The Five Stages of Abuse: Detecting the Predators Before They Strike

Dear readers,

The following is my story, but broken down into the five stages of abuse as researched and codified by Dr. Leigh Baker’s Protecting Your Children from Sexual Predators. This book has been an invaluable tool to me for learning not only what happens when a predator strikes a child, but what happened to me personally. Please read with caution, some of this may be a bit graphic, and some of this may not.

TW descriptions of sexual abuse #abuseTW

Stage 1: Detection. This is easy to spot. Not always the same from person to person. Let me set the stage for my detection when I went through it. First and foremost, I was at the Daytona Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, or what was known at that time as simply the Rehab Center. Daytona Beach had lots of places to go, including the Volusia Mall and all kinds of beach places at that time, including the walkways and boardwalk. I was at the mall, browsing crap at Claire’s, where I usually get lost in all kinds of cute crap anyway. Then a man approached me. His name was Ricardo Guerra, or I’d know him as Rico for short. Rico approached me from somewhere in Claire’s, I’m pretty sure it was Claire’s, and he bought me a couple of things I wanted to start with. Oops. This led to the detection stage. I’m not sure what Rico was doing in detecting a piece of meat to eat, but the detection stage usually is when a predator gets to know their prey in some subtle ways. They have to detect things vulnerable about you, including things like you struggle in school, your parents suck, things like that. Maybe you feel out of balance in a new family, that is just as Jensen, the little boy in Leigh Baker’s case study, did. Dr. Baker used the example of a preschool teacher’s aid and a student for her case composite for the five stages, so I may go there from time to time, but remember, this was her work. I will however use examples of each stage from my own story, so keep reading.

Stage 2: Approach. Rico did some pretty mad approaching later on. He took me to the perfume counter at the mall, bought me a French flower perfume of some sort, I can’t quite write it here. Now, I had this perfume for a while, but Rico was a real nice guy at first. I didn’t know he was 51. He noticed my talents at the piano and singing, which was, in all due respect, the nice thing about it. But there are some things that you must know about Rico in the approach stage that really bothered me. Looking back, he had me alone a lot, wanted to take projects with me a bunch, and even tried to send me expensive gifts. This was also the case with the Mr. Bob and Jensen story. Bob learned that Jensen liked model planes and such, so he went and bought the little kid an expensive model plane. He disguised himself as a father figure. While this is different with boys, Rico also tried to disguise himself as a father figure for a girl. While he had his own daughter, Rico also had lots of issues going on in his own brain. My relationship with Rico took a turn for the next stage when we were sitting in the hall at the Rehab Center, and I could barely concentrate on nursing home and job skills and such. See next item.

Stage 3: Subjugation and Stage 4: Grooming. This goes kind of hand in hand. Subjugation makes it possible for the predator to isolate their victim, making more and more advances towards the victim, getting to know the parents, getting to know the people around them. The victim doesn’t really know what’s happening. Rico did all this. my dad wasn’t happy. Understandably, neither was my mom. After she found out Rico was doing Stage 4, the grooming, it became abundantly clear that the abuse stage would follow. Rico was removed from the Rehab Center because of claims he had sex with me. Well, those claims would have been true had he gone on to the next stage. Something Dr. Baker writes clearly in her chapter on these stages, sometimes the predator has to go back through stages 3 and 4 to get to stage 5. See nextx item.

Stage 5: The Abuse. You could say that Rico was stupid enough not to do stage 5. I ended up polishing off his feet, but that wasn’t really sexual enough. He wanted me to cop a feel at his body, but let’s face it. Sexual contact was never made. Even when he was removed from the Rehab Center, I think he was like, oh, I didn’t do it. I had to believe him because for real, he never had sex with a minor. In the abuse stage, Dr. Baker writes that the teacher’s aid encouraged his student to let him touch the little boy’s body. This is truly abusive. If any adult in authority tells your child to touch them or they touch the child, it is a clear sign that the abuse stage has passed. Rico advanced pretty strongly, but his abuse wasn’t really there all the way. The only way he could have done something would have been if I really did touch his penis, and he would have returned such things by touching my body parts. Nobody touched there. Period.

The appropriate Response. Parents, if you’re reading this, know a few different points about surviving sex abuse and harassment. First, it is not the survivor’s fault. Second, the survivor should not be given any sort of punishment for going through sexual abuse. Because of Rico, I had to live in my parents’ house for a few years, enduring isolation and guardianship and my parents telling me not to talk to all kinds of people because in their minds, the men were bad news. However, the choices my parents made even during my tenure at the Colorado Center for the Blind were also very poor. I was not going to get much support from my parents, and it took years of therapy and finding the right people to get me over the predation experience I suffered at the hands of Rico. His name appears on a court filing my parents tried to do that included a restraining order. Well, what if they had done this to men because they were black? My parents might have also done the same shit to my current partner, Trenton, because of his African American blood and heritage. They could have also told a judge that a man who was black was on drugs and the judges would believe my parents over me. Thankfully, Judge Tanya Rainwater was smart and didn’t believe my parents and their claims of sexual abuse at the hands of Ricardo Guerra. The judge said there was no proof of sex, and she wanted DNA and penetration and all that. It could have happened. So what were my vulnerabilities? I was on the verge of committing suicide, wanting to date teen boys, but Rico said they were losers. Well, he himself was a loser. I was also deemed a mental case by the high school, something I didn’t want. They recommended, after all the stages of abuse and my parents’ laxidasical response and their lackluster involvement, they recommended I have an attendant at school. This was humiliating. I would never forgive THS for this crap. Not ever. What my O and M instructor had to do was allow someone to follow me around at school. She was not allowing of anyone, really nothing occurred and I had to have occupational therapy because of my parents’ toxicity. They blamed the victim of sexual abuse instead of help and support the survivor. Guardianship in all cases is an inappropriate response to sexual abuse. Parents, you need to get adequate counseling for your teenager or your child, not guardianship for the budding young adult with disabilities who has suffered sexual abuse. Making up mental health stats and diagnostics will not get you anywhere but resentment from the child or teen who becomes an adult. Every action you make has an equal or opposite reaction. The response to Rico’s abuse my parents concocted was nothing more than victim blaming, shaming, and an ill fated understanding of how predators operate and communicate. My parents should have read Dr. Baker’s book and seen the composite sketches, and maybe allowed me to participate in talks about sexual abuse and the stages of such. If they had, they would have understood that Rico was a bad groomer, a terrible abuser, and I was a victim, not something to pore over in guardianship files, not someone to exploit. My money and wages are lost, I can’t even get a job or go to college because of the sexual abuse. Because of the guardianship, I was relegated to men who would do nothing but cheat on me, tell me to go fuck off because I had guardianship, and or they’d act like it was the best thing to do. Well, it’s not. I resent my parents for doing this, and I resent the professionals who followed this track and wanted me to suffer for the abuse I suffered. Professionals should never, never under any circumstances recommend guardianship for a child or teen who has disabilities because they will not be able to work, have a family, or grow up. It’s institutional ableism at its finest, and it’s worse when the child or teen is blind. Blindness is the most feared disability on the planet, and I had lots of delays in adaptive skills training because of guardianship. I didn’t even know how to prepare my own food till I was over 23 years old and had a fully furnished apartment. Ugh. With the fully equipped kitchen I was able to learn food prep techniques, but the whole time I was at CCB, they tried to scale back my program or make exceptions because of the guardianship. And all this because of Ricardo’s abuse. Please, parents, listen to your kids. If they don’t want to be labeled a mental case because they’re in love with a teenage boy, especially if it’s a girl, please listen. If you don’t listen to your child or teen, you could end up being resented or the relationship could go adrift. I only receive calls from my parents now every christmas and birthday, not enough to solidify a good relationship. It makes me wonder what my own kids will think because they will end up not having a Grandma and Grandpa around to give them presents, cookies, and stories of the past. Grandparents are important, but for my children, they are not important because they could have told me to abort a child had I had one at all at this time. My parents would justify the abortion as getting rid of the blood of a blind woman. My baby is not likely to be born blind, but making it so I can’t have kids would have been an option had my parents kept me at home. I left because they were telling me when and how to use the Internet, and at age 23, I flew away and quit college at FSU. I never went back, except on Christmas vacation, but was spiritually abused about being a Muslim because I had converted trying to find the answers. Spiritual abuse is common in families with children who have disability as well. I’m 34 now, unemployed, no kids, but with a perfectly awesome husband and partner in commitment. We couldn’t legally marry because his healthcare check and survival benefits would have been taken away. I would never advocate divorce for us just to save our checks, and it is selfish in my opinion. I wish people would stay married for life, and I swore that on my partner. However, he and I would benefit from having a child. The child would need a safe home and housing we don’t have and can’t provide, and all this because of Ricardo Guerra. He doesn’t realize how much he ruined my life and the lives of the people around me. I guess predators don’t always realize how much they ruin people’s lives.

Thank you for reading this blog. I will be telling a summary of my story on the third season of my podcast, and I will be doing some research to help find some music for this. I need a heraldry fanfare because we’re talking about the Throne Room with Beth Taurasi and I’m supposed to portray the Queen thing with dignity. Please listen to the podcast and learn a great deal if you can.