The Horror of being Molested


The horror of  molestation came surging back to me a few weeks ago when I was out for a walk with puppy Stan. Stan was out of sight and I was hunkered down taking a photograph of some fallen leaves.

The first I knew that there was anyone around was when I felt someone tapping on my shoulder and a voice from behind asking: Is there anything interesting there?

I jumped up, swivelled round, and heard myself saying to the man standing far too close to me: My dog is just over there! (I was praying that Stan would emerge like a wild animal and not a playful puppy!)

Years and years ago, when I was about seven, I had taken our strong Dalmation for a very short walk and just as I was about to turn at the place where my mother had drawn  the end line, a red van pulled up beside me and a greasy looking man started asking me for directions and told me to get into the van to show him the way. I clung to the lead; warned him that my dog would bite him and ran the few hundred yards home like the hammers of hell.

A few years on, a so-called friend of my father’s lured me into a back room and mauled me. It still makes me feel sick. Nothing horrendous happened but it completely shattered my trust in men and made me realise that it wasn’t only greasy guys in dirty red vans that were potentially problematic.

On again, and fury of furies at a boss’ audacity in coming into my office on Week One of a new job, locking the door and attempting to maul me as if I was some sort of innocent abroad. He was a nasty, slimy little man with eyes I will never forget. I was a lot taller than him and hit him a right belt that did the job in getting shut of him. I also threatened a few of the strong men of my life on him which got him running scared. (Probably no huge coincidence that I got the boot out of the job not long after!)

I confided in my mother about all these episodes as they happened and it transpired that she too had suffered quite a bit from unwanted male attention, especially when she was new to the workforce in the 1930s.

It seems to me that this horror is part of our society. It’s not something that one is inclined to talk about to anyone outside of very close friends or family.

I’d like to think that things have changed but I’m not a bit sure that they have?  



Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

30 thoughts on “The Horror of being Molested”

  1. Been there, Jean, and know how that feels. I think most women, at least of our generation, must have encountered at least one of the guys you mention if not more. It does leave you feeling very vulnerable sometimes.

    1. Thanks for writing, Sue. Sorry to hear you encountered the same type of thing but I agree that most women of our generation probably experienced this. It’s not something that’s talked about very much, from my experience anyway.

      I know that there is a lot more awareness of it among the youth of today as they are introduced to the possibilities early on in school. However, I was certainly warned, too, but it still didn’t prevent it happening or make me feel all that comfortable talking about it.

      1. Me neither, Jean. I think todays young women on the whole have a more confident sexuality than we did perhaps, but children are children in any era and the damage can be lasting and not necessarily seem to be in proportion to the actual physical nature of the attack ( for it can be called nothing else.)

  2. That is so horrible Jean. I know you are right – it is socialized. Many males feel a misplaced sense of entitlement when it comes to abusing or raping women. i have no idea where it comes from and it is horrendous. You are far from alone in this Jean. In 2012 CBC (our Canadian national broadcaster) did a documentary on rape in the American Military ( They found over 100,000 sexual abuses in the ranks, of which in 2010 there were about 3,000 reports, an estimated of 19,000 incidents all of which lead to only 244 convictions. The documentary won numerous awards and was listed as one of the best of the year. The women who participated sued the Us Military and the military changed their whole reportong system. Did you, know that in many cases the old reporting regime was to the immediate superior, who was actually the one guilty of the rape. No wonder there were few reports. To me that is astounding, that the men who made the rules required a woman who was raped to report that rape to her rapist for charges to be filed. Do you know that they estimated that a sinlge rapist (in the military), if not apprehended, will rape approximately 300 times in a lifetime?

    A number of bloggers have taken up this topic (sexualy and physical abuse) recently: for instance Anawnamiss ( ) and Stories That Must Not Die ( ). You’re not alone Jean and the behaviour of these men disgusts me and many who care. I apologise on behalf of all of us who find this abuse to be abhorrent.

  3. So sorry to hear of your awful experiences. Rape, molestation, abuse affects so many, at least 1 in 4 women. If you look around that is a lot of women in your company. I don’t know if you know but I was abused for many years as a child and teenager. Over the years as people have found out quite a sizable number told me of an event or events that happened to them, and I was the first person they told. Most never again told anyone.
    It is a sad fact of life, but stats do show that child abuse figures at least are dropping slightly. Recovery varies. I know of a few who were subject to just one attack, which was not actually rape, yet they have not come to terms with it to the same degree that I have. I don’t think the nature of the attack is proportionate to the trauma it inflicts. Maybe in years to come things will improve, but I think at present it is still a world where women must be aware and careful.

    1. Tric, thanks very much for writing and for your empathy. No, I didn’t know about your personal story and am sorry to hear that you had such a tough time.

      It’s good to know that child abuse figures are dropping, even if only slightly as children as just so, so vulnerable.

      It saddens me terribly that girls/women are feel unable to tell anyone about their experiences in this regard. I was certainly very fortunate in this regard to have parents who listened, understood and were supportive as well as older sibs and later great friends who are there, no matter what. Having that sense of security and support certainly helps enormously to cast a benign light on a world which could take on such a dark, creepy and cruel light.

  4. I do know what you mean Jean I have had a few near misses that have left a nasty taste in my mouth. I don’t want to elaborate but all respect to you …… Did Stan come up trumps? xx

  5. Jean. Been there. As a child. And I god it away. But eventually had to open up and deal with the fact that I had been put in a position of power abuse and abused. It’s heinous. and no matter how “small” you call it it’s so so damaging. Bless you for sharing.

  6. Thank you Jean for bringing this to the light of day. The discussion and the resources will help others too. I’m with you, as I think this still goes on. I’m thinking its the nature of the male of this species…. but we can support younger women to be more aware and perhaps less naive than we were.
    Val x

    1. Hi Val, thanks for writing.
      I agree that we ‘maturer’ women have a role to play in supporting younger women. However, I suspect that quite a few of the maturer set are probably victims as well and the very fact of their supposed maturity probably makes them even more reluctant to talk about the subject.

      The other issue, of course, is the extent to which boys and men can be victims as well. It’s all too easy to categorise this as a female issue.

  7. Sadly, the only time I go on country walks these days, is when my grown-up son can accompany me. It makes me very angry that my liberty is curtailed because of a few weirdos and perverts who can’t keep their hands to themselves. I’m still thinking of that poor teenager in the UK murdered while out walking along a canal towpath recently.
    Like you, I’ve had some experiences I’d rather not remember. Before those, I used to walk for miles on my own cross-country. Often, I feel like a caged animal, unable to stretch my legs in the open air. The local recreation ground is just not the same as the woods, fields, and hills.

    1. Sarah, that’s so sad that you feel that your liberty is so curtailed. I think that big dogs are a huge help and tend to bring our biggest, who is very protective, when I go to out-of-the-way places.

      1. My dog is middling-sized and very friendly. Maybe she would be fierce if she had to be. Not sure, though.

        Come to think of it, I used to think that my previous dog was as soft as butter, until I passed this really creepy man on a footpath when I was out with my son (then aged 6) and Miss Jemma Labrador turned into this bristling, snarling beast that I hardly recognised!

  8. This is a heavy subject indeed. As you can see, Jean, you are far from alone in this. I would wager most women have had some experience of some sort, large or small, that was inappropriate to downright hurtful. None of them are acceptable. There are cases all over my family a father and son molesting the daughter & sister was the worst case that came out rather recently. To think the poor woman had been keeping it locked inside her for years… There are certainly more that will remain so.

    I am extremely happy to be married to a feminist who constantly teaches our sons that it is NEVER OK to hurt a girl in any way. I told him of a friend who was basically raped by her husband while she was under the influence of medication. Brought him to tears.

    We have to keep teaching our boys and men that it is not acceptable. It has been backwards for too long – teaching our girls to be tough and to defend themselves instead…

    So sorry this is a subject that must be addressed. xoxo

  9. I’m so sorry to hear of all you’ve been through, Jean, scary, to say the least. I’ve never experienced anything like this, but the “entitlement” that many men have is infuriating. I also wish more women would come forward, but are rather afraid or ashamed. I understand being afraid, but feeling ashamed is such a twisted way of thinking when they, in fact, were the victims. I’m so grateful your story ending is a happy one so you can share here to make others aware…hugs..

    1. Sorry for the mix-up, Lauren. Had just realised the error of my ways when I pressed POST.
      I agree wholeheartedly that the feeling ashamed bit is twisted but tiny doubts have a way of creeping into these things and I suppose they are fuelled, too, by a lot of media stuff.
      Change is definitely required in relation to so many aspects of this all-too common experience.

  10. Hope you are OK Jean. Fortunately, I’ve only suffered the mildest lechery. Just as schools have, hopefully, got rid of the stigma of catching nits, we need to remove the stigma of dealing with these kind of incidents. And I think it is vital that we empower our “daughters” to speak out.

    1. Hi Angie, good to hear from you and thanks for your kind words. I’m doing just fine thanks.
      Yes, removing the stigma of dealing with the incidents is key but I think we need also to work towards preventing them in the first place as well. Not necessarily easy but hopefully there will be breakthroughs in mindsets.

  11. Thankful to hear things have always turned out okay for you, Jean! Teaching children to have a respectable attitude toward each other is key. Sadly, molestation and degradation remain all too common. :-/ ❤ ❤

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