Unfortunately, there is no simple way to determine who is a pervert. I’m talking about the kind of perverts who sexually assault other people. They don’t come from any given ethnic or socioeconomic background and they rarely look like a creep. Indeed, the most successful perverts are masters at disguise and deceit.
These people are predators, who work hard to appear normal, and may be considered “pillars of the community.” They present such a façade that other people—potential victims and potential critics alike—cannot believe they would do this.
The pervert could look like a sweet old man with twinkly blue eyes, the kind one would expect to be a beloved grandfather. He is likely to be generally friendly, and extend courtesy or kindness to others—but that is a ruse, to throw off both the predator’s potential victim and those who might support the victim if she or he speaks up about the assault.
I know about this kind of evil person first-hand, through the sexual abuse I endured as a child. When I went into recovery in 1997, I learned that I was not alone, that it was not my fault, that these disgusting people molest anyone they can, and that they studiously position themselves for access to as many potential victims as possible. These perverts carefully scope out their prey and plan their assault with precision, so they can take advantage and strike when their target is most vulnerable.
Through years of recovery and reading, followed by being an active writer and speaker on the topic of childhood sexual abuse, I thought I had come to know the predator’s mind well enough to identify predatory behavior and avoid becoming a target again. But I was wrong.
I know that the common pedophile is skilled at confusing his potential victim with kindness, in order to disarm his prey—and to deflect off any blowback with, “I was just being nice.” I thought that, as an aware adult, I would be able to discern good touch from bad touch, friendly person from creep. But I was wrong.
A seemingly kind old man, whom I met on a sailing weekend in 2011, gave me advice, helped me learn some new things, and otherwise displayed friendly behavior—which turned out to be the key to his plan. Rodney’s goal was to gain my trust so he could violate me.
This many years later, I recognize that part of the molester’s twisted pleasure comes from his ability to deceive his target into trusting him, the setting of his stage where he will act out his perversion. His deceitfulness itself is a turn on for him, a kind of one-sided foreplay. As is his ability to instantly turn from “nice guy” into pervert when the opportunity is at hand. He gets his rocks off by building trust that he can violate along with his victim’s bodily integrity. How deeply sick!
Near the end of that sailing weekend, I sustained a significant injury that required care. The skipper of the boat did not concern himself with his injured crew, but the nice old man offered to help me find the closest urgent care facility and said he would stay to make sure I was OK. How kind! When I was finished there, Rodney* offered to take me to dinner because it was after 9 p.m. and we had not eaten. How thoughtful! We had a nice dinner and interesting conversation. How refreshing! After that, Rodney said he wanted to follow me home, to make sure I got home OK. Again, how thoughtful! Finally, arriving at my house around midnight, Rodney offered to help bring in my bags, since my injury caused me some difficulty with this. How helpful! This nice old man with twinkly blue eyes had been so kind to me that, I was thoroughly taken aback when I hugged him good-bye and he touched me in an inappropriate manner, committing a sexual assault.
I was exhausted, in pain and my guard was down, so I did not react strongly. Just as he had planned and expected. I stepped back and gave him a serious warning look, said, “You. Need. To. Leave. Now.” which sent Rodney on his way. Later, I told a friend that, “I wish I had slapped the hell out of him.”
In the following days, the old man perp kept trying to engage me by email, as if nothing had happened. I let days pass before I answered one of Rodney’s emails, including the warning, “I assure you that, should you ever again touch me in any inappropriate manner, you will wish you had not.” As I expected, he has not attempted to contact me since. Rodney didn’t even respond to the email I sent to notify him that I had provided in this post his 15 minutes of fame. Sexual predators are often bullies, who, when confronted, scuttle back into their dark holes. Temporarily. Until they spot another potential target.
This predator’s method of operation is that of the classic child molester, so I am certain that this “kind old man” has assaulted many other women and girls—and perhaps boys and men, too—and likely in much, much worse ways.
Some may wonder why I did not report Rodney’s sexual assault against me. I didn’t call the police because I well know that we live in a rape culture. As Clementine Ford noted in The Sydney Morning Herald, a rape culture is one in which “the impact and reality of sexual violence is minimised while the perpetrators of it are supported by a complex system built on flawed human beliefs, mythologies about gender, and good old fashioned misogyny.” We women, and girls, are expected to accept that sexual assault and rape are “just part of life,” that “boys will be boys,” that we somehow deserved to be assaulted or raped because we wore the wrong clothes, went to the wrong place, stayed out too late, or, whatever excuse can take the blame off the pervert. Our society will, as Ford noted, “bend over backwards to defend and diminish culpability of perpetrators, despite recognising the reality of their predatory and violent actions.”
Ford’s article points out that “someone who makes the choice to rape or sexually assault someone isn’t acting out of character – rather, they are expressing a central part of their character,” and with that thought in mind, I wish I had responded differently to “the kind old man’s” sexual assault against me. For the sake of Rodney’s past victims, and for that of his future targets, I do wish I had slapped the hell out of him.
© 2011, 2017 Shay Seaborne. All rights reserved.
*Rodney is the pervert’s real name. I use it to publicly call him out for his disgusting and perverted sexual predation.