Red flags of a Sexual Predator and a Story from my Paranoid Parenting-Style

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on

When I think back about the dysfunction I grew up around, I can’t help but think about how easy it was for adults to be inappropriate in front of children, and no one say a word about it. In the ’70s, nobody said anything about the creepy cousin who stared at them or the inappropriate uncle who touched them where they didn’t want to be touched. No one talked about sexual predators or molestation, much less discuss that those things can and do happen within families.

I’m glad the world is more open about this kind of thing. It’s topics like these that can lead to horrendous abuses happening right under our noses if kept under wraps.

As I’ve thought about my experiences as a child and how this can happen, I realized that most grooming for molestation took place right in front of other adults. When parents are immature, mentally ill, alcoholics, checked-out, a combination of all of these, and lack boundaries of their own, all kinds of inappropriate behaviors and talk can happen in front of kids. When that happens, and the adults we rely on don’t speak up on our behalf, kids typically think that there’s nothing wrong.

But, the predator puts the victim and the entire family through a grooming process most are not aware of. The grooming process is when a predator is gauging others reactions to a set of simple boundary violations and inappropriate behaviors . When there’s little to no reaction from those adults around, the stage is set to go even further the next time, until the predator achieves inappropriate touch with their victim of choice.

My husband and I discussed this topic at length and came up with some red flags to watch out for from our childhood experiences from living in toxic family dynamics and raising our own kids.

Things to watch out for:

  • Inappropriate talk around kids. (*this is listed first for a reason. If someone can get away with this, they will go further.)
  • Adults offering to watch your child overnight, or offering to stay up with them while you sleep, work, or do something else.
  • An adult staring at or studying a child.
  • Adults who allow excessive drinking and drunkenness to happen around children.
  • Fighting occurring in front of children. This makes them feel unsafe. They may seek out anyone who may seem familiar, no matter how predatory.
  • An adult plays favorites or gives special privileges to a child.
  • Any male relative mentioning, touching, making fun of, mocking a young girl’s developing body. (*Please note that women can also be sexual predators, but this list is from my experience as being preyed upon by a male family member.)
  • They ask inappropriate questions about boys at school or their dating life.
  • Adult males referring to a developing girl as a “whore,” a “cunt,” or a “cock-tease.”
  • Offering expensive or rare gifts “just because.”
  • An adult who focuses on one child out of all the others who may be around.
  • Excessive praise and or attention paid to a child for a talent (baseball) or trait (beauty) they possess.
  • This adult wants this particular child to touch them, sit on their lap, touch their face, hug them, give kisses to, tickle, wrestle with, etc.
  • This adult tries to be alone with one or many children.
  • This person acts like another child to seem cool and “with it.”
  • This person schmoozes the parent or parents to get access to the child.
  • This person talks about sex or offers the child sexual material in books, movies, or images of some sort to gauge their reaction.
  • This person exposes themselves, undresses, is naked in front of, or touches themselves in front of the child to gauge their reaction.
  • They ask the child to show them their private parts or ask them to touch their private parts.
  • This person asks for promises from the child not to tell others. They say things like: “This will be our little secret.” Or, “nobody else will believe you” or “your mother/father will kill us.”
  • They burden the child with threats that should anyone else find out, “we” will be in trouble.
  • This adult doesn’t respect privacy during the child’s bathing, dressing, or toileting when they no longer require assistance with such tasks.
  • You notice that your child lashes out, becomes depressed, or checks out after being around this person.

Now for story time!

Because of my molestation, I was a hypervigilant mother. Back then, they called it “over-protective.” I did not trust easily, but as a single mother, with little to no help, I eventually had to trust others around my son by learning to listen to my gut. That meant that although my son joined Cub Scouts, he didn’t stay in very long. A few weeks if that? I’m not saying that men who are troop leaders are sexual predators; I’m sure most of them healthily love children and do it for pure intentions; I’m saying that I couldn’t trust an unknown group with my child when I wasn’t allowed to be around. It meant that when I wasn’t home from work and my son forgot his key, I had to trust that when he asked our maintenance man to let him into the apartment that he was safe doing so.

My abuse in childhood meant that when the guy next door came knocking on my door, knowing I wasn’t home to deliver a stack of comic books to my son “just because,” I freaked the fuck out. After freaking out and lecturing my son about not opening the door when I wasn’t home, I walked across the hall, knocked on this guy’s door, shoved his comic books back in his face, and told him if he ever came to my apartment again when I wasn’t home, I’d call the police.

And because boundary-crossers cross lines with ease, he came knocking on my door the very next day. Before I could say a word, he shoved a warm cardboard box in my face. He quickly announced he had baked them “just for us.” You know, “to apologize.” I smiled. Thanked him. And shut the door. I opened the box to reveal giant, fresh-from-the-oven, ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies that looked like they came from a bakery. My son was thrilled. I took them to my kitchen, opened the box, and dumped them straight into the garbage can. My son pitched a royal fit.

I may have been over-reacting, but I didn’t care. In my mind, I was protecting him. It was my job. And, I didn’t care if I hurt a well-intentioned neighbor’s feelings. I wasn’t actually sure what his intentions were, but I knew my intuition was sending all kinds of alarm bells I couldn’t ignore.

The next day as he heard my son and me leaving, he ran out of his apartment and yelled down the steps to me from two landings above, “So, how were the cookies?”

“They were great,” I said.

When we got to the car, my son asked me why I was so weird. “I’m not weird, he’s weird! I don’t trust him. He gives me the heeby-jeebies,” I said. And, because I was a young mom, I added, “He could have poisoned them for all we know and is shocked we’re still alive! At the very least, he could have put E-Lax in them and is wondering why we’re not in the apartment still shitting ourselves half to death!”

Yes, I broke the horrendous chain of abuse I grew up with and protected my son from a possible child sexual predator who baked chocolate chip cookies and read comic books. But, I’m also quite sure I went on to create other chains of dysfunction due to paranoid parenting born from my conditioning. That, and probably from watching too much Unsolved Mysteries.

My son and I talked openly about molestation in general once, I didn’t tell him I was, and he assured me he was never touched inappropriately or abused by anyone, so I’m not sorry for acting like a weirdo being hypervigilant.

What would you add to the list of things to watch out for? What story can you share about your own “dysfunctional” parenting style that may have protected your child from abuse?

You can read my childhood memoir Steel Town Girl available on Amazon, in paperback and Kindle e-book.


Grandparent Narcissists & The Dinosaur Die-Out

Dinosaur 🦖

P.T. Barnum was a master showman but he never had a dinosaur in his circus. The death-defying feats he constructed within his tent were nothing compared to the mental gymnastics and 90-degree contortionistic angles an old patriarchal grand-master narcissist of some families will go to, to destroy their own family.

The narcissistic grandparent is about one thing: obedience. They get that obedience through control. They get control through favoritism, gifts, money, and other manipulative buy-outs to get what they want.

My fifteen-year-old son was offered a new car once by his toxic grandfather if he would refuse to listen to his “bitch-of-a-mother.” Me.

Speak out against their abuse, arrogance and entitlement; refusing to be bought— and expect to see triangulation of your offspring; their own grandchildren— just for spite. And it doesn’t matter how long it takes for that to happen. The sociopathic grandparent can wait as long as it takes. Because they never see anything more than just this moment.

They hate themselves and sadly don’t even know who they are inside. They hold up a false-self. A mask. — Add dementia and Alzheimer’s to the mix, and when that heavy mask finally falls—you have a delirious, dizzying walk through the fun house mirrors at the circus!

But, that doesn’t stop them. Their patterns are set in stone. They don’t change. Ever. These ring masters in their seventies, eighties and even nineties seek their youthful power by suiting up anyway. They stand mid-circle of their big top ring with top hat and their whip—ready to orchestrate and maneuver people for show.

Let the games begin!

Cracking their whip they create competition, making people perform; abuse, disrespect, tippy-toe, cower, dance and sing for them at will. If you can stand on one leg, while balancing a ball on your nose or jump through rings of fire and not eat them for breakfast, you’re patted on the rump with a “good job” and told to exit stage left.

They take their bow for the audience. It’s all about them.

The audience members clap in awe of the show, not realizing what they are really seeing is this person using their families as nothing more than carnies. These people aren’t people to them. They are nothing more than an extension of themselves.

When someone is courageous enough to call them out as a user and manipulator of people with no real heart or empathy for others— that person is now the problem. They cackle at how someone could dare question them or stand up to them. If YOU won’t do what they ask, here’s someone who will!

They are all little dictators. And, they use their assets as a way to make you play their game. Do and act as they say, or be written out of the will and forfeit your inheritance. This psychological abuse can cause devastating pain, grief, and even health issues so severe they can kill people within the family and go on to kill millions more.

I give you exhibit A.

Creating hard-feelings, chaos and even hatred among others within the family is the narcissist’s fuel.

But, these dinosaurs and their archaic ways of being in this world are dying out, and they know it. If you’re listening to the world now, you see and hear this dinosaur cry.

What we’re seeing now in many dysfunctional families is a tyrannical tantrum of the old patriarchal head master not wanting to go. The old matriarch that couldn’t get loose from her abuser, became abusive herself— and she cry’s out too. “How dare you!” — It’s fear. Of not having control. It’s their last ditch effort to call the shots before they go. They know what’s happening and they are fighting it every step of the way.

A new world that exists harmoniously? One that calls out abuse? One that can’t be bought? But… what about them? They won’t be able to exist in such terrain?

These damaged souls, who’ve never known peace within themselves, will destroy relationships between family members for the fun of it. How is this possible? Because they never cared about their own children, let alone their grandchildren. Their only loves in this world are obedience, control and manipulation. And an audience to see it all. Look at them! Wow!

The after affects of psychological abuse through manipulation tactics and coercion through family systems has gone on for generations. We can break these generational issues within our own families, but when the old, head master slithers in through the back door, the damage they can cause sadly lasts long after the narcissist is gone.

Abandon Logic: Save Yourself the Overwhelming Grief of Trying To Fix the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle

If you don’t know what to do, because you don’t know what you did wrong…

and you’re always tired and confused…

and going crazy with the mental anguish of wondering what more you could do to fix the situation…

and you feel that there is nothing more you could have changed about yourself to be accepted and loved…

and the grief of this is consuming you…

you’re either currently being narcissistically abused, gaslit, and manipulated…

or you’re just waking up to the fact that you are or have been.

Please know this:

You don’t know what you did wrong because you did nothing wrong. You can’t fix things because you didn’t break them. And you won’t ever change yourself enough to be accepted and loved by those who can’t accept and love themselves.

The grief will consume you if you continue to approach this situation with logical thinking and continue to deny patterns. Narcissists and those with any Cluster B personality disorder are the most illogical, irrational people you will ever have to deal with and their patterns repeat again and again and again…

The mental anguish you’re feeling is understandable. You’ve been through a hell that no one understands unless they’ve been through it. But no amount of making excuses for them, allowing yourself to be taken in by the love-bombing and future-faking will ever make them change. You will never get an apology. And you will never get changed behavior.

When we are being abused in any way, all we can do is: 1) accept it, or 2) make plans to stop the situation by leaving and, 3) put up boundaries and going No Contact.

It’s simple, yet oh so difficult, I know…

~Robin xoxo

Your Stories Will Tell You What Time It Is

Think back to all the times you’ve been called, “difficult,” “overly-sensitive,” “dramatic,” or “bitch.”🖕🏻

O.k. Who were those people? Write them down. What was happening between you two? Defending yourself? Someone else? Going toe to toe with a bully? Rising above the bullshit? Write that down. 🤩🥳😎

Do that a couple of hundred times in life and you have a lot of enemies. — Good for you. That means you’re not a doormat for others to wipe their feet on.🦶🦶Love yourself enough to be odd woman/man out. 💗💗💗🥰🥰

Now, who’s dismissed and invalidated your feelings, shushed you, implied you were “crazy,” and “too much.” What were you trying to express to them? Write that down. 😤 Use your anger for fuel.

Dismissed and invalidated a couple of hundred times in life and you have anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and physical pain — also known as C/PTSD from the psychological mind-fuck that is narcissistic abuse. 🤯 Undo the damage they’ve caused and write your truth. ✍️

Who’s ignored the core of who you are, mocked you, threatened your attempts at telling them what hurt and punished you for your “no?” Write that down. 😡🤬

Write all these stories out and you have a memoir. These stories are your gold. Your power. And they are more for your learning about yourself than they are for outing others. 💪🏻💥🎖

What are the patterns that keep playing out in your life? What’s your childhood conditioning? What role do you play in perpetuating these patterns? What could you have done differently then? What needs to change now? Have you changed over time? If not, why not? 🧐

Those names you wrote down? Abusers. Both overt and covert.

And there is both a time to stand and fight 💥🥊 and a time to walk away. 🏃🏻‍♀️

Your stories will tell you what time it is. ⏰

Die Trying: Say No to Learned Helplessness

My parents didn’t teach or model these behaviors to me, but I was able to go on and teach my own kids self-trust, self-love, and self-acceptance because I learned how to source them for myself.

This meme is written to encourage parents to teach and model these behaviors to their children and that’s great. We need parents to parent the kids they choose have. But, for adults who weren’t taught these things from their own parents, this can sound as if they aren’t able to do these things for themselves. And sadly, if they have kids at home they may just think, “I wasn’t taught this, so I can’t teach it.”

Yes you can. By remembering what you wanted and needed as a child.

Don’t let memes like this keep you in learned helplessness and excuses. Therapy, reading, writing, thinking, and feeling are your friends for life for all things healing when you find yourself under the rubble of a fractured life. Everything we need to surpass our own raising is right there within us. It’s a choice.

I was a young mom and learned to parent myself while parenting my son. I read parenting books as we grew up together to find out what we both needed. And I still made mistakes.

I allowed my son to stay home from school too many days in a row for mental health days because I wanted to cuddle him and missed him while I worked. I also spanked him, yelled like a lunatic, and cried. A lot. I spoiled, gave in, held firm, led by example, failed and fell on the floor in a heap of exhausted flesh. I laughed and played, lectured and raved and showed up completely imperfectly, 150%.

So, decades later, when my relationship with my adult son fell apart, I was confused and devastated. My therapist said that mothering him was where I found my own secure attachment, and I was lost without it.

I’m mothering just myself these days. Unlearning what needs to go, owning what I did I right, admitting my wrongs, and relearning a new way of being in an ever-changing world. It’s a big job again. Most days I’m confused and exhausted, because the world is the biggest narcissist of all. The closer to kicking a goalie you get, the more they move the posts. But, I’m still here: trying my best.

What I’ve learned by writing memoir is that what we do today in the parenting department will be considered wrong two generations later by parenting experts and sometimes even our children. And regardless of the advice we follow, or don’t, sometimes relationships get strained and we need to take a break once children become adults. But, none if this is an out for not doing the job today. Right now. Right in front of you.

So, do your best and be ready to throw yourself under the bus about your own parenting mistakes because I can assure you, you’re making some doozies. You’ll read about mine in my second memoir.

You’re also doing a remarkable job. I commend you for showing up for your kids when no one showed up for you.

Perfection doesn’t exist. Just doing the best we can, showing up, connecting and thinking; “What did I need at this age?” is just about the best anyone can expect.

Growing up is a hard job — and if we’re doing it right, we do it all our lives. Be engaged enough and aware that all of life is for learning about ourselves and caring for others. Don’t give away too much of your power on the healing path. Try not to be too serious, but seriously show up.

We can go on to learn to trust, love and accept ourselves as we are, through parenting our own children— without permission, teaching, and modeling of these behaviors from our own.

When we use our awareness of life as a teaching tool, our feelings to guide us, and our brains to think for more than just this moment, we’ll have given our whole hearts to our roles as parents.

I wrote this little poem today in my morning pages:

Life is about patterns

Until it’s not

And what breaks patterns

Is thought

Remembering then

Showing up now

Living in the middle

is the only how.

Say no to #learnedhelplessness #dietrying