How to recognize a pervert

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.

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18 Responses to How to recognize a pervert

  1. Jennifer says:

    I have this new personal driver(no we’re not rich or anything, it is quite normal in our country) and I travel to school and back all alone with him. At night I travel with my mom or someone else who is older. But the driver creeps me out big time. He is always looking back at me and always has a tendency to frequently check the side mirror on my side when he is driving me to school. I’ve observed him carefully many times when someone else(like mom or dad are around) and he doesn’t do it then. But when I’m going to school he is constantly turning his head to my side as if he constantly needs to check the mirror. Like no one needs to check the side mirror when there are no cars on that side and there is a enough space on that side of the road. But he does it constantly, like every two seconds. On days when I’m sitting behind him, he checks the rear view mirror a lot.(when I sit opposite to him, he checks the side view mirror a lot.) Also I’ve often fallen asleep in the car or dozed off and had suddenly woken up to find him looking back at me(he looks away instantly) At first I blew it off and paid no attention but it is happening a lot. Whenever I look forward, he instantly turns his head to the side. I feel that he is looking at me. I just feel very insecure sometimes being in a car with an unknown adult and sometimes I feel really scared(like when I catch him staring when I open my eyes) Do you think that anything potentially bad might happen to me if this goes on? Or am I just over-reacting? I had just recently been sexually harassed by a different guy for sometime and maybe I’m magnifying everything after that bad incident? And if it comes to the worst case scenario, what can I do to save myself? I talked to my mom about this but she didn’t give me any useful advice, she kind of made it sound like nothing bad could happen and that it really wasn’t a problem. But I feel really, really insecure and nervous in the car. Like I thrust the car door open and rush off, as soon as the car stops. I am not allowed to walk to school because it is too far away and my parents won’t put me in the school bus as they want me to go by car?

    So reading your article made me rethink about what I was feeling.

  2. lesney clarkdar says:

    O my! The malicious nature of these people unnerve me. And to think ,they can be our grandfathers! Our own flesh and blood, but evil has no genetic ties. I pray for you, and you family; I hope that you will not let this horrible event perturbe you any longer, nor should it stop from making others aware of its intent. Thank you for sharing such an intimate detail of your past to the public, you are brave. I pray for this person’s soul (if he has one), I know that this act will continue -but it hope it will its prevented, and treated.

  3. sam says:

    Thank you so much Shay for sharing your experience with us all. I also had a same experience very recently from a very kind and old man who built up trust on me as a grand father. That incident made me to search on the internet about perverts and your article helped me a lot to prove my point.

  4. Laura says:

    Oh I’m so sorry Shay.

    I worked for a short time with a county Child Protective Services division. I dealt with child molesters who held prestigious positions and served on the board of museums as well as homeless drug addicts. I’m grateful that the topic is now out in the open, although insufficient for the degree of suffering that still continues at the hands of these monsters.

    I also know that those of us who suffered from this abuse may be least likely to stand up to them in adulthood. I’m glad you did. That victory is large.

  5. Mandy19 says:

    So glad I just ended with a pervy 30 something beijing guy with glasses, my first intention when talked to him was to befriend kind of normal decent guy with smartness. Within 3-4 weeks he managed to pressure me into a date with him and his saying/messaging that he “like me” (in which wasnt his intention)

    After the first conv with him in class, ..somehow he came to me by stalking me; (i had no idea) then that is when he started drive me home. This kind of human is very strange, their head and hands are full of worms. He tried to gain my trust by the complete process of deep lies and some so obvious.

    From the Saturday date, finally realized how creepy, anti-social and unreasonable bs this guy is and his every movements conclude a hint of nervousness (always try to hide) and eye raping strategy. This Saturday, he planned half of a day date(seriously, his every steps seem is hiding something bcuz every minute, sexual image occurring in his mind; consist of me/ any prey) at the movie, he bring excuses to touch me; 30mins more of fondling with my hand in a very fast movement with his finger as suppose to as if his thing and then adjust his pant.

    If lastnight, I didnt overthink and act quick+smart, i will be straightly vulnerable to him. However, I consider it was brave of me because the light of the holy spirit. Thank you for sharing your article, made me feel not alone. This kind of humans is at the same level of a serial killer in a quite unspeakable way.

  6. Sarah Kenney says:

    My best friends brother is 16 and im only 13 he tried to touch me while i was trying to fall back to sleep i guess he thought i was sleeping and decided to try i slowly pretend like i was waking up and he ran off but i dont know if i should tell my friend what he did or just see if i was imagining it. what should i do?

  7. Shay says:

    Hi, Sarah,

    I am sorry that your friend’s brother acted inappropriately. The main thing is to trust what you know and saw and felt. Also, talk to an adult whom you can trust, one who will help you, and help keep it from happening again. If the first adult does not believe you or does not help you, talk to another, and another, until you find someone who will help you and help make it stop. People who try to molest sleeping people will usually do this to anyone they can. It is possible that he has done this before and will try it again.
    Also, you may want to consider taking a women’s self-defense course, like the one offered by RAD Systems. A class like that teaches girls and women how to “find their ‘no’,” what their options are during an assault, and how to best fight back. These are important skills for all of us. Please take care!

  8. Ami says:

    I was with someone recently I caught him txt other women with nasty pics an txt an I can’t explain it all but I’m terrified for his 12 year old daughter she was coming out of the bathroom naked an around house in panties an shit this child weight is 330 lbs both parents especially mother is badly verbally abusive as I well know I’ve been mentally physically abused an raped 3 times an I’m 47 since I was 9 I’m scared for this child she confide in me an trusted an depended on me now that is gone I was her security blanket there is so much to tell I need help with this there’s a lot she is a fully developed child an has her cycle every month he looks at her so Strang I can’t explain his looks I can’t do anything in my small town everyone knows everyone an I tried years ago to report an insedent but they were told I turned them in an is was nothing but hurt an pain for me

  9. Shay says:

    Ami, that is a very tough situation! You were wise to trust your instincts. If the girl was able to confide in you, she felt you were safe and that surely meant a lot to her. You might want to contact a rape crisis center for ideas on what you can do. A great resource is the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network,at I hope you will contact them and see how they can help. Thank you for caring about that girl.

  10. shane says:

    The problem of today is that mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters uncles etc. see when someone touches a young child in a caressing manner and says absolutely nothing .like stop that or I do not like the way you are playing with the little girl/boy sister brother daughter or son which allows the person to think well no one said anything so I will do it again which is why we have these types of people .and the more they get away with it the more they will do it. So if you feel uneasy about something speak up straight away, saying no or stop that and or I do not like the way you are doing that . or speak to an adult straight away and tell them what is wrong and also tell the person that you are going to tell on them to someone straight away .if you are an adult know the limitations as to what time it is, why is this or why did I allow it , when did it happen , who did it and how did it happen .very basic answers to stop yourself and others getting hurt. Report them to the police also you do not necessarily have to confront them yourself but to let them go means they will have another chance at getting someone else .

  11. Donna Strom says:

    I’ve been dating this Puerto Rican man. He’s 59 and I’m 53. He claims he’s a preacher and is saved. I am Christian too. I see where he’s just recently made a Facebook, but has no friends. He claims he doesn’t talk to any other women and just likes me. He sent Facebook messages and I accepted his friend request. We made plans to meet and have lunch. At the table before we began eating, I said I’m going to ask you to say grace. He replied, “why don’t you say it?” He caught me off guard, so I responded. Well, I just ask you to say it. So we bowed our heads and he began to say grace. We talked at lunch, then after we ate there was nothing else to do, so I went to his house. I didn’t see where this would hurt, being he’s Christian. When I first got to his house before I could hardly sit down he want a kiss, so I proceeded to kiss him. It got to the point that I had to push him away and ask him to stop. He started to kiss my chest, then quickly he was kissing my breasts and down his hand goes in my pants. I left and have never went back to his house ever again. He’s ask me to come back, I have refused. Now he’s texting me sexual things wanting me to send nude pictures to him and keeps talking about how he wants to kiss my body parts. He’s even asked me to do a video chat of my breasts and wanted me to strip down. I told him no several times, but he still insists and says, its just between us. I advise him I thought you were a Christian why are you doing this? He’ll say he’s sorry and he’s right back doing the same thing the very next day. I told him last night, I was not going to talk to him anymore. I wished I’d never agreed to ever go out to eat with this man. I ‘ve never seen a Christian pervert, but he fully meets every aspect of it. I’ve prayed and God lead me to unfriend and block him. I have no regrets. Could this man possibly been using Christian faith to attack women on Facebook so that he could touch and fondle them? Could he possibly be a pervert?

  12. Shay says:

    Donna, I’ve found it best to always trust my instincts, especially the ones that say “ICK!” Your instincts are right; some people use Christianity as a cover for their unsavory intentions. This man did not respect you in any way. He was using religion to trick you into thinking he was safe. I’m glad you refused to see him again, and you blocked him. Please always trust what you know is true, even when someone tries to confuse you with their words. Wishing you all the best.

  13. Shay says:

    Shane, thank you for reading and for noting that too often, people discount the sexual abuse of children. It’s easier to ignore it, pretend it didn’t happen, and disbelieve the child than it is to stand up for the child. That’s because if one doesn’t believe, there isn’t anything to be done but cluck at the child. If one does believe, then one must roll up one’s sleeves and protect the child, get help for the child, and make the abuse stop. And that is oh, so messy!
    Unfortunately, the silence around childhood abuse is even worse than the abuse itself. As psychologist David Bedrick notes, when abuse is minimized, denied, or blamed on the victim, it’s as if the wound is wrapped in a putrid bandage; the harm becomes that much worse.
    People, who witness child sexual abuse, must speak up on behalf of the child, or they are as harmful as the abuser.

  14. Shay says:

    Mandy, I’m sorry you had to go through such an awful experience, and proud of you for realizing the situation and for dumping that creep. Yes, a big part of their excitement stems from their game of deception, of the ability to hide their sickness and gain a person’s trust before they seem to suddenly turn into a monster, catching the victim off guard and taking them by surprise. I agree, they are sick in an unspeakable way. Please take care and always trust your instincts.

  15. Emma says:

    I have this guy in my art class, and he always wants me to sit by him. He doesn’t exactly touch me, only like giving me hugs and such, but not in an inappropriate way. There was this one time when I got primer on my upper thigh, a few inches from my crotch. He is a gentleman, but I think he went a little too far this time. He decided to get down on his knees, and I was standing at an angle. So the guy put his left hand around my back thigh, and his head was somewhat near my crotch. I am too shy when things like this happen because this have never happened to me before, and I don’t know what to say or do. I brushed it off and said thank you. I told my mom about this and she said “Boys are boy.” I said, “So boys want to be by girls vaginas?” I’m really scared, and I don’t know if I can look at him the same way. Please help me!

  16. Shay says:

    Emma, I understand your discomfort with this “gentleman’s” behavior–which is *not* gentlemanly. A real gentleman would avoid doing anything that might make you feel physically uncomfortable. He would not do as you describe. You don’t have to look at him the same way, because he showed you who he really is, and now you know he is no gentleman, but a creep.
    Chances are good he will keep behaving in that manner as long as he gets away with it. You need to make a plan in advance, to take care of yourself so you are not put in such a position again. Things you might do are change where you sit in class, ask someone else to sit next to you, refuse to sit next to him, or tell him outright his behavior was unacceptable. You can decide how you want to handle it based on your greater understanding of the situation.
    You may also want to practice yelling “NO!” or “GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME!” or other strong words, so you can feel ready if he does something again.
    Please know that you deserve to feel comfortable in your classrooms and school. What a shame your mother supported the creeper’s behavior instead of acknowledging what he put you through. Sometimes people make excuses for the creep because it’s easier than sticking up for the creep’s target or victim.
    Also, if you can find a self-defense class from RAD Systems, I highly recommend it, because it is designed specifically for women and our needs.
    Best of luck!

  17. Vee Delgado says:

    so idk if this is a pervert or its just me being crazy but a while ago i had a dream about my step dad raping me…but yesterday he was all like “oh dont you think you should retire thoose pants…there all up your ass” and i asked why he was even looking and he said “well its hard not to” and before any of this hit my this being a pervert or me being crazy paranoid?

  18. Shay says:

    I’m sorry you have to even wonder about this. 🙁 No, a step-dad or other adult should not say things like that to his step-child. Hitting your ass is inappropriate, as well. He shouldn’t be looking at, commenting on, or touching your body like that. You need to trust your instincts instead of second-guessing yourself. You feel uncomfortable for a reason. If he was completely safe–as in respected you and your bodily autonomy–you wouldn’t have to wonder if it was okay; you would know you were safe. Your experience and instincts would tell you “I feel safe.” Is there a trusted adult you can tell, like a teacher, youth group leader, or a friend’s parent?

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