I was quite naive in my youth
I think in our youth’s most of us are naive. We think we’re invincible; that nothing in this world would even come close to hurting us. Basically, we’re Superman but without the Kryptonite. We don’t do weaknesses. Weaknesses are for pussies. Yet I feel I could have done with a bit more educating to the ways of the world when I was a young boy. It’s a harsh place. Unforgiving, unkind, especially if you’re a boy like I was, full of life and always trying to get up to no good.
We’ll start with a story I haven’t told anyone apart from my wife. Something that no-one ever knew about me, ever. I was young, foolish, naive and incredibly immature at 17. Ask any of my friends. They’ll tell you. Parents never think to keep a watchful eye on their sons when it comes to sexual predators. It’s not something that’s widely talked about or even acknowledged. I’m always viewing in the media at the latest girl victim to be preyed upon by some horrible attacker, but you rarely hear about men. I’ve only heard about stories about males being attacked through word of mouth. Why is that I wonder? I’m not too sure.
It was summertime. Blistering hot sun with a lovely fresh breeze blowing over Leven Links golf course. I loved taking walks by myself over the local golf course in the summer. The grass smelled lovely, the trees gently swayed in a calm wind and the Sun hammered down its heat. I was in a T-shirt. Days like this in Scotland were rare and everyone that had sense would be out soaking those delicious Vitamin D parcels onto the skin from our local life giver.
I had chosen this day to go out for a lovely long walk because none of my friends were interested in coming out today. One had a football game to go to and the other had exams to study for. Pah, exams. I didn’t study for any of mine. Funny thing was I passed them all. Well, as good as my level would allow.
It was then that I met the older man with his dog. He was at least in his late thirties. I was no good with ages but he was OLD. He smiled at me, sat down beside me and started talking. I can’t remember what we talked about but he was funny and I dare say he knew how I was feeling. I liked that. I couldn’t relate to people. I pretty much sucked with people my own age apart from my close friends. This guy gets me. I like him.
I can remember jumping in his car and hot-wheeling it off to Shell Bay with him. We had stopped off and bought a 24 pack of French lager. French lager was strong in those days. I was seventeen. He was probably forty, and he’s buying strong lager with me. As a parent now, big massive alarm bells are ringing off in my head, yet at the time, I saw nothing wrong with it. Nothing whatsoever. Just two awesome dudes chilling in the grassy area of a caravan park having an ice cold beer on a summer day. Perhaps he thought I was a lightweight. Maybe he thought I was going to give him a few extracurricular activities. But nothing happened. We just went back to Leven, and he dropped me off. I wasn’t drunk. Maybe he was hoping I would be.
Writing that I think back to myself, “What the actual hell was I thinking?” That man could have had me as soon as I got into his car. Yet, I feel I was really lucky. Nothing happened. But it damn well could have. Nearly forty-year-old dudes certainly don’t share a laugh and a beer with seventeen-year-old boys. That’s just weird.
And this brings me to the question that I was always brought up thinking that I was relatively safe being a boy / man. My Mum would always say that she was SO glad she had a son and didn’t have to worry about the worries you have with girls. She was DEAD wrong. DEAD wrong. That example was just one of them. I can count at least five times in my life where I have been at the risk of being groomed for god knows what. Perhaps it was the fact that I had a very large supportive family and they would most definitely miss me. My Gran. God she was such a fiery woman when someone crossed her. I can imagine her camping out at the local Police station until I was found. Perhaps it was because I was well known in the area. Who knows. I’ll never know.
There needs to be more awareness when it comes to this sort of thing with young men and boys. It’s definitely not only women. I see abuse centres and rape clinics for women dotted all over the place. I think it’s time for us men to take a stand too. I’m tired of hearing the cliche that women aren’t the only victims of sexual crimes. Yet when it comes to taking a stand we are far fewer in numbers. I feel we need to. We need to stand up and tell others our stories and fight for the help that we drastically need.
I don’t blame my family though. Back in the 90’s we were far less aware of deviancy than what we are now. Or at least the general public was. I can’t blame them for trying their best. But, if you have a Son, never get trapped into thinking he’s safe because he’s a man. That’s dangerous thinking. Keep a watchful eye. And be safe.