I've had several experiences over the last few days that really made my understanding of boundaries and predatory behavior explode into a new sort of real for me.
I had someone I'd already identified as a possible predator (your gut instinct and your close friends' opinions and/or instincts are incredibly important to trust!!!!) decide that, while I was alone, walking my service dog, he would whistle at me as he drove by. For those familiar with boundaries, and the pushing thereof, this might be a simple or obvious testing of boundaries with a passing acquaintance. For me, it was a slap in the face- a total wake up call. I refuse to take responsibility for someone else's actions, but I have learned one thing about predator's patterns: they will push any boundaries that aren't clearly enforced by the other person. I had not made my boundaries clear enough for him to respect them.
I stormed into the building, saw him standing near the entrance and, loudly, and without stopping to actually discuss anything or give him any play, I told him not to EVER whistle at me. The next day, he approached me, asking to talk. I told him we could talk right where I was standing, in front of several people I knew and trusted from group. That's when he apologized.
I don't doubt I was labeled a "bitch" that day.
To quote a picture I came across (and can't seem to track down now) the other day, bitch beats stupid m----- f----- every time.
A gentleman, for lack of other term, who I'd had to listen to my gut instinct scream "THIS IS WRONG!" about every single time we were in the same room- and we have never been alone, I promise you- admitted to, among other things, being a sexual abuser of children as a teenager the other day. I tell you, people, when my gut says something, I will listen every time.
Today, I ran across this article on recognizing a creepy dominant. It is written for the BDSM community, but, as I read it (it was linked in the survivor/anti-rape/pro-sexuality blog Yes Means Yes) it was blindingly obvious that, though these were rules set for that community, they applied to a much wider range of people.
The red flags listed in this article (and PLEASE feel free to read the original! I can't say enough good things about it!) are: He comes on too strong too fast, He's consentuality challenged, He has "connections" and is "experienced", He "essentializes" dominance and submission, He manipulates your desire to be a good bottom, and He's usually doing something wrong.
For non-BDSM purposes, the wording changes, but the overall concepts are, more surprising to me than I would have expected, very much the same.
While I'm using this other post as an outline, I want to remind everyone these are just my experiences, and my opinions may vary some. Also, males are not, by any means, the only exploiters or abusers out there, so please forgive gender pronouns, and take them as non-gender generalizations, not accusations.
He Comes On Too Strong: This is an easy one. The guy/gal that is your new best friend, is all about changing your entire life/perspective/experience, etc. from the very first moment you speak to them. They deserve-and demand- all of your attention, and expect you to swoon from their advances. They aren't always loud when they approach- sometimes divide and conquer is the most effective, and dangerous, tactic for these guys. To be honest, more often than not, you never see it coming. This guy used to be the nicest/coolest/funniest guy you ever met. One of the best bosses I ever worked for was sent to trial for raping- with use of drugs- thirteen young women that he knew from work.
He's Consenuality Challenged: Oh, he didn't mean anything by it, it was just a joke. He starts with things you or a friend can blow off, but it's something that is pushing a boundary that you have. He makes a sexist, racist or dirty joke, often indirectly at your expense, to see if you'll object. Playing it cool might seem like the "nice" thing to do, and it is- but he has to start somewhere. The longer you take to put your foot down- to look them in the face and say "that's not okay" and walk away, the longer it takes you to not be flexible or give someone who is testing boundaries that second or third or fourth chance, the farther he'll go. You know what you're okay with- no touching, no inappropriate jokes, no anything YOU aren't COMPLETELY comfortable with, end of story.
He Has Connections And Is Experienced: The guy who knows the owner/bouncer/bartender, etc at this great little bar/club/whatever. He's moving in, making you feel like you should be bragging about even having met him, because, hey, this guy knows everyone! That's not to say the connections are real or fake- that can vary, though, often, they seem to be falsified. This one is key to making you feel inadequate, less than the predator, like you don't deserve the attention you're getting- weak and insecure.
He Essentializes Dominance And Submission: This one, at first, doesn't sound like it applies to non-BDSM'ers. However, the behavior is very typical of this type of person. He knows it all, because he generalizes in order to label and manipulate. Good girlfriends/boyfriends/etc do this, and behave this way- you're clearly not one of those or you wouldn't be dressed like that. Generalized statements that belittle those who do not behave as she/he expects.
He Manipulates Your Desire To Be A Good Bottom: Another one that some might not see as being applicable, this one is VERY important to watch out for, no matter who you might be or what you might be into. Anyone who uses your wants or intentions against you, especially in terms of twisting previously stated/expressed boundaries, is a predator, in one sense of the word or another. Like a good salesman might use your interest in one vehicle to get you to "see" why you really "need" this one that's priced $5000 higher, this guy uses your interests, intentions, and any other "bait" you give him/her as a vice to twist your arm.
He's Usually Doing Something Wrong: I can't restate this one enough: TRUST YOUR GUT. Whether he's violating a clearly-expressed limit or giving you that pushy-guy vibe, don't hand over the digits, or give this guy just five more minutes so you don't seem rude. Manners and self-image are easily preyed upon in these scenarios, and, when you're no longer comfortable, you're no longer safe. If you trust your gut and get away from this guy, the worst that's going to happen is you find out he didn't rape anyone. Seriously, though, what if your gut is right?
Now, I'm not, by any means, saying that all men even have the potential to be rapists. I truly believe there's a number of them who could never bring themselves to even be involved with something that could appear unsafe- these are usually the guys who are "too nice" for the record. If you haven't kept up, I am married to White And Nerdy aka Mr Nice Guy. About the only time he doesn't seem quite so nice is when his passive-aggressive side comes out while he's driving. That aside, there are good guys out there. Ladies and gentleman, folks of every shape, size, gender and sexual identity known and unknown, the folks who are most likely to hurt you are the ones you already know. One article on Yes Means Yes says that the figure of stranger-rapes lingers at about 15%. The guy in the bushes is more likely to have lost his watch than be looking for someone to rape. The guy who calls you in the middle of the night, and shows up on your doorstep when he knows you're alone, even though you asked him not to, he's the guy you need to be keeping an eye on.
I hope this helps someone- anyone.
I was recently thanked by a barely-20 year old local girl who I'd given some advice to on a stalker issue she had with an ex. She'd been raped when she was younger, which caused conflict within her very close family, and she was scared to bring this new situation to her parents, though she lived under their roof. I explained to her that, by going to her parents BEFORE this boy was showing acts of violence, she would be showing them she could, in fact, be trusted to handle herself, and, if that failed, play the daddy's little girl card.
A restraining order has been filed, her parents are aware of the situation, and they aren't upset with her for "getting herself into" this situation. I helped someone avoid the situation I found myself in. What more can you really want out of life?