The Knowledge That Saved Me From Molestation

April 29, 2011 19 Comments TAGS: Kids, Motherhood, Stress

By Guest Blogger Jamie Coombs

Have you ever gotten “the creeps” from one of your children’s coaches? Have you been on the fence about whether or not to say something about it or raise an alarm? Maybe you’ll be perceived as overly sensitive or the dreaded helicopter mom. I believe that women are blessed with a superpower called “intuition.” You should trust your intuition and hopefully this article will convince you to speak up, no matter how awkward.

When I was a young girl I had a basketball coach (we’ll refer to him as Coach X) that was popular amongst the kids and parents alike. He would return each season as a fun, energetic and involved coach. The odd thing was he never actually had a child in the league and most coaches were parents of at least one of the kids on the team. Why did he keep returning year after year? What was his motive?

After gaining my parents trust, he offered to be my ride home after each practice (which made sense because he lived in our neighborhood.) Then he would stop by our house to take a friend and I to the local ice cream vendor. Slowly the outings led into, after ice cream, going down the street to an empty parking lot and us driving his Jeep. No adult ever let us drive before. We couldn’t believe it! He was so much fun!

Looking back as an adult and even writing about it now, everything seems so obvious; all the signs were there. Unbeknownst to me, I was already chosen for the “grooming” process. The “grooming” process I refer to is the term known for molesters gaining trust of their future victims. This “dance” went on for years, going out for ice cream, trips to the mall, driving his car, and of course being selected to be on his basketball team year after year.

There is one girl in particular that stood out to me. Her and I were always chosen for Coach X’s team, her father was always out-of-town, and looking back on it, she was so amiss when she showed up for practice. She picked up on the signs that I had also been chosen for the “grooming“ process. She was always locking arms with me and I can vividly remember her cold hands and arms trembling a lot. When asked to run a drill from Coach X, she would always push me out front to do it first. I now realize, in a weird way, I think she wanted him to focus on me. She knew that if I was next, then he would move on and leave her alone.

Years later it would come out that when her father was out of town and her full-time working mom needed help with the kids, mom would call on friendly Coach X to come and watch her girls. We learned that she wasn’t the awkward accident-prone girl we pegged her to be. She was simply fighting back. All the times she came to practice with a brace on her wrist or a twisted ankle. These were signs of her struggle, fighting against her molester.

She was the one that would unveil his secret, the reason he had chosen coaching girl league basketball for years. Her family moved after she finally told her parents what had been going on with Coach X. To this day I think about her and often wonder what kind of adult woman she has grown to be.

I knew what he had done even before the full story came out. Girls were talking about it at school and there was one night after practice, when helping him pack up the basketball equipment, I found adult magazines in his Jeep. Instead of shying away and hiding them quickly, he asked if I wanted to look through them with him. He was often my ride home and I am so thankful that I had a ride home with someone else that night. I didn’t say a word to him, we just locked eyes and I glared at him as if to say, “ I know, I know what you’ve been up to.”

Believe it or not, amidst all the rumors and speculation, this creep was still coaching. It made me sick to my stomach to hear his voice at practice and yelling at me from the sidelines during games. I just wanted to stop and expose him for what he was, right there in front of everyone; I wanted to yell it from the top of my lungs.

During our last interaction, I did just that. It was during a game and I was sitting on the sidelines catching my breath. Just like he had done for the past several years, he kneeled down in front of me and started rubbing my legs and gabbing about when I was going back in the game and what the next play would be. I got up and ran out of the room into the empty cafeteria. He chased after me. “You can’t just quite a game!” he yelled, “Get back in there.” I yelled louder, “NO! And don’t you ever, ever touch my legs, my shoulders, or me ever again!” It seemed to infuriate him that I screamed this out loud. He came closer and I jumped to the other side of the table. “I’m serious, don’t touch me!”

That was it. The last time I spoke with him.

I cried when my parents told me of the other girls that weren’t so lucky and that he did molest. I knew it was true, but to hear it out loud and know that a judge wanted me to go to counseling, made it so real. I only went a couple times, where a counselor asked me questions behind a two-way mirror.

There are so many lessons to take away from this experience in my life. Now that I’m a parent there’s even more to consider. Although there maybe some signs my parents missed, I strongly believe it was their hands-on, open dialog parenting that gave me the confidence to trust my intuition.

So what were the life lesson my parents thankfully taught me that made him shy away?

Well, I guess they started by covering the basics. They were also very hands-on and asked about every outing with the coach. What did we talk about? Were did we go?

In hindsight, predators’ are not always jumping out from behind the bushes; they don’t have black ski masks on, and are often disguised as friends of the family. If my parents knew what they do today, they wouldn’t have let this relationship go on for as long as it did. Luckily, the basics mixed with hands-on parenting worked.

Never let him into your home without another adult present. My parents were furious when they found out that I had let him into our home when I was alone. I was confused because I thought he was a trusted adult and friend of the family, therefore I let him in. All I can say is “Thank God” for our 130 lb. dog. She always kept herself between him and I and literally growled at his every move. I made that mistake only once and that’s all he needed.

He memorized my parents work schedule and listened closely to conversations at practice to pick-up on times they wouldn’t be home. Then of course he would drop by during those times wanting to come in for a chat. I would go and speak through the door letting him know my parents were not home so I couldn’t let him in. He would then proceed to say, “It’s okay, your parents trust me. I’m sure they were referring to strangers.”

I stood my ground but he was persistent and I soon stopped coming to the door all together. I’ll never forget hiding in closets with my sisters when he would show up unannounced. Why the closet? If the door remained unanswered, he would walk around and pier into windows. Creepy…Um YES!

My parents always reassured me that I could tell them anything, even if I felt like I had done something wrong. Children often feel like they are doing something wrong in these scenarios and may wait longer to tell because of it.

I distinctly remember the day Coach X took a friend and I to the mall. This was yet another test. When I agreed to go, I was under the impression it was purely a ride and we would split once we arrived, because why would a 40 something year old man want to walk around the mall with two 13 year old girls?

We did a couple laps around the mall going in and out of the Gap, Abercrombie and other stores. We came across Victoria’s Secret and he tried to convince us to shop in there. We politely declined. He wouldn’t drop it. For him it was a test to see how far he could go before we withdrew. Finally we flat out refused to go in that store with him and shop for underwear, and the next thing we knew we were on our way home.

My friend tried to convince me to tell our parents what he had tried, and where he wanted to shop. It’s not that I was against telling, but I remember feeling embarrassed and thought maybe my parents would be mad at me. Like I had brought this on myself. The opposite was quite true and my parents came through. Once I told my mom she explained to me why his behavior was so inappropriate and that we did the right thing by saying “NO.” My mom became very inquisitive of his motives after that.

Question everything! My parents always welcomed questions and taught us it was the best way to learn. Boy did I take this to heart… especially with Coach X. My intuition was already telling me something was weird about him. Being a young girl and meeting him before I even understood what sex was, I couldn’t pin point what made me uncomfortable. So I began to question everything.

I know that this in particular, made him uncomfortable. I don’t know if other molesters are like this, but it seemed as though he didn’t want to state the obvious out loud. For example, when he took me on trips to the empty parking lot to drive his Jeep, the only precursor to driving the Jeep was sitting on his lap. Even though, I was particularly tall for my age and could reach the pedals just fine, he insisted it was the safest way.

We would also have talks on the way home about not telling my parents that I drove his Jeep because they would be mad and we wouldn’t be able to go anymore. Once I started questioning why I needed to sit on his lap as I could clearly reach the pedals on my own, we stopped visiting the empty parking lot.

My parents always explained the concept of “trusting my intuition,” even as a young girl. Children not only know what is right and wrong, they can feel it. My mother always stressed to go with your gut feeling. After each life lesson, especially if I made the wrong decision, she would ask, “what did your gut tell you to do?” Sure enough every time, it was the opposite of what I had done.

Therefore, I share my story today, in great detail, as a way to increase awareness about predators and child molesters that lurk in our communities. As mothers, we cannot be there to protect our children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But what we can do, is when we send them into the world on their own to go to school, to play at a friend’s house, to go to extra curricular activities, we can equip them with the proper tools to at least help them. Remember, I was thankfully not a victim, because my parents were so open with me, gave me the tools I discuss above, and made me feel I could come to them about ANYTHING.

If something about your child feels off, I urge you to please investigate. Let people call you a helicopter parent. You’re always better safe than sorry.

I am speaking from experience.

~Jamie

Readers, what do you think? Please feel free to leave Jamie a note here. And please consider sharing this post with other moms to show them the warning signs of predatory behavior, and as a way to teach their children the necessary tools to fight these people off.

xoxEDxox

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Jamie Coombs is a wife and mom to a one-year-old boy Brewer.  Jamie is in the process of starting her own children clothing line called Lint Collection. Follow Jamie on her Blog, http://jmecoombs.tumblr.com

    19 Comments

    1. The Knowledge That Saved Me From Molestation | WomenOnTheFence.com

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    2. This story is very inspiring especially to those who are in similar situation. Bravery and knowledge is the key in order to protect ourselves from molestation. We have to know the signs in order to shield ourselves from those true offenders. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, it surely will help a lot.

    3. LillianNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you for sharing! I have two kids and it’s such a scary thing to think about. Sometimes predators are so charismatic it’s hard for parents to see them for who they are. I pray that I do everything I can to equip and protect my kids. Great thoughts!

    4. SuzNo Gravatar says:

      I need to share this with my daughters. Thank you for sharing your story – I hope it helps keep others safe in the future, too.

    5. DoggyNo Gravatar says:

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      Bravo, la idea brillante y es oportuno
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      Doggy

    6. AdviceNo Gravatar says:

      Great article Jamie

    7. Mom says:

      As I read my daughter’s post, I have to hold back tears thinking about what could have happened. Looking back, there were so many signs that were not exactly overlooked but worst yet dismissed. My husband (Jamie’s Dad) and I would often talk with each other about why Coach X was so involved with girl’s basketball and in particular our girls. He seemed so “Grandfatherly” and after all he did live in our neighborhood. How could he be anything but a nice guy? Still because of our uneasiness, I can remember going on some of the ice cream trips to see his reaction. Of course, he would be on his best (I’m around parents) behavior. Yet something didn’t seem right. I guess we didn’t practice what we preached — trust your gut feelings! I do have a sense of guilt when I think about how I allowed my daughter to go anywhere with this person but am also grateful that she had the comfort level to talk to me about it. From that time on there was never any one-on-one contact and better still no contact at all. Mothers–pay attention to those suttle signs–we all want to trust and see the good in people but need to be cautious all the same. We were lucky and I’m proud to have a daughter who speaks up!

      • Beth JukuriNo Gravatar says:

        There may be more to speak up about….IF he is still in your neighborhood there is a good chance he is still actively abusing.

        My father is a pedophile and was caught in his late 70’s molesting his granddaughter. My niece speaking out allowed me to know that I too was abused, that I had all the indications of incest. He was brought to trial for the most recent abuse, but the rest of us or a majority were too old. Yet this still has the potential to heal the older ones if they are willing to face the truth.

        This coach pedophile had to work at getting his girls, by choosing a path that would lead him to be around them.
        My father just used his own daughters and their friends.

        We can’t speak enough and share enough, for there are victims out there wanting to know it isn’t them, but the weird coach that has the problem.

    8. Beth JukuriNo Gravatar says:

      Jamie…thanks for opening up the dialogue. What I want others to know is that the word pedophile comes from a Greek word…meaning Child Friendship. Once I learned this it makes sense. Most of the pedophiles are unable or have very little adult friendships, but seem to be very ‘good’ with children.

      And the children ‘know’ something isn’t right, but take their cues from the adults. And adults will not get the creepy feeling, for the pedophile isn’t after them.

      What the adults have to be most attentive to is their children, asking questions and not fearing to be rude to over friendly adults, by questioning them.

      It is unreal that he is still walking around, but I way understand. The laws of this land work well for them and not really good for the children. We need to have the statue of limitations removed completely, for you could now at your adult age be able to articulate and stand against him….but for most states it is way too late.

      Keep the dialogue going, one parent or one child will be alerted and saved.
      Beth Jukuri

      • Jamie CoombsNo Gravatar says:

        Thanks for sharing the definition of pedophile, I never actually looked it up before. Your right, it makes complete sense.

        You bring up a good point to not only question your children but also directly question the adult you have concerns about. Really, at that point who cares about hurting feelings…your just protecting your children and the adult will get over it and learn to back off.

    9. Jessica@FoundtheMarblesNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this very important story. it serves as a great reminder that we need to teach our children to both cultivate and trust their instincts.

      There is someone I’ve known my whole life who others adore, but something about him has made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. He immediately came to mind while reading your post – and it made me wonder.

    10. Erica DiamondNo Gravatar says:

      Jamie, thank you for sharing. I am sure writing this blog post brought up all sorts of difficult memories for you. I worry about this all the time, to be honest. With two boys in hockey, and coaches and all, it scares me. We never really know someone… That is why we have to be so attuned to our children. Have almost like a 6th sense.

      • Jamie CoombsNo Gravatar says:

        You are so welcome Erica! I was nervous at first but am loving all the support from the readers thus far. It is so important to share knowledge like this so other mothers can learn and trust their intuition.

        I would also like to add that I do believe in really amazing coaches and the positive influence that they have on young children. I don’t want to downplay the importance of that role. However, keeping an open dialog with your children and the interaction with any authority figure is key.

    11. Janet RoyNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you for sharing your story and bringing an often closeted topic out into the open. We all need to know the signs and give our children those necessary tools. We really need to be around for our kids and listen for those less overt clues.

    12. Anonymous says:

      I HOPE THE SOB ROTS IN PRISON FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE!

      • Jamie CoombsNo Gravatar says:

        well…I hate to deliver bad news but this creep is still roaming around our neighborhood. My family and I were not part of the court process because he did not actually molest me (so I can not speak of the outcome). However, a few counseling sessions I did attend where I talked about my relationship was videoed and given to the courts. I loss touch with the young girl I spoke about because her family abruptly moved away 🙁

        Even to this day when visiting my parents I run into him at the grocery store, neighborhood pool, and mall. It takes all it has in me not “give him a piece of my mind” when I do see him. The really weird part is he sees me too and we both just ignore each others existence.

        • Beth JukuriNo Gravatar says:

          I understand how awkward society is with this. Somehow we are afraid to offend him so we maintain our silence.
          Yet it is exactly what he needs to continue his sick game called abuse.

          As a child, we wait for a knowing adult to stand up and speak….for we are unable to.

          Someday, someone’s voice will end his game.

    13. Lisa FoxNo Gravatar says:

      Jamie thank you for not only sharing your story, but also the details with all of us. I am sure it was very painful. You did a superb job at showing us mothers just how these sick people operate. I agree, we’re all better off being the helicopter parent and keeping our loved ones safe. You can’t be too cautious. I cannot imagine what you went through as a teen but we can all learn from this.

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