If I had a dime for every time I was told how lucky I was to be married to John, I’d probably have a stack of dimes a mile high. He was most definitely on the “top ten list of most desired men.” He was charming. He was kind. He had good manners. And, he did things that were romantic. But, there’s just one little downside to this. That’s what other people saw. I know the inside scoop, and it wasn’t quite what met the public eye.
This story is my story about what it was like to be married for almost forty years to a man who molested children. I didn’t have a clue of this dark side of his life. I did, however, see odd behavior. I knew the pain of emotional abuse. I understood what it meant to be so controlled by someone who I found myself asking permission to be excused from a room if I had to go get a drink of water in the kitchen.
I began writing this blog as a means to educate others of the extreme manipulative power a pedophile holds over his victims. Not only does the pedophile groom the children he chooses to molest, but there is also a very targeted grooming of adults, too. It is the molester’s goal to have such an air-tight wall of trust built that absolutely nobody would ever suspect he is committing such harmful, evil actions.
I want you to get deep inside the mind of a pedophile so that you can see it — really see just how controlling they are. I want you to understand without a doubt just how this manipulation works. I want you to take some deep breaths and live with me through this journey so that you can understand clearly enough to protect yourself and your children from the harmful actions of pedophiles.
John and I had a difficult marriage from the very beginning, and there’s no doubt about that. He didn’t seem to see it that way, though. He would often apologize for hurting me, but his eyes would never look at me when he tried to apologize. He would divert his eyes to the side of me, but he’d never look straight into my eyes, and that always bothered me. In fact, I cried time and time again begging him to simply look at me. Hold my hand and look at me when he talked.
He didn’t. Instead, he’d stare as though he was in some kind of strange trance and mutter the same words time and time again, “I’m really sorry I hurt you. I’ll try to do better. I’ll really try.”
The biggest thing that made me cry was the way he treated me — more like the way he “didn’t” treat me. He could go for days on end without talking to me or touching me. After a sobbing session, all I ever wanted was for him to come hold me close. In fact, I’d often cry saying, “Can’t you just hug me? You make me feel like I’m poison! I feel like I have some kind of sickness and you don’t want to be near me. I just want you to hold me. Hug me. Touch me.” Those words seemed to be foreign to him. John would look at me with hollow eyes — like he had no clue what I was talking about.
Our fifth year anniversary was coming up and I dreaded it. People from church were asking, “Are you doing something special to celebrate? Where are you going? Do you want me to babysit the kids for the night? What does John have planned for you? I know it will be something wonderful!”
Let’s just say that our anniversary was different — far, far different than I expected. April 18 fell on a Wednesday that year — and of course we had bible study that evening, so there was nothing planned. I kept hoping that John would have a surprise date night planned. It would be so nice to go out — just the two of us — and be like a young couple in love again!
Saturday came, and I was losing hope. There was nothing. Not even a card. I had done my usual gift shopping. Don’t tell me why except I love to give gifts. I still love to give gifts, and I hope I always will! I bought John a new suit, shirt, and tie. He wore dress clothes six days a week, and he absolutely hated going shopping (can you believe we only went Christmas shopping together one time in our entire married lives?????). All I wanted was a simple card. Okay, maybe a long-stemmed red rose, too. I think that would have been so romantic! And, yes, I even told John what I wanted. Because he was a list-maker and lived by his lists, his words to me, “Tell me what to get, and I’ll get it. Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. But, don’t expect me to be a mind reader.”
I was crushed by the time Saturday evening rolled around and there was no card. And, no date night. No rose. Five years of marriage and no kind of special recognition. That hurt.
I knew something was brewing, though. He was on the phone whispering for two days. And, he kept going into the church auditorium from our livingroom (remember that we lived in the parsonage). He seemed especially happy on Sunday morning — an excited kind of happy, and that usually meant one thing. He had some kind of crazy antic up his sleeve for a sermon and I dreaded that. I never knew if he was going to throw a glass of water into the audience, jump on the pew to bring home a point, or cry. He was getting good at turning on the waterworks while preaching and I’m going to be honest with you. It seemed so fake to me that it was hard to handle.
On this morning, though, the sermon was different. It was all about honoring women. Interesting for a man who showed so much dishonor in his own home! He quoted scripture after scripture and I don’t think there was a woman in the audience who wasn’t poking her husband in the ribs as if to say, “Are you listening to what John is saying? This is how you’re supposed to treat me!”
As for me — a felt hollow inside. I knew the real John. I knew the John who wasn’t that same person who adored his wife with all of his heart and who shared mutual respect and adoration of her. His words stung and I could feel the tears falling from my eyes.
At the close of his sermon, instead of saying the usual words of asking if there were those who wanted to give their lives to Christ in baptism, John began walking down the aisle towards me. He looked over his shoulder and simply said, “Now, Ruth!”
Suddenly, there was love music filling the air of the auditorium, and my sister walked out from behind the baptistry door with a package, and came and handed it to John. I could tell she was embarrassed and nervous. He took this box with everyone in the auditorium watching his every move.
He walked up to me, got down on a knee, opened up the box, and handed me the most beautiful bouquet of roses ever! I was stunned!!! Never had he done anything like this ever before!! “Happy anniversary to the one and only person I will ever love!”
Please pay close attention! Do you see what was being done? This was such a show! What should have been a simple act of love and kindness between a husband and wife turned into a big elaborate show for the entire church to see! This wasn’t a moment between the two of us. It was a staged act that would forever seal the love and adoration of John with the women of the church — the mothers of the children!
John about drove my sister crazy, she later told me. That entire week, he had her practicing how she would hide behind the baptistry and pop out at the just right time when he said the right word. She was the one who went to pick up the roses and hid them. He used her to gain her trust, too. She thought this was the most romantic thing she’d ever witnessed — just like something out of a love novel.
Trust me when I say that when we stepped through the door into our livingroom that Sunday afternoon the romance was all over. John sat back in his chair while I fixed lunch, he ate, and then he basked in the sunshine of his day. Mission accomplished!
For years after that grand event, women would talk to me about how I was the luckiest person they knew to have such a caring, loving husband. Inside, I died a little more each time they said this. If only they knew! If only they knew what really went on inside our marriage. How many times I went to bed sobbing because of the hurtful things John said. “Don’t rub your hammerhead toes up against me. That’s disgusting. Don’t hug me. I can’t stand that feeling — it’s too smothering.” And, he would always — always — put his back to me when we went to bed! He made it very clear that he was shunning me!
I was like a puppy craving some affection. John was now a traveling insurance salesman so I rarely got to see him at all during the week. Most of the time I only got to see him on Friday nights, a bit on Saturday, and Sundays while he was preaching. It was a lonely, lonely life, but he was shining! Not only shining, but he was thriving! He was a happy, happy man — freedom, no accountability, a church that loved him, kids that loved him, a community that was growing to love him. But, his wife? Not so much. But never would I tell. Never. Why? Because deep down I still felt it was my Christian duty to uphold him in whatever he did. I felt I should never question him or make his life uncomfortable. I wanted to be the best wife and mother I could be and I thought that by keeping quiet, by pretending to be happy, by accepting the crumbs of time he gave me that one day — one day he really and truly would want to do the thing that I most wanted out of our marriage. I wanted him to enjoy spending time with me!
I can see now how John set the stage for molesting children. I can see how me made certain nobody would ever question his motives or actions when around children. I can see how the abuse was able to continue!
Child molesters do something called grooming. Grooming is how a predator develops a friendship with the child, creating a bond, preparing them for sexual assault. Predators start by choosing the parents. They will push the boundaries of acceptable behavior to test parents and see if they can take advantage of them. They literally seduce the parents into allowing them access to their children. By charming parents and gaining their trust, the predator gains access to the family and is not suspected of inappropriate behavior.
This quote is taken from NotWithMyChild.Org . Pay attention to the words. Examine what is going on in your own life. Think. Watch. Listen. Pay attention!!!! Please, for the sake of the children pay attention! If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t!!! Abuse is never right — not emotional abuse. Not physical abuse! Not spiritual abuse! Abuse hurts. It leaves wounds cause a lifetime of pain!
Be smart! Look for the red flags that are waving and don’t allow the abuse to continue. And, please…………..if you suspect that you are being set up or your child is being targeted, get out of that situation fast! Confront the person. Set boundaries and stick to them. Grooming is the first and most important phase of molesting. Once you’re in the trap, you may never get out!