A sickening experience helped me better prepare myself for how I will react when I am around a child predator in the future.
Last summer, a wonderful, newer friend of mine invited my children and me to her home to swim in her pool. While I didn’t know this friend really well, we had meet multiple times on some walking trails near our homes and had deeply connected.
When my children and I arrived at her home, she was in her driveway speaking to a neighbor. This neighbor was an older man, very friendly, and a great conversationalist. We spoke of some common interests, and he generously gave me a bag of coffee beans from overseas that he believed to be especially good.
After a bit, my friend and I began to make our way to her backyard. This neighbor tagged along while making conversation. Because I didn’t know my friend really well, I just assumed it was normal for her neighbor to be hanging around her place.
I won’t get into the details, but there were several actions and comments made that made me extremely uncomfortable. It was hard to know what to do. My kids were SO excited to go swimming at our friends house, and it would be challenging get my kids to up and leave.
I felt conflicted. I didn’t want to hurt my friends feelings, but things didn’t feel right. Maybe I was reading things incorrectly. My mind was racing. Everything this neighbor did could somehow be justified or explained, but his vibe and the way he hyper-focused on my oldest daughter felt wrong.
Eventually the neighbor left, but I was sick about what the whole situation. No one was harmed or hurt, but I hated the feeling that hung in the air.
Later I spoke to my 10-year-old about how inappropriate the man’s behavior had been. I called my friend to tell her all that had happened while she had been inside her home. She was extremely shocked and apologetic. She shared her neighbor had never even been in her pool before, and that they weren’t good friends. She agreed that his behavior sounded inappropriate and felt sick that such things had taken place in her backyard.
This man had inappropriate physical boundaries with my daughter. If he was so forward in front of me, what would this man be like if I wasn’t present? Not to mention, my daughter never sensed any danger or that anything was inappropriate, which made the situation more concerning.
This situation helped me better think through my game plan in future situations. Here’s what needs to happen.
It can be really uncomfortable because we are conditioned not to say things that could make anyone feel awkward. But our children’s safety is more important than someone’s momentary comfort. And if even someone means well, he or she should be aware if his or her behavior is making others uncomfortable.
>> RELATED READ :: The Grooming Process of Child Sexual Abuse <<
If someone is doing something around my children I have a bad feeling about, or something I believe crosses a line, I will tell them to “stop.” I plan to say something like, “I don’t feel comfortable with you touching my child.” I don’t need to explain myself.
Get Out of There
If I ask someone to stop certain behavior I feel is inappropriate and he or she doesn’t, I will have to take my children and leave. At my friend’s pool, it would have been hard. My kids would have probably been screaming and my friend would have been confused. But, it would have taught my children a great lesson and would have kept them safe.
Call for Help
Sometimes talking isn’t enough, sometimes leaving isn’t an option. Never hesitate to call for help. Even just knowing that someone is coming, especially the police, can help greatly.
Odds are there are already child predators in your life somewhere. Don’t doubt your intuition. The child predators who prey on children most successfully are often clean cut, generous, friendly, fun, appear to be trustworthy, and seem to care about children. They seem so nice. They can hold any profession, be of any economic status, any gender, and be any age.
Plan what your boundaries are and how you’ll enforce them. If we don’t stand up for our children, who will?