By Margaret Milanovich George
I have written this because of a life-changing experience as a teenager growing up in Kenmore. Perhaps this missive will influence others to be more vigilant, preventing this from recurring, and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions.
Beginning at age 14 (1971), I was the victim of an adult sexual predator who “groomed” me for three years. The Predator did work that relied on great trust with adolescents.
The Predator targeted me because I was especially vulnerable. My father had died when I was 11. As a result, I avoided personal relationships and redirected my energy into tennis. The Predator listened to me open up regarding my father's death. I grew to trust him and saw him as a surrogate father/older brother.
Early on, when the Predator tried to coax me into kissing him, I reminded him that he was married and responded, "No." When he made repeated sexual innuendos, I ignored his comments. I made a concerted effort to never outwardly display any feelings for him and rarely made eye contact with him.
Because of my age, his work and his marital status, it never crossed my mind that he would be interested in me sexually. I was totally unprepared when he lured me into an indoor swimming pool under false pretenses and molested me. I watched helplessly as he diverted away a male custodian who had walked in on us. Unfortunately, this one witness to his act is now deceased. After three years of grooming me, the Predator invited me to see land he owned, gave me beer, and then stole my virginity.
Clearly a narcissist, he took advantage of his position of power and never considered the destruction he was causing in the lives of adolescent females whom he manipulated and seduced throughout the years.
In high school, it was nearly impossible for me to concentrate on academics. (Studies reveal that abused children do less well in school.) Because of him, I was robbed of a normal high school experience that I could look back on with any semblance of fond memories. The guilt and shame I felt were overpowering at times. I suffered from headaches. (Studies show that sexually abused children suffer more frequent physical ailments and lowered immune systems.)
I engaged in risky behavior when entering college out-of-state in an attempt to forget my high school years. I did not find "Mr. Right" until age 50. (Victims of childhood sexual abuse often suffer in abusive and dysfunctional adult relationships.)
I made sure my mother never knew. I did not want her to feel that she had let me down as a single parent. As is typical of childhood sex abuse victims, I spent years blaming myself for the abuse, feeling guilty and ashamed, and viewing myself negatively.
As a child abuse (including sexual abuse) investigator, I identified with the victims. When I worked with a group of sexual predators, I came to the conclusion that these predators are pathological. They typically repeat their offenses until they are caught. Predators have one unifying trait: They do their best to appear "normal" in both appearance and behavior, so parents: Be vigilant of who is spending time with your children. Studies have shown that social media and text messaging have caused sexual abuse of children by trusted adults to be on the rise.
For fellow survivors, may you find peace and comfort knowing that it was not our fault … we were just children.
Margaret Milanovich George suffered for years after being sexually abused.