Tips for Kids: On Sexual Predators (Part 2 of 2)
4. Your best defense is leaving for a “safer” place.
If you look back at the previous tip, despite all the mental gymnastics we did looking at the various reasons and motivations and yada yada of what was going on, there really was only one thing that helped get me out of a dangerous situation: my physically getting myself away from it.
I walked away. I left, in other words.
And that’s ultimately what you should do if you find yourself in a similarly questionable, somewhat dangerous scenario: get away from the threat as best and as quickly as you can.
This means: If you see an out, go take it. Immediately and without hesitation. If that means needing to leave behind some personal possessions, if your gut tells you the danger level is high enough, leave it all behind. Your parents are going to be pissed? Take the heat. At least you’ll be around to take it.
But leaving doesn’t necessarily mean you’re free and clear of the threat yet. Predators, after all, usually have legs too, don’t they? And, I would assume, legs that work well enough to go after you.
So what does this mean? This means that leaving isn’t enough — you need to work your way to someplace safer.
I say “safer,” not “safe,” because I figure if you are in this situation, you aren’t anywhere close to any place that we can consider totally safe from that predator, who in all likelihood really isn’t all that far behind you.
So, where can you go? Well, if you remember back in the previous tip, I did mention the predator’s biggest fear, didn’t I? And that, if you recall, is the fear of drawing attention to what’s going on, what they’re doing, themselves. So that hints at what most probably will be your “safer” place: anywhere where there are people. Move quickly to where there are people, run if you have to, and then stay put.
Now I’m not sure about the following — as I said, I’m no educated, trained “expert” at any of this — but I suspect that for some of you, an instinct to go and hide may kick in as you flee. Um, I really don’t think that’s a good idea. That’s playing right into the predator’s hands. Because I would imagine that is exactly what the predator wants, you isolated, alone, away from anyone else’s view. Fight that urge to hide if you get it and get your butt to where people are and plant it right there.
Now securely ensconced among other people, this may be difficult, but turn and search for your predator. Maybe you won’t see him (I assume it’s a him), in which case, good, settle and calm down, and plan your next move, which should be to get yourself out of there and to true safety.
But if you do see him, and he’s very likely on the way to you or lingering pretty close to where you are, here’s what you do: Stare at him, point at him, and say very loudly, clearly and firmly, “I don’t know you. Stop following me. Stop talking to me.”
“Hindi kita kilala. Huwag mo na akong sundan. Huwag mo na akong kausapin.”
You want to say it loud enough for everyone around you to hear and notice. None of this meek, shy BS. Say it LOUD. No need to shout, most probably, but you’ll want to be heard above the normal din of a small crowd of people.
I guarantee, people will turn and look at you. Even better, they will likely turn and look at who you’re talking to, who you’re pointing at (which is why you’ll want to be pointing).
At this moment, you’re probably thinking, OMG, that’s so embarrassing! Hell yeah, it is. Which is exactly what you want. Because if it’s embarrassing for you, it’s embarrassing for the predator too.
The predator’s biggest fear just got realized.
If the predator has any sense, he’ll zoom out of there. But based on various news reports I’ve seen through the years, they don’t always. Sometimes the pricks actually double down. Start talking to you and the others around, pretending that you’re the nutty one. “She’s my niece, my daughter, my GF, my whatever …” That does take what I call “testicular fortitude,” I’ll have to admit.
So what do you do now? I say, change nothing. Do exactly what you’ve been doing — pointing and saying loudly, “I don’t know you. Stop following me. Stop talking to me. (Hindi kita kilala. Huwag mo na akong sundan. Huwag mo na akong kausapin.)” Over and over and over and over again. And over some more. Change nothing until the threat is gone.
People will be asking you questions. The predator ahole, if he’s still there, will be too, and then some — he’ll be reasoning, arguing, downplaying, misdirecting, intimidating, maybe he’ll even be trying to actually grab you. I don’t care what you hear or what you see is going on around you, if that jerk is still there, don’t stop. Keep pointing and saying that line. Again and again and again.
He’ll probably be trying to talk over you, maybe trying to talk and answer (BS, obviously) the people asking questions, trying to get them on his side. You may get the urge to argue back and refute whatever he’s saying, “You’re not my uncle/father, we don’t even look alike, you piece of …” Don’t. It confuses everyone, gives the predator some ammo he can use to talk his way through, actually. Stick to the damn script. Point and say that line to the infinity power until you’re safe.
Don’t even pause. Say it over everybody else’s chatter. Don’t pause to let him speak or anyone ask yet another confused question. Layer it loudly over everybody. And stick to the simple script. Why? Because these well-meaning but thoroughly bewildered people around you are just as likely to listen and believe that predatory ahole’s experienced tongue at this point. They don’t know what’s going on, and they in all probability don’t know you.
You’ll look crazy? Like an insane hormonally imbalanced nutball teen? Hell yeah! But who cares? What you want to happen is for the predator to leave and for you to be safer again. Until that happens, stick to the script. Maybe everyone will get frustrated and call the cops or authorities. Great! That’s what you want. And really, watch that predator disappear if the situation unfolds that way.
And… Whew! I think I’ll end this tip right there. You get the picture.
Some parting thoughts (and mini-tips)
Well that was an exhausting emotional roller coaster, picking through memories I really didn’t want to be picking through, and then trying to think thoughts and see situations through the predator’s and — hopefully the following will never come to pass — your eyes. Frankly, these particular memories of mine are those that I would have preferred to keep to myself and not share, but I think you knowing about them’s a good way for you to accept that maybe, just maybe, this middle-aged mind of mine does understand what’s going on out there, what’s going on in you, and maybe I have an inkling of what you may be able to do to keep yourself safe or — knock on wood — get out of trouble.
Because that’s tne end goal here, keeping you safe. Whatever may — or hopefully may not — come down the road, I’d like to think that now maybe you’re at least a bit better equipped to handle things than you were before you read the first word of this piece.
I also had an additional objective for writing this: I want all this down for my own children. They’re not teens yet, but they will be soon enough. No idea whether I’ll still be breathing then or not — life’s funny that way — so better get all this “on paper” while I can. Maybe they can benefit a bit from what their own father was up to and learned in the process.
Now, before we go our merry ways, there are a few important things I’d like to touch on. Don’t worry, I’ll try to get through them as quickily and briefly as I can.
I was lucky as sh*t.
Reading through what I did, and how I got through all those encounters with those predators unscathed, I guess it all looks like I had a good handle on things and knew what I was doing. No I didn’t. I was winging it all. That I managed to get through that without getting hurt or into serious trouble, I can attribute that to only one thing, really: luck.
That’s it. At the end of the day, I’m sitting here without a sob story to tell you for one simple reason: I was just plain lucky.
Dealing with people is always a crap shoot. Because they’re people. They’re intelligent, emotional, and absolutely positively thoroughly unpredictable. Sure, there are tendencies and probabilities and likelihoods and whatever, but what makes life really interesting is that people are just plain unpredictable. No idea really what will go through their heads at any given moment. Or their hearts. And all that also makes them very, very dangerous.
I was a kid. I absolutely have no idea — and fortunately, I never will — if I would have been able to get myself out of a really tough situation if things took a really bad, bad turn for the worst. Luckily, they never did.
You may not be so lucky. Play with fire and you greatly increase the likelihood that you’ll get burned. That’s an uncomplicated fact.
I suggest that the path where you are far less likely to get burned is the better, smarter one. Why? Look at my experiences with those predators. Did I really gain anything by putting myself in danger like that? Not really. That’s why.
I was extraordinarily lucky as sh*t.
If you recall my stories, one thing should jump out at you: I never really was in an environment where I was totally alone or isolated. By design? Although I’d like to think so to help pump my ego up, the reality is that was totally luck too. Even in places, like say the bookstore, where I could’ve been cornered in an area where there were no other customers within the immediate vicinity, I was “not alone” enough. I could have yelled, screamed, made a hell of a fuss, pushed shelves over — the options of drawing attention were plentiful. Even when I ran off and made my escape, there really was no shortage of destinations to run to where I would find more people.
The point here is: Don’t be isolated. A little situational awareness goes a long, long way.
I see some of you young ones, for example, sitting by yourself at a table all the way in the back of a cafe, right by an exit right next to the street. You got your nose in your tablet, phone, book, etc., likely totally absorbed and oblivious to what’s going on around you. And that part of the cafe is also likely not even within clear view of where the staff and most of the other customers are.
Great for privacy and some peaceful solitude, yeah. You know what else that’s good for? A quick-and-dirty abduction. I’m not going to detail the steps and the practical/psychological factors here for some scummy predator to use as a roadmap. Suffice it to say, however, that all that’s made possible by nothing more than the isolation.
It’s exactly the kind of environment predators want for their targets.
I already told you what the simple solution is: Don’t be isolated.
The Buddy System works.
Again, looking through my experiences, here’s another thing that should jump out at you: I was by myself.
I’m pretty sure that none of that would’ve happened if I simply was there with a friend. So much so that if that were the case, I wouldn’t be surprised if I then ended up going through life thinking, “There were no sexual predators back then.”
Having that buddy with you is one hell of a deterrent.
So here I strongly suggest, if you go out shopping, to a cafe or food place, etc., go with a friend. Or two, even better!
The Buddy System also works for them.
Unfortunately, predators have also figured out employing the Buddy System works for their purposes as well. All the more reason for you to heed what I just told you: Try not to press your luck. Don’t be isolated. Use the Buddy System.
The good news is there is some good news: Dealing with two or more of them at a time still does not change the fact that they fear drawing attention to their activity and themselves. Use that knowledge to your advantage.
You’re messing around online? Just use your head. Please.
Online interactions are a totally new thing, for everyone. We didn’t have anything of the sort when I was growing up. Heck, we didn’t even have a phone at home then, and I grew up in a Metro Manila suburb! Closest thing I had back then, I guess, that would even remotely be similar to today’s online socializing, would be the few years when CB radios became popular, and some of us got to chatting and “meeting” total strangers on the airwaves. That some of them turned out to be people we actually already knew one way or another in real life, well, that’s really a whole different funny story.
Although there are many aspects of online interactions that I’ve managed to cover here, and although I am well aware of the many things that happen there (I am, after all, part of the generation and group that developed and helped define its expansive foundations), it’s a fast evolving and constantly changing medium.
Well, if you’re playing with socializing online (and, let’s face it, who isn’t?), all I can really specifically say about trying to keep yourself as safe as possible from what predators do there is this: Use your head. Think. All the time.
Because they are obviously doing the same exact thing, and then some: They’re always looking for angles, for ways, to totally deceive you. That’s not only what they do, they’re freaking good at it.
So use your head. Which includes using every tool you have available. Such as that Buddy System thing. Keep your friends informed on any relationships you have with strangers budding online; that may even give you some useful and interesting observations and insight on whatever’s happening. And meetups? Buddy System. Bring them along. I know what I’m supposed to say to a kid is, “Don’t do them.” But I was a kid. I’m pretty sure you are going to do them, maybe even just to spite us for telling you not to. So to heck with all that. Bring a buddy or two or more if you’re going to be a little pain in the ass rebel and do them.
Just realize, adults themselves experience problems with these meetups. You’re a kid. But you sure are more than intelligent enough to see that you’ll be incredibly vulnerable and at a terrible disadvantage when meeting up with someone who, even if you think you “know” them online, is really a total and absolute stranger. So Buddy System.
I think that’s all more than enough for you to wade through and ponder, so let’s end this right here. Besides, it’s almost dinner time and I’m hungry.
Keep your wits about you. Bring your buddies. And remember, if you ditch school using one of the techniques I described, you didn’t get it from me. Good luck.