The Effects of Grooming

Even though it is written in South Africa, this article link goes to a description of grooming that is among the best I’ve seen so far: Adult Grooming.

When I first found out I’d been so utterly duped, initially I was in denial. I still screw myself in knots asking for the reasons ‘why?’, and ‘why me?’

My initial post on Facebook (exposing my abuser, as a married man) was accompanied by an acceptance of the situation.

Whilst I was initially relieved that the relationship had ended (no more broken promises of trips to Paris, last minute changes in plans, or manipulating me into being places), discovering out that my groomer had lied about where he lived, and who with, cut through me. I’m pretty ‘live and let live’, but my own moral compass stops at dating married men or men seeing someone else: “do as you would be done by”. These are values he professed to share – values he used against me, to lure me in.

When the truth about his utter duplicity and lack of morality or humanity emerged, I broke. I couldn’t believe what was unfolding before my eyes. Anger turned to hurt and humiliation. This convincing trickster had made me feel strongly for him before we’d even met. (I’m not even convinced it was him I was talking to when we first met, he changed so much.)

My intelligence is clearly questionable. I feel unlovable. I can no longer trust anyone, even friends. One lie – even a tiny one – can throw me, make me question. I have changed from an open exuberant person to one with as much exuberance but not yet ready to be around people.

I’d had already had a tough couple of months anyway. Dad had been diagnosed with fibroids* on his lungs – a short life expectancy and probably only six months from diagnosis before he needs a ventilator. I was also undergoing tests for ovarian cancer, with each stage coming back as cause for concern.

Although I’d initially felt that I loved [groomer] enough to end our relationship if I had to go through cancer treatment, he started telling me he had an immovable cough and that he was being tested for prostate cancer – his father had, apparently died at his age of the disease.  And so I told him. A few days before my birthday. Which he wilfully forgot, despite having promised us a romantic trip to Paris, to a place I now know he’s promised others as well, and has doubtless been to at some point with another woman.He vanished for the day, ghosted me completely, giving me some paltry excuse the following day. Heartless.

This shock capped it.

I put £15k aside for a trip to Dignitas and started putting my affairs in order so as not to leave my children with problems. It was as much as I could do to get out of bed in the morning. It was more than I could do to shower some days. The more I tried to function, the worse it got. I was fighting off comments, reminders, humiliation. I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want to be here.

It passed after a lot of exercise and thinking things through. I’m a strong intelligent woman. I needed to fight back. That fight merely earned me a Police Record for Harassment. and a threat of legal action from a former employer of his

(And now a civil case for harassment, merely for trying to protect others.)

Once I could face the shower again, I scrubbed myself. Hard. If I could have taken off a layer of skin I would have. I scrubbed a little more. And more. I had inadvertently had unprotected sex with a man who has clearly been grooming women for years. I scrubbed a bit more.  I had inadvertently broken my own moral codes. I felt dirty and used. I scrubbed some more. But I had a nasty discharge – smelly, yellow. He had almost certainly given me an STD. I scrubbed some more.

I screamed at the kids. I cried in the shower. I was ratty with people. All of which made me feel worse. I scrubbed some more.

When the time was right, I took myself to the STD clinic at the Royal Berks Hospital for testing. For three months I had waited, hurting and afraid, for the last tests to be possible.

I can’t speak highly enough of them. It’s tough and humiliating to admit that I had to go there, but without talking about it, we get nowhere. I was frightened and faced it alone. The Walk of Shame.

They were lovely. Really helpful. Matter of fact. Busy. Anonymous. (Go there if you’re ever in doubt. Don’t wait.)

I did have an infection. But not one Steve had given me directly. All that scrubbing had knocked my system out and created an infection. It took two lots of antibiotics and some internal creams to get rid of it. I don’t want to admit to it, you don’t want to hear it. We’re all embarrassed. But that’s what grooming caused. I need you to understand.

That fine, upstanding, Naval Officer had pretended to be my boyfriend to my dying father.

Had duped me into breaching my own moral code.

Challenged my beliefs.

And I doubt I’ll ever trust anyone in a relationship ever again.

So I need something good to come out of this. Really need it. I thought at first it was getting him to admit his problem and get help. That won’t happen. He’s a coward, arrogant.

He’s used technology and the law to ensure that blogs about him won’t be found. So exposure with no press is going to create an issue.

I was lucky. I’m strong. I’ve two beautiful sons to live for, a family. Others may not have my ability to bounce. I urge you to take a write to your own MP to call for a change in UK Laws to protect victims of grooming.

Please.

*I’ve left this is, but my father has fibrosis, not fibroids. It has become a family joke that his next operation will be a hysterectomy. He’s an 80 year old man!

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