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Historical abuse?

(19 Posts)
Harrette Tue 14-Jul-15 13:30:27

So I was doing some child protection training recently. And we got onto grooming. I've been aware that stuff that went on between me and an adult male when I was a teenager (I was 14 - he was 24) was pretty close to the bone, but I still framed it in my mind as me throwing myself at him, and him going along with it. I should say I was a deeply vulnerable and desperate teenager because of a lot of emotional abuse in my family, but at that time had no idea, thought I was so grown up and knew everything about everything.

Anyway, the training mentioned giving gifts as a way of grooming - and the penny just dropped. He gave me (very cheap) gifts before I'd ever thought of him in a sexual way. And made time for me. Talked to me, listened to me, when no one else was interested. And that was all it took, I was so needy.

I didn't actually fancy him at all - in fact found him physically unattractive, he was about as far from my teenage ideal of fanciable boy as you could get, but I never thought I stood a chance with any of the boys I actually fancied. And the attention was just irresistible. So I started hanging around him more and more and sooner or later there was sexual activity. Most things bar full PIV sex. Soulless, loveless, joyless. It was all entirely sordid and in the context of a bit on the side - he was actually engaged - no relationship, no dates, all took place somewhere completely inappropriate even if the whole thing hadn't been so wrong anyway.

So anyway. Was this abuse? I never thought it was because I was never coerced or forced, I was totally "up for it" because in my colossal naivety and desperation I thought that sex would actually make me happy. I genuinely thought any sex would do, didn't have a clue about sex in the context of a loving relationship, or even lust. This was the 70s, I thought all cool girls were supposed to want sex. But obviously I was under the age of consent, and he was fully aware of that. It's the gifts thing that really got me. Like say, I would never have thought of him in that way before he started with that, and realising that this is a pattern in abusive men made me stop and think for the first time - he wanted that to happen. He saw a target, a vulnerable, needy, naive girl - and he worked on me. And made me think I was the one chasing him. He actually did make out that I was the temptress and he was the helpless, hapless man.

I'm still struggling to get my head round what it was. Can anyone help me process this? Was I groomed?

Anniegetyourgun Tue 14-Jul-15 14:50:58

Sounds like it to me. This is why the law is how it is, because children do not always know what is best for them, especially when the new teen hormones are biting so excitingly (ah, I was young once) so the onus is put on adults to behave responsibly. It was his job to say no, you're under age, I won't go there - not to mention that he was supposed to be exclusively with someone else, which says even more about his morality. You may or may not have been "ripe for the plucking" but it was not his place to pluck you.

I hope you don't feel too bad about it nowadays.

Harrette Tue 14-Jul-15 15:17:39

Thanks, Annie. Yes, I think for some time now I've thought the onus was on him to say no, but the thing about the grooming (gift giving etc) just suddenly made it seem even more sinister. Like he didn't just not say no, he actually initiated it but made me feel it was me doing so. It's the thought there was this intent there that opens up a whole new layer of stuff. And yes, total sleazebag to do that to his fiancée too.

It's not something that imposes too much on my life, thanks for your kind thoughts. It's not been at the forefront of my mind for a long time, it was just one shitty episode in a series of a great many shitty episodes back then, tbh. But I think it would help me to process it as what it was, ie a predatory, opportunistic man who actively set out to groom and abuse a very naive girl, just because I didn't have that language or definition of it for such a long time. Somehow I always saw it as more innocent than that, on his part, but now I find what he did really sickening.

Yes, I agree absolutely that young teens do not always know what's best for them, and about the hormones! What I didn't understand then was that the age of consent was there to protect girls, because I had zero experience of being protected, or being deemed woth protecting. I just saw it as being there to control me.

Pippin8 Tue 14-Jul-15 15:28:43

I've had the child sexual exploitation training recently & it also hit home. The same thing happened to me OP. I was 13 he was 23. I looked 15-16 and led him on, he even told me to come back when I was 16 as he knew my age. It didn't stop him though, I only gave him the come on once & that's all it took. He used to drive me round in his car, take me to the pub beer garden & taught me to play pool.

I skipped school a few times to go to his flat. One time I got there he was watching porn & we ended up having full sex. Then he got done for armed robbery & went to prison. I know now I was groomed & used as the time we had sex he refused to give me a lift back to school after.

I feel sick thinking about it but I would never do anything about it now.

Anniegetyourgun Tue 14-Jul-15 15:33:20

I agree it sounds as though the guy did deliberately worm his way in, dirty sod.

I think grooming is only just being officially recognised as the crime it should always have been, frankly. 14 is the legal age of consent in some European countries, eg Germany (hurrah for Google!), but as the man was 24 it would almost certainly have still been an offence there.

Harrette Tue 14-Jul-15 17:56:07

So sorry to hear it happened to you too, Pippin, but it is some comfort that I'm not alone. The training is pretty heavy duty, isn't it - I struggled with it, I must say. I too looked older than I was but he totally knew, he called me "jailbait" and encouraged me to write a wishlist of things I wanted for my 15th birthday. None of which ever materialised, btw. I think he either got cold feet that he might get found out by then, or just had had enough once he'd got as far as he did.

Do you feel that there was emotional abuse/neglect in your background too? I ask because the scenario you describe sounds very familiar to me, and I attribute a lot of that to my parents' complete lack of concern about my physical and emotional safety, and huge unmet needs on my part. I thought myself very worldly and knowing, but the truth was I didn't have a clue; I thought I was in control and making free choices, but I really wasn't. Like you, I've always thought I'd never do anything about it, but since the grooming aspect of it hit me, I have started to wonder if I could make some kind of complaint, or at least a report. Probably not, but it's good to wonder.

Harrette Tue 14-Jul-15 17:56:49

Annie that's quite disturbing that the age of consent is so low in Gemany, although as you say it would still have been illegal given his age. I just don't think at 14 you really have the emotional maturity to make that decision, well I certainly didn't. There may be a case for it being ok for say two 15yo's to have sex, but with all the porn usage and accompanying pressure there is now I'd still be worried for a girl that age. And young teens and adults - just no.

Pippin8 Tue 14-Jul-15 18:16:17

It is and I felt shocked with the sudden realisation that it's happened to me. I didn't have a father figure growing up. My mum invested a lot of time in my brother (known as golden balls) so couldn't really care less what I was up to. She met my stepdad when I was 11 but he was & still is useless to be honest.

I think I saw this guy as older, wiser & a bit of a bad boy who would protect me.

Harrette Tue 14-Jul-15 22:27:27

Pippin, that's very sad to think you were so utterly neglected that you would think an armed robber was someone who would protect you. I'm so sorry. I also found it terribly sad the bit you wrote about how he wouldn't even drive you back to school afterwards. It shows up the complete wrongness of it all, as well as what a bastard he was. We really were just children, weren't we. Just left to fend for ourselves in a world full of predators. I did have a father but he was a massive part of the problem, he's not a loving man at all, and he prepared me to expect men generally to treat me like shit.

It's quite a thing to get your head around. I've always thought (as an adult) I was fairly clued up around abuse, but it's hard to recognise this as abuse because we were "willing"... Except what we were looking for was something so very different from what we actually got. I just really feel like I could do with some of the MN "we believe you" message around this kind of abuse. Feel like I've carried a sense of responsibility for this for so long, and I want someone to understand it wasn't my fault, I was really powerless even though I seemed to be making the choices.

I certainly believe you anyway, Pippin, and from the outside it's very clear you were an innocent victim here.

Offred Tue 14-Jul-15 22:40:01

Any 24 year old man who has any sexual activity with a 14 year old is abusing them no matter how it happens. It is entirely irrelevant whether you encouraged it, facilitated it, agreed to it or even were totally happy with it. It's an abusive thing for a 24 year old man to do. I think in addition to that you were groomed and also exploited because you were a vulnerable 14 year old.

All that said it doesn't really matter how we all feel about it - if the whole world felt he had done no wrong it would still be ok for you to feel abused and exploited.

I've found the most helpful thing in dealing with historical abuse is accepting that fact. That my feelings about my experiences are valid and I don't need anyone else to validate them.

Namechange78910 Tue 14-Jul-15 22:41:42

Posted about this in another thread tonight and weird to find your post. Yes, this happened to me. I was just 15, but a young one, and pretty depressed with a lot of behaviours like self harming, bingeing, isolating myself and getting very angry because of my parents awful divorce and coping with my mums revelations about my dad which included him raping her frequently..I was going through a lot and thought i was a mature teen but in hindsight I was the opposite. I met a guy in town through a dubious acquaintance and we started by chatting online a lot, and then meeting up. He gave me what I needed which was attention and the idea I wasn't a completely ugly and all round worthless geek (which I sort of saw myself as. I had a really awkward phase til I was in my late teens.) It got sexual and I'd never even been kissed but it all escalated quite quickly and I remember thinking I really enjoyed it all but it sort of made me sexually dependent/obsessed. In hindsight we did a lot of really kinky stuff that even as a 27yo woman I wouldn't do now :/ I didn't have any frame of reference then so I just went with it. He would often reference our age difference, he was obsessed with the film and book Lolita (my god I can't believe I never saw that as so odd before!) and would call me little girl pet names. Oddly full piv sex was off the menu except once when I was 16 as he said he didn't love me "enough"/see a married future for us. But he would still do other stuff even after he finally dumped me and I was a mess. Really hideously impacted on my future relationships and I'm only now getting to grips with it all because I have a daughter of my own. I feel I was groomed and damaged but at the time he made it seem like I had all the agency- I was the one who wanted it, he was being manipulated/emotionally abused by me! I don't think I really had any real power in tht situation though. Makes my skin crawl.

Harrette Wed 15-Jul-15 23:48:29

Namechange so sorry to hear your story, it's really harrowing. I think you put your finger on it when you say he made it seem like you had all the agency. I think this is why it's harder to identify this type of abuse as abuse - we weren't exactly children any more, we were on the way to adulthood (though crucially not there by a long shot!) and we thought we knew what we were doing. And these men played us. Like you, I felt ugly - I was very badly bullied over my appearance when I was a child/teenager, and I couldn't believe that any man would actually fancy me,but at the same time was just so absolutely desperate for that validation as a girl/emerging young woman.

Thank you for sharing anyway. I suspect there are quite a few of us out there with similar stories.

Offred thank you very much for your words of validation. It actually means a lot and is very helpful to see another person put it there so clearly in black and white terms, even though I already know it myself.

While I agree with you that it would be ok for me to feel abused no matter what the rest of the world might think and that my feelings would be valid, I personally do feel that it is useful to me for those feelings to also be validated by others. Believe me, I've done a huge amount of accepting and validating my own feelings in other areas of abuse particularly, and I know how crucial it is to believe yourself first and foremost. But as John Donne said (or meant to say) "no person is an island, entire unto him or herself" - I do not exist in isolation, I cannot cut myself off completely from what others think, and it makes my life a lot easier if there are those around me who believe me and validate me and are willing to express that.

I look on it as fighting my own denial about what happened - I have plenty of my own ammunition to fight it with but it gets tiring and sometimes it's great if other people give me some of their ammunition too!

So again, thank you for your thoughts. Hearing you say to me exactly what I would say to someone else in my shoes makes my journey that little bit easier.

paulapompom Thu 16-Jul-15 11:55:24

Ok and other posters flowers.
I work with vulnerable children and hold the view that abusers develop a way if identifying who is vulnerable, and then start their campaign. Be it gifts, attention, cigs or even a place to go, they offer something and often pretend they don't want anything in return. Almost engineering ways to get the child to 'offer' themselves to the abuser.
No child should ever feel guilty, but I know a lot do.
Imagine if I, as a grown woman, said a 14 year old boy had thrown himself at me, and that he was up for it. If I had sexual/inappropriate contact with him would that be wrong? YES! I think the whole 'women tempting men' thing muddied the water in our society. I hope you can move past this x

Harrette Thu 16-Jul-15 12:29:11

Offred, was posting when overtired last night - meant to add that I'm so sorry to hear that you suffered abuse too but really glad that you have found a way that works for you to deal with it. flowers for all of us.

Harrette Thu 16-Jul-15 12:30:31

Thank you paula. Yes, I agree very much with that. They make out like they're just being "nice" to you and when you're starved of attention and affection that "niceness" is very, very seductive. For someone just to notice you and appear to take an interest in you - it makes you feel like you matter, and that's a really huge human need. Yes they do engineer it.

As for the whole women tempting men thing, as you put it... Wow, that's just such a huge can of worms. It's embedded in Judeo-Christian culture really - all the way back to Eve and "original sin". I think men have been making up stories to justify their appalling treatment and abuse of women for a very, very long time. Victim blaming par excellence. And the Lolita myth was so powerful back in the 70s and more recently too from what Namechanger says, thank god we are at last challenging these really skewed, distorted perceptions.

Thank you too for your good wishes. I think I will be able to move past it, ultimately. It's almost a relief to be finally addressing it. Almost!

thegreysheep Thu 16-Jul-15 16:22:37

This, I couldn't have out it better myself.

As for the whole women tempting men thing, as you put it... Wow, that's just such a huge can of worms. It's embedded in Judeo-Christian culture really - all the way back to Eve and "original sin". I think men have been making up stories to justify their appalling treatment and abuse of women for a very, very long time. Victim blaming par excellence. And the Lolita myth was so powerful back in the 70s and more recently too from what Namechanger says, thank god we are at last challenging these really skewed, distorted perceptions.

My parents were a bit neglectful in some ways (through naivety I think) but they were very strong on protecting us from older adult males when we were teenagers (but not when I was 4 unfortunately sad). I thought it was controlling and them being worried about reputation, but I do see now it was for my own protection also, thankfully. Sorry for what other posters have been through, just shows how important it is to raise awareness of grooming and that it is an offence (and not teens tempting helpless older men).

hartic Thu 16-Jul-15 18:42:47

He groomed and abused you.

Do you know any man on their 20s who would think of a 14 yr old in a sexual way?

I wouldnt be interested in a 14 yr old boy, I'd be concerned and disturbed if they were to throw themselves at me.

Because it's wrong, it's not normal and in no way is it OK. It was his fault, not yours.

How do I know? My abuser was 24 and I was 14. I am just coming to accept what he did. I live with PTSD and have been on therapy for 3yrs.

These men are scum.

noneintended Fri 17-Jul-15 11:51:18

"hello" "harrette" . Your post made me think a lot about my past. I was abused as a very young child by baby sitters, a male and a female. One was trying to have sex with me, the other one used to smack me and burn me with cigarettes. My brother used to take me to a "house" where there were ice-cream vans parked on the drive and there was (what i would consider now to be a "old man" ) present, he made my brother stay out and took me into his "bed room" i can't remember what he was saying, probably (wanting to show me something) and i was excited to see, but i ended up with him taking certain parts of my clothes off whilst talking to me and doing things to me that i did not understand but obviously thought it was ok.....this came to me as a flashback one early morning and it has never left my mind since, i now understand why i dislike ice-cream so much.
My brother was always trying to have sex with me, always telling me it was "normal", but i really was frightened of him, considering while he was trying to engage in sexual activity, he used to try killing me, and lock me up in dark places...even my father tried to engage me, he used to come into my room, telling me how beautiful i was, and touch can imagine the fear and i actually felt "sick" the bastard left me money with little notes, "our little secret" he even tried getting me into bed, whilst he was naked, telling me i should give his old dad a cuddle!!!!!! ah it haunts the hell out of me
dirty old bastards the lot of them (sorry) angry

I have never met anyone, or spoken to anyone who has been abused, it always seems to be in books, on the internet.
I really do "feel compassion" for everyone who went through and is going through this "awful awful" i can't even find a word that expresses what it is.
I wonder, if by trusting my BF with it, not in great detail, has possibly given him some sort of power to treat me the way he does?

I didn't want to talk about me, it's not about me, it's about you and what you went through. I'd say you were abused/groomed, it's the same in it's outcome!
Have you read the book byElizabeth McDonnell "you can't have my daughter"
I wish you and all the "vocsa" a bright happy future, god knows you deserve it! star
Stay happy and focused and strong

Harrette Sat 18-Jul-15 17:58:06

Hi again, have had a heavy couple of days with a very poorly DC (not much sleep, lots of washing, all better now thankfully).

thegreysheep (love the name!) thank you for that. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who sees it that way! And thank you for your comments too re protectiveness. My parents were completely lacking in protectiveness, it's only now as a parent myself I see how shocking it was. And I have no doubt that if they had been decent parents, I would never have been so vulnerable to being targeted in the first place, so while this man was entirely responsible for what he did, they were responsible for doing the groundwork that enabled him. So sorry to hear you too were failed so badly as a very young child, that's awful.

hartic likewise so sorry to hear of your experience. Yes, it was entirely their fault. They knew what they were doing. Good point about young men I know - I only know two in their twenties and you're right, I can't imagine either of them doing anything like this. Or wanting to. I suppose because I grew up in that environment, that climate, it seemed normal at the time, and still seems kind of normal to my distorted-by-abuse way of thinking, but the healthy person in me knows it's absolutely not, iyswim. Thank you for helping to clarify that for me. You're right. They're scum. He was an absolute bastard to do what he did to me, and the same goes for the man who did this to you.

I too have had a lot of therapy but there's been so much else to deal with, this has taken a backseat. I really hope it's coming together for you, PTSD must be hell to live with. I've never been diagnosed but I certainly have anxiety issues and hypersensitivity, not from any one event or series of events but as a response to an ongoing chain of abuse and bullying of different kinds, for years and years. Life has got much, much better for me though and I hope it does for you too.

noneintended - that's just truly horrific. I really don't know what to say, except of course I'm so sorry that you have been through so much. I hope you're managing to get some support in RL or here on MN because that's an awful lot to deal with, and you shouldn't have to do it alone. Thank you for your wishes and I wish the same bright happy future for you, you deserve it too!

I haven't read that book but I have read an article about that mother and daughter, heartbreaking and very moving. Yes, of course all the grooming gang stories and prosecutions have brought this into the light - the shitty thing is that even though it's definitely not right or normal, there are, and always have been, way too many men out there who are happy to prey on vulnerable young girls. Who actively set out to do so. It is good that awareness of this is slowly changing.

One of the Rotherham grooming gang victims was on the Jeremy Vine show this week, on radio 2 - a very courageous young woman who is also speaking out about what happened to her. She was groomed and abused from age 11 sad. Here's a link if anyone's interested in listening, it's on for a few weeks yet. She was just a lonely girl trying to get away from being bullied at school, trying to find somewhere to belong - it was actually an older (15) girl who "recruited" her in the first place, makes it all the more tragic.

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