Mom Vs. Pedophile

***Notes about the names in this story: Before I legally changed my name to Wylde Abandyn in 2002, my name was Chris. I only bring it up because there’s a direct quote in this piece that mentions my previous name. Also, I’ve changed the name of the probable pedophile in this story to “Phil”, since I have no idea if he was ever charged with anything.***

I’m reading a book right now called “Love Nor Money” by Linda Grant. It’s the story of a private investigator trying to come up with evidence against a well-respected judge who is molesting children. In the story, the investigator just visited the mothers of three of the kids she suspects are being molested. Two of the mothers turned her away and the third agreed to let a psychologist interview her kid to see if the judge has been demanding anything sexual in return for his kindness.

As I read the passages about the visits to the mothers, it reminded me of my own mother’s reaction to a pedophile that had his sights set on me a long time ago.

In the summer of 1978, when I was 12 years old, my mom’s direct supervisor at work was a man named Phil. Well, Phil was supposed to be this great guy who really liked kids and was involved in some sort of youth group. So, one day my mom told me that Phil was going to take me to see the movie “Grease.” Without her – just me and Phil. She either had something to do or they decided she needed some time for herself – I can’t remember exactly. But the bigger concept was that it was supposed to be good for me to have a “male figure” in my life and they decided that Phil could fulfill that role.

So, the big day arrives and Phil picks me up to go to the movie. On the way, he makes a detour to his buddy’s house. Phil parks in the guy’s driveway and his buddy gets in the front passenger seat (I was in the backseat.) Phil says to his buddy, “So, what do you think of my Chris?” The buddy turns all the way around in his seat and looks me over and says something positive about my physical appearance. The fact that the guy said something nice about me wasn’t a problem because all adults try to be upbeat and encouraging around kids. It was the way they were looking at me and Phil’s use of the phrase “my Chris” that struck me as weird.

After the little show-and-tell presentation, with me as the main attraction, Phil’s buddy got out of the car and did not accompany us to see “Grease”. Now, I don’t recall anything noteworthy happening during the movie itself, but afterwards, on the way home, Phil gave me the “Grease” movie soundtrack album as an extra bonus prize. I thanked him and told him I wouldn’t be able to play it since we didn’t have a stereo. Phil promptly informed me that he would buy me a stereo. At 12, I was old enough to know that strangers offering to buy you expensive stuff wasn’t the norm. A $5 album was one thing, but a $100 stereo was different.

Well, after Phil dropped me off at home, I showed my mom the album. She also noted the fact that we didn’t have a stereo. I told her what Phil said about buying me one.

And here’s the part of the story where my mom diverges from the mothers in the book I’m reading. In the book, the investigator is attempting to get the mothers to realize that the molestation is occurring. Two of the mothers in the book refuse to see the truth at all and the third admits she has been worried about something for awhile. The author of the book would not have used my mom as a character because the story would end before it began.

Because as soon as I mentioned Phil’s offer, my mom said, “He’s not buying you a stereo and you’re not going anywhere with him again.”

The instant the words were out of her mouth, I felt both relieved and vindicated. I wasn’t in the market for a father figure and had no desire to hang around with some stranger (the relief) and my sense that Phil calling me “his” Chris was bizarre (the vindication). My mom and I were in sync. Something out of the norm was going on with the guy and neither one of us wanted me anywhere near him.

I’ve thought about this scenario over the years and I’ve always felt my mom’s reaction was right on the money. Call it mother’s instinct. Call it radar. Call it common sense. Whatever you call it, it saved me from falling victim to that creep. What I don’t understand is how so many other parents don’t see the warning signs and allow the abuse to occur. The best way for us, as a society, to prevent kids from becoming victims is to remain vigilant and remove them from situations that are potentially dangerous. Immediately. Don’t wait for hard, irrefutable evidence. Don’t wait and see if your instincts are right or if you’re simply overreacting. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Do exactly what my mom did, slam the door hard at the first sign of weirdness and walk away. All the way away. With no doubts and no guilt. Because even if you’re wrong, the end result is the same. Your child will be safe.

By the way, years later a girl in college borrowed the “Grease” movie soundtrack album and never returned it. That’s fine by me.

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8 Responses to Mom Vs. Pedophile

  1. sue mullen says:

    this was very moving! and i applaud your mom. it does leave me with alot of questions – some irrelavent….. were u an only child? and if i may ask – where was your father? alot of people thought children needed a mom and dad figure in their childrens’ lives back then so i think your mom had the right intentions for u and then she chose the wrong figure – she sounds like a fine woman!! is she one of the women u and steve dress up sometimes?

    • Wylde Abandyn says:

      I was raised as an only child (but it turns out I actually have 3 half sisters and a half brother.) My parents were never married. Never met my father. He’s dead now. (You can read about my feelings about him on my post “Lucky Bastard: Dad I Never Knew Ya” if you want more details.) And as far as my mom feeling that I should have a “male figure” in my life – I’m not certain that it was her idea. I would guess that “Phil” was trying to put that idea in her head to get at me. And no, the older ladies in the videos are Steve’s mom and Aunt Doris (Aunt Doris passed away last year.) My mom died in 1992.

  2. Monique says:

    Wylde your mom was right on the money and wonderful! You are very lucky! I had something somewhat similar happen when I was around 10. My parents had been divorced for a couple years, my mother had a boyfriend and a new group of friends that hung out frequently, with their kids etc. They were drinking buddies but mostly only on weekends. All were well-to-do, we went to superbowl parties and bbq’s at each other’s houses etc… One weekend we were at one of their friends for a bbq, they had a pool the kids were swimming in. I wanna say there were about 6 of us swimming..all of us around the same age. At some point one of the adults, a man named Jack, came into the pool with us and proceeded to pull me into his lap and kept touching my crotch. At the time, I wasn’t sure why this made me uncomfortable but it did, I got out of the pool. Later, I told my mother. Jack and his wife were part of their regular group and were also full-time alcoholics, not just the weekend players everyone else was. When I told my mother, she blew it off. I don’t recall her exact words but the sense I had was that she didn’t believe me. Even today, when the subject has come up, she doesn’t seem to think it was a potentially serious situation and my mother and I are quite close now.
    Nothing like that ever came up with my daughter while she was growing up but I am certain I would have treated it seriously if it had and I pay close attention to anyone my grandchildren get close to….

    • Wylde Abandyn says:

      I’m so sorry to hear that you weren’t believed. I think that’s pretty crappy. I know that it happens, but I don’t understand it. I would expect that parents would take their kids word for things like “just in case.”

  3. Liz says:

    The reasons why people hide the truth from themselves are so varied. Inability to face that they put their child in harm’s way. They may have been abused as children and can’t face it. They may just selfishly want more time to themselves and the abuser provides free babysitting. Keep in mind that the perpetrator is grooming both mom and kid so that he gets easier access.
    You mom is a hero Wylde. Strong and not afraid; she took the risk of denying her own boss to protect her son. That was a very courageous move and you are right to honor her for that. Great storytelling.

    • Wylde Abandyn says:

      Thanks, Liz. Yes, I wonder how it went after my mom put the brakes on that situation. We never discussed it again, so I have no idea what she said to him when he brought it up. I would love to have been a fly on the wall. Yes – grooming both mother and son – as I said to Sue above, I’m pretty confident that it wasn’t my mom’s idea to have me hang out with him – I would bet money that he was the one insisting that boys need an older guy in their lives. Rubbish!

  4. Larry Kremis says:

    Kudos to Wylde’s mom. There are so many reasons moms or dads would allow a pedophile to molest their children. Denial, even when they suspect something. Blind stupidity, weak, cowardly and non-confrontational. Too many times the perp is a parent or step-parent and the other parent doesn’t want to risk being abandoned. Usually for financial reasons.

    • Wylde Abandyn says:

      You’re right, Larry. My cousin was molested by her stepfather for 8 years. I think my aunt chose not to see what was going on because she was “in love”. Even when my grandma said something once about “something funny” going on with my aunt’s husband and my cousin at a bowling alley, my aunt didn’t do anything. I’ll never understand.