Protecting one woman at a time from a predator.

Yesterday, as I went past my neighbor’s house in my wheelchair I thought, “If he asked me to go in his backyard to see his new blooming flower, alone, would I go?” Yes. I would have. Had I made the decision spontaneously. Had I not had established boundaries and been mindful and PAUSED before making ANY decisions involving being alone with a man, I would have said, “Yes,” enthusiastically! IF he would have asked. IF, I would have gone. Then I would have put myself into a completely avoidable situation that could have POTENTIALLY been unsafe for me. Do I want to be afraid of all men? No. Do I want to avoid being raped again? YES! I am more concerned with NOT being violated than I am with being anything but cautious for the rest of my life. I become comfortable. I let my guard down. Repeatedly, I have made these mistakes. Just yesterday I ran into a man that came up to speak to me alone but in a roadway. I completely and 100 percent trusted this man. I have actually been in situations alone with him many times. I have known him for over 10 years. He proceeded to tell me about his erectile dysfunction. I was caught completely off guard. The conversation went down hill with his oversharing of his penile function and his manly needs. Ten minutes before these words were spoken I would have easily gone right onto his back porch with him alone. I considered this a huge wake up call. Why risk it? If am alone with a man then the opportunity is there. If I am never alone with a man, I’ve just cut my chances in being assaulted again. Assaulted is using the word lightly. Over 10 years ago, my best friend’s husband sexually violated me and left me in fear for my life while being held against my will in his locked garage. I was looking for my best friend. She wasn’t there. He asked me to sit down while he looked for her, then he locked the garage door. I never ever could have known or seen signs that he was capable of this. I had no warning. Choosing to be alone with a man does not place the blame on me for anything that ever happened to me. I am taking being alone with a man off the table now, though, for the remainder of my life. He got me though. He got me alone. Do you know how he got me?
There are some common denominators for how predators choose their victims. Now, as a child I would not have noticed, been aware, or even known these signs. Had my parents not allowed their 11 year old clean an old man’s house for him (left alone with a man) then I would not have been molested. Being molested and later raped was not my fault. Not seeing the signs were not my fault. Child molesters/rapists/ predators carry the full responsibility of their crimes. As I have gotten older though I have become acutely aware of the ways that some pick their victims. If anything, through my experiences, I can share what I think will help to protect an innocent person from being a victim. I would like to share these revelations. 

I would like to use the remainder of this blog to discuss some red flags that predators will give. The only thing you need to do when you see these red flags is RUN! Online predators will behave similarly. They hunt. They are hunters. They escalate. Each ploy/game/attempt failed will just give them more insight to what does work. My blog for example makes me a prime candidate for a predator. I have had a blog written about me recently and hash tagged “child porn” so that everyone who read it looking for child porn would then be rerouted to my blog. If this is not a perfect example of a predator AKA an individual whose intention is abuse is then I don’t know what is. This man assumed I wrote a warning for women about him. I am given lesson after lesson about men and their predator ways. I cannot ignore these lessons. I must share them. 

Some common red flags: 

Is this man helping you, being there for you, listening to you, supporting you, out of the blue? At a time of vulnerability? Is he all of a sudden present in your life when you are at your lowest? 

Are you currently ill, or helpless, when this man comes of the woodwork to be there for you?

Have you just had a falling out with a family member, been sexually abused, broken up with your boyfriend, lost your job, had a death in the family, and all of a sudden this man swoops in to make it all better?

Is this man over connecting? Are they making their life examples so similar to yours that you feel a connection where there is none? Example A. “I’ve had a dog die too. I know how hard that can be.” B. “I know how it feels to have health problems and be isolated, I have health problems too.” C. “ My family no longer speaks to me either. Maybe we can make our own family. I will be like a big brother.” D. “ I am lonely too. I know what being alone” feels like. I will be here if you need a friend to listen to you.” E. “ I’ve been through what you’ve been through.” F. “ I had a sister who had that happen and I am devastated for you.” 

Is this man acting like he is willing to fight for you? Have your back? Is he using your need for safety against you by promising to be your savior when you didn’t ask for one? Example: A. “ I will kill him if I ever see him.” B. “ If anyone is mean to you or hurts you from now on they will have to deal with me.” C. “Just send them my way and I will take care of them for you. No one messes with you from now on!”

Is this man making you a “we” team now? Example: A. “We can take care of this together.” B. “We can fight this battle together. You are not alone in this.” WE. You are a team now.

Is this man trying to make you feel like you are special? Is he trying to make you feel like you are different and worthy of his time because you are just so important? Example: A. “ I hate most people but you are different.” B.” There is just something about you that stands out to me and makes me drawn to you.” C. “ I think we were meant to find each other because I don’t even like women your age but you are just special.” D. “ I feel like we are soul mates.” E. “ If you were my sister/wife/ mother/ child, I would feel like the luckiest man on earth.” 

Is he using techniques such as being overly angry for you, pitting you and him against the world? Giving too much personal information so you feel you aren’t the only one who is sharing? Is he repeatedly asking you personal questions? 

Is he trying to overly convince you that he is a nice guy? 

Is he telling you how wonderful he is? Is he claiming to work with the elderly, work with abused animals, abused women, abused children, a wounded veteran? Is he being fake noble? A man with such integrity and values that you could not possibly turn him away or YOU would be the bad person? Is he such a “nice guy” that he is saying you would be crazy to not have him in your life?

Is he asking you to be alone with him? Is he putting you in a position that you would need to be alone with him unnecessarily? Is he in a position of power that is intimidating? Does he make you feel like even if you don’t say no that you are consenting? 

Have you had a “bad feeling” when you are around him that you are ignoring or shrugging off or minimizing because he has overcompensated for how willing he is to help you “through this hard time”?

 
Predators look for young, old, weak, broken, formerly abused, vulnerable, sad, helpless. I can say that I am a survivor all day long but on my blog I also write about my vulnerability, my challenges, my losses, and details of abuse. I am the perfect fish for a shark to circle around me long enough to find a little moment to enter into my life especially on social media IF I am not paying attention. I have written previous blogs warning women of predators. Some of the male responses were “ Are so you saying I am a predator because I care?” And, “ So all men are predators?” I talked to my husband at length about this. My husband would have never commented on a blog that has the pure intention of protecting other women. Any man who is offended or has a problem with me warning women and protecting women against predators, should search their own souls.They should take a look in the mirror and find out where this guilty conscience is coming from. A real man would applaud my efforts to protect women and children from predators. And there are predators EVERYWHERE. Every single woman I have ever met has been abused by a man in one way or another in her life time. Every woman. She may have only told me. But her inability to report her abuse does not take away the reality of it. Now I write a blog on abuse. Women have told me their stories. Previously I was a volunteer chaplain in nursing homes and hospice. I heard hundreds of “death bed confessions” of rape and abuse. There are thousands of women just like me who have not been victims, not just once but countless times. 

Predators look at my blog. Lots of predators looking at my blog. I drew them out and because they were offended, but too stupid to realize that by commenting they are giving themselves away as predators themselves. “I’m a good guy though.” Are you? Because my husband is the best man I have ever known but he has never had to convince me he is a good man. Ever. He proves it. He would only ever support a blog that is written to connect to and protect other women from predators. Only a guilty man would have something negative to say. So check your comments at the door, they will not be approved. This blog is for women. 
If you have had a life change whether it is ill health, loss, mental health challenges, recovering from abuse, at this point in your life, a man is not the person who needs to be your savior. A man that you do not know, a male neighbor, etc. I don’t need to lower my defenses so a man can make me feel safe. I have a husband. If I did not, I would lean on and seek out women to help me through my recovery and challenges. A man is not the person to be the one to be on your team, fix you, be angry for you. Especially a man who seeks you out whether it is on social media or just out of the blue in your life. If you are already vulnerable then allowing a man in is very dangerous. Unfortunately, there are predators looking for women just like you and me. They are looking for this pool of women that are damaged and trying so hard to recover. They will use every technique that they know works because it has worked for them in the past. 
The man who got me in his garage gave me no red flags. I was simply crying. Sobbing. My dog had just been attacked. I was vulnerable. He knew of my recent health decline. He was a predator. There were some common denominators, in me, in that moment, that made him swoop in for the attack. He was laying in wait for that perfect opportunity to pounce on me and that he did. In the past, I could not have prevented that from happening. I was not to blame for the trauma he caused me. 

Today, I would not enter the garage alone. Today I won’t go into my neighbor’s back yard with him alone. Today, if my neighbor gives TMI (too much information) about his erectile dysfunction, I will walk away, and he will forever be in the red zone of threat. I will NEVER trust him again. 

A few days ago I read through all of the comments on my blog. It took a man that I did not know, 20 times of asking my daughter’s name and age for me to answer the question. He was, again, a man. I taught him that it takes 21 times to get exactly what he wants. I looked at exactly when he entered my blog. It was when my dog had died. That is when I got the first comment. Unfortunately, online a woman giving me support for the death of my dog could just be a man pretending to be a woman. We just don’t know. My point is, be careful who you let into your personal space on social media. It won’t take long or much probing if you are in a weakness state to get your address and the next thing you know they will be offering to buy you a ticket to visit them and the will make everything better. It happened. It happens. 

Be aware. 

Look for red flags. 

Keep your eyes open. 

Notice how you are when this “perfect” man has appeared who coincidently has a similar life to yours, conveniently, to fit right in. 
We were born with an instinct. Many of us through continued abuse whether it is sexual, domestic, verbal, or emotional, have lost some of that instinct. Denial, minimizing what we have gone through and outright ignoring the abuse leads to further numbing of instinct. We are left with hypervigilance, PTSD, and yet no instinct to tell us what we are to really be afraid of. 

I have found this book to be very helpful: https://www.amazon.com/Gift-Fear-Gavin-Becker-ebook/dp/B0036Z9U2A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508217906&sr=8-1&keywords=the+gift+of+fear+by+gavin+de+becker

The Gift of Fear. It speaks of some of the topics I have spoken of and how a rapist will use some of these techniques to attack. 
Whether this man is your best friend’s husband, a deacon at your church, your friend’s father, your pastor, your boss, your neighbor, there have to be boundaries. We have to be able to strip their titles, our comfort levels, and reinstate boundaries and rekindle our instinct. We have to teach our children. We have to teach our girlfriends. We have to teach women everywhere. 

I know there are some instances where there is absolutely nothing a woman could have done to prevent being raped. I will say this over and over again. I know this because I have experienced it first hand many times. There were others who could have protected me though, seen the signs, spoken up, protected me. If only we could see the signs of abuse in other women and children and see the red flags in the predators going after them. We can. We just have to look. 

I feel like, had someone sat me down and had this conversation that I have written, it would have opened my eyes to red flags and common factors and techniques used by predators, years ago. I discussed all of this with my daughter. This blog post has been part of conversation between my husband and me and my daughter and me all week. There will be a ripple affect. She will discuss this with her friends. I will discuss it with my girlfriends. One person at a time. 
My intention is to protect women. That is my only intention. I am well aware there are men who are raped, and abused. I know many of them. This is from a woman’s perspective as rape survivor and survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I wish I could speak for men who have been abused in this blog but I am speaking from my own experience as a woman who has been abused repeatedly by men. This blog is written by a woman for women and their daughters and their friends and their grandmothers and their mothers. This blog is is written in hopes of protecting women by sharing real life comments and experiences. What I have written in quotes are all things that have been said to me or written on my social media by men I know and men I do not. 
I have seen on social media this #metoo to spread awareness of the amount of women who have been sexually abused. I would like to take that further. Way further. Coming forward, speaking your truth takes real bravery. I commend any woman who can do that. Now lets go to the next step NOW and start implementing some protective boundaries, looking for the red flags, and for the love of everything good…tell your daughter to stay in a group and never be out alone at a party, alone in an alley, alone walking to her car, alone with a guy she does not know, alone with her best friend’s brother, alone with her best friend’s father. Teach them how to NOT be alone and don’t put them in situations where they are alone with men. It is our job to protect them to the best of our ability. My parents did not protect me. They sent me to a ski school where I was alone with a man who molested me. They took me out of the country and left me alone with a man who molested me. They sent me to my first job out of state where the man who picked me up from the airport committed statutory rape against me. The let me clean a man’s house alone as a child. These are 4 separate incidents that were completely preventable had my parents chosen not to leave me alone, as a child, with a man they did not know. Our children, all children, women, girls, matter and deserve protection from predators. They need to hear it all of this. We MUST protect women. One woman at a time. 

Please share this and comment your own suggestions and experiences for boundaries and protection. 
My friend over at A Thomas Point of View has written of her experiences and survival. I honor her with this post as well as every woman who has persevered after the devastating affects of abuse and rape. 
I Know Not – A Thomas Point of View

I Know Not

     

The park part 2:Veterans Memorial park.

As we were leaving the park I stopped by the Veterans memorial. This was built as part of the park. It is in the center of the parking lot. It is actually where I met my husband. 

I took my scooter and went down the veterans memorial and took pictures of this history. It was very humbling. It was very moving. I started crying at the loss of life. At those who have fought for freedom. It was very very humbling to stand under the flag and look out over this. Here are the pictures I wanted to share wtih you. I was in my scooter so it was a bit harder than I had anticipated to get the full views but I did the best I could. 




May God bless America and all of our veterans and those who have died for our freedom. 

The park.

Every day I wake up and feel like I am in my old house across from a park. Every day. So yesterday I had my husband drive me to the park. I wanted to visit where my mind kept going.  I took pictures as I went down the paved walk way to take you along with me. 

This park we lived across the road from for 7 years. Every day I took my daughter, who was 1 1/2 years old when we moved in, to this park. There were over 5 acres of woods, creeks, water falls. There were trails through the woods. We walked them every day looking at every tree, every leaf, every butterfly, every stone, every flower. Our dog ran free. No one was ever there. The oak trees were hundreds of years old. We climbed the trees, sat on the limbs that reached down to the ground, had picnics EVERY DAY.

After we finished exploring we would go to the actual park which had a slide, some swing sets, a soccer field, a baseball field, batting cages, a basketball court, and more. Rarely was anyone there. Sometimes a few children from the neighborhood were there. After dark we used to go to the soccer field and run around under the stars with my husband who would often run sprints there. It was like our very own little piece of wonderland for 7 years. 

When we moved to the house we live in now, we enjoyed our new wonderland! We now had our own acre, an acre next to us free with wild animals, and acres that were available to explore. No homes were back here yet. Now there are. It is where I take my wheelchair walks for mindfulness. So we had this space and then we still went back to the park. Those years at the park were good years. They were pre-health issues. Wow, they were beautiful years! I can understand, going back there, to the park, why I wake up and my brain wants to be back during that time. So I took my camera and wanted to share with you our little wonderland. I couldn’t go on the trails behind the park in my scooter. None of it is paved. I tried to off-road it a bit to show you the rocks we climbed on and the tree branch we sat on. But looking at the pictures I think you will be able to see why we loved it so much. You can’t see the trails or creeks or woods but you can see the nature that we found so much joy being a part of.  In the first picture you will see tons of little black dots in the sky. Those are dragonflies. 

Parenting: eating disorders

Healthy food was always available to us growing up. If we were hungry, we ate. If it was an hour before dinner and we were hungry, we ate. If we were not hungry we were not forced to eat. If it was 2 hours after dinner and we were hungry, we ate. We were never forced to eat or deprived of eating. If we were full, our plate did not have to be “clean”. No guilt trips of “starving children” were ever used to make us eat beyond what our own bodies told us were full. We were never told we were “wasteful” by not finishing what we put on our plate, nor made to sit there for 2 hours until what we DID put on our plate was eaten. What we didn’t eat was put in a Tupperware and eaten later, or given to the dogs. Our parents never held food over our heads, never used food as leverage “if you eat this then I will give you that,” or punished us for not eating what they made if we didn’t like it. Food was meant for nourishment and if we did not like what we were given we had the option to make ourselves something else. We did not have little debbies as options because my mother did not buy that food. We had no sugar cereals either. On the weekends she made brownies or cinnamon rolls and we put syrup on our pancakes and french toast. Otherwise, if we wanted a snack it was applesauce, or raisins, or a sandwich or a granola bar, etc. 

Then I would go to a friend’s house. They put too much food on their plate and had to eat it. So our sleep over consisted of me sitting there at that table for 2 hours until it was time to go to bed until my friend ate all of her food. I mean she was only 8 so she should have known exactly how much food her stomach could handle when putting the food on her plate right? WRONG! I wish these parents had degrees in child development or just common sense. But they did not. So the power control began and the parents seemed to get some sort of joy out of this embarrassing behavior, this “sit there until it is all eaten” power trip. It seemed mean to me as a child. Even as a very young girl I could see the sadness and emotional scarring that that parental behavior was causing. 

Then I would go to another friend’s house. No snacks before dinner. Then the kid would be over hungry and nauseous and not want to eat dinner at all or not able to eat much and then be hungry and hour later but be deprived of food. WHY!?? 

Then another friend’s house where they spent all afternoon eating snickers bars and the parents legitimately seemed confused as to why the child did not want to eat a steak!

It blows my mind thinking back on it now. 

Why?

There was no: 1. Listen to your own body. 

I heard every excuse a parent could give on why they controlled food. If the child ate, it would “ruin their dinner.” The only thing that ruined dinner was the fact that the child was then overly hungry and the parent made asparagus which the child hated and then was forced to eat cold 2 hours later because they didn’t clean their plate. 

I watched as EACH of these kids had obesity issues, control over their food issues, bulemia, anorexia, and everything in between. Is that such a shocking outcome? The child was never given the ability to eat based on their own hunger. It is pretty simple. If you put leverage and controls and rules on everything food…your child is going to develop a food issue which will result in a body image issue that they will battle for many years to come. 

I will never forget my friend reaching over the table to get a roll from the basket and her parent sticking her in the hand with her fork because “MANNERS!” We do NOT reach across the table. We ask for the food to be passed. Because we are raising endentured servants and we are part of the Royal family and we are on camera being video taped right now and others watching may think our children are impolite! I mean who was this, fork stabbing, and lecture benefitting? All it did was scare the shit out of me and I never wanted to eat there again. I can tell you that it instilled fear. I can tell you that eating at that house made me nervous of what the consequences of me eating or not eating would be. 

This is not healthy!

I chose to raise my daughter eating food just like my parents raised me. When she is hungry she eats! If she is full, we put the food in a container and she finishes it when she wants. If she is hungry an hour before dinner, she has a banana. 

These choices parents make are only a part of what can potentially cause eating disorders. My eating disorder came about NOT because of food. It came about because of control. I needed to control something. I needed to control my body and by doing that I could control my food. This happened as a direct result of sexual abuse. 

So there are many potential contributors to eating disorders. As a parent we are blessed with the ability to NOT contribute to any of them. 

OMGGGGGGG let me get a pic of this beeeeee

This is what my brain kept saying over and over and over again. I stumbled across this gorgeous and I mean gorgeous flower bed of these wild flowers that were 12 feet high maybe. They were orange and yellow and there were bees and dragonflies and butterflies everywhere. But I kept being interrupted. I just wanted to beeee with the beeeeessss and I kept saying in my head OMGGGGGGGG just let me get a pic of this beeeeeee!! 

But I was a polite neighbor and I chatted for a bit because not everyone understands my passion for nature and mindfulness but when the time was up it was up! So I was honest. I really want to go back to taking pictures of these bees!!!! So I did. It wasn’t about the pictures. I was watching the wind blow these flowers and I just wanted to sit with that. I wanted to let the world just slip away with all it’s thoughts and news and drama and just be with the bees. Really. It’s all I wanted. The lady who owns the house gave me permission to photograph anything in it so I was excited to round the corner and see all of this in bloom.  She wasn’t home so I immediately immersed myself in the flower world. Until I was interrupted by humans. Darn humans. 

Here are some of the pictures that I took. I know…I am not a real photographer but I sooo enjoy taking pictures and living in the moment, I truly do. The flowers each have a differnt bee. So many many bees. And the purple flowers had dragon flies, they were just blending in! But hopefully you can see them and understand why I just wanted to live in that moment without the presence of humans! 

SoCS:well

Stream of consciousness Saturday’s word is: Well.   https://lindaghill.com/2017/10/13/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-1417/
Well, yesterday I felt only gratitude. All day long. This little frog was in the car. He had to be released and the nearest stop was the prayer garden. Stopping at the prayer garden led me to the most beautiful singing bird. Right down the path. There she was. All white with a little markings on her wings. I was told she was a mocking bird. In all of my 45 years I have never seen one before. I held my ipad up and videotaped her song. Then I watched her. She didn’t mind me standing there. She just sang and sang. I walked down the path and found a little white flower in the shape of a butterfly. I found red flowers to add to my “red nature beauties”.I found 5 more red flowers! A red rose, a fire looking flower, and some red pentas. That little frog led me to the prayer garden. I put my hand on the cross in the garden and only felt gratitude.



I made it home in time 4:17 to see the 4:00 flower open. I never walk past her when she is open. I dropped everything in my arms but my ipad which I opened to see exactly what time it was. Sure enough. Just in time to see that yellow flower open.


It was a tree frog day. One had his foot caught in the door. My daughter sung him back to life after I had a long conversation with him! I’d love to add tons of videos frog rescues and frog singing and bird singing but I’m not sure how much space I have for videos. It was a frog day though! A frog led me to a prayer garden. A frog led my daughter to sing.


Then I went for my wheelchair walk. A frog plummeted from the tallest tree on our property right in front of my chair. What on earth! I thought for sure he was injured. He got thoroughly inspected. He was fine. He hopped off with these huge leaps. How did he fall so far and live!


Well, we can fall far, and we can still survive, thrive, make huge leaps. It’s true! This frog was living proof!

During my walk I stopped to take picture of a feather. Because I stopped I ran into two very inspirational people that I believe were placed there perfectly just for me. Just like that feather was. Just on my little walk. I saw some more flowers. The ones that hang in the sky that are purple were blooming. Orange puffy flowers that were in a hedge that I would LOVE to have in my own yard one day.



As I pulled in my driveway I saw a pink flower that smelled like bubble gum and a fruit roll up and more bubble gum. I have seen this flower before in other people’s yards but there one was right on the edge of my driveway. I stopped to smell it. I inhaled all of the scent and felt ok. I felt renewed by the scent of this flower, by the leap of the frog, by the two women I met on my walk.

Well, yesterday I felt gratitude. Everything felt clear in my mind and with my memory.

Today, I felt sad.

I woke up and for 2 hours I contemplated what I would do when my 3 year old got up and if we would take the dogs to the park like we did every day at 11. I was tired. I wanted to sleep a little longer. I fell back asleep and woke up an hour later and realized that my daughter is not 3 and both of my dogs were dead. I felt this blanket of sadness come over me. All day my daughter and husband said that I repeated myself, asking the same questions. I don’t even remember the questions. I guess my brain is not recovered from the seizures. I have to be patient. I forgot I had a muscle disease. My daughter told me that I once said, “If I ever have amnesia don’t remind me I have a muscle disease and maybe it will just be gone.” So no one reminded me. Today I jumped out of bed and decided to cook a good vegan meal for my daughter. I forgot to sit on the stool while I cooked. I walked too fast to the door. I forgot to use my scooter to take the garbage out. Forgetting I had a muscle disease didn’t make it go away. It caused severe pain and it definitely did NOT make the disease go away.

So, well, today I was not so full of gratitude. Not as much as yesterday.

My daughter asked if I could sit outside with her. The mosquitoes were awful. All I wanted to do was get in my bed. NO! How many daughters actually want to spend time with their mom and sit outside and talk. So I wrapped up in a sheet which she promptly took a picture of and said I looked mortifyingly scary in my sheet in the dark but she laughed and laughed and all that gratitude came back. I am grateful that whatever is put in front of me, whatever challenges, they do not stop me from feeling joy. My daughter’s laughter brought back all of the gratitude.


It is like a never ending water producing fresh water flowing well. A well of gratitude that exists if we just allow ourself to drink from it.