A Child Molester In My Circle

WARNING: This article contains information about sexual abuse which may be triggering to survivors.

I never imagined I’d be writing a post like this one. The last thing I want is to be the bearer of bad news, stir up worry and paranoia. I want to share inspiring, hopeful messages about raising children, not scary, disturbing, cautionary ones. But last week I heard something incomprehensible: my chiropractor, a friend for 18 years, is in jail after confessing to child molestation.

I’m sharing this scenario because it was unimaginable to me and may be to you, too. I realize now that I was self-centered and ignorant enough to assume sexual abuse would not really touch the lives of “people like me”. Now I know… I’ve just been blessed that it hasn’t.

For the first time I can understand how the family and friends of those who commit heinous crimes might feel. From an outsider’s point-of-view it’s simple and obvious: “Ugh, horrible person.” Or not even a person…animal. Despicable. How could you ever love such a lowlife? But my friend was not only a ‘person like us’, he was an especially warm, popular, charming, one, admired by many for his talent and expertise. And trusted.

He was generous. Sometimes I needed repeat adjustments within the same week, and he wouldn’t charge me. He gave you more than the half hour you booked with him, even if you were late. He invited us to bring our children to be adjusted for free (which seems ominous now, but my children were not victimized by him, and most others weren’t either. Predators are not indiscriminant, I’m learning). He was spiritual. He did a special healing ritual with my mother when she was sick from cancer a few months before she died.

I saw him at least once every couple of months and kept him up to date about my life. He wanted to know what was going on with me and my family. He cared.

The father of one of this man’s victims, also a friend, told me that he had never doubted the man’s trust. He was close with both the man and his wife. His 5 year old daughter spent time in the man’s care, seemed to enjoy being with him, never balked, and her dad believed that spending time with this grandfatherly figure was positive for her. Once the little girl told her dad that the man had touched her “there” while she was in the bath, but said immediately afterwards, “Just kidding”. Even then, her father hadn’t the slightest suspicion. He’d trusted this man intimately for many years and knew his daughter had a rich fantasy life. She liked making up stories.

It wasn’t until the father heard about another family filing a complaint that he had the dreadful realization — his little girl had tried to tell him. When he went to his daughter and she divulged details about the abuse, he found that although she may have felt uneasy on some level, she had perceived the abuse the way her abuser had wanted her to – an affectionate little game they played together. “Don’t tell your parents. They might get mad at me.”

I’m ashamed to admit that I share this story for selfish reasons, too, in hope that spilling my thoughts will help me untangle them. I still don’t know how I feel or how I’m supposed to feel. I’m reliving my many interactions with this man, hearing his voice and his laughter, remembering his every touch and facial expression — a slideshow of once pleasant images now viewed through a distorted lens, nightmarish. One minute I’m disgusted, so angry and sad for the children. I hurt, cringe and shudder. The next minute I just remember him, and try to merge these disparate people into one — friend and child molester — but can’t, at least not yet. And the hardest thing to reckon with are my feelings of loss, and the guilt I have for feeling them. Because even for the devastating harm he’s done, lives he’s changed, innocence he’s stolen, I’m finding it impossible to hate this guy, to just throw him away. This is the death of a friend, but worse… there’s disillusionment and betrayal. How could he?

If I’m wrestling with these feelings, with all my years of life experience, how will the children reconcile theirs? Will they understand how a relationship that felt so loving could be so wrong? Will they struggle to comprehend how the intimate ‘games’ they shared with a trusted friend could be shameful and bad? Are they bad, too, for enjoying being with him? Do they feel remorse for sending him to jail? Will they heal this wound and trust their instincts again? I’m praying that they will.

I urge you to read these “Eight Common Myths About Child Sexual Abuse” by the Leadership Council. I believed a few of them. One of the most jarring to me is “Myth 4: Children who are being abused would immediately tell their parents. Research shows that children who have been sexually assaulted often have considerable difficulty revealing or discussing their abuse. Estimates suggest that only 3% of all cases of child sexual abuse (Finkelhor & Dziuba-Leatherman, 1994; Timnick, 1985) and only 12% of rapes involving children are ever reported to police (Hanson et al., 1999).”

My best advice is to talk to your children about abuse as early as possible, discussing rules with them about friends and relatives of all ages and appropriate touching. Warn them about adults and others who ask them to keep secrets. Keep the lines of communication about these issues open and non-judgmental. RIE parenting guidelines are invaluable for teaching our children from birth that they deserve respect and have personal boundaries.

I also appreciate these guidelines from RAINN.org.

If you have answers, insights, or experiences to share, I hope you will.

Predators groom parents and community in order to access children. They are usually “highly respected.” -BraveKidsVoices

Update, two months later:
Although the accused had been secretly recorded confessing to the abuse, he may have been planning to plead innocent. His 5 year old victim was prepared to attend his hearing in December and testify. I hadn’t realized that children were expected to testify in person rather than on tape, but apparently they are, although she wouldn’t have to look at him or point to him.

She showed up early on the morning of the hearing with her dad and was given a tour of the courthouse to help her become acquainted and more comfortable. My friend’s lawyer was also at the courthouse early and he spotted the little girl. When he went back and told his client she was there, my friend supposedly broke down and decided to plead guilty. I guess he hadn’t believed the girl would actually show up.

His sentencing was a few days before Christmas and he was given 12 years. Since he is in his early 70s and his health is not good, he will very likely be in prison for the rest of his life.

The little girl began therapy. At least five other families have filed complaints.

Personally, I have found complete closure. I will continue to be in touch with the father of the little girl and hope to hear about her progress.

***

Additional resources:

Kidpower Abuse Prevention

Body Safety Education: A parents’ guide to protecting kids from sexual abuse

My Body! What I Say Goes!: A book to empower and teach children about personal body safety, feelings, and unsafe touch

How to Help Your Child Not Be a #MeToo

169 Comments

Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. Recently I read A Very Touching Story to my eight year old and plan to read it with each of my younger children as they get a bit older as this book does an excellent job of explaining the confusing feelings that abuse of this kind can cause. Thank you for your candid words on a topic that is so very important to discuss with our children.

    1. What is the name of the book?

      1. I believe it’s called, A Very Touching Book by Hindman.

  2. I am so sorry to hear that. I imagine it must be weird and puzzling and terrible to wrap your mind around the fact your friend is actually a horrible person.

    This topic stirred something in me … I have a little girl, 2,5 years old, and she spend quite a lot of time with a close relative, who is very good with kids. But I always have this strange feeling around him, to the point I cringe if he offers to change her diaper etc. I also think his enthusiasm about her nakedness (when she bathes, for example) is inappropriate. He also pats her backside and tickles her a lot … He does that in plain sight, which is why I think he’s probably not a molester, since he obviously doesn’t think he’s doing anything out of the ordinary and doesn’t try to cover his actions… I don’t know, am I just being paranoid? What should I do, what do you think?

    1. I would never ever leave your child alone with this man. Follow your gut feelings that’s why we have them, don’t ignore it.

    2. Zulejka, you most definitely do not ever leave your little girl in the room with this man by herself. You watch every move he makes and if you need to pop out to another room for a minute, your daughter goes with you. You need to absolutely trust the little gut feeling you have that says something is not right. These things are weird and the fact that he does them in plain sight does NOT mean that he’s probably not a molester. Your gut feeling is all you need to have to be vigilant about protecting your daughter. And you teach her as she grows up to know that when she has that gut feeling, to just trust it and don’t take chances. You are not being paranoid. I think in the story in the blog here, the parent would have had a better chance to protect the child if the chiropractor had exhibited some of these signs. There are many molesters who do not exhibit these at all. When they DO, get away as fast as you can!

      1. yes yes yes. everything you just said.

      2. avatar elly hulm says:

        definietely don’t allow them to be alone together but could he be doing the tickling etc in front of you so your daughter thinks you are comfortable with it giving your daughter the idea that it is okay – I have heard molesters can spend a long time ‘grooming’ children for future sexual abuse. You need to feel comfortable and may not want to be too confrontational but I would try and think of ways of intervening when the touching happens – maybe just saying enough tickling and move your daughter to a new situation – or call her to come to you to help you with something or I’ll read you that book now and pick her up and take her away – hopefully she gets the message to move away from those situations as well by you doing it – keep them safe hugs

    3. The fact that he does it in plain sight does not make it less likely that he is a child molester. It is an intentional strategy to desensitize you and to make your daughter think that his touches and games are okay with you, because he has done it in your sight.

    4. Trust your gut.I think this man is attempting to normalise his own behaviour by reflecting it in your presence; it sounds sinister to me and I would be vigilant. Do not leave your little girl with him.

    5. I do think that you are misreading anything. do not leave your kids a lone with him or mostly anyone at this age. very hard for them to express them selfs and tell you anything. only if you supper trust and emergencies leave with people. even relatives. most abuse is from those we trust. his actions are not appropriate even in front of you. he probably wants you to think exactly that.. that it is OK. it is not!

    6. Trust your instinct. The behavior sounds like grooming. And don’t give anyone permission to bathe your child.

    7. I’m not trying to plant fear in your mind but I would trust your instincts. This could be a way someone grooms a person to see if they can get away with something. I would clearly tell him when things are inappropriate, every single time. Also, if the daughter sees that you’re comfortable and trust him, even when he is being inappropriate, it might send a confusing message to her that other things are ok too. I don’t know the situation and I’m for sure not an expert but I would trust those gut feelings.

    8. I think it’s very strange that any man would offer to change your Childs diaper. That’s a big red flag, I wouldn’t even be around him, regardless that he’s family. Better to be safe than sorry. This is your child. His behavior is not normal.

    9. Please trust your instincts! Tickling and patting are very common grooming behaviors and they are often done in front of parents and kids as a way to make kids think they are allowed to touch however they like and it’s ok with the other adults. I would recommend that next time you stop him and say something like: “we’re trying to make sure she knows she’s in charge of her body, so we’re asking everyone to ask her permission before touching or tickling”

    10. Zulejka, I must agree with Lisa. Trust that gut feeling, shiver that your body is not liking. That is higher wisdom. Furthermore, the blog does mention, that molesters groom parents and communities….the fact that he is doing it in plain sight could be a grooming process on his behalf. I don’t know this person so maybe he is just affectionate without any ulterior motive. But that gut feeling can not be ignored. Your responsibility is with your daughter. Do not for one second worry about offending him, hurting his feelings.

    11. A mum’s gut instinct is never wrong. Trust you and protect your little girl. I rather be rude and take my child away than to trust and the unspeakable happens.

    12. Please, ALWAYS trust your instincts!! If you feel there is something inappropriate going on there very well could be! Most child molesters don’t believe they are doing wrong, they think the child also enjoys it, so please, keep your child under complete watch if that person is around.

    13. Even if this man never does or even thinks about harming your child or any other, he may be struggling with a very bad porn addiction and one never knows what that could lead him to do.

    14. Molesters groom the family as well. They desensitise you to touching their children. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

    15. I would trust your gut. Also, use this as an opportunity to demonstrate good behaviour to your child. If you feel uncomfortable with this man tickling your child, call him out on it. You don’t have to be mean or ashamed, just factual. Eg just say ‘I feel unfortable with you tickling my child. Could you please not do that’. Be brave and be a voice for your child.

      1. avatar kelly silk says:

        Such simple, yet empowering words – ‘be brave and be a voice for your child’

    16. avatar Kim Brooks says:

      I think he is a molester. His behavior normalizes his inappropriate attentions and vets you for your willingness to enable it. Call him out. Tell him you are uncomfortable, with specific examples. He’ll protest and be hurt and outraged. He might try to gaslight you. Then he will fade away. Share your concerns with others.

    17. THIS is how abuse happens.
      the fact that he’s doing it in plain sight is a HUGE red flag. Yes trying to desensitize you, groom your child, push boundaries and see how far he can take it. Molesters don’t just start by raping your child. it’s a slow grooming process that starts with these EXACT behaviors, earning the trust of you and your child. Please trust yogurt and absolutely never leave your baby alone with this man and warn others. Dont let anyone try to make you feel bad doubt you. stick to your guns and protect your child. Speak up and tell him you don’t feel his behavior is appropriate. Better to offend him and be wrong than have your child be a victim. has he had the chance to be alone with your child? Has your child exhibited any abnormal behaviour? teach her the proper names for her privAtes so that way if she refers to her vagina as another made up term, you can ask where she heard that from. Also, never make your child hug, sit on laps or touch anyone. It teachers her that’s her body and she doesn’t have to share it with anyone….If uncle Bob asks her for a hug and she says no, thats ok, support her choice and say “sorry uncle Bob”Dont force the child to hug someone for fear of offending them. Dont worry about offending family or anyone. Your child’s safety comes first. Your child needs to know good touch and bad touch, and that bad touches can feel good sometimes but they are still bad touches. This behavior this man has is screaming a HUGE red flag. I would check an make sure he hasn’ touched her already. PLEASE take this seriously. Please listen to your gut…it will never steer you wrong

    18. Trust your instincts. Sometimes abusers do their grooming in public, so that when abuse happens in private, when the child is trying to make sense of it they may conclude “well mummy sees him tickle me and she lets him bath me, so this behavior must be ok too”. Thats how predators groom, preparing conditions for the abuse to happen and to continue unchallenged. Please listen to your gut!

    19. avatar Yvonne Watson says:

      Follow your gut instinct!

    20. avatar Sara Smith says:

      If you need to ask or question, you already know the answer. You just don’t trust yourself to be right. It’s simple. Never ever give him the opportunity to harm her & you’ll never have to live with those regrets.

    21. The relative who abused me also touched me in plain sight. That was his alibi! If you feel bad, it is bad.

    22. Please please please don’t leave you girl alone with him. My friend who found out her little girl was being molested by a close relative told me she had the same feeling and the guilt she feels now for ignoring that feeling is something I don’t wish on anyone. She described to me the exact same reasoning she tried to convince herself of you were describing. A mother’s instinct is a powerful thing that we keep underestimating. Please err on the side of caution. Better safe than sorry.

    23. I wouldn’t even need to leave for the minute to another room because this person would not be welcome in my home – my kids come first and I would rather be safe than sorry. Trust yourself mama – something is not right! Even in public, he’s normalizing the behaviour – don’t let him!

    24. This is exactly how things can start. My uncle started with me with those exact behaviors. I remember him changing my diaper. I remember that what he did was different and made me uncomfortable although I wouldn’t have been able to express that. The nature of his interactions with me progressed from diaper changing and tickling to bath time and nighttime visits when I stayed over with my cousins. I was too afraid to tell anyone. I didn’t think they would believe me (which turned out to be true) I was a child with a ‘vivid imagination.’ Why would he do that to me? etc. Those reactions and comments communicated/reinforced my fear of not being believed and even though I could have gone on to give other proof, it was still my word against his and I could never have overcome that fear and embarrassment to say anything further.

    25. Grooming also includes doing all of those things in front of the parents so that you think their actions are innocent and also so that the child can see that “he is doing this in front of my parents and they are laughing and so this is fun!” So when he does it when they are alone it won’t be out of the ordinary behavior. Be careful! Most tend to start doing things just like that in plain sight for the soul purpose of grooming!!

  3. A friend sent me to your post and I just want to say that I get this, on a deeper level even. Recently, my father was arrested with child pornography, and lots of it. The investigator told me that they didn’t think he produced any of it, but still… And then now there are suspicions that he molested my friend when we were about 7.
    I am having a super hard time reconciling everything. I feel all the things you described, and more. This is my DAD. The dad I looked up to for advice almost daily in my adult life, the dad that took me camping every summer and to the movies almost every Saturday when I was kid. The dad who introduced me to humor and sarcasm. The dad who was always the life of the party at family gatherings. He wasn’t a perfect dad by any means, but he was my dad. And now he is somebody else entirely. But, who? My instinct is to move across the country and never speak to him again, and it cleaves my heart to know that I will never look at him the same–at holidays the same; life in general really.

    Also, pedophiles cannot be helped. It is a sexual preference. Implying that there could ever be a way to get rid of the urge implies that I could get therapy to make me no longer attracted to men. It isn’t doable.

    1. YES IT IS DO-ABLE. Just because you are attracted to men doesn’t mean you can harm and abuse them. You can be educated and trained NOT to abuse or manipulate others for your own gratification. Paedophiles no different – just fewer options for them to turn to if they wanted to. Attraction is one thing, action and behaviour can be separated, and managed, to avoid or reduce harm and damage to others (aside from one’s own moral conscience). Don’t make excuses for abusers by connecting attraction with behaviour… we ALL have to modify our behaviour in one way or another, no matter what our impulses are. Eg I want to punch your father in the face, but I wouldn’t even if I met him, it would cause more harm than good. It’s not your fault of course, and hope you get all the support you need.

      1. Bridget is making a distinction you’re ignoring. Pedophile =/= molester. Not all people who are sexually attracted to children will molest or harm them.

      2. You are so wrong on this! It is NOT merely separating attraction from action and behavior. Pedophiles, molesters, abusers cannot be “cured” or “modified” these are not just impulses to be controlled. I do not know where or how you came to believe such absolute garbage but its this thinking which aids in this societies ACCEPTANCE, to ignore there is a real problem.

    2. Sorry you are going through this Bridget. I can only imagine your heartache. I hope you find peace with it. Thanks for sharing, these stories are opening eyes in an important way.

      1. I believe the opposite Kimberle. By realizing that compulsions and preferences don’t have to be acted upon we are putting a higher level of accountability onto pedophiles. Their sexual preferences can’t be changed, their behavior can be. They cant help their attraction, or desire, they CAN help their actions, they can take themselves out of situations that are uncomfortable, they can decide never ever to act upon their compulsions, and to seek therapy if they are feeling out of control of their actions (before anyone is harmed). For example- I have a sexual preference toward my husband, but i would never act upon that desire unless it was a situation that was mutual with enthusiastic informed consent. If my husband was unable to give consent at any point, I would not act upon any sexual feelings I was having. Children can never give consent to an adult, people don’t have to act upon their compulsions.

    3. It is such a double life. I am not sure that the pedophile ever inhabits both lives at once. The person who abused that I know had such a disconnect to function. That is what is so uncomfortable for people with integrated lives… how does one DO that?

  4. After suffering from fondling by adults in my te enage years. I started talking to my daughter when she 2 or 3. I never trusted any male around her. I wish the book ” Some secrets should never be kept” was available then. I will be reading it to my future grand children.

  5. Thank you so much for writing about this. The more people share their stories, the more we will have an educated public. This has to become a topic that adults and children are comfortable openly talking about and being aware of. Please see http://www.peacefulheartsfoundation.org for resources for survivors, friends and family of survivors, and anyone who wants to learn more about child sexual abuse.

  6. There is an amazing Australian book recently released called A Secret Safe to Tell by Naomi Hunter. Highly recommended.

  7. Zulejka, even though everyone else has said it I am going to add. Growing up there were people around us whom my parents trusted. They played all the tickling games in plain view and even managed to grope. It is so easily done. We would get thrown up in the air which meant they could legitimately have their hands between your legs. Even if you are wrong, always trust your gut.

  8. I read this article and it brings back horrible memories of my childhood with my biological mom and her the people we lived with. My mom’s boyfriend and friends at the time were all hard drug users and the way for my mother to get more was for to decide to “sell” me for them so she could stay high. I was 3 it went on for several months until my dad found me 2 blocks from where he was living at that time.
    It’s tough for young children to understand what’s going on and we will never truly get over it, I am 23 and I am still not over what happened to me. The only thing we can do as parents is expand to out children that it’s inappropriate for other people outside of the family to touch them in their private parts (changing diapers, bathing, or help to wipe behinds). We have to pray that we are making to best decision on places that we leave our children and whom we leave them with.

    1. What a dreadful experience, Estella. I am terribly sorry this happened to you. Are you familiar with Elisabeth’s blog, Beating Trauma (http://beatingtrauma.com)? She bravely and eloquently shares her progress as she recovers from the sexual abuse she experienced as a child. Like you, she was the victim of sexual trafficking. I think you might find her insights healing. Bless you, Estella.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Sexual predators are nice, charming, and really good at what they do. If only society as a whole understood this, then we could drastically save some of these children. I had an overwhelming instinct that someone we know, love and trust was grooming my daughter at the age of 18 months. I was devastated, to say the least and shocked at the lack of resources available to mothers like me. I began our company, Bailey Bee Believes, and we have an educational DVD program for parents to educate their children as early as 2 years of age! For more info, you can go to: http://www.baileybeebelieves.com. Best of luck to you and keep blogging!

  10. Do not take the risk. If I were you I would confront the man in question about his “inappropriate” behaviour towards your daughter. He is grooming you both! What man wants to change a child’s nappy? Lol.

  11. At least this criminal had the decency to break down and plead guilty. That’s more than can be said about the rapist of my kids – my own (now ex-) husband, their father. He and his family continue to act like *they* are the victims. They even shot the eldest dirty looks when she was brave enough to give a victim impact statement at his sentencing. He had the chance to do the right thing several times after he was arrested for his crimes, but he refuses to do so. Thus hurting the kids (and me) even more. Because he’s only convicted of raping one, and not the other, his family is trying to get visitation with the other child and he’s actually been sending this child mail from prison. The family court expects me to give this child the mail, although they did not order me to do so. And like hell I will (child’s therapist also does not think this would be good for child). It’s a continuous fight of keeping the kids afloat because of their experiences, keeping myself afloat through mine, and fighting off the perp and his enabling (at the least) family. Meanwhile he’s already done almost 2.5 years of his 10 year sentence… and we’re not even beginning to be ‘okay’ again. Yet he gets a lot more help than we do (‘official’ help, we get help from friends, family and strangers, but not from CPS or anyone). This was a very good article. The questions you ask, the emotions you went through… imagine what that feels like when you find this out and you’re married to the perp. I am literally thanking God alone for keeping me sane through it all.

    1. I tried through the family courts to have the father of my 19 month old to have supervised visitations, I left him when my son was born, as he was happy to express his desires towards children to me. At the time the relationship was extremely abusive, I was so weak and confused that in the end my family pulled me away! And thank god they did. But now after a year of court hearings my beautiful son has to spend a full day once a week with a pedophile, only because I had no evidence and everything I told the family courts was taken as hear say. So tell me how do I protect my child now??????? I was told by the lawyers to let this manipulative, charming man get to know and bond with his son??? My son does this strange licking thing after he has been with his father. I am constantly stressed and confused and worried that he is slowly grooming my beautiful child. I so wish I had some help!!!

      1. Sorry, this may have been written a while ago, just reading this now. I am heartbroken to read your story and so worried about your son. Is there a way to have the visit be supervised? Can he agree to have it at your house? Could you use a nanny cam? Any sort of recording device? I would not let up until my voice is heard for the safety of my child! If he’s expressed his sickness to you, could he have damning information on his computer? I hope and pray your child stays safe!

  12. I want to point out that not all child molesters are horrible people, some are not monsters but people who can’t control themselves. They just need help

    1. Nope.

      Abuse is about control first and foremost, control and power.

      Those who sexually abuse children are so much in control of the situation that they patiently spend time grooming the child and the child’s support system.

      Do not make the mistake (if it is a mistake and not deliberate obfuscation) of feeling sorry for these men.

    2. Are you a pedophile? If someone molested your child, even if I they were a pillar in the community, and a very “nice” person, wouldn’t you consider then a monster?

  13. Hi my name is kim gattus i was molested by my father for years I used to hate when my brother and sister went out to play

  14. I found out that my friend of 15 years molested two girls about 8-12 years old 12 years ago.

    The police caught up with him. He pleaded guilty and went to jail for 3 years. He is out, now.

    All his friends have turned their backs on him. Family, too.

    Then, he called me. I told him I didn’t know if I could talk to him. I would think it over.

    In theory, he “paid” for his crime. I don’t believe that, though. He can never make up for what he did. He says nothing has happened since. That is possibly true.

    I am not exactly sure what the crime was. He claims it was just touching. The court claimed it was more.

    This is the worst crime I can imagine. Murder would be easier to accept.

    His message to me was that he needed some humanity. That he just wanted to talk to me because he has no one. I believe that.

    Child molesters need friends, too. Do they deserve to have them?

    Because of my friend’s crime, my boyfriend stayed angry for 5 years, treating me like crap because I was friends with this guy until he went to jail. That is another issue but related.

    My friend is smart, kind, spiritual. Do I treat him as a friend, again?

    1. No. never. jail doesn’t mean paid for anything. You’re boyfriend is right. This so called friend is a manipulative monster. Would probably trust him with your kid? probaboy not. You don’t NEED this man in your life. He may “need” a frien, he needs his balls cut off as far as I’m comcerned. But you don’t need him. Run away.

  15. Janet, your remarks about how he offered adjustments for free made my hair stand on end. That is a flag, I believe. We had a nanny who was overly helpful- like, beyond normal. And she did the whole tickling in front of us bit, and rough housing, and infantalised my toddler by insisting on cradling her intimately instead of putting her to bed in our normal new big girl routine. It was very strange. I had just had another baby and was observing her behavior very closely and it dawned on me, very suddenly, that these were red flag behaviors. I read a bunch online and talked to my husband about it (and meanwhile didn’t let them out of my sight- in fact gave her a few weeks off). At first he asked, do you really think our nanny is a pedaphile?! And it did sound a bit ridiculous. But inexplicably I hated this woman and wanted to push her off a cliff. Mama instinct made me want to do her harm, almost literally. We fired her without explanation shortly thereafter. I am 99% certain she was capable of harming my children and may have been grooming my two year old. To anyone out there reading this: please do not second guess yourself. You don’t need to explain yourself to anyone. You have no one to answer to but yourself. And your child.

    1. Or you children were more attached to the nanny than you and you felt slighted by that?
      I’ve been there when my children were young; the struggles I had in being a fully involved mum to my kids and how I would feel threatened by other females in their lives who they had easy relationships with. The fact you describe that you “hated her”, quite an extreme reaction in itself since according to you, she hasn’t done anything horrendous to you or someone you love, speaks volumes. Instead of avoiding your feelings in regards to your own mothering from your own mother and blaming them on other innocent parties, therapy might help you as your attitude is already hurting your children’s emotional development ie firing the nanny without reason, a person that they had a healthy attachment to.

      1. This was not a healthy attachment and your feelings are an indication. She was usurping your role as your child’s mom.

      2. The behavior of the nanny as described did raise a few red flags. You ignored that while focusing on the mom’s reaction. I call that gaslighting.

  16. Janet,

    Esto te lo escribo en español, porque aunque escribo ingles, siento que debo abrir mi corazón con mi lengua materna.

    Mientras te leía sentía una angustia extrema!
    Siempre, siempre SIEMPRE piensas que eres inmune a estas cosas feas que pasan en la sociedad, porque SOMOS gente buena, gente que lastimamos o dañamos a nadie.

    Tu mensaje me ha llegado fondo y definitivamente DEBO tomar acción y ser menos confiada con TODOS (incluso aquellos que sentimos y vemos “buenos”).

    Lamento de corazón esta situación por la que te encontraste y espero que esta pequeña niña, guerrera y valiente como necesitamos en este mundo, pueda avanzar en su camino de la mejor manera posible.

  17. What age is ‘as soon as possible’ for talking to children about this? What is old enough? I can imagine to some extent your shock and hurt at this Janet. It is hard to imagine anyone in your own circle doing something like this, and yet as a parent we have to be constantly vigilant and just hope and pray we can protect our children from possibilities and help them to trust us and themselves to know what is right. We have friends I would not be happy leaving our daughter with alone for a length of time, although I’m sure my husband would be mortified to know I feel this way, and they truly are friends, but I just find some of their behaviours a bit weird or ‘full on’ so am just trusting my instincts.

  18. avatar Stephanie says:

    I vividly remember when I discovered that my adult nephew was “dating” a pre-pubescent girl. (The girl was his little sister’s friend.) I immediately went into shock and vomited when I got home. I spent the next 24 hours trying to justify his actions in my mind – which is something I never thought I’d do. I recalled how he grew up in a horrible environment, had developmental delays, etc. I tried to reason that perhaps he didn’t realize what he was doing was wrong. The girl’s parents allowed her to be with him. The whole thing was just sick.
    After the initial shock, I realized I had to come to grips with it because nothing was being done to protect the girl. I ended up having to alert authorities, CPS, hotlines and contacted social workers at the girl’s school. It is shocking how much effort it takes to report a crime of this nature. I spent hours having to compile enough info to get taken seriously.
    I had known my nephew since he was four years old. It was because of him that I had even wanted to become a mother at all. He used to spend weekends with me as a little boy and would snuggle up by me. I’ve come to accept that the little boy I loved is gone and grew up to be a man who thought it was okay to steal the innocence of someone for his own benefit.
    In hindsight, I’m not surprised that my nephew grew up to have those sort of impulses. Despite this, to this day if I try to picture a child molester, I still imagine a creepy looking guy in a white van. It’s just weird that sometimes the people we know and love have the potential to do terrible things.

    1. Stephanie – thank you so much for your candid sharing

  19. Do not let that child out if your sight… that man is definitely grooming you both. I was molested for years as a young child by my stepfather… the only dad I knew. When I finally felt I was able to tell my mom (5 years after it began) he was arrested and jailed. He did his time… was it enough? Who knows… I Went To Counseling FOR A Long Time. It has affected all of my relationships, until I was ready to ask God to help me to forgive him. .. not because he deserved to be forgiven, but because I deserved to heal. …. don’t let a child be hurt … your job is to protect them. .. the damage can never be undone… I am in my 40s and it has only been the last couple years that I can talk about what happened to me without breaking down… the lifelong damage is real…. it has been over 30 years since my abuse ended… trust your instincts and talk to your kids, talk to your grandkids, make sure that they know they are to come to you if anyone ever touches them or makes them feel uncomfortable

  20. Sorry to hear about your experience and thanks for the tips. One thing to note is that you should add a trigger warning to this post, for those who have experienced childhood sexual assault. This post definitely retriggered my personal experience of sexual assault.

    1. I’m sorry for your experience and I empathize with you, and I am sorry you had flashbacks, but the title alone should be a “trigger warning”.
      you don’t have to read the article.
      I guess I just have a hard time understanding why EVERYTHING these days needs a “trigger warning”

  21. Janet, thank you for writing this article. It has prompted me to address this with my daughter soon. As a young girl, I too was exposed to unwelcome advances from elder, trusted and respected family friends yet never spoke of them to my parents until now in middle age. All 3 instances happened within earshot/sight of my parents and involved groping and attempted mouth kissing. Still gives me the creeps to think about it all these years later.

  22. avatar Roslyn Browne says:

    Thank you all for sharing your painful stories. I have always tried to keep my children safe and when they were very young they were never allowed to stay over with other people and I tried to always know where they were. Maybe people thought I was over protective but have had men trying to groom me as a young girl. For some reason I new it was wrong and removed myself from the situation. I don’t know where that strength came from but it saved me and my sisters from sexual abuse by a family friend. I cannot find the book “A Very Touching Story” that was mentioned here. I would like to buy a copy. Can someone tell me where to get it. Thanks

  23. Thanks for your post Janet. So distressing for you I can imagine. I commend you on writing it and sharing. The more we talk about this, the safer our children will be. Sexual abuse silences victims, and breeds in silence. We cannot be silent about it, no matter how awkward it is to talk about or confront. The shame lies with the perpetrator, always.

  24. I’m a mom of 2 beautiful adult daughters and have taught child “body safety” for 21 years to more than 25,000 children! I recently published a children’s book “After Potty Training Comes Private Training” and created a program for preschoolers teach them to love, respect and (when necessary) protect their bodies. With the help of Private Duke and Daisy Wears, parents, teachers and advocates can easily start prevention discussions in a fun, memorable way with children as young as 2 years old:)

  25. Thank you so much for bringing this topic up-it is so important that we truely realize that most child molesters *appear to be stand up, respectable citizens, the longer that we continue with the sleazy stereotypes, the hard it is to break the cycles of abuse. My parents were both school teachers and very active participants in our local church and community,stand up citizens, but behind closed curtains my dad raped all of us and organized forced group sex with my siblings and my mom actively and willingly paticipated, all in an upper white class privileged neighborhood. No one is immune and it is so much more common than we want to realize. I’m so happy to hear he was convicted, the world is slowly waking up.

  26. Hi Janet ,
    I am glad you found closure. In my opinion and my understanding through my spiritual journey, whether we are forcing food down a child’s throat , forcing children to do things they do not want to do or touching them inappropriately , what it does to the spirit of the child is the same . It takes free will away from a child. I know it might be controversial for me to say this and many might not agree but even though some of these actions are well intended ( force food to nourish the child) the affect it has on the child soul is the same. I empathize with all the kids who have been subjected to any of these and many other similar situations that puts them in harms way. I also want to thank you for the wonderful work you are doing to educate parents.

  27. I’m actually pretty disappointed. I realize you’re going through your process but it feels inconsiderate to those of us that are victims and to the child victims in this story. To still call him your friend or to balance the good memories with the horrors is all so familiar of what happens in our society. I’d rather here no no no the child is always first. When victims see adults struggle with this balance of memories it feels like your horror is questioned, even if it’s not. It’s perception and sometimes victims just want to be only thought of concern. Thanks for sharing. It reminds all of us to be so careful. Xoxo

  28. I have personal experience with this and am the opposite of triggered. We need more helpful posts like yours to let people know how quietly this can happen even when there are open and trusting parent/child relationships. Thank you not only for the story of your former friend but also for the link to common myths. Sharing.

    1. Your support means the world to me, Laura. Thank you.

  29. Congratulations on your beautiful new website! Finding articles is so easy and I am especially grateful for this post, because everyone at my daughter’s new school told me I was making a big deal out of nothing when I found out the photographer, a woman, tickles the children to get them to smile.

    I talked to the teacher, email, and the family counselor, but didn’t feel supported. I do not want anyone touching my daughter–and neither does she, because the minute she got out of the car, my husband picked her up, she said, I don’t want to be tickled.

    I have always told her only Mommy and Daddy were to touch her and she can always say no to us. The pediatrician does a vaginal check for abuse and I told him that I would touch her for the check-up, not him, so that she knows I mean it that only her parents and her can touch her. My husband patted her toosh once and she said, No, Daddy!

    Good for her. It was loving, nothing creepy or red flag, but she knew it was her body–and, it was not appropriate.

    We don’t tickle, except if she asks, and then we stop the minute she says No. I always stop at her first No and I am pointing out to her, she is 4, that I listen to her first No, so she will learn to always listen to the first No of others. No is No.

    Because of this post I will be going to the Director of the school to discuss the tickling and not leave her office until I have confirmation that the tickling will end. I knew it would for my daughter, but I will make sure it does for all of the children. It’s completely inappropriate.

    As to your shock: It turns everything upside down. You were so articulate regarding the many views of understanding that have to be questioned, when there is such a betrayal.

    Thank you to everyone and their insight and personal stories.

    1. The touching her refers to a hug or changing her diaper, since we do not have family around it is only us that she has the closest relationship to.

      We don’t make her hug others or even say hello if she doesn’t want to.

      We had a handyman that just wanted to be so friendly with her and it was not cool. He no longer works here.

      1. Just a follow up: I spoke, again, with the Family Services counselor and I was able to understand why tickling was normal to everyone there: it happens at photography studios and they are all cool with it. Still, not me.

        I was able to share that we do not know if any of the children are being groomed and, for them to be tickled in front of faculty, it could send a message that even school would support the predator’s behavior.

        She is starting a policy that children are not to be tickled, and this includes photographers.

        It was an enlightening conversation, after she understood I was not putting the school down, or accusing them of not caring about the safety of the children. My daughter would have been pulled had I thought that. It was a remarkable moment when we both heard exactly what the other was saying. Resolution followed immediately after.

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