How To Handle Molestation: A Real Encounter

How To Handle Molestation

Have you ever been molested before? I have, and today’s article is about how to handle molestations.

My Molestation Encounter

Last week, I was on Amtrak (the railway network in US), going from New York City to Los Angeles. It was a 3-day train ride (Jan 5-8), with a transit in Chicago.

Not all the passengers were going from NYC to LA. There were multiple stopovers, where passengers would depart, and new passengers who would get onboard. This meant I was sitting with different people throughout the ride. I was in the coach cabin, with an aisle and 2 seats on each aisle.

On the first night, there was someone seated beside me, so I slept on my seat. While the seat itself was fairly spacious, could recline a fair bit and came with plenty of legroom, it was not as comfortable as sleeping on an actual bed. I made the best out of the space given, curling up in my seat, while the person beside me did the same too.

On the second night, after transiting in Chicago, it turned out there was no one seated beside me for the night. So I occupied both seats and used them as a bed. It was as comfortable as it could get without a bed, so all was good.

On the third night, the seat beside me got taken up again. I thought “Oh well, bummer” and simply prepared myself for another night of less-comfortable sleep.

It would turn out that was the least of my problems, for the person seating beside me turned out to be a disgusting creep who wanted to molest me.

Having My Rights Violated

It first started off benign, where he extended beyond the boundary of his seat, taking up a part of my seat. The cabin seats were separate with a small divider between each seat, so it was quite obvious when the spatial boundary was crossed.

Thinking he was asleep and it was a careless mistake, I squeezed toward the other end of my seat, so there would be a comfortable distance between me and him.

Following my movement, the guy adjusted himself and went back within the spatial boundary of his seat. He even asked me if he had laid on my jacket (he did – his hand had rested on my jacket when he crossed the boundary of his seat), of which I said no, out of courtesy. However, he knew otherwise, because he apologized for it anyway and told me to tell him if it happened again. Everything was good.

But after a few minutes, the same thing happened again. He crossed the line separating his and my seats, and occupied a part of my seat again.

I thought perhaps he needed more space, but it didn’t make sense because he was of normal build (he was not huge nor obese), and the seat definitely provided him with more than enough space, as it did for me.

I felt stifled, but didn’t do/say anything because everyone else was sleeping in the cabin, and I didn’t want to wake anyone up (it was dead quiet).

In reaction to this, I squeezed into the other end of my seat again, so I could keep him at a safe distance.

It was peaceful for 10-15 minutes. The guy laid still the whole time, so I thought he was asleep. “Perhaps it was just an honest mistake on his part”, I thought. I tried to fall asleep.

But all of a sudden, I felt something touching my right thigh – repeatedly. Looking down, imagine my bewilderment when I saw the guy stroking my thigh with his hand – *through* the 2 thick coats separating us! He was using his coat as his blanket, and I was using my coat as my blanket. I couldn’t see his hand since it was under his coat, but it was obvious that (a) it was a deliberate action (b) it was his hand.

I was shocked. The situation was so audacious that I thought it must have been an honest mistake. Here was a guy in his early 20s, who seemed well groomed and well mannered, and in no way looked like a malicious individual, trying to have his way with me. I thought to myself: “Are you kidding me? What made him think he could do this and get away with it?”

Note we were complete strangers to each other, and had not spoken at all prior to this, save for 1-2 word exchanges (“Sure; Thank you; You’re welcome”) where I helped plug in his charger into power socket beside my seat. He boarded the train at about 9pm, just an hour before night time. I was not, in any way, interested in him, and had definitely not done anything which would remotely suggest that.

Not knowing what to do, I laid still to see what was going to happen next. The guy continued stroking my thigh for about 30-45 seconds, after which -hear this- he started to lift *MY* coat, to reach out for my thigh!! (Thank god I was wearing pants!)

At this point, it was *clearly* a deliberate act. In my mind, I thought “What the f***?”. Not wanting to create a commotion but not intending for the offending act to continue, I quickly moved my legs away from his offensive hand.

The guy didn’t relent, however. He persisted with his touching with each shift I made. Each time, he would stroke my thigh for a short while, before trying to lift up my coat with his fingers. This happened at least 5 times, before I finally thought enough was enough. I wasn’t about to spend the night beside this sex pervert – god knows what he would do to me while I was asleep.

So at 1am (2 hours after it first started, at about 11pm), I moved myself to the train lounge, where I slept there – safely – for the night.

Understanding My Resistances

Inner Resistances
Throughout the encounter, it did not cross my mind to report him to the train attendant. When I questioned myself why, the following answers came up:

  • Because I didn’t want to embarrass him for committing such an offensive act.
  • Because I felt bad for him (for stooping to such a lowly action) and I didn’t want to make his life worse than it already was. If he was charged with an offence, it may ruin his life.
  • Because if I called him out on it, it would attract attention to both of us and create a commotion around us, which I didn’t want to be a part of.
  • Because I didn’t want to disturb the other people in the cabin, who were sleeping or trying to sleep.
  • Because I felt there was no hard evidence I had against him, other than what I felt/saw, which he could easily disclaim.
  • Because maybe I was imagining the whole thing and he wasn’t trying to take advantage of me. (Definitely not true.)
  • Because I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to believe he was a decent human being with no ill-intentions.
How many of you guys and girls, who have been molested before, can relate to the above? How many of you have been sexually violated before, and never spoke up for yourself because of one reason or another?

This wouldn’t be the first time this happened to me too. There have been other times in the past when I was molested, but did not call out on the offender because of the exact same reasons. For example, when I was in university, and some guy molested me by brushing really hard against my hips – and running away after that (I didn’t even get to see his face). When I was on the subway this one time, and this guy tried to touch my breasts while pretending he needed more space. When I was jogging in the park one night a year ago, and this kid molested me by grabbing my butt from behind – twice, and ran away with his friends after that.

Molestation in Our Society Today

Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. When that force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The term […] covers any behavior by any adult toward a child to stimulate either the adult or child sexually” (Wikipedia)

While my encounter was disturbing, I’m sure many girls (and even guys) today have been molested at least once in their life – with far worse encounters than mine.

Do you know that one out of every three women worldwide is physically, sexually or otherwise abused during her lifetime with rates reaching 70 percent in some countries? (Source: Women Thrive) While females tend to be the gender more prone to sexual abuse, I’m sure there are victims among males too, especially kids.

And the thing that’s sadder than this? That like mine, many of these abuse cases don’t get reported. In fact, the offenders usually get away scot-free, because the victims feel too traumatized to pursue the perpetrator. They opt for the quiet route, where they hide the offence and suffer in silence.

There are many types of molestation. From Wikipedia’s page on molestation, below is a list of actions considered sexual abuse (not limited to this):

  • Non-consensual, forced physical sexual behavior (rape and sexual assault).
  • Unwanted touching, either of a child or an adult.
  • Sexual kissing, fondling, exposure of genitalia, and voyeurism, exhibitionism and up to sexual assault.
  • Exposing a child to pornography.
  • Saying sexually suggestive statements toward a child (child molestation).
  • Also applies to non-consensual verbal sexual demands toward an adult.
  • The use of a position of trust to compel otherwise unwanted sexual activity without physical force (or can lead to attempted rape or sexual assault).
  • Incest (see also sexual deviancy).
  • Certain forms of sexual harassment.
Has any of the above happened to you before?

How To Handle Molestation: Helping You to Help Yourself, and to Help Others

How To Handle Molestation

After the episode, I thought what I experienced has to be something many girls (and guys) face every day. Being molested, or even abused, but not knowing what to do about it.

Molesting and sexual abuse is not unlike bullying. In fact, it’s worse in some ways, because sexual violation can cause deeper trauma than we may realize. I decided to write this article to help us stand up against these perpetrators, as it is clearly an unacceptable phenomenon.

I now present to you this guide to help you deal with sexual offenders. You will find the resurfacing of some tips from How To Handle Bullying Guide. That’s because molestation is a form of bullying. It’s an abuse of rights, thereby inflicting harm on others. God knows how many girls/guys suffer in silence today about such violations.

It’s time to call out such perpetrators and put a stop to this. Let us commit to each other to follow the steps in this guide the next time we become prey to these offenders. Let us promise to call out these people if we ever witness such violations committed to others.

If you are a parent, please show this to your daughters. If you are a sibling to sisters, please share this with your sisters. If you are a husband or boy/girlfriend, please share this with your wife/girlfriend. If you have female friends, please pass this link on to them. Even if you have sons/brothers/boyfriends/guy friends, please share this with them too, because hey – guys can be victims to sexual perpetrators too.

1. Know your rights

Many sexually abused victims keep quiet because (1) they see the event as shameful, even though they are the victim (2) they feel they have nothing (no evidence) against the offender (3) they don’t want to cause trouble (for others) (4) they don’t want to ruin the offender’s life (5) they feel it’s somehow their fault that this happened.

Unfortunately, this is what the offender preys on – your kindness, your fear, your insecurity, your self-doubt. And that’s why they dare to commit these sexual demeanors, because they know with people like you, they can get away with them.

If you share similar perceptions as I did, here’s a wake up call:

  1. Shameful act. There is nothing shameful about being the victim to such offences. The people who should be ashamed are these offenders. They are the ones inflicting pain on others. You are merely someone who happened to be caught in the crossfire.
  2. Lack of evidence. It can be hard to find evidence in molestation cases, because it’s about one person’s testimony over another’s. Rather than wait till you have concrete evidence (which may be never), report it already. You don’t have to wait for evidence to report a crime. The fact that you feel uncomfortable means there is already an issue. No one should make you feel uncomfortable under any circumstance.
  3. Not wanting to cause trouble. You’re not causing any trouble for others. Think about this way – Say you’re in the public, and someone calls you for help to handle a molestor. Will you think he/she is causing you trouble? Will you ask him/her to go away because he/she is being disruptive to public order? I didn’t think so either. Likewise, you aren’t causing trouble to others as well. You’re helping the public by calling out sex offenders.
  4. Not wanting to ruin the person’s life. Sorry to say, but the offender should have thought of this before he/she did whatever he/she did. So yes in that his/her future is probably tarnished on some level, but he/she should have seen it coming when he/she made the decision to harrass you – despite knowing it is against the law. It’s now your turn to make your decision and protect yourself and the society (see next point) from such people.
  5. Thinking it’s your fault. How is it your fault if someone wants to sexually violate you? That’s crazy talk. It is not your fault. It is the result of the workings of a sexually twisted individual. Stop blaming yourself for that which has nothing to do with you.

2. Recognize your responsibility to future (potential) victims

Beyond standing up for yourself, recognize YOU have a responsibility to others to call out this offender on his/her offence and put him in his/her place.

While you may be molested by this person as an one-off encounter, the problem extends beyond that. Molestation isn’t just between you and the molester. It’s between the offender and the society at large. You have an obligation to the society to put him/her in place, as part of keeping the world a safer place for others.

By letting the perpetrator go scot-free, there may well be many more victims after you. Many sex offenders start off with a small, petty offence. The molester will think that it’s okay for him/her to do this, that he/she can get away with whatever he/she is doing, and molest more people after you. Not only that, he/she may become bolder the next time with his/her actions – well leading to sexual harrassment, sexual assault, or perhaps even rape.

Don’t make yourself responsible for the cultivation of a serial sexual predator in the society. Report him/her right away.

3. Take immediate action

If you feel you’re being molested, take action right away. Don’t wait until the person does something else, because that might be one step too late. Contact the authorities (#4), ask someone for help (#5), relocate yourself (#6), use your self-defense weapons (#7).

4. Seek the help of an authority

Call the police department

Who are the immediate authorities you can contact? Seek their help. If you’re on the train, call the train attendants. If you’re on the flight, call for the air steward/stewardess. If you’re on the bus, get the bus driver. If you’re in school, inform the teachers, principal and counselors. All other places – call the police. Always have the contact of the local police department saved in your phone.

When contacting the authority, let him/her know that the person molested / tried to molest you. Detail the situation clearly, from start to end. Do not let the molester intimidate you; Do not let him/her speak over you too. Remember, this is your right (see #1).

5. Seek the help of someone near you

Traveling has helped me discover a lot of good samaritans in our world today. While some people may be caught up in themselves, and some people may well refuse to step in even when you need their help, there are people who will gladly render assistance when you need it.

Seek the help of someone near you. Say: “Excuse me, can you help me please? I’m being sexually harassed by someone.” Most people will intervene at this point and help you out. If the person doesn’t want to help for whatever reason, don’t panic. Approach someone else till you find one.

How the person can help depends on the situation itself, but it can range from contacting the authorities on your behalf, intercepting the molester in his/her actions, keeping the molester in his/her place until the authorities arrive, etc.

6. Relocate yourself

Right when you feel something is amiss, protect yourself right away by relocating yourself and keeping a safe distance between you and the person.

In my situation, I relocated to the lounge, so the molester could not reach me. Not the best solution because I paid for my train ticket and should not have to move in the first place, but it was better than staying there and risking being touched. In retrospect I should have called out the offender as part of my responsibility to others (see #2), but it’s now over, so it’ll have to be something I’ll do the next time (should there be a next time).

Staying put is equivalent to telling the offender that (1) you are okay with what he/she is doing, and that he/she should continue his/her action OR (2) he/she can continue what he/she is doing, since you are not resisting. Either way, it results in continuation of the offensive act. This is definitely NOT what you want.

If you are on the bus/train/plane, go for the aisle seat, which allows you to get away immediately in times of need. Going for the window seat means you get locked in. Believe it or not, I was actually in the window seat during the molestation encounter. It may well have been a coincidence (i.e. I’m not sure if the offender tried to touch me because I was at the window seat – I do not think so), but the fact was it would have been easier for me to escape if I was sitting in the aisle seat).

7. Use self-defense weapons

As per Tip #9 of How To Handle Bullying, I recommend getting self-defense weapons, only because we are dealing with people of extreme low consciousness who have no concept of personal space and individual rights. Use it in cases where you feel you’re in danger.

A standard will be to arm yourself with a machine gun pepper spray. Spraying it in the person’s face will disarm him/her immediately and give you an opening to escape. From Wikipedia:

Pepper spray is an inflammatory agent. It causes immediate closing of the eyes, difficulty breathing, runny nose, and coughing. The duration of its effects depends on the strength of the spray but the average full effect lasts around thirty to forty-five minutes, with diminished effects lasting for hours.

Here’s how pepper sprays look like:

Pepper Sprays

You can get them pretty cheaply at Amazon (within certain states in US*):

  1. Compact Pepper Spray with Key Ring ($7.25 USD) – 25 shots, can be used as key chain
  2. Jogger Pepper Spray with Hand Strap ($8.50 USD) – 35 shots, can be strapped on hand for walking/jogging

*Just in case some readers are not aware, pepper sprays are illegal in DC, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York or Wisconsin. It’s also stated on the Amazon page that it cannot be shipped to those places.

8. Take preventive actions

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips to follow to prevent being caught in such situations:

  • Watch your dressing. It’s okay to dress up if you want, but always have a jacket to cover yourself up. If you’re commuting across quiet, dangerous places, tone down your dressing. Show less skin and go for dull, darker colors. There’s no need to attract attention to yourself.
  • Avoid quiet, danger-prone areas. Whether you are going out or going jogging, avoid dark areas, quiet parks,  dark alleys, short cuts that no one takes, etc – regardless of how safe you think it may be. You never know if there is anyone laying in ambush there.
  • Get home before it’s too late. What’s “too late” is dependent on the neighborhood you live. You should get back before the roads and walkways quieten down for the day. Otherwise, have someone escort you home.
  • Travel in the company of others. If you’re traveling, it’s best to do so with others, ideally groups.
  • Let others know of your whereabouts. If traveling with others is not an option (like in my case), then always let someone know your whereabouts. Make new friends/acquaintances in the region, and keep them updated on where you are going / where you will be. This way, they can watch out for you.

Do you have any encounters with molestation or sexual abuse? Do you have any advice on dealing with sexual predators? Please share them below.

Remember that this is a safe place for us to discuss this openly without judgment or condemnation by anyone. I’ll personally step in and delete / block inappropriate comments made by anyone.

Images: Girl, Girl #2Girl #3, PolicePepper Sprays 

  • Susan Bohemin

    Celes, I am wondering if it happens again to you, do you now feel that you will take action? It appears that you have given this much thought. xo

    • Celes

      Hi Susan, most definitely. I only write about topics when I’ve addressed my issues surrounding it (otherwise whatever learnings I dish out would only be half-baked and not the full picture). In this scenario, I did take action in that I relocated myself, vs. staying put and letting the person touch me. But it wasn’t the complete solution because the person got away with his offence and may well do it to another person/female in the future. If it were to happen to me again, I’ll call out on the person’s misdemeanor for sure. Probably a combination of calling the person out in public, asking someone near me for help, then contacting the authorities.

  • Lakshmi R Kulkarni

    It is so common in Indian road/railway. Transport …no one speaks up .. Even the bus conductors are worse!!!

  • Roxanne Davis

    Celes, I am so glad you wrote about this subject. It was horrible that this happened to you. Thank you for doing such a wonderful job of helping me and many others.

  • J

    That guy is a total creep, Celes! Glad you got away, and glad you’re brave enough to post this to help the many who will read it. Good for you.

    • Celes

      Thank you, J and Roxanne!

  • T

    How is this at all “molestation?” Someone stroking your thigh isn’t sexual assault, harassment at best. But you’re an adult and you let it happen. If you felt uncomfortable you should’ve said something or slapped the dude. Heck, a massage could’ve helped you sleep better. This story is laughable!

    • Celes

      How is it not molestation? Molestation refers to any form of sexual, unwanted behavior by one person upon another. This *IS* molesting. You are talking about sexual assault, an aggravated form of sexual harrassment, which I’m not accusing the guy of. Read the article before replying. Your reply is extremely disrespectful to me, and your attempt to demean my experience is exactly the reason why molestation victims today refrain from reporting molesters. Not only that, your comment is hardly constructive – I fail to see how “slapping” is an appropriate way to handle a molester – it may well pave the way to sexual assault. Please comment only if you have something useful to add to the discussion.

    • J

      T, I’ll be supportive, in case you may be a younger guy and aren’t fully seeing the post for what it is. Yes, in the US we most frequently use ‘molestation’ to describe someone touching a child’s privates, and maybe ‘groping’ would be a more common term for this situation here, but Celes’ semantics are still correct. And she was upfront about acknowledging that other people have had much worse experiences. Yet her experience still sucked (and I’m sorry she had to encounter that in the US, as we’re mostly nice!). And granted, not that these things happen as often to guys (though I’ve had one guy try ;-), but it’s often culturally easier and more acceptable for guys to assert themselves in times like these. So I think she’s actually being pretty cool to come on here and say how she handled it, imperfections and all (though I wouldn’t even want to judge, actually.. she did what she could do at the time.. that’s all we can ask of ourselves). There have been plenty of times when I didn’t handle situations 100% perfectly as I would have thought I would have. I’m guessing the same is true for you.

    • Patricia

      Really? It’s an attitude like yours that make people think its ok to over step the boundaries. Regardless what you think molestation is how about just simple respect for another human being. You just dont reach out and touch someone because it’s what you want to do.

    • VickiB

      T, your response is really not okay! I’m guessing that you are male.

      Imagine yourself beside someone much bigger than you, very respectable looking, thinking that if it was your word against theirs, everyone would believe them. Suppose that person started handling your belongings — opening your bag or backpack and going through your things. They open your luggage and take out your clothes and refold them and put them back. How is it a problem? They actually helped you out, didn’t they, by tidying your things?

      It’s a problem because it is a lack of respect.

      So was the way Celes was treated.

      If the imagined situation doesn’t make the problem more clear, let’s get together. I’ll bring a friend who is young and pretty and doesn’t understand about personal boundaries unless you’re very clear with her about what they are, and if she likes your looks, she’ll start stroking your face and your thigh and play with the buttons on your shirt and hug you whether you want it or not. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

      She’s retarded, btw, though she doesn’t look it, and her parents have to keep a close eye on her because of this kind of behavior.

    • Debra Janveau

      T, are you kidding me. With this sort of response, I must say you must be a perp or have you been sexually abused,these I believe woul dbe the only reasons one would minimize this encouranter. It is frightening. How can you minimizeand why would you minimize such an experience a young girls and boy are subjected to. Celes, I am now 52 and have been molested more than once. My first time was when I was 3 and I remember it like it was yesterday. I am so sorry this happened to you and anyone else who have been impacted in this negative way. It is a spirit crusher. Some people have resilience enough to move on and not let such an act ruin their lives, however, many go onto to self harm in various ways. For anyone who experiences this, stand up and yell as loud as you can if others are present. If you cannot do this, tell as soon as you can until someone believes you and takes steps to protect you. It is never your fault. NO is NO whether you say it out loud or do something that shows you are not interested. As for little kids, they get manipulated easily. We are innocent victims. Perps groom them to take advantage of them. It is not the stranger we need worry about the most, 95% of the time it is someone we know, who is a family friend or a relative, or a clergy. Articles like this educate others. Check out what we call Little Warriors in Canada but named Darkness to Light in the States. Education is the key. Did you know one in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be molested or sexually abused before their 1eighth birthday? We all need to be Stewards of Children. These numbers have not changed over the years, in fact these are those we know about. Celes, you probably feel you did nothing to save the next person from this creep, but let me tell you you have my girl and I am so proud of you. Keep passing this on. It takes a community to make our environments safe from this form of sudden death to an innocent spirit.

      Shine on Ladies, :clap: :?: and T, get some help. :?:

      After surviving this we do have a choice at some point of our live whether we will let another take over our lives with these experineces. I have watched people take their lives in many ways because of such “meaningless” encounters. Don’t give anyone that kind of power. Do not minimize, it all has a definate negative impact. Thanks

  • Sharon

    A guy was also coming into my personal space while I was in the train. He didn’t touch me with his hands but his thigh was right next to mine, as in literally touching my entire thigh and he kept opening his legs wider and wider when I shfted my body.

    And it’s obvious he was up to no good, who in the right mind wears a sunglass at night and takes them off when i alight? I wanted to slap him but held back because I didn’t want to cause a commotion.

    But looking back, i wished I had done that. When i left the train, i felt so violated and angry at myself for standing up to him.

    Pepper spray is a good idea but i dont think it’s allowed in SG though.

    • Celes

      Hi Sharon, I’m so sorry for your encounter. Your encounter reminded me of my encounter on the train in the past. The (older) guy beside me folded his arms, then proceeded to widen his elbows more and more, in the process touching my breasts. At first I tried to make way, not knowing what he was trying to do, and giving him the benefit of the doubt. But it became quite ridiculous at some point (he clearly did not need that much space at all, and I was being squeezed to only 1 small area on the seat), after which I angrily stood up and stood in front of one of the exit doors. At this point, I could see from the reflection of the door that the guy was looking at me (for a while), after which he stood up and went to another carriage. It then dawned on me what he was trying to do, and it made me very angry for not doing anything (I was 20 then, so it was quite a few years ago – but still remained a violating experience all the same).

  • JB

    Regarding the point that you feel bad for the perpetrator, don’t.

    Not everyone interprets the situation the way you do. How is feeling bad for him ever gonna help him except then to let him get away with it, only do continue with his misdeeds?

    Usually people who stoop to doing disgraceful acts, are -brutally speaking- quite shameless, so don’t feel sorry for them if they get caught. Even then, these ppl are likely to only feel sorry for being caught, and not for doing something wrong.

    • Celes

      Hi JB, yes you’re definitely right. I realized we have an obligation to others to call out the offender for his (her) misdeeds too (as I outlined in #2). Even if we may not want to pursue the matter for ourselves, we need to do it for others, else they are going to repeat the offence next time – perhaps in a bolder manner.

  • Katie

    You asked for people who have experienced sexual molestation in their lifetime. Unfortunately, I have experienced this several times throughout my life, starting when I was 4 years old and the last incident occurring when I was 20 years old (I’m now 29).

    The first time I was molested was by a friend of my babysitter when I was 4. Because I was so young, I’m not sure how old he was but I’m guessing late anywhere from late 20s-mid 30s. He gained my trust by spending time with me, giving me treats, watching tv with me and becoming my “friend”. Then one day he asked me to where a dress when I came over the following day, and I obliged because I didn’t know any better. When I arrived there the next day, he took me into his room, told me I had to promise not to tell anyone what he was going to “tell” me and proceeded to molest me by touching me and performing oral sex on me. I was terrified, and I remember when he finally let me go I ran to the other part of the house and cried. I thought that it was wrong to break a promise, so I didn’t tell anyone about the incident until was 7 years old and by then we had moved. My parents kind of asked me if I was “ok” and if I needed to see a doctor and when I said no (What does a 7 year old know anyways?!) it was never mentioned again. I regret not telling anyone sooner because I could have helped prevent this happening to someone else.

    The next incident of molestation occurred to me regularly from the ages of 7-approximately 10 and was by a female cousin of mine a year younger. Thinking back, she must have been molested herself, because I don’t know where she would have gotten the idea to force herself on me, to kiss and touch me so aggressively if she hadn’t experienced it herself. I do not really blame her and I’m not mad at her, more sad for both of our sakes.

    The next incident occurred when I was 11-12 years old, when the father of a friend of my older brothers groped my butt at a party and then after that offered me a ride home when I was walking to a friend’s house. Needless to say I was smart enough to know not to take him up on the offer!

    Another incident happened when I was 14 and a 14 year old boy at my high school tried to force himself on me in what I can only call attempted rape. Luckily. I knew when things started to go south and I was able to kick him in a…vulnerable place and got away. Because it had not progressed very far, I didn’t think to report this to anyone. My mistake.

    Following this, a similar situation to yours happened to me but it was with someone I knew. I was lying on my couch in my apartment in college and he was over watching a movie. My friend had fallen asleep on the couch and I was lying next to her, nearly asleep. The man sat down next to me and started to stroke my inner thigh and slowly move his hand up. Like you, I readjusted in an attempt to move his hand and let him know it was not ok and he just kept going. Before anything bad happened, I “woke up”, stood up, and told him he should probably leave because we were going to go to bed. Nothing about the incident was ever discussed.

    Sometimes I seriously wonder if people are more susceptible or prone to being molested. Did I have a “Been Molested, Easy Mark” sign on my forehead? I have a 5 year old daughter and because of what happened to me, I have been EXTREMELY careful about whom I leave her alone with, and even stayed home with her until kindergarten because of my fear that something would happen to her. We talk to her regularly about inappropriate behaviors and actions, about her feelings and about whom she can trust and what is right concerning this topic. I like to think what I’ve experienced has helped prepare me as a mother, to help protect my daughter through awareness. Would I have been better off if these events not happened to me? Probably. However, I feel I’m a well adjusted wife of 6 years, mother to a 5 year old and soon to be elementary school teacher with a good life. Just goes to show that no matter what happens to you, you can always choose how you want your life to turn out.

    • Celes

      Gosh Katie, I’m sorry for your encounters. I’m very happy for you though that you have chosen to make the best out of them, and draw lessons so you can prevent them next time (exactly what I had written about in How To Be Happy, #5: See the Positive vs. Negative Side of Things. Thank you for openly sharing your experiences here, because there will be others who are going to read this and realize they are not alone in their encounters.

  • Minttu

    This is such an important topic to talk about. I’m 30 years old now and I have encountered similar kind of acts of molestation as you describe several times since I hit puberty quite a bit earlier than other girls of my age. It is unbelievable how these individuals think it is okay to do such a thing.

    I’ve had this happen twice when I was traveling alone and I can only assume this has made me an “easy” target. Once this creep pretended to be a kind fellow passenger and chatted nicely with me at first in the train but as I got off the train he began to follow me even though I requested several times that he would just leave. Luckily it was daytime and there were quite a few other people about so he didn’t do anything to me. Simply followed at a greater distance. When I got into my hotel, he waited outside for two hours and finally I went to the reception and reported him to them. It was very hard for me to take this action, because I didn’t speak the local language very well and the woman at the reception wasn’t particularly nice to me when I checked in. I was sure no one would believe me.

    I’m glad I did report him though and once I did the attitude of the receptionist toward me changed completely and she came with me outside to check that the creep was gone when I went for a walk to see the city and gave me numbers to contact if I would see him again.

    There has also been other times with people at public transportation or in pubs and then some quite disturbing situations with people I’ve known and trusted. Like Katie I’ve also wondered if there is something in my behavior that makes me seem like a good target to them. I know I am quite trusting of people and always want to see the good in them, so perhaps it is that.

    It’s good to remember also that this kind of behavior is wrong also if you know the person who does it. There is no such a thing as “you lead me on and now you have to give me what you’ve been promising all night”. The way you dress or behave can be suggestive and misleading but that never ever gives anyone the right to force you into something you don’t want to do.

    In Finland we’ve had a lot of discussion in the media recently about men still getting a lesser punishment for rape, if the woman is drunk, dressed in a mini skirt or tight clothing or has been spending time with the perpetrator before the rape occurred. I find it unbelievable that in our modern society the victim of a rape still has the responsibility. She has to dress down, to not walk alone at night, to stay away from strangers. Girls are taught these things from a very early age. What about the people who commit these crimes? Shouldn’t the responsibility to not do so lie with them? I don’t mean that we shouldn’t try to protect ourselves and avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention, but it still annoys me that our society seems to be placing the responsibility on the victims rather than the bad guys. It’s just the kind of thinking that makes it so hard to report such incidents.

  • Margaret

    Glad to read that you are handling such a terrible experience in a positive and giving way, and more so that you are okay! Thank you for this informative and forthcoming piece, it is filled with good information! Do you have references from your research for the article? (noted you didn’t have outside links or footnotes)

    • Celes

      Thanks Margaret. There’s no specific research done for the article – I write my material based on my personal thoughts and reflection, as with all other articles on Personal Excellence. The only places I cited are from Wikipedia (for the molestation definition and types of molestation) and Women Thrive (for the molestation statistic), both of which have been quoted and linked accordingly in the article where the information is used. Everything else is written from my personal reflection. Hope that helps!

  • K.S.B

    Hey Celes,

    I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. Sexual harassment is so prevalent in today’s society (worldwide), especially toward women that some people don’t even realize it’s harassment or a violation of rights! This is why I’m so glad you wrote this piece addressing it. It’s very important for people to know that it’s not okay and how they can deal with it.

    Very brave of you.

    Thanks! :hug:

  • Patricia

    Im so sorry you had to experience this. It is truly a horrible experience. Being a survivor of abuse the first thing I have to say is never concern yourself with causing a scene we are talking about your safety. I do understand not wanting to have confrontation, so changing your seat was a good move and im glad it ended there. I think the best thing we can do as women is to educate each other and our daughters about this issue and how to defend ourselves. I think if women speak out we could start to change the view society has on this subject and stop making the attacker the victim. I truly recommend learning some kind of self defense it really makes you feel empowered, feeling helpless just causes more anxiety after having a bad experience. I hope you never have to experience this again. Be well. Stay positive.

  • Tina Davis

    Just an FYI for readers in the USA: Some states have laws that make carrying pepper spray illegal.

    Thanks for this article Celes! I’m sorry that you were put in that position. My spouse and I have both experienced sexual abuse in our lives. When he spoke up about it, his family didn’t help him (the abuser was a family member). No one believed him, not even his own mother! He endured for years because he didn’t want to cause a problem by going to the authorities. I had my life threatened by my abuser and he always made it feel like it was my fault.

    Sometimes going to the proper authority is a difficult option but one all victims should do – which we always know is the right thing but that little voice tells us not to. As you said, it all goes back to self-esteem problems. If we all stuck up for ourselves and reached out for help when we needed to, these types of people wouldn’t exist.

    • Celes

      (Regarding pepper sprays being illegal in some states) – Just in case some readers are not aware, pepper sprays are illegal in DC, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Wisconsin. It’s also stated on the Amazon page that it cannot be shipped to those places.

  • Brandylien

    I think all women need to take a self defense class. I have yet to take one, but it is on my resolutions list. Part of our reluctance to speak out and up is our own lack of self-worth and confidence. A class like this would help tremendously. I think it should be a mandatory class for 12 year old girls.

  • Kaye Reitz

    You were too nice to him Celestine although he didn’t deserve your kindness. The guy who pinched my”behind” as he was walking past me at a checkout counter where I was standing didn’t get the same treatment from me. My sister and I confronted him but he was all smiling and acting so innocent! Good thing that the store’s supervisor was there and made him apologize to me. Sheesh!

  • Melanie Williamson

    I am so sorry you had to go through that, Celes. I know we want to give people the benefit of the doubt, and in some cultures it’s even expected to stay silent, like you said, out of not wanting to “make waves”. Maybe in hindsight this happened for a reason, you wrote a very informative article for others who may be suffering far worse because of it…an article that may not have been written if it had never happened. You’re giving someone else the courage to speak up. :)

  • Alison

    Thank you for writing this article. For me, it was a close friend of mine. In high school, the majority of my friends were guys. Stupidly, we didn’t have too many boundries between each other, so little things like slapping each other on the butt was normal and none of us cared. There were boundries that shouldn’t be crossed though, and unfortunately, one of these friends crossed them. I went over to his house, another friend was supposed to show up but a little later. We did our normal routine of video games and screwing around. We’d restle around a little, jump on each other, play more video games, etc. Nothing abnormal for us. Well, eventually we put in some random movie while we waited for said friend who still hadn’t showed up. He asked me to sit in his lap, and I did. I thought nothing of it, in a class that all of us has together, I’d sit in my guy friend’s laps, they’d sometimes even try to sit in my lap, no big. But then he started telling me how cute I am and started kissing my neck and my hair. It made me a bit uncomfortable, but I tried really hard to ignore it. Hed gone through a really bad break-up, it wasn’t the worst thing I’d ever had happen to me (I had an ex who’d promised he wouldn’t make me go through things alone, and when I told him I was worried I might be pregnant, he was calling me a liar and went back to being emotionally abusive toward me) But then he grabbed my breasts through my shirt and started to roughly fondle them (it would have worked on his ex who was well endowed, but my breasts are quite small so along with feeling a bit violated at this point, it was quite painful at times) Stupidly I still didn’t say anything. I was afraid. He then moved his hands under my shirt but over my bra and continued, and then under my bra and stupidly I was still so scared I couldn’t say anything. I was afraid that he was going to rape me. I had my phone so I tried to discretely send a text begging for help from someone, but unfortunately I wasn’t thinking straight and I picked the wrong person who then showed concern and wanted to help me but wasn’t going to come two hours out here to help me it seemed (yet he would come out to see me and eventually be my next really horrible emotionally abusive boyfriend). I don’t know why I didn’t text one of my other guy friends who was closer and knew how to find the house and would have came for me. I wanted to run out and leave but didn’t want to cause problems for him with his mother who was upstairs. I also was afraid to run and leave because I didn’t know the area very well and I knew I’d get super lost and that would just make it worse. Eventually the friend came over and when the molester friend was upstairs talking to his mother, I told the friend what happened and he was gonna try to make sure he didn’t do anything else to me, but the molester friend got sneakier about it… Pulling me into his lap and grabbing at my breasts, nipping at my ear and neck, etc, and when the friend would look at us, the molester friend would appear to be not doing anything to me. Eventually he quit caring and grabbed me in front of the friend and the friend gave him a chat about how “rape isn’t the way to make a girl like you” and he quit for the day. That evening we went out for fast food (the 3 of us) and I was so glad when my mom called wanting me home and that she was gonna pick me up from where we were at. Online one night, he started saying stuff about how if he ever raped me, he’d convince himself it was consensual so he could justify doing that to me. Another night he was offended during a discussion of dark alleys that I said I wouldn’t go near him in a dark alley. I informed some of my friends (mostly male, and then the two other females who was around him a lot too) of what happened. A friend of mine who acts as a protector to me tried his best to keep the guy at a distance from me, but it reached a point where even the guy hugging me made me feel uncomfortable and scared and afraid he might touch me or try to rape me eventually. Towards the end of that school year, he apologized to me, crying, and he’d apparently felt so horrible about this for months. I was happy he apologized, but I still feel iffy about him. I was neve truly able to rid myself of him in HS because the only way to ditch him completely would have been to leave my entire group of friends, but I don’t know. I feel like it was at least somewhat my fault because I was the playful girl of the group and I didn’t mind stuff that most girls might not have liked but it was one of those things that if I had days where I didn’t want any ass slapping or lap sitting or little things, I could tell them and my boundries would be respected. They also knew my breasts and my vagina were off limits to guys I weren’t dating, and usually if I dated a guy, it’d be so
    Someone who was in my group of friends to an extent and had input as well.

    Unfortunately, I had another group of friends where the guys in it tended to grab my breasts more or less as their way of saying hello to me. I didn’t like that either. I didn’t have the same relationship with these guys that I didn’t with the other guys. :/

    Thankfully, nothing bad has happened to me in college yet, but I carry mace on me to protect myself and I broke up with the emotionally abusive boyfriend (who was probably more or less also using me for sex and other stuff, and that was a terrifying breakup, my legs were numb from being in negative weather and he was drunk and threatening to kill people, including my brother, and eventually ended up in the hospital) but I still get a lot of texts from guys asking to see my breasts or my vagina or me naked or to have sex with me or fool around with me because Im not dating my jerk of a boyfriend. :/ i even had one guy offer to pay me to send him pictures and have phone sex with him a couple times a month, and hed pay even more if id give him oral sex and things like that…. These may not be molesting, but they make me feel cheap. They also give me a very similar feeling to the friend I described above who I worried might rape me.

    It makes me wonder if people knowing im a sexual being or that ive been molested, along with being in and out of emotionally abusive relationships putsa big sign above my head that says “Cheap and easy, ready for the taking. Treat her nicely, maybe tell her you love her, she’ll be so wet for you and if she struggles, it’s her own damn fault for being such a little slut”

    • VickiB

      Ow, wow, what horrible experiences. Have you seen a counselor? It looks like you’ve fallen into a pattern of abusive relationships, including abusive “friendships”. Please don’t let that keep happening to you!

  • W Myers

    Celes, this is an interesting topic and you pointed out a number of items that victims tend to do, and yes I have some personal experience in the matter which I only share with folks close but there are some points I’d like to make that might help some of your points.

    Many of us want to think there are no “predators” out there and that the world is basically full of kind and gentle folks. I cherish this thought but as we all know sadly the world is no such utopia.

    Moving your away from the unwanted behavior is important but I recommend another step. Seeking protection from another, not only do you move away from the individual you disrupt their abilities to interact with you, yes you may need to wake up someone it better to feel safe when you feel “violated” rather then simply move away. Some predators try to corner their victim. By having another person with you now potentially have another witness and additional protection. This is one tendency why women tend to stay with women, or folks with obvious family are better choices. There are no guarantees but once again you need to disrupt their behavior and help protect yourself (most people are kind enough if you are distressed to help but can convey it clearly). Once again its awkward but given the alternative I point toward safety in numbers.

    Of course most of us don’t think of these lines ahead of time because we hope for the above statement about people, but everyone needs to use NO in their repertoire. There is a reason why we learned it so young in our lives.

    I would also suggest know your surroundings even more so then reporting to authorities. This is another one on its own that may or may not work, be careful some countries would consider what happened “acceptable” behavior, but remember to say NO as then you have made it clear to the other. Depend on countries, jurisdictions, how “alluring” you may be they may say oh well you deserved that. So authorities if you know the laws (and culture) can still be a good idea. Being able to move and know what your environment is like is better because you can adjust to once again make it more uncomfortable for the other.

    Finally keep in mind folks may not have learned “proper behavior” in society. Sadly it is all our responsibility to teach them this. I would not judge folks as much as judge yourself and what you want to allow, you know yourself better then others and if others behavior is unacceptable you need to take action based upon you. Guessing that all molesters are a specific way is over simplifying, some may have mental or emotional problems and some be downright just bad people. You know yourself better then anyone else and it is easier to behave upon your instincts then what you expect are others instincts.

  • efe

    After reading all the comments people have made, I discovered that no molester made a comment. I am a ‘molester’ going by your definition. I live in Lagos, Nigera in West Africa. I do not know exactly how I picked up the DIRTY habit…seriously I do not know. But let us be clear here. I sympathise with you for what you went through. Molesters are human beings that need help. Many molesters, started small and grew bigger with every victorious experiences. They start small out of a deep emotional loneliness, inferiority complex and low self-esteem toward girls. Some like me were not given the right environment to learn and practise the social skills involved in relating with women. I attended an only male/boys secondary/high school. My teenage years were devoid of girls and girls’ lives. All i knew about girls were from people’s stories, experiences and from pornographic books, mags and videos. After my mind had been filled with lots of things about the opposite sex, i decided to experiment. Usually the first experiment of a molester is one with low risk. For me, i think it was with little kids in my neighborhood. My younger sister was a victim too though she is was young then to know what I did. I took advantage of her in the disguise of dancing with her. Later I molested my elder sister but being older, I did it when she was asleep. Being Africa and considering my poor background, we slept on the same bed. i went as far as squeezing her ass and playing with her breast. i did it several times without her knowing. She did not know because she trusted me as a brother so sleeps with her two eyes fully closed. After some time passed, she knew. She became more conscious of the way she sleeps. Sometimes, she caught me in the act and in the act of ejaculation. I regret my actions and that is why I am sharing this. I am putting my whole life on the line for what i am sharing. I later tried doing the same on fellow grown-up women. I lived in the ghetto then and it was a practice then to sleep outside then when there is no electric power. So because of the heat, people sleep outside so in the process of sleeping outside i took advantage of some girls. Note that I was respected in the neighborhood maybe because I look harmless and responsible. I was the only one in the area pursuing a degree in the university so when I make my mat to sleep outside, a girl or two will join me out of deep respect they have for me thinking I can be trusted not to act funny in the middle of the night. I betrayed the trust by taking advantage of them. Even in the university, I molested lots of them. i can’t remember their faces because they are many. In the university, students are fond of reading in the night especialy when examination is approaching. The seats are usually long and can accomodate a person who wants to lie down and the back of the seats are open. When students read in the night, they sometimes take a break by sleeping for a while. What i do is sit behind female students. I will read for a while then sleep when the female student is still reading. I do that so the female student will feel secured to sleep when she wants to sleep not considering me since am asleep. After she must have slept, I start by touching her gently then grow stronger by exploring other sensitive areas. I have went as far as molesting female student who came to the class to read with no bras on and one with no pants. People can be very careless when sleeping and I know that for sure. I recently stopped molesting my niece. I stopped because I know is wrong. My religion(christianity) and my culture is against it but I think my religion played a bigger role because i have deep respect for God. I have stopped several times in the past but i still go back to it. Before I stopped, I would go to her bed(things are much better now) and derive sexual pleasure. I have done some terrible things. This is the first time I will say them. I may not be detailed enough because of language barrier and bytes minimisation. I have molested people in the bus too. I will stand behind a female passenger and take a position with my penis touching and pressing her ass as the bus is moving. Just last monday at one of the protest rally against the fuel subsidy issue in my country, I molested a girl. I stood behind her pretending to be protesting but my penis was pressed against her ass. I even ejaculated. It was possible because there were lots of people though I could still leave a reasonable space if I want to. I think I should stop here. I will like you all to know that molesters are not wicked as people see them. They are people with deep-seated problems. Many of them are not happy doing what they do. Some wish to stop but just could not. Some stop and end up going back. I have been studying why I do what I do. What triggers the molestation mood, etc. Please let us help molesters because they need help. Some are really nice people with good jobs and degrees. I am willingly to help myself and people like me and that is why i decided to share my story. It is time to help the molesters overcome the habit and not just seek for ways to protect ourselves from them. I hope I can trust you to protect my identity especially the email address I supplied
    . Thanks

    • Serenity

      It is very interesting to read your post and I have been thinking about it for a while and here are my thought;

      First of all i have also been molested by people that were close to me and some people that i don’t even know. I survived my recent molestation attempt because i took action by hitting the person with a door before he shut himself in a room with me.. I didn’t want to be sorry i chose to be safe.. by taking action before i was extremely sure that the person wanted to lock me in a room with him and do who-knows-what, and i reported the incident and action was taken on this person immediately. He sort of apologised, but i had already decided that i wont give him space to depress my life because of this incident, and just by reporting it gave me a relief already.

      Back to your posting, i am also an African and some of the things you have explained here i know them very well even though i don’t come from the village. However, you have mentioned that you are a christian, i would advise that you really dwell upon the word of the Lord and meditate upon it and trust that he will show you a direction. we all have our shortfalls in life but having a higher power( God, Universe or whatever) sometimes put us in check. For example. if you are a Christian, you know what the sins are and that what you are doing is a sin, write it down, write why you do it, write as much as you can because the more you write you get to the core of what the exact problem is ( I borrowed this from Celest) read bible verses a lot the ones that are encouraging and positive and that helps you focus on your aim to stop this kind of behaviour. Listen to Christian music and just calm your mind and trust that God will lead you in the right direction. Sometimes the urge for you to molest someone can be stronger, try and switch your thoughts to something positive and uplifting like music as i mentioned or read the bible..if you feel that you cant do this on your own, please see a pastor or someone in the church you can trust, and talk it over with them seek advise and help from them.

      You can also mediate, calm your mind and thoughts, you will see some direction and it is very uplifting. I have also learned that being grateful about anything positive in your life can make one do positive and right things. Personal growth is a journey that needs positivity, being grateful, avoiding any sort of wrong doing ( bad vibes i call them) that way your aim to stop some bad habits can stop.
      I think Celes also has some blog on how to break from bad habits, go through that as well and see if it can help

      All in all my point is bring in positive energy in your life some bad habits disappear on their own because they cant stand being in the same place with positive vibes.. and pray very often God will hear you.

      All the best and seek attention if you cant do it on your own.

      Good luck

      • efe

        thanks Serenity…God bless you..

  • Sowm

    Celes, I think you should have said something. Not taking action will only encourage the molester to try again (to see how far he can get) with someone else. However, I do understand that when we are in the moment, we usually don’t know how to react and just follow the first thing that come to our mind.
    Like Lakshmi mentioned, this is so common in India that no one does anything about it. Why? Cz for whatever reason, girls don’t speak up. I like your pointers for what actions can be taken! I just hope girls do something about it. Above everything else, the girl needs to understand that it’s NOT her fault and she shouldn’t be ashamed to report it.
    And yes, pepper spray = girl’s best friend :-)
    Sorry you had to go through this!

    • Celes

      Hi Sowm, thanks a lot for your reply. Yes, looking back I would have handled it differently, specifically calling him out in his action as I mentioned in the article and in my reply to Susan’s comment above. But I think it’s more important to focus on the lessons learned and think about what to do differently next time, which my main objective for writing this article (i.e. Principle #10 in The Happiness Manifesto, vs. thinking “I should have done X” or “I should have done Y” because the situation has already occurred and such an approach only creates a more self-victimizing mindset (and it puts blame on the victim as well).

      I think it’s horrible that this is common in India, and I hope this article helps drive awareness on this topic. Hopefully more girls learn to break out of their inner restraints through the points in the article, and speak up the next time such an incident occur to them.