Beware of Strangers Bearing Gifts

*TRIGGER WARNING*

This is memory of a time in my life when I was unknowingly groomed. This is particularly prominent and confusing to me as although I had already been abused and groomed in the past, it had happened when I was a lot younger. This happened roughly between the ages of 15 to 22. I say roughly as I’m not sure exactly of the dates – that’s another topic in it self, whether specific times and dates are important to us or not. I could easily go off on a tangent now and chat bubbles, and avoid what I really need to talk about, for a little longer but I wont.

This has been, I suppose, the most difficult episode of abuse for me to explore and admit, as there’s still a little bit of shame and guilt surrounding it. More difficult than the age of 10 and below as I was a young adult when it occurred, and it threw up some soul searching scary questions I would rather not have looked at like:

How could I have let it happen?

I should have been able to stop it?

Why didn’t I say no?

Why didn’t I stab him in his sleep?

Did I enjoy it?

Does that mean I’m gay?

Do I give of a certain vibe?

Have I got victim stamped on my head?

Should I have gone to the police?

These are things I’ve wrestled with since I disclosed. If your like me and can identify with this survivor, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Regards to the questions, I could go on for ever, but the point I’m trying to make is that it regurgitated more questions than answers – as it often does for us. That’s why I dared not approach it with out proper help from someone (who I‘d learnt to trust), who knows what they are talking about, and that’s what I did.

I didn’t go into the minor details but slowly asked the questions to my therapist and other survivors I’ve met, (there’s loads of us out there by the way), to help unpick the mess and make some sense of it all.

Here goes, I’m now going to take this opportunity to share with who ever reads this… My truth of being groomed as a teenager and into my early 20‘s.

It all started when I was at school. I had a best friend who was a girl who I used to call for in the morning before school. We would get the bus together, mess about in class together, walk home together and meet up at night (when we weren’t grounded), and just do normal teenage stuff, we were best friends.

Then she met this lad who was a lot older than her, he was 26 (which is wrong in it self but you don’t seem to question it when your that age, it’s only now with hindsight that I look back and think what a beast!) – what was he doing with her at that age, but that’s another story. Anyway this lad who she’d met started to get jealous of our friendship and was convinced that there was something more going on than friendship and started threatening me.

This one particular occasion, he said was going to come up after school and stab me. He waited for me in a car outside the gates but he wasn’t alone. He came with his friend who was a couple of years older than him who dragged him off me and stopped him carrying out his threat, so obviously I thought he was my hero and we became good friends. I started to look up to him.

I’d heard of and seen this guy before, he was one of the hard lads from round my area and I’d bought drugs off him in the past. He took me under his wing. My dad was a waste of time, and he took me under his wing. With hindsight this is when the grooming started. I remember being particularly impressed with his Astra GTE, he sold drugs had a barbers shop I thought he was the best thing since sliced bread! He’d do any thing for me: pick me up from places, drop me off, he used to buy me clothes, drugs, pay for nights out, I thought he was a genuine friend, being a naive 15 year old at the time.

Apparently wanting nothing in return, apart from he liked spending a lot of time with me.

He then gave me a job at weekends in his barbers shop, sweeping up washing hair, skinning up in the back and giving me decent money for doing it. This went on for 12 months. Nothing untoward I thought. Things weren’t good at home and I eventually moved in to the spare room at his. He said come and stay at mine, you can do what you want plus my girlfriend at the time could stay over. It seemed very appealing and it was. I remember her saying to me “there’s something strange about him” but she couldn’t put her finger on it. She used to say “why’s he no friends his own age” but I never questioned it. It was party time, all my friends were in every night getting smashed smoking weed and out raving at weekends… I was having a whale of a time! no adults telling me what to do, smashed every day, PERFECT!

Things are coming back to me now. I remember he always wanted to wrestle or play fight, all the time, which felt uncomfortable as he’d grab my privates when doing so. He also started a trend that if any one had shorts on he’d whip them down for a laugh. Now this might seem like normal lads messing about, but there seemed to be more to it, he seemed like he was enjoying it a little too much.

Looking back, he was having the time of his life. There was always 10 – 12 lads in the house of a night, smashed, it was easy pickings.

I tried to ignore his behaviour but it was getting difficult. He started walking in on me when I was in the shower then apologising, then he’d come in and take a picture when I wasn’t expecting it “just for a laugh”. He bought a sun bed which every one wanted to go on. I later discovered he had his video camera set up in the room, that’s why he always convinced me to go on it to get a good tan. Also when I did he would come in the room and pretend he was doing his account books.

After that a catalogue of things started to happen where he’d say “get your willy out and lets measure” making out that’s what mates do. I knew it wasn’t write but I was in a catch 22. I was staying at his house, I had no where to go, no money. I was stuck! The thing was, I didn’t enjoy it and felt really uncomfortable but didn’t know what to do. I was frightened if I’m honest, so I felt I had to just go along with things.

There were numerous occasions that I woke up and he’d be in my bedroom lifting my sheets up and he’d be playing with himself, thinking I was smashed and out of the game. I’d say “what the fuck are you doing” and he’d say “oh I was just checking you were asleep, just to see if you wanted some of this joint” and nothing would be mentioned the next day. Swept under the carpet, they call it. Bearing in mind he used to sell diazepam (sleeping tablets), so it was common place to play the spiking game so god only knows half of what went on.

All this stuff went on for years until finally I told one of my friends. He didn’t believe me and told me not to mention it again. I started to put stuff behind my door at night so I could hear him coming in. I was getting bad on the drugs at this point, I used to take heroin and crack to come down off pills mainly, but it got more frequent and he was paying for my drugs. He took heroin the first time we had, it but never again. He always used to say “you have it, ill stick to the weed”. Obviously I soon had a habit. I had to leave, but had nowhere and an addiction to support, which he was paying for – this was kept secret.

A large group of us went out raving on xmas eve to Bowlers, in Manchester, and one lad in particular – the one who I told that I thought the guy I was staying with was gay – stayed at home with my so called mate, just getting stoned. So when we all got back from the club, we went back to our house and stayed up smoking weed. We heard an almighty thump and the lad in question came flying down the stairs, literally clearing them, pants round his ankles, white as a sheet, not saying a word! Ran through the door and wasn’t to be seen again for weeks. Then following, he came down stairs and said “what was up with him”, likely story I thought!

We then seen this lad 2 weeks later and he said he’d woke up and he was giving him a blow job. The lads brothers came down and battered him.

I couldn’t stay any longer, people were saying that I was his boyfriend. I moved out shortly after with my girlfriend and her mum to her house. He was round all the time when her mum wasn’t in begging me through the letterbox to come back and live at his, making out he just wanted to be my mate, borderline stalking me. I wanted to get my own back on him so I took his takings from work from the house.

Whilst rooting about, me and my girlfriend found a video case with photos in of me and my mates, out cold from being spiked, in various states of undress etc. There was also video tapes of people on the sun bed he’d made with his hidden camcorder. I did shoeceive his just deserts.

Just to add this man was not gay, he was a sexual predator who liked young boys there is a world of difference as I’ve learned. Through being open minded I’ve not allowed this experience to scar my future friendships with people of different sexual orientations.

The money I took was all spent on drugs but guess what? it didn’t make me feel any better. The only way I’ve found to do that is by sharing my truths with my therapist and fellow survivors… That’s how I’ve got my power back.

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