I’m going to talk today about something I rarely talk about, something deeply personal and embarrassing and ugly. I just read a post on A Million Gods that got me thinking about it, and I felt compelled to provide my two cents.
When I was about six, I lived across the street from my elementary school and the community center. In the winter, there was two skating rinks. The first was a full on outdoor hockey rink with boards and benches that has long since been torn down to just the cement, and the second was the crappy rink. I preferred the crappy rink. All the kids in the hockey rink were better skaters, better at everything, and fully embraced the whole “Canadians Love Hockey” thing. At the crappy rink, I could pretty much do my own thing.
I was a ridiculously skinny and weak kid, and skating for me was more like “walking slowly on your ankles”. Unlike the rich kids in my neighborhood, my family couldn’t afford the cool Bauer skates that looked so cool with their hard plastic. We bought the skates from second hand stores that looked like old timey shoes someone had attached a blade to. Honestly, I don’t even think I liked skating back then, it was just the thing that people did.
One day, I was skating with a bunch of people. As the day drew on, people started leaving until I was alone taking my skates off. Yes, I was six and alone, but it was the neighborhood, my parents knew where I was, and back then, people didn’t really think about any of the crap they think about today. As I struggled with my skates, I heard a voice behind me ask if I wanted to warm up. It was the janitor from the community center. I didn’t know him that well, but he was a Grown Up and janitors were like teachers, so I knew I’d be safe. And I was cold, the wind had picked up when the sun went down, and I could use a little indoor warming. So I went with him.
He didn’t have any hot chocolate, but offered me a can of coke. My parents weren’t four square against me having pop, but I would never have had a whole can to myself, so this was like the greatest thing that had ever happened. At my house, coke came in Small Green Juice Glasses that we would fill to the absolute top of the glass and then sneak a sip out of the bottle when we were allowed. A whole can? Damn! This was the best day ever.
And then his hand was in my pants. I looked up at him, and he wasn’t scary. He explained that it was a fun tickling game, and it did feel good to be tickled there. But it also felt really weird and really bad. I had the feeling that this was not such a good game to play. He asked if I would tickle him back, and he pulled his penis out. Seeing it made me scared, though I don’t know why it would have. I just knew that this game wasn’t a good game, and I also felt like I was in danger. So I told him I had to leave. Amazingly, he said that was fine, that if I ever wanted to come back and warm up to just knock, and that our tickling should be a secret. And then I left.
I got home, and I really wanted to understand what had happened, but I couldn’t talk to my parents. That would mean telling them I had done something bad, and I didn’t want to get in trouble, so I talked to my sister. She was three years older than me, and she told me that I definitely shouldn’t tell my folks. She knew that what I had done was bad, and she didn’t want me to get in trouble. So I kept a lid on it. I didn’t end up telling them until my mom was driving me to school in grade 5, when I just sort of blurted it out. Turns out that I should have told them when it happened.
I never lost sleep about this incident. It had just seemed to me like one of those weird things that happens sometimes. I heard a story about him offering a girl who lived nearby a sucker if he could see her naked, but that’s the only other hint I’ve ever had that this guy was a creep to anyone but me. As I grew older, I realized what this was and what the guy was and how that had really been a potentially ugly situation, but I never feared or worried about it. It had happened, I had got away, and that was that. The only regret I had was that I didn’t tell someone at the time.
Today, I know a lot more people who had similar incidents, and most were a lot more damaging and brutal. Someone very important to me lost a family member in this way, a “suspected” (read: known, but never caught) child molester lured the girl into his home to molest her, realized that she knew where he lived (he had previously only molested kids in parks and the like) and chose to kill her instead of molesting her. So yeah, it could have been a lot worse. But that doesn’t mean it was okay.
When I read Avicenna’s post this morning, I was in total agreement. Someone on one of those MRA sites had written a fictional account about how a kid’s childhood had been dampened because the ice cream truck guy had disappeared one day, and that things was Never The Same Again. Are you kidding me? I bet your fictional kid’s Never The Same Again was nowhere near what the fictional victim’s Never The Same Again would have been like. It absolutely grosses me out that someone would trivialize pedophilia.
Yes, there are examples of people who lie about being victims of this crime. Those people are dicks. A friend of mine’s brother was the victim of this as a teacher in a small town. Two girls came forward with stories about him, and eventually his name was cleared when they admitted to making the whole thing up. It didn’t matter at that point, sadly, as everyone in town thought of him as a monster and he ended up moving his family. But that hardly makes child molestation invalid.