It’s Your Body

Several years ago, I wrote a blog post called Tickling, about how tickling can be a form of aggression, and how it can often be very unwelcome and inappropriate. That blog post resonated with a lot of people. It’s short and to the point, so I hope you’ll read it.

I thought of that post recently. I was really impressed to discover that one of my nieces is teaching her two-year-old daughter that no one should get to touch her in any way, shape, form, or fashion, without her permission. Forget about good touch, bad touch. It’s her body. She gets to say who touches it, good or otherwise. We all have that right, but we often forget that.

Just because Uncle Fred is a touchy-feely guy does not mean that he gets a free pass just so you can avoid ruffling family feathers. If he’s making you uncomfortable, that’s never okay. Not ever. Even if you love Uncle Fred to pieces. And that applies to recipients of those touches of any age, not just children.

Also, just because someone is in a position of authority, such as a doctor or a dentist or a teacher or a boss or a politician, or even an older relative or a spouse, that does not mean they get to decide how you are touched. Absolutely not.

I’m not saying that every person who is touching you inappropriately is automatically a sex offender who is grooming you. Some people are just clueless. But it doesn’t really matter. If you aren’t comfortable in a tactile situation, regardless of your age, orientation, or relationship, it’s your body, not theirs, and you get to dictate what happens to it.

Your body is truly the only thing in life that you will always have all to yourself. That’s why it’s such an extreme violation when someone abuses it. I love knowing that there are children out there who are being taught their own agency practically from birth. That’s how it should be. I wish it had been taught to me.

Always establish your own boundaries and make them crystal clear. That’s not being rude. It’s appropriate. And I think that you’ll find that most people are a lot more comfortable, knowing the rules in any given scenario.

Never forget that your body belongs to you and you alone. Always.

Inappropriate Touch

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That’s Bill Cosby’s name now. Let that sink in for a minute. Cliff Huxtable is in prison. And that’s exactly where he should be. Chickens do have a way of coming home to roost.

But it makes me really sad. This pathetic, legally blind, 81 year old man is rotting in jail because of the vile choices he made, over and over and over again. And the reason he got away with it for so long is that America loved Cliff Huxtable. We bought into his brand.

Now that his mask has finally slipped away, it reveals a sick, twisted, pathetic shell of a human being. A sex offender. A rapist. A criminal who deserves what he gets, even more so because it could so easily have been avoided. He had it all, but it wasn’t enough without the kink of destroying women’s lives along the way. Such power. So warped.

America’s TV dad.

Prison Bars

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Crossing the Line

I’ve been watching the violence at the recent Trump Rallies in horror. And then hearing Trump “predict” riots (which is tantamount to encouraging riots) if he doesn’t get the nomination is enough to send a chill up my spine. It doesn’t take much to turn people into animals, it seems. It makes me look skyward and shout, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE???”

I’ve learned that it’s never a good idea to shout at the sky. It always seems to produce unexpected results. This time it gave me a life lesson. I was shown exactly what is wrong with those people.

Within an hour of my vertical screech, I was treated to the following Facebook post:

PLEASE HELP:
PLEASE SHARE:
UPDATES AT THE BOTTOM OF POST
I really need everyone single person who see’s this to share it. This man needs to be caught and needs to be off the streets of Seattle. He is a sexual predator, dangerous deviant and violated me.

This man spent about 3hrs in the Coffee Shop I work at. I thought he was a bit off when he first came in, and so did my boss. Seeing as he came in sometime between 7:30&8:30 in the morning, it got busy and we paid no attention to him after we served him his breakfast burrito. After the morning rush, at 9:40AM I realized he had re arranged his chair and table so he was faced straight at me and had his back against a window. I noticed he kept looking at me, and then to his phone, back and forth, over and over. He was holding his phone up but in a way that made it seem like he was doing something on it, yet he wasn’t. By the way he was acting my gut told me he was up to no good. I told my boss what I thought was going on and he went outside unknowingly behind the man to check and see what he was doing on his phone, and it turns out my gut was right. He had been filming me as well as other customers in an inappropriate manner for HOURS. When I got the confirmation, I lost it. I confronted him. I shoved the table into his gut and cussed him out trying to stand up for myself. I don’t remember much of what I said because I was filled with such rage and adrenaline. But I remember enough to know that I’m proud of myself, for being that brave in that moment. When he left my boss being the good man he is decided to fix the tables and clean the spot the guy had been at as he saw how shaken I was. Unfortunately my boss found pubic hair on the chair and around the area this disgusting sick pervert had been sitting. Not only was the guy filming me, and other women, in sexual ways, for sexual purposes, he somehow managed to get his pubic hair out of his pants…only making us assume he had been touching himself.

I don’t speak out much about my past publicly, but being a survivor of a sexual assault as a child, something like this is beyond just violating. It’s crushing. I can’t begin to tell you the emotions I’ve had since I was face to face with this sexual predator. Anger, fear, disgust and paranoia are just the tip of the iceberg. The flashbacks aren’t easy to fight through. For someone to not even touch me, not even speak to me to make me feel like this is depressing and leaves a sick knot in my stomach. I’ve felt like I’ve been ready to vomit since he left my sight.

I called the police, I gave them all the Information I could. The officer told me that they have had multiple reports in the last couple of weeks of a man with a similar description doing the same things I reported in the area. Luckily, I snapped the guys picture before I confronted him. So now, I need the publics help. Let’s find him, let’s stop him before he becomes more brazen and save anyone else from feeling as shitty as I do right now.

Here’s the information I have:

His name is Scott Marr

He is 5′ 9″
Short blondish brown hair
He is heavy set
He is 45
He wears larger headphones and carries a small red tote with a handle and wheels.
He comes across as developmentally & socially slow but I believe he is not.
His phone is an older version and has a cracked screen
Incident took place at 3rd & Colombia in Downtown Seattle.

IF YOU SEE THIS MAN, DO NOT MAKE CONTACT, CALL THE POLICE and report him! They need to make contact with him, this guy runs and disappears if he’s confronted.
This is the picture I have, and the incident number from the report I took. 16-93769

UPDATE AS OF 3/18/16:
Scott Marr is a registered sex offender with the charge of indecent exposure with sexual motivation. I found him through the PUBLIC sex offender registry. I have sent the registry an official tip as well as updated the police and my incident report. He is known by other baristas in the area of pioneer square. AT THIS POINT he needs to be caught in the act in order to get him off the streets and to protect unknowing victims. IF YOU SEE HIM FILMING, get any kind of evidence you can and then have someone call the police! They can not arrest him without actual evidence! I am not asking for and do not condone in anyway for the public to attack, harm or trap him, I just want the public to know who he is and what he does so he can be properly caught red handed and lawfully taken of the streets. I want this to end so I can feel safe going to work, I want this to end so I can start to feel like myself again. I don’t want to jump every time someone walks from behind me or when I hear loud noises. I don’t want to have flashbacks anymore, I want to feel comfortable making eye contact and I want to heal.

Mentally, I know I have a rough road ahead of me, but I know that if I see this being shared I can have hope that this man will finally get caught before he does something worse and hurts anyone again mentally, emotionally or physically.

Thank you,
Danielle Shepherd
Survivor.

To say that this situation outrages me is putting it mildly. Just by virtue of being a woman, and then adding to that the fact that I am a woman who has experienced sexual abuse, I wanted to grab the nearest pitchfork and torch and set forth to dispatch this sick man. I wanted to solve this problem in a way that is very contrary to my peaceful nature. To wit: I wanted to chop off his phallus and stuff it in his breakfast burrito.

Wow. That was easy. I went from rational human being to Trump-like vigilante in one short step. Fortunately I didn’t have an equally insane crowd surrounding me, egging me on, so my cooler head prevailed in the end. Rather than impaling this pervert on the tines of a pitchfork that I don’t, in fact, own, I simply shared this post on my Facebook page, but also encouraged people to compile evidence of this man’s activities and turn that over to the police, rather than taking justice into their own hands.

And now, of course, I’m also blogging about it. Take that, you disgusting tiny little fraction of a man!

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Keep your Children Safe: Think Like a Pedophile

Controversial title, I know. But hear me out.

Charish Perriwinkle, 8 years old, is dead. Most of you will not have even heard of her. She was abducted from a Walmart here in Jacksonville, Florida, and within hours her body was found and her abductor was apprehended. He was a serial pedophile, someone who should never have been allowed the freedom to continue hunting. Moot point, because hunt he did.

I always hate it when abduction news stories lay the blame at the feet of the parents, because there’s really only so much you can do when there’s a monster on the prowl. But there are some disturbing lessons to be learned from Charish’s tragic end.

First of all, her abductor befriended the family that very day at a Dollar General store, and offered to meet the whole family at the Walmart to buy them clothes, and her mother accepted. That’s an astoundingly dangerous amount of trust to put in a total stranger, but then I know what it’s like to be poor and desperate. So I’ll give her the benefit of a doubt on that one.

But what I have a much harder time accepting is that once they were all in the Walmart, shopping away as you do, the creep offers to buy them all some hamburgers, and the mother allowed him to take Charish with him. Alone. And she didn’t get worried until they had been gone for a half hour.

Pedophile avoidance 101: Do NOT let your child walk off with a virtual stranger. Duh. That seems like common sense to me. But then, maybe I’m better at putting myself into the twisted mind of a pedophile than some people are. But parents need to learn to think like a predator in order to make sure their children are not the victim of the hunt. If you are a parent, a certain level of paranoia is not only acceptable, it’s required. So here are some tips. (And before you hurl verbal tomatoes at me, note that I’m saying you should THINK like a pedophile, not ACT like one.)

  • If you are a pedophile, you’re going to want to put yourself in places where you have access to children. I always find drivers of ice cream trucks highly suspect. I look askance at men who hang around public pools or playgrounds. And if you see someone chatting up the kiddies at the school bus stop, you’d be well advised to interrogate that person. And I don’t care how lost you are, if you feel the need to drive up to a child and roll down your window to ask for, well, ANYTHING, then that’s an enormous red flag. If you’re lost, ask an adult, or risk having your eyes scratched out by me or someone like me. Yes, all of this is profiling at its worst, but you know what? I could care less. Your child is too much to lose. And if the person is truly innocent, then he or she shouldn’t be offended that you are questioning their behavior and putting your child’s safety above all else.
  • Do your due diligence. Unless you know someone inside and out, for years on end, do not, repeat, DO NOT let your child go anywhere or do anything with that person alone. In fact, you’ve got to question why a person would want to spend time alone with a small child that isn’t their own.
  • Meet the parents of your children’s friends. Just because someone is a parent does not make him or her trustworthy.
  • Lock your doors and windows, close your curtains at night and leave your bedroom doors open so you can hear as much as possible. If you can’t afford a security system, I’d even consider putting a portable motion detector that triggers an alarm at a height that’s taller than your child so he or she doesn’t trigger it, but not taller than an adult. Aim it right over your child’s bed, and turn it on every night without fail. You can get them at Radio Shack. As a matter of fact, if you’re not a parent but know someone who is, this would make a great gift.
  • Teach your children. Sadly, “stranger danger” isn’t enough, because abusers are often relatives or friends. Teach your children about good touch and bad touch. Teach them to always talk to you about things, even if someone tells them they shouldn’t. Teach them to be safe. Mind you, there is a difference between making them feel insecure and constantly afraid and teaching them that safety is important and it’s everyone’s responsibility. Even theirs.
  • Don’t ignore your inner voice. If something inside is telling you that someone is creepy or suspect, err on the side of caution.
  • Participate in the National Child ID Program so that your child can be easily identified if the worst should happen.
  • When in public, do not let your child out of your sight. I once saw a toddler wandering around a large public library. No parent anywhere in the vicinity. This kid was in the same room as the homeless people who come to get out of the heat and use the internet to look at soft porn. I walked up to the kid and said, “Where’s your mommy, honey?” and he burst into tears. Even though the child was wailing, it took what felt like 5 minutes for the mother to wander out of the stacks to find the kid, and she didn’t seem the list bit concerned. It took everything in me not to slap that woman across the face. Twice.
  • For the love of God, do not sexualize your children. When I see parents entering their kids into those beauty contests, putting them in sexy little outfits, covering them with makeup and teaching them to blow kisses at strangers, I want to vomit. When children are allowed to wear clothes that are not age appropriate, it makes me shudder. Children should not be dressed to attract. You never know what you’re attracting. And what lesson are you teaching? That your looks are a commodity for manipulation? That’s a twisted and dangerous mindset.
  • If your state has a sex offender’s database as mine does, look up your neighborhood. You’ll be horrified to see how many live near you. Print out their files. Memorize their faces and addresses. And if you suspect that that person no longer lives at that address, report it to the authorities, because chances are that criminal has taken flight and is re-offending. (There’s an address near my house that looks abandoned to me, and a sex offender supposedly lives there. I’ve reported this to the police, but that address is still the one listed for this guy, and that disturbs me greatly.)
  • Pedophiles LOVE the internet. Pay close attention to what your child does on line. Your child should not be talking to anyone whom you do not know personally. Period.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • As a parent, trust should not be your default position when someone enters your sphere. Trust should have to be earned, and it shouldn’t be easy.

I know it takes energy to be on alert 24 hours a day, but this world isn’t a safe place, and your children are too precious to put at risk.

school safety

(Image credit: pasadenausd.org)