The grooming cases we talk about over this week will, I hope, give you a clear idea of why we need to talk about and get over our embarrassment – and in particular police office embarrassment, when it comes to male genitals.
The November before last, I started receiving livestreamed calls on FaceTime of men masturbating. It wasn’t the same man each time, and they had clearly been set up to do it because the calls were coming in at the same time, all at once, from six different email addresses/phone numbers each time. It happened half a dozen times, and was pretty distressing. Had it been just the once, I’d have thought it was coincidence, but as it was repeated, I believe it was orchestrated
It was designed to shock me. The person at the other end didn’t look at me, it was just their fully erect penis being waved in my face over my phone, the first time at 1am in the morning.
Was it my groomer? No, not that I’m aware of, but I didn’t stop to watch the show – I was getting them off my phone as quickly as I could.
Was he behind making it happen? I have my suspicions, but no evidence. My phone number had definitely been put on the dark web, where it’s well known that adult sexual groomers congregate to swap notes.
The first time I went to the police, I was told by a young officer, who found it all very funny, that it was above his paygrade to investigate.
I was unable to get any police help.
Eventually the flashers called while I was at the dinner table with my family. I didn’t want to answer the phone, but was encouraged to do so. The online flashers were passed around the table. My brother in law felt sick. My mother was shocked. My father was angry.
I am fairly senior in years, but it took my father, who just wanted the whole grooming thing forgotten, to come to the police station with me to make them take this seriously. Stop for a moment and think about this. I was old enough to be a grandmother, but had to take my dad with me!
Everything now pretty much blurs into one uncomfortable memory, but amongst the things that need saying in the context of this article (because trust me, there are a lot more things that need to be said) is the fact that they didn’t want to take the evidence from my phone. Yes, despite wanting to take victims phones for evidence to protect the accused, they didn’t want the images.
From the small number of screenshots that I managed to get in my panic to stop the calls (try turning off one screen on an iphone when new ones are coming in and you’ll know what I mean), it was possible to see race, size, distinguishing marks.
But the police officer refused to take the evidence. “I am not,” he declared, “going to send a picture of a penis to my colleague” (referring to the officer who is/was supposed to be handing my grooming/stalking case).
I can’t help but feel (purely personal opinion) that had it been a naked woman it might have been somewhat more acceptable to these officers to share the image.
Valuable information was missed.
I will see no justice for this particular harassment.
One person was traced after we pushed the police to action. He admitted to two of the thirty odd ‘flashings’. I was persuaded that it would ruin his life if I proceeded against him, and frankly, I was more interested in what triggered him to do it (more than one person was calling at a time – it was orchestrated) than going to court.
Apparently he said that he had found my number on Instagram. The police accepted this. Lazy policing!
- My Instagram hadn’t been updated for years and it was an old landline number on the account (two house moves late!!)
- Why did the calls all come at the same time?
To add insult to injury, to protect him, I am not allowed to know his name. Because I agreed to a police caution rather than a court case.
I could be at an event, in the street, stood in a coffee queue with him stood beside me and never know, because I chose the non-court route. He may be someone I know or related to someone I know. Maybe someone I once went on a date with from some shabby on line dating site.
But because the police don’t take it seriously, and won’t take proper evidence regarding penises, and clearly don’t understand the online world as they should (it was the Devil’s own job explaining to them the difference between a ‘dick pick’ on Facebook and livestreamed masturbation on FaceTime), I will always wonder IF it was my groomer who triggered the calls, or if it’s just one the many things that men mete out on women who raise their voices and campaign.
Find out more about #PAP week on the CAAGe site