t look out for her own daughter isn’t going to look out for others. I can only thank God that nothing ever happened to me, and partly attribute that to the strong feeling of distrust I had toward that man, although I didn’t know at the time that he was a molester.

        Another thing is that females are not incapable of child molestation. Again, I don’t know the statistics for the U.S., but my parents lived for awhile in another country and it was common knowledge there, at that time, that at some weddings the teen age girls were molesting the little boys.

        Please – reconsider your rules. You kids’ safety may depend upon it.

      • jennastamps

        I agree that we can’t assume safety just because the children are in the
        care of a woman. There are definitely women I wouldn’t/don’t trust with my
        children. In saying that we generally don’t trust our kids to be alone
        with men, I was not implying that I believe all women are safe. It is more rare for women to be pedophiles, but
        it is always wise to use cautious judgement in leaving your children
        with ANY adult (or teenager). Our general rule of not letting our kids be alone with
        other men is a helpful rule in many situations, but not a protection
        from all situations, of course. We don’t think it’s necessary to forbid our children to ever play at someone else’s house without our personal supervision, so we have set those guidelines in place. But, you are right, it is wise to be untrusting of any other home until you feel you know it well enough. Even when it’s a mom home, I don’t let my kids play places until I’ve had a proper meeting with the parent/s, and sometimes I stay and accompany my child to the first playdate. You were right to offer that clarification, thank you.

      • M. E. Stephens

        Jenna – Thanks for clarifying your own position. 🙂 I am glad you use caution, but also are not overly fearful. Sometimes it’s a challenge to find a happy medium in such decisions.

        I guess for me, the thing I’ve learned from finding out about my friend’s situation is that women may know a man in their life is an abuser and do nothing to protect their own or other people’s children. That is a really sad and awful truth. :-/

      • Jillian

        Males are reported to be the abusers in 80-95% of cases. A DRASTICALLY higher number than women. Yes, women still abuse. That’s when hopefully your intuition would kick in. Here’s my source: http://www.yellodyno.com/html/child_molester_stats.html

      • M. E. Stephens

        Jillian, I am not surprised that men are more likely to be abusers. I guess I probably knew that just based on what we actually see as far as those who are caught. However, I think one thing that is important to consider is the women, as my friend’s mom, who know that their husband/son/boyfriend is a child molester and do nothing to protect the children around him. That is probably the most concerning aspect of the women to me. I will be interested to see if they have stats on how many women cover for the male abusers or just “look the other way.” Thanks for the link.

        – Mary 🙂

      • Jillian

        That is horrendous about your friend’s mom. You make a good point. That’s a harder situation to measure. I’d be curious what that stat is too. Thanks for the different point of view.

      • M. E. Stephens

        Hey…I went and looked at that link. I think it would be interesting to see some more up-to-date statistics. Those seemed pretty old by the dates. I’ll have to poke around sometime and see what I can find.

      • Jillian

        You are right. Those are pretty old dates. I’d guess the gap between male and female abusers is a little less now. If you find the stats, I’d like to see it. 🙂

      • kenshin

        My goodness, your poor friend! Did anything happen to the father? Did he ever had to pay for what he did?

      • C. Rich

        Unfortunately women are not safe either. There is a woman that I grew up with – somebody that never was molested, came from a “good” home, thrived in school, had a solid support network – and she molested a pre-teen boy while she was working as a counselor at a youth correctional facility. She got him drunk and helped him “run” errands, while introducing him to the world of sex. She used to write him love letters. When she was caught she tried to blame the boy and said she was afraid of him and that he took advantage of her. She ruined that boy’s life. She got pregnant to avoid jail, then hid her child from the father for years. During that time she was not allowed to live with children, but did so many times. She taught sewing classes to youths while on probation. She lies, cheats, bullies, and steals, yet has a “way” about her to where the police and courts always give her another chance despite her LONG record of offenses. Sometimes women are even scarier because they don’t fit the typical profile and people’s instincts don’t kick in as quickly.

      • jennastamps

        I agree that we can’t assume safety just because the children are in the care of a woman. There are definitely women I wouldn’t trust with my children. In saying that we generally don’t trust our kids to be alone with men, I was not implying that I believe all women are safe. I agree that is not always true.

      • PN8891

        As a young man who works with kids (in fact, I’ve been volunteering as a summer camp counselor every summer for the last 10 years), I can tell you that I definitely feel safer around kids when I’m not alone with them. Partly this is due to the annual child-protection training I’ve attended 10 times now (and a different training I attended once), but I feel like it’s easier for people to trust me–and thus harder to be falsely accused–when I avoid alone-with-child situations outside my IMMEDIATE family.

  • Jennifer Hillman

    Thank you so much for sharing this story – you are brave and I applaud you for listening to your mama instincts ❤️ I also want to add, we have an educational DVD that parents can watch with their 2-6 yr old children to start educating, encouraging, and empowering their littles to understand the Five B’s for protection. You can find more at http://www.baileybeebelieves.com

    Jen Hillman, M.S., CCC-SLP

    • Stacy Harrison

      Thank you, Jennifer!

      I am glad you let me know about Bailey Bee. This would be an awesome resource for our homeschool group and kids’ ministries.

      From one mama to another, thank you for doing this important work.

      Blessings,
      Stacy

  • Nicole Watson

    I agree completely with all the above especially our own intuition, but please also listen to your kids intuition! My son at 3 1/2 refused to go for a walk around a market where I had a stall, with one of his older cousins. He offered to buy him ice cream etc to go with him, my son refused a few times and then I stepped in and said he doesn’t want to go leave it alone. On further investigation I later found out he owed someone money for drugs and knew they wouldn’t cause trouble if he had a child with him…..
    If you question why I didn’t step in straight away, I wanted my son to follow his intuition and feel empowered to say No and then supported by me and also his cousin’s wife who gave her husband a serve.

    • Stacy Harrison

      Wow, Nicole. What a powerful story. You are so right — our kids have their own instincts and it would serve us all well to honor them. This is why, when leaving a visit with family or friends, I tell my kids it’s time to go, and this is their chance to give a hug or high five IF they’d like. As much as I wish they’d hug and kiss the people I BELIEVE are safe, I want them to make their own decisions about physical touch comfort level.

      Thanks for the important reminder that we are not only training our children to be smart about safety, but we are also training them to understand and honor their own intuitions.

      Best, Stacy

  • M. E. Stephens

    Stacy, I am bookmarking this with the intention of sharing the link on my blog. Thanks for writing about a hard subject.

    The point that I would comment on is number 1. I agree with you that parents should trust their intuition. I had a friend who felt very uncomfortable about a man in their church and, although they had daughters her girls’ ages, she wouldn’t let them go over to their house to play. Her husband accepted her intuition on it. Turned out that man was molesting his own daughters. They were always thankful they went with her intuition.

    Having said that though, I’ve seen a couple situations where I think parents shouldn’t necessarily trust their intuition.

    The first is where one or both or them are prone to paranoia or anxiety and they don’t know how to trust anyone – everything makes them afraid. We’ve seen this, and the play out of that can be terribly confining for the children (and the parents), as they never let their kids away from them for any reason or with anyone – even people with whom they have a long term relationship that should show them to be trustworthy (parents, siblings, etc.).

    I also have run across a couple situations where the parents didn’t have good gut instincts about some situations. They trusted people where the details of the situation and behavior did not warrant that trust. Either they ignored their intuition, or they didn’t have a bad feeling about something that should have sent up red flags.

    So, I think there should be some aspect of not only going with intuition, but also asking oneself, “Am I trusting/not trusting someone or a situation unreasonably? When I step away from my feelings and look at the details is there just cause for concern or waiting for further information?” Intuition is a useful thing, but it can’t always be trusted. In your case, you didn’t have reason either to trust or distrust “Bob” at first. But, looking at it from an outsider’s perspective I see some things. To begin with, you were right not to accept his first offers because he was not someone whom you knew well. Then later, his persistent offers to take your son away from you *should* have sent up a red flag, and it did. So, all things considered, it looks like your distrust was not only intuitive, but also reasonable. 🙂

    Thanks again for a useful article.

    • Stacy Harrison

      M.E.,

      First, thank you for taking the time to leave such an insightful comment. I am encouraged that people are paying attention to this topic and furthering the conversation.

      I’m glad you brought up these points about intuition — it’s a tricky thing to nail down, isn’t it? Some folks might argue that I’m a little cracked in encouraging people to be guided in decision-making by a mere feeling. In many cases, though, perhaps we could argue that intuition is synonymous with instinct — a word that is more widely accepted as “scientific.” Either way, intuition and instinct alert us to pay attention, which just might be the first step in abuse prevention.

      I appreciate the different examples you cited in your comment. No two situations are alike, are they?

      In one situation you alluded to the pitfalls of those who are prone to paranoia or anxiety following their intuition. I wonder if we would still call that “intuition” if one is prone to feel that every situation is dangerous. Would that be something different — more fear-based? In my experience, intuition produces more of an awareness than a fear response. Intuition alerts me to a possibility (his can be positive or negative, depending on the circumstance). Although my intuition has generally proved trustworthy, I find it worthwhile further examine the feelings through prayer and talking with my husband and/or my accountability partner.

      Another point that I have thought about often (and would have included in a longer more in-depth piece) is that many people simply do not have that intuition, or have not learned how to be in-tune with it. I wouldn’t expect everyone to be guided by their feelings in the way I (an INFP personality) would. I would be saddened for a parent to blame him/herself for their child’s abuse because they didn’t see it coming. No child should be abused, no matter how vulnerable he/she may be.

      I especially appreciate the advice offered in your final paragraph to separate the feelings from the facts and reevaluate the situation. In our case, when we did not yet have the facts, we continued doing normal life with caution. Later, when the facts were revealed, we were so grateful to have actively protected our boys.

      We’ve really only skimmed the surface here, haven’t we M.E.? But these conversations are invaluable, and I am so thankful that they are taking place around the table, as we tuck our kids into bed at night, and here, in the digital world.

      Thank you for the encouraging words, and for helping me to dig deeper on all of this.

      Best,

      Stacy

      • M. E. Stephens

        Stacy – I would agree with you that the intuition in the paranoid or anxious people is basically silenced or over powered by what basically amounts to the flight or fight response. I know this from personal experience myself. :-/

        I certainly wouldn’t want parents in every situation to blame themselves for what happened to their children. But, I think sometimes we all need to stop and consider the actual facts that we have in front of us more critically. Sometimes that will lead to realizing a situation is fine, others it may actually cause the intuition to kick in where it might be a little lacking due to the distractions of life.

        At least that’s how it seems to me.

        I’ve appreciated this conversation too. 🙂

        – Mary

      • M. E. Stephens

        I should clarify that we don’t have children of our own. I do have nieces and nephews. 🙂 And friends with kids, and kid friends. 🙂

      • http://revisionsofgrandeur.com Stacy Harrison

        You are right on that we all need to examine situations through a critical lens. We are moving a hundred miles and hour, and it would be easy to choose what is convenient or what is socially acceptable rather than what is sound.

        I am deeply encouraged by the response from readers on this subject — the thoughtful comments and passionate debates have revealed to me that many parents, extended family members, teachers, and clergy care deeply about protecting our precious kids.

        Thanks again, Mary. I hope we can connect more in the future.

        Stacy

  • libl

    This is so scary, and to be honest, it has me suspicious of most men (realizing women can be predators, too, but the comparative percentages speak for themselves). I hate to slap labels on kind and innocent men, but every day there is news of another teacher, another coach, priest, pastor, step dad, grandpa, uncle, cousin, friend, neighbor sexually abusing a child! And what is worse, they get slapped with small jail sentences and get freed to do their dirty deeds all over again, and many of them do!!

    A local man sodomized a 2 year old and got 8 years. Another was caught money laundering and got 50 years. Obviously we as a society value money over children.

    What kills me, too, is that some of these men may have avoided going down this predatory path if they didn’t get hooked on pornography. They are responsible for themselves, but the ease of access and increase of shocking, alternative, and dangerous materials is a public health crisis.

    And it doesn’t help that their fellow men (not all of them) just shrug it off as “none of my business.” They don’t care that their co worker hides around the corner and watches videos of girls getting beaten and raped. They don’t care that their family member hides away and clicks through hours of porn sites almost every day. Women speak up and we are pushed aside as jealous and crazy. I would love to see an army of men rise against this rather than seeing almost every man as a closet sexual predator.

    • PN8891

      As a member of the male gender myself, I have something to say about this: I think it’s important to realize that 1) you’re perfectly right to say that you can’t tell who is going to do bad things based on how “kind” or “innocent” they seem, or what profession they choose, or whether they attend church, and 2) there are usually things you CAN look for, but they are more specific behaviors rather than general personality traits. In other words, things the person DOES “from time to time” rather than the way a person IS “all the time.” For example, things like seeking to be alone with children (like “Bob” in this story), particularly those to whom the person is not related. (I volunteer at a Christian summer camp, and we have policies designed to deter would-be predators such as a policy that we can’t be alone with a kid under any circumstance, and that even more than one of us at a time can’t be alone with a group of kids of the opposite sex. There is training–which you could probably access yourself if you’re interested–for specific behaviors to watch out for as well.)

      • http://revisionsofgrandeur.com Stacy Harrison

        Pn8891, I’m grateful you shared your perspective here. Glad your camp board has come up with these important policies to protect not only kids, but staff members as well. You’re right that it would be wise for all people who care for kids to become aware of the red flag behaviors that could indicate a potential predator. I did a quick search and found this helpful link: http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/266

        Thanks for reading, and for sharing these insights.

        Best,
        Stacy

    • http://revisionsofgrandeur.com Stacy Harrison

      libl, we definitely live in a culture that makes this kind of thing too easy to get away with, don’t we? I think one of the most important (and scary) statements you’ve made is that we have a tendency to tell ourselves that warped views about sex and sexuality are “none of my business” when in fact they foster dangerous climates for all of us.

      You mentioned you would like to see an army of men rise against this movement. You might like to check out some of these groups/projects that are encouraging men to live with integrity:

      Focus on the Family, The Good Men Project, XXX Church, Authentic Manhood (The 33 Series and No Regrets Men’s Ministry)

      These are just a few that my husband and I came up off the top of our heads, but I’m sure there are more. I’d love to see them active in every community!

      Thanks for sharing your concerns. Awareness is step one, right?

      Best regards,

      Stacy

  • Biddy

    I have a simple answer for those who are questioning ‘How can I know if it’s intuition or paranoia? ‘ Read Gavin deBecker, both “The gift of fear ” and “Protecting the gift “. They will teach you the difference and maybe change your life too.

    • jb

      YES! Great book, and one I’ve shared with several women in my life.

      • http://revisionsofgrandeur.com Stacy Harrison

        I have heard about this book from a few different women. It’s time I get my hands on a copy. Thank you for the reminder, Biddy!

  • jb

    I recently had an experience that I could only call discernment from God, even though I may never know if it were valid. My 8 year old son went to a restroom at a local gym, and as he walked toward it, I caught the eye of a man who continued to look at me for another second, before he turned to follow my son into the restroom. My blood ran cold, and a beast reared up inside me. I grabbed my husband’s arm – “GO IN THERE NOW.” He did, and the man came back out quickly. I will never know his intent, good or bad, but what I felt was not “of me,” or a normal reaction, and for that, I am extremely grateful.

    • http://revisionsofgrandeur.com Stacy Harrison

      Wow, jb, that is eerie. Glad you acted fast on your instinct. You are so right — we can’t be positive our feelings are valid in the moment, but if we act reasonably (like you did by sending your husband in after your son) we minimize the situational danger. Props to you, mama, for being watchful and for allowing what your intuition (or what I might identify as the Holy Spirit) to guide you in protecting your son. Thank you for sharing this story!

      Best,

      Stacy

  • Carolyn Ruch

    Way to follow your mama gut, Stacy! I celebrate you and moms like you. How we need more adults willing to lay down the fear of man and do the right thing for kids. Your children are blessed.

    If you desire a free tool to continue the conversation of prevention with your son, please visit our website at RiseAndShineMovement.org. We give adults the tools they need to assist them in building a bridge of communication with the children they love and long to protect.

    Thanks for adding your voice to this discussion and for sharing your story. We WILL be sharing it. Parents need your insight and wisdom…. AND your determination to follow your gut! I applaud you.

    • http://revisionsofgrandeur.com Stacy Harrison

      Carolyn, I am so glad you reached out and let me know about Rise and Shine Movement. I checked out the site, signed up for the newsletter, and am looking forward to using the tools with my family.

      Thank you for the encouragement, and for the important work you are doing for all of our children.

      Best,

      Stacy

  • Erin Curlett

    Stacy, thank you so much for articulating such an important issue. I recently had a similar experience with a man I had never met before at church – he offered to take my 18 month old son “off my hands” during the church service and I was immediately overcome with a terrible sense of dread. I wasn’t sure if I was being overprotective or wise, but I just knew I needed to politely decline. Reading your article makes me all the more certain I made the right decision. THANK YOU for bringing this to light and speaking about it so well.

    • Stacy Harrison

      Oh, Erin, I’m so glad you declined. Those feelings of dread were your guide! Thank you for sharing about the experience and leaving such an affirming, encouraging comment. Best, Stacy

  • kgrub

    Great article! As a girl who was sexually molested for years by a male cousin, I believe that parents and people in general need to be made more aware of the possible dangers out there…especially from family members, people you should be able to trust. My parents really avoided talking about anything sex wise and that made it more difficult for me to be aware of how dangerous the situation I was in was.

    I think some pieces of advice I would give is to be open and honest with your kids about these things really the younger you can start talking about it the better. I was 9 when it started and had no idea what was going on or what to think about it.

    Another is to let your kids know that they can tell you anything. Establish that trust relationship and bond with them. I didn’t have that with my parents and that led to the molestation going on for 5 years longer than it should have (should’ve ended the first time). If you are an aunt/uncle I think the same rule applies. Because I didn’t have that trust/bond with my parents that I could tell them anything I went to my molester’s mom and told her, yet she did nothing about it and accused me of making it up. If a kid tells you something isn’t right, take action and at least investigate it. That shows the kid too that you take them seriously no matter what. Very rarely will a little kid make that up.

    Thank you again for posting this and helping raise awareness.

  • Lisa Lindsay

    This so brilliantly written,,,This happened with in our family, I was abused by a family friend since i was 11.
    Yes he came round just doing small talk, getting to know us as a family, getting to know our routine. I joined the Army cadets, where he was an officer,,Often helping me after hours to keep up with training etc, a hi five started to turn into a hug,then a hug or a kiss on the forehead,,turning into a touch “by accident”,,,i started to ignore the odd touch, or kiss.as i just thought it was just his way. with in 6 months after grooming me, he took my virginity, I was shaken,but he kept telling me it was my fault for wearing a short skirt, or low top.I started to believe him. I knew it was wrong but i was so scared of telling any one.as it was my fault he started to meet me from hi school to walk me home. I started to be quiet at home and moody,,lost interest in my hobbies. When i finaly told my mother i was 22,,she said,,she believed me,,as looking back on it..yes she should have seen the signs…I decided to tell the police, with my family support,,,he had moved to Venazuella , to live with a young family. The police questioned him,,and he lied about it. The police did not want to extradite him, unless i could find other people that he had abused,,His son hated him,,but would never tell me why,,so after so long they closed the case.Since having my own kids i taught them from around 2-3yrs old,,what was a good touch/bad touch,,The earlier you start,the better!!