Perverts Lying in Wait

A man who has bragged about sexually assaulting women is about to become president of our country. If he and his like were rare, I wouldn’t be writing this, Vera. But they aren’t. And you shouldn’t have to learn that the hard way.

Your maternal grandmother grew up in a small village. There were at least three men in or near that village who sexually assaulted young girls. None was prosecuted. In fact, their criminal conduct didn’t become generally known. Yet their victims were very real, as were the emotional wounds the men inflicted.

Society tends to be tolerant of adults victimizing children. And men victimizing women. Hence, it’s not disqualifying conduct for a presidential candidate. More locally, it’s something that tends to be overlooked or swept under the rug, even by parents and priests, to preserve the peace of the community or their families.

When your grandmother brought an incident to the attention of her mother (your great grandmother), she encountered a dismissive attitude. Her daughter must have misunderstood. But she hadn’t — no more than her friend who was similarly assaulted by the very same man.

We’ll never know what your great grandmother really thought or did. But I have no doubt she had your grandmother’s best interests at heart; it’s likely she would have been concerned about the potential impact on her daughter if the man’s conduct became public.

The perpetrator was a pillar in the community and his church. That’s not unusual. Many men who victimize children have a similar resume. Many live next door or just a few doors away.

No one knows what percentage of men sexually assault girls (or boys for that matter). But we know it’s not as rare as we like to think. We know there are always quite a few perverts lying in wait, even in “good” neighborhoods, in churches and in families.

No matter the incident rate, please know that it is not acceptable and you should never countenance it, no matter how good the reputation of the person or how much money or power he has or any other factor.

All men don’t engage in such disgusting behavior. Most don’t. But some do. This is one lesson you shouldn’t have to learn the hard way.

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