I was between the ages of 2 & 3 ….probably closer to 2 years old. It is one of my first memories. I can recall the layout of the apartment to the detail. My dad had left me with a family friend/babysitter – a teenager. Someone I knew well and had watched me before. I trusted him completely. It was probably early afternoon.
I sat on the couch with him as we read a magazine together. He was “cuddled” next to me the way someone reading a child a story would be. As we looked through the magazine we came across a picture of a naked man with a briefcase. He pointed out to me that the man was naked. I distinctly recall going from a place of safety, trust, and comfort to fear, guarded and confused. He then asked me if I had ever seen “one” before and if I wanted to see his. I told him no. He proceeded to pull down his pants around his knees, exposing his penis and tried to convince me it was ok. I don’t know how, but at that very young age I KNEW it wasn’t ok. I created space between us by going over to the other sofa and putting the coffee table in between us.
He then began to ask me to kiss it – telling me it was ok to do so. Again, I don’t know how I knew it wasn’t, I was too young for anyone to have explained that yet, but I knew. I told him no and began creating more distance. He started following me around pleading with me to kiss it. I was scared. I had to use the bathroom and thought i would get some privacy/escape. But, he followed me in, standing in the doorway. He sat on the floor in the doorway with his pants still down. Telling me it was ok. He then told me he would kiss mine if I kissed his. I still told him no. I was scared and knew I couldn’t let him see “mine” so I used 2/3 year old logic and sat backwards on the toilet. When I was done he continued to follow me, asking me to PLEEEAAASE kiss it. I did what any 2/3 year old would do to escape – I went to the bedroom to take a nap. He didn’t follow me and left me alone. At some point during his following he begged me not to tell our parents, that they would be upset.
I don’t know how much time passed before we saw them again, a day..weeks? Its only snapshot memories – like a movie in my head. I think that day may have been the day I told my parents. I recall being scared and clinging to my dad. I recall the friends etc that were there asking why I was so quite and not as talkative as usual. I don’t recall ever seeing them again after that day.
All through my childhood I had nightmares about this day. Reliving it over and over in my sleep waking up screaming, crying and scared but never recalling the dream. My parents had no idea – and with the exception of these dreams I did not remember what had happened. When I was in 5th grade they had a session on molestation etc. I started having the dreams every night for a couple weeks. I remembered them now – finally I said to my mom, I keep having these weird dreams every night and I told her about the dream. She said, you remember that. I realized the nightmares and dreams I had been having were my memories replaying over and over.
As a young teen I was hanging out with some friends who always stopped in and visited this old man who would always have candy for the neighborhood kids. We had visited a couple times and it was always weird and uncomfortable. My instincts said bad place – but my friends went there all the time – so I ignored it. When we were there the last time, he reached out and grabbed my breast, hard, and wouldn’t let go. I froze – completely shut down in shock – my friend grabbed my arm and dragged me out of the house. I told our parents and they called the police.
Why do I share this? Because I never want to feel that again. The fear, trauma, nightmares. I for years couldn’t have an older man standing near me. I would get tense and stressed. I never want that feeling back.
Self defense training specifically like Krav Maga gives you the tools to protect yourself, but more then that… the confidence in which you carry yourself reduces your likeliness of being a victim. Now of course there is no self defense I could have learned for when I was so young..but understanding the feelings help me understand why it is so important.
So what can be learned form my experiences?
1. Listen to your instincts.
Listening to my instincts at that young age saved what could have become an even more traumatizing event. If I didn’t listen and did as he asked, “kissed it”, what would have come next…. not listening got me into “trouble” as a teenager.
2. Train – the more the better.
I froze.. I FROZE!!!!!! Sure I didn’t have any practical self defense training at that point..but I considered myself a confident don’t take nothing from anyone kinda girl… but my shock froze me in place. My goodness, I responded better at 2 years old keeping distance and furniture between us then I did when I was older. This is more common then you realize, do some research on how people respond in an attack situation. Taking a self defense seminar or two is great. But to know how to respond, to keep your skills sharpened train weekly, daily. Training in a good program like Krav Maga also puts you through stress drills..allowing you to push through the stress..and the “freeze” moment to protect yourself.
If something does happen make sure you tell some right away. Get help and support. Report them right away, you may protect someone else.
So get the training. Learn the facts. Be aware.
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