Don’t talk to strangers. The infamous piece of “wisdom” told to every small child as a precaution against kidnapping, rape, and trauma, but they neglected to tell us that, for the most part, it’s not strangers committing these crimes. It’s the people we already know.
You can be a happy child, in a loving home. Attentive parents who are actively involved in your lives, and still be molested. They prey on the weak, but it’s not exclusionary to the weakest.
You see it’s not always the fearful exchange you hear about on tv, the ones your parents warn you about. They take their time, spending months or years to groom you to be their “best friend”. So that you start to see them as your “best friend”, someone trustworthy and on your side. Not like other adults, but a giant kid you can play with and vent your frustrations about other adults to.
And as that trust grows they begin to ask increasingly boundary pushing requests, but you comply, because you are young and because you don’t understand the risks. You comply because you trust them. Because you have no reason not to. You comply, because maybe your parents even trust them too. You comply, because we are engrained at a young age from multiple sources that adults are to be obeyed and that we do not have full bodily autonomy. You comply because they told you it would hurt them if you don’t. And they are your best friend.
And so you do it. It feels wrong, but you are so desperate to have this “positive” influence in your life, this cool person who cares, who treats you like an adult. Trusts you with secrets. And makes you feel like you are special. Unique. You do it because you think you are just too young to understand and they must know better.
And they teach you how to lie. And they accidentally show up places they know your parents won’t be at to spend alone time with you. Fill your head with valid reasons why we should keep secrets from every body. Because to you, even as a child, this feels like a real relationship.
Not all abuse is what we classically describe as violent. It can take years to even come to the realization that your relationship was sick. That this person has preyed on you. That what happened was wrong, that a 10 year old and an adult shouldn’t be in a partnered sexual relationship. You excuse it to yourself that they were just immature, and you were just mature for you age… and that they truly loved you. You even referred to them as your first boyfriend for more than a decade after your “relationship”. Because you still actually believed that and called them a “good” guy who didn’t mean to do wrong but was just so attracted to you and your body that they couldn’t help themselves. Then you remember that they were attracted to your undeveloped, child body. That they couldn’t resist the charm of a 10 year old. And you start to rethink your position. The trauma is felt. Your entire life is changed by the experience. Your trust for people. Your sex life. Your self-worth.
But remember. Don’t talk to strangers. Because they’re the ones who’ll hurt you.