I didn’t think that I would write this post, especially seeing as the Me Too movement has quietened down, but I received a message today from the man who stole my childhood. I’m going to call him E.
How It Started
When I was 12, I received a text message from an unknown number. I thought it was my brother’s friend at first but quickly realised that it wasn’t. I can’t remember why we talked; he made me feel like an attractive and interesting person and I was curious about him. The fact that he was 32 never felt strange to me.
I’m not sure how long it took, but he was soon mentioning sex and masturbation, asking if I’d had a boyfriend, if I’d ever touched myself and I wanted to please him. I saw him as a teacher, as someone who could show me what the real world was like and he was someone that I could talk to about anything. When my friend passed away, he was the first person I told and he knew all of my secrets.
I didn’t tell my friends about him. While they were chasing boys from the local boys’ school, I had a grown man attracted to me and it made me feel special. This secret was always something that made my heart thump faster and he made me feel special.
He would send me flowers and money, asking for pictures in return, and I felt obliged to send them.
Meeting For The First Time
When I was 17, I told my mum that I was meeting friends but got on a train and went to Manchester to meet E. I wore the jeans and t-shirt that he’d said he liked and wore my hair the way he’d said looked pretty. I waited nervously at the train station for him to arrive and I knew him immediately. I thought I would pass out because my heart was thumping so much.
We walked around the town centre, getting a drink at Costa. As we walked, we talked. He told me to pick my feet up as I walked, the scuffling was annoying him. I still remember it and never drag my feet when I walk. I remember that he dug his hand in his pocket and pulled out a handful of change. He said something about wanting to buy me something but I knew that would be a bad idea. I’d have to explain it to my mum and it wasn’t worth the drama.
When I was looking at universities, I saw a university that was close to where he lived. I took the brochure and was convinced that this was going to be the start of something new. When I was about 15, he had broken up with his girlfriend, saying that we were going to be together when I was 18, that we would start a new life away from my family.
He would tell me he loved me, remind me that he broke up with his ex for me, that he had turned down dates with other women because he wanted to be with me… I felt like that most special girl in the world.
The Recent Message
E sent me a Facebook message, asking how I was, and when I told him to leave me alone, he called me rude.
With my heart thumping in my chest, I told him that he had groomed me and taken away my childhood. This is his exact response.
Don’t blame me for how you’ve turned out, you were still talking to me when you were at uni, so you didn’t exactly mind to much. You make laugh, I didn’t take away your childhood, it’s the way you were, you could of stopped texting anytime.
This is why grooming is so dangerous. He didn’t understand that what he’d done was wrong. He was 32 and I was 12 and my childhood was stolen by him.
I feel sick and furious that he doesn’t think he did anything wrong; that I could’ve left at any time.
Me Too Movement
When the Me Too movement started in 2006, celebrities were coming out to share their stories.
I wasn’t sure whether this should be included with #MeToo, but I need to tell my story. It’s terrifyingly familiar for a lot of people.
I grew up without a father figure and was so awkward as a teenager that any attention made me feel normal. While I was struggling with being mixed race, he was telling me that I was beautiful. I feel sick when I think about what he did to me, and it’s had a huge impact on my life.
I seek out men who are older with more experience, hoping to find someone who will look after me. I’m constantly stuck in a place between craving love and attention, and being scared about what will happen once I do. It’s not helped by the fact that I was in an emotionally abusive relationship when I was 23.
I’m lucky in that we only met once and nothing physical happened, but I feel exposed and dirty and stupid that I was taken in by someone like him.
If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, you have every right to walk away. If it goes further than you want it to, talk to someone. They can be by your side if/when you go to the police.
You are not alone.