I was sexually assaulted when I was about 12 years old.
Several of us boys from elementary school attended the summer 4-H camp.
Overall, it was a great time. We had craft classes, volleyball, badminton, good food, dancing at night and vesper services all surrounded by the quiet Appalachian mountains.
One morning, a classmate was exclaiming to a couple of us guys that some man had climbed into bed with him. What he was telling us, in a frightened tone, did not sound good to a group of 12-year-old ears. I don't know if he talked to anybody else — we went on with the activities of the day.
Sometime in the early morning hours of the following night, I was awakened with two huge hairy arms around me and two hands on my genitals. I had been dead asleep.
Was I dreaming? Was this a nightmare?
Yes, it was a nightmare for certain.
Many of us at camp shared bunks with classmates. A friend of mine was probably only a foot away from me in the same bunk. The night was so dead silent. The only sound was this strange man breathing in my ear as he molested me.
Becoming fully awake, I started making sounds like we sometimes make when we are trying to wake ourselves up from a nightmare. It was somewhat of a humming sound. I hoped I could wake my classmate but it wasn't working. I was only about 5 feet, 5 inches at the time but that was tall for a sixth-grader. I began pushing backward as hard as I could as I worked to get this guy out of the bed, as my volume increased. He finally gave up and got out of the bed. Unbeknownst to me, he may have gone to someone else's bed.
The next morning, I told one of the camp leaders about what had happened.
The response I got was, "Yes, on these cold nights, Mr. John Doe is known to get into the beds with the boys to get warm."
I didn't know what to say. I saw the man walking around the camp the rest of the week and he never got close to me again.
I wonder how many little boys Mr. John Doe not only molested that week but also the entire summer and throughout his lifetime. I suspect the numbers would be startling. Even one is too many.
Little children often don't say anything. Like most, I was afraid to say anymore. I was afraid that I had done something wrong or would be punished, scolded or derided.
I was afraid that my parents would never let me go to camp again if I told them or that they might be angry with me for some reason.
This is why child abusers get by with so much. The abuser knows that children are easy to victimize.
Most people have experienced some kind of crap in life. We try to deal with it, learn from it and impart our wisdom to others. We try to get over it and emotionally/spiritually try to heal.
Most of the time I never think about that event, but here I am writing about it today. This just goes to show what such events do to us and how they are seared into our minds.
Often, they are buried beneath the deepest parts of our brains but then they surface.
Protect your children. Warn them about predators. Tell them what is off limits. Other people have no business ever touching them and certainly nowhere close to their private parts.
Sadly, many little children are abused and traumatized at young ages and often never get over it or get help. Keep the conversations going with your children and grandchildren. Be their parent and talk to them about everything. Don't sit in judgment or get religious. Just be loving, talk to them about life and listen a lot.
I was clueless as a child what a pedophile was or that men existed who got off on little boys. About the only thing I knew at that age was I loved life, sports and music.
I was clueless about the real depravity of some human beings and that some adults are base enough to do anything, even to a child.
Glenn Mollette is an American syndicated columnist and author.
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