I Was Being Groomed by a Pedophile – Follow Your Instincts And Call the Police

During my late teenage years, I had a rather close call with someone I thought was a little too “touchy-feely”. Although I was not physically molested, I was in the “grooming process” when a predator tries to inure his/her victim to behavior that crosses the line.

Background

Towards the end of high school, my town participated in an international relationship building project that involved an exchange of visitors. We became partners with a city in Europe.

My Mom is extremely insecure and feeds only on an inflated sense of pride. She thought her family should be international representatives, and welcomed the foreigners into our home. Initially we were supposed to get a young couple, but plans changed at the last minute and we were presented with a man in his fifties and a younger bachelor male in his early twenties.

During their time in our home, the older man seemed a little off. He was single and dating a female, but acted childish and was eager to horse around with my brothers and I. He tried to tickle us at times. He also bought gifts for us. At the time, we just thought he was a very extroverted person and trying to make a good impression on our family.

One day the man sat down with me and we looked at postcards from his city. He sat very close to me and would occasionally touch my leg. At first I thought it was by mistake, but eventually it seemed awkward. I felt really uncomfortable, but didn’t say anything because my Mom was busy playing “international host” and the rest of the town media was covering the event.

The man said we could visit his town and stay in boats on the water. My Mom bought all this hook, line, and sinker. She thought it was the opportunity of a lifetime.

A year later, our family joined about 20 others from our town and headed “across the pond”. I was nervous about the trip for two reasons 1) Flying such a long distance made me anxious and 2) I just didn’t feel right about this guy. My Mom and Dad dismissed my fears as being unnecessary anxiety that they didn’t understand.

So we landed in Europe. Oddly we didn’t stay in boats. Instead, the older man invited our entire family into his small home. My parents had one room and my three brothers and I the other. We all shared a bathroom. The shower curtain was clear plastic. Once in a while, the man would burst through the door when my brothers and I were showering, claiming “a pipe needed adjustment”.

He took pictures of us throughout the trip. Most were typical pictures tourists would take. Others weren’t so typical. One morning he woke my brothers and I up with tickles and shouts. He also photographed each of us coming out of bed in our underwear. We were all under the age of 17, and my youngest brother was barely 10. Again, I didn’t mention anything, because it was an official visit with various government dignitaries and public events. Telling someone about “pictures in our underwear” would have ruined the entire trip.

The most egregious event occurred one morning when I went downstairs early for breakfast. The older man had the TV on and we watched some morning talk shows. Small talk ensued, eventually leading to more personal subjects. Then, the man randomly stated, “What color are your pubes?” (Pubic hair). I was aghast but gave him an answer and the rest of the day went on as usual.

Our time finished up and we returned to the USA. The man sent us greeting cards every two weeks. He also sent us home with gifts.

Talking To My Parents After the Trip

I tried to discuss my concerns with my parents afterwards, but they didn’t quite get it. My Mom was wide-eyed that HER family was chosen to “go abroad”, and that I could list the wonderful exchange on my transcript for college. My Dad was indifferent about the experience, although I think he had some concerns that he thought were unwarranted because his children didn’t mention anything. I didn’t speak to my father about anything since we were having a difficult time in our relationship.

I knew my Mom wouldn’t believe me so I went to my school library and poked around the internet for information. The internet was just taking off, but some European news agencies already had their stories online. I searched for news about the town I visited for about a month. One day, my worst fears were realized.

Two local newspapers announced a man (the guy we visited and who groomed me) was under arrest for molesting multiple young males over the course of 2 decades. Charges were also being brought by international authorities because he apparently molested boys during a stint in Canada with youth scouting. I was able to gather a couple articles that included his photo.

The man eventually faced the courts and pleaded a European equivalent of “guilty” and was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison, with a psychiatric evaluation and supervision upon release.

A few other important details came out:

1. The younger man who came to our home was actually in a consensual homosexual relationship with the older man now facing charges of molestation. It is unclear whether or not the relationship began after the younger man was an adult or teenager.

2. The man had questionable photos of males found in his apartment, business, and on his computer.

3. He had more than 10 victims, although only 2 or 3 pressed charges in his own country.

4. The man’s parents, who were still alive, claimed they did not abuse their son, and that he was a normal youth who excelled in school and business (this was all technically true, but they weren’t about to air their dirty laundry in a newspaper interview).

When confronted with this evidence and my own stories, my Mother was dumbstruck. At first she thought I was making it up. When I recounted all the events that “crossed the line”, she came up with excuses. For example, she explained the photos of my underage brothers and I in our underwear “were summer camp games”. When I mentioned that he questioned me about my pubic hair, she blushed and had nothing to say.

Eventually my parents collectively said to me, “We’re sorry this happened. We’ve ceased corresponding with the man. We’re sorry we didn’t know the danger we were involved with.”

That’s actually a big apology from my parents, who usually never admit their mistakes about ANYTHING. Clearly my mother’s pride not only put us in danger, but also prevented her from seeing the plain truth.

Pride is such a selfish emotion. She wanted to feel proud so she got her family involved in an international exchange program. Then she wanted to feel proud – and avoid shame – by NOT acknowledging that anything indecent happened to her children.

Years Later

I still don’t know what to think of it all. I knew I wasn’t physically touched or harmed, but I also knew boundaries were crossed. The most damaging aspect of the experience was psychological: 1) I was already questioning my sexuality as a teenager and never had a date – it seemed I was only attractive to male pedophiles; 2) My parents ignoring my concerns and invalidating me on multiple occasions, choosing only to believe me when I had proof in writing; 3) That I lacked the confidence to actually stand up to the man when he started grooming me, regardless of how embarrassing it would have been for the town and media covering the exchange.

Never ignore your gut when it comes to inappropriate advances from much older adults. Your gut is probably right. I can’t list guidelines because every situation is extremely unique with its own complications. Here’s a rule of thumb: After something questionable has happened, remove yourself psychologically from whatever place you’re in – because vulnerable people are prey for pedophiles – and ask yourself if hearing about the same experience you had from another person would feel good or bad.

If your friend mentions, “When I was 12 I was tickled by a 50 year old guy 5 hours after meeting him”, and you think, “Wow, that’s totally wrong”; guess what, your reaction to your OWN situation is totally accurate and reasonable.

Who Do I Call When I’m Scared, Anxious, or Feeling Horrible?

One of the strange contradictions of my BPD is displaying intense anger at my parents (legitimate or not), and then running to them when I’m insecure because I have no one else to talk to.

I was thinking about a recent series of events when I became extremely scared and anxious, to the point that I was in tears. I was by myself in a different place and had no one to talk to. In reality I could have called friends or siblings, but I didn’t feel comfortable discussing my feelings and situation with them. At the time I felt it was highly sensitive and doubted whether or not my friends would be able to keep a secret and not bother me later on.

It was a business related problem, and since most of my friends are involved in my area of business, I just didn’t feel like I could talk to them in confidence.

So I called my parents at 12:00 AM in the morning completely beside myself.

I believe this is an example of the “I hate you, don’t leave me” dichotomy many sufferers with BPD have. We despise those who are closest to us – friends, family, or spouses – yet expect them to be supportive when we feel upset. In reality that type of relationship makes no sense: who would want to console someone who spent the previous months (even years) wreaking emotional havoc in their life?

What Needs to Happen to Me

1. Create my own support system, even though the thought of trying to create viable intimate relationships terrifies me. I have to put my social anxiety aside and learn to make friends. I need to trust people and also allow them to make mistakes even when they betray my trust. They’re human, too. There’s no such thing as a “perfect friend” or “perfect spouse”. Everyone has their weaknesses.

2. Avoid at all costs alienating those in my life who I do trust and need for support. The instant I feel like causing BPD trouble 🙂 and acting out, I need to remember that I might need them later on. That trade-off usually comes to mind with most “normal” people before they begin destroying a well established relationship. With BPD in the mix, I need to be twice as careful.

My parents and family won’t be around forever. Even though I’m better off than I was years ago, I still need people to fallback on in an emergency. I need to make new, trustworthy friends and perhaps meet a woman for a relationship. Most importantly, I have to remember that others are just as prone to emotional turmoil as I am. They might betray me or breach my confidence in a weak moment, and unless their acts were utterly despicable, I must learn how to forgive and move forward.

That’s hard with BPD and doesn’t come naturally.

Don’t Motivate Yourself with Anything But Positive, Self-Affirming Statements

I was exercising today and in need of a pep talk. So I tried to stir up some motivation from within myself. Then, rather randomly, it occurred to me that over the years, I’ve used either negative statements or fear based thoughts to motivate myself. This might work for a quick jolt of energy, but in the long run (no pun intended), motivating yourself has to be positive, otherwise you will be miserable.

This comes naturally to most people. Chasing a goal and achieving it is usually a positive process. People who shed 100 pounds of excess weight and keep it off do so because they feel good about their healthier lifestyle. They have positive thoughts in their mind to keep them motivated.

Sometimes I find myself using very negative mental imagery and suggestions to motivate myself. It doesn’t make exercise, work, or life particularly enjoyable.

Examples of negative thoughts I use to motivate myself:

1. If you don’t do X, Y won’t happen. If I can’t stay up all night working, I’ll be susceptible to bad luck or crappy karma. In reality, how hard I work and the degree of luck in my life are two separate issues. One doesn’t have any bearing on the other.

It’s healthier to think: “I’m going to give this job my best effort, and if that means staying up all night, I’ll do it. If I’m too tired, I’ll come back to it later.”

2. Others will not like me unless I’m in shape, healthy, or “normal”. Many of those weight loss product commercials make it seem like losing 50 pounds will suddenly make you the most popular, lovable person on Earth. I’m not sure it works that way. Sure, you might be more sexually attractive, but the core aspects of your personality remain the same. Maybe you will feel more confident.

It’s healthier to think: “I’m going to lose weight to improve my health and energy levels. I’ll be more productive. Either way, I’m still worthy of being loved: with or without the excess pounds.”

3. You’re a wimp, weak, no good: you need to prove your worth to others. I don’t want others to think of me as a burden or waste of space. Type 1 Diabetes and BPD make me a bit of a liability to the human race: If I can prove to others that I can conduct my life like any other “normal” human being, I’ll be a better person and more respected.

It’s healthier to think: “Nobody is born with perfect genes. It’s not ‘the diabetics vs. the rest of the world’ (even though it feels that way when medical bills arrive). I don’t have to prove my value as a human being to others by accomplishing anything more than getting up each day, being positive, and contributing to society. I don’t need a trophy to remind everyone that I’m worthy of being loved.”

4. If you can do X, John or Jane will like you. I know this sounds incredibly juvenile, but people who find themselves falling in love with another person want to impress them. When I was in college, I thought a girl would like me more if I did a certain activity or worked out everyday. I think adults do this to an extent, perhaps not as doggedly as a desperate teenager with a crush.

It’s healthier to think: “I shouldn’t have to move mountains to get someone’s attention. Sure, they might be impressed with some accomplishment or degree of popularity, but neither accomplishments nor popularity will maintain a happy relationship. I’ll do the best I can at what I like to do. I need to look at my crushes constructively and wonder if I’m experiencing diminishing returns when I find myself feeling more negative about the attraction than positive. Don’t assume you know what another person likes or finds attractive. Most won’t tell you upfront and their “criteria” (for lack of a better term) all always changing.”

Finally, I disagree with coaches of youth sports who scream and yell at their athletes in a negative way. This might work for some kids, but not for ALL kids. It’s much better to be “realistically positive” and supportive. Equally, it is important for coaches to be honest while they’re being positive. If you could have made a better pass on the basketball court or started your cross country race differently, the coach should give you advice and encouragement and not an angry diatribe.

That aside, when going about our own lives, we shouldn’t beat up on ourselves as a means to move forward. It doesn’t work and makes BPD and other personality problems worse. Give yourself a break and say something nice about what you did today. It will pay dividends later on.