I've been trying to write this for a long time now. It's difficult, but I'm going to give it a shot.
I went to a catholic school from February of 4th Grade to May of 7th. In either 5th or 6th grade, I remember a fire drill. I remember it because the janitor of the school was standing at the foot of the outside fire escape with Mother Superior as we all came down from the top floor. He was grinning as he looked up, and, for some reason, his smile made me feel uncomfortable about my school tunic.
My mother had a tea shop/bakery at that time, called The Gourmet's Nook in downtown Duncan, B.C. The restaurant was across from the Fire Station and only a block or so from the train tracks. The janitor from the school used to buy bread there. On Saturdays, I'd be in the shop with Mom, running errands, washing dishes and generally getting underfoot. For some reason, one day I was asked to deliver the janitor's loaf of bread. He lived in a rooming house just across the tracks...an easy walk from the Nook. Mom didn't think anything of the delivery request, and, at nine or ten, neither did I.
I gave him the bread and he gave me the money, and then he grabbed me and held me with my back to him while he nuzzled my neck and thrust his hand between my legs.
His touch shocked me frozen. All the while, he was telling me how much I liked it.
I pulled away, and ran all the way back to the Nook. I never told my parents, though I don't remember him threatening me...I was just too embarrassed.
He came to the shop after that. I remember him pulling me onto his lap and tickling me in a way that anyone nowadays would call inappropriate. I got away right away and avoided him from then on.
This was a minor instance, compared to the many horror stories I have heard, but still. It had a profound effect on my life.
In following years, I touched myself the way he had...in the dead of night, with definite feelings of shame and filthiness. After puberty hit, there were orgasms, and the shame increased. It was many years before I knew words like "orgasm" and "masturbation," and they seemed to refer to something that was a lot more fun.
The reason I'm telling this story is that this one simple incident had such far-reaching consequences in my life. A while ago, I (half-jokingly) told a friend that I had long lost count of the men I have had sex with, but can still count the number of orgasms I have had while engaged in these activities. Because, in order to have an orgasm, something similar to what that man did to me has to happen. And it's much easier to do that for myself than explain it to a partner.
Please don't think I am disappointed in my relationships with men...far from it. I loved the closeness of sex, and I loved giving pleasure to a man...it's just that the pleasure rarely happened to me.
Being groped as a child can skew one's sexual preferences in ways that certainly were not considered when I was young.
The bastards that do this sort of thing, unfeeling, uncaring for anything other than their own pleasure, totally screw up the children they molest. For the rest of those children's lives. Over fifty years later, I am still a mess. I've had a relatively normal adult life, married, borne children, reached menopause and hopped off the sexual merry-go-round, without ever really knowing what it was all about. Trapped forever in a prison formed by one touch.
So, parents, be vigilant. Look for those people in your circle who seem to have an unhealthy interest in your children. If you have a bad feeling, don't laugh it off. Your children will benefit without ever knowing.