Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Jan. 23, 2015 — An uncomfortable trend

Yesterday, a friend of mine wrote an on-line essay about a time when she was groped by an older man in a position of trust. The man is alleged to have given my friend compliments, followed by attention, sexual attention, and eventually the procurement of alcohol before trying to force himself on her.

The older man has risen to a position of some power and influence within a worldwide community of enthusiasts of a performance art form. One such enthusiast is my friend, who, like the older person accused of sexual assault, now teaches the art form.

I’ve met the accused on a couple of occasions, and, much like the trial of former U.S. field hockey player Todd Broxmeyer and the current scandal surrounding comedian Bill Cosby, I met the original news with some disbelief.

But within hours of my friend’s post, two other women have come forth with similar stories about the same man. Much like the dozens of women who have come forth in the Cosby case, and the witness list in the Broxmeyer trial, the multiplicity of allegations and their patterns cannot be ignored.

Friends, this is a disturbing trend that has found its way into boardrooms, locker rooms, and even in the church. The uneven power relationships between authority figures and minor children or young adults (especially young women) are too often used for sexual assault, rape, or even worse.

There are certain commonalities amongst the patterns of these predators, and I’ve been studying these for a few years. I’m not a child psychologist, nor a law-enforcement profiler, nor a lawyer. I am, instead, a journalist. I observe and listen and look for commonalities and trends.

As such, I have found a number of trends when it comes to how predators use their personal standing or prestige to try to seduce or “groom” girls and young women for personal gratification. Please take note of the following and do not ignore the warning signs if a person in an authority relationship with a minor or in an uneven power relationship with an adult exhibits any or all of the following behaviors:

  • Excessive or effusive compliments, especially about one’s appearance;
  • Excessive use of phone calls or texts or instant messages, especially at odd hours of the day;
  • Excessive attention over and above others in the same peer group (such as a team or a class section);
  • Requests for overnight trips without parental chaperoning or supervision;
  • Requests to keep details — even benign ones — a secret;
  • The use or abuse of alcohol or other substances.

The U.S. Olympic Committee, after some rather embarrassing episodes in field hockey, swimming, gymnastics, and short-track speed skating, has implemented a “Safe Sport” website to give parents, coaches, administrators, and athletes the tools to educate themselves.

“Safe space” policies have been applied to conventions, churches, and even Google. I especially encourage those of you reading this blog entry to educate yourselves on these policies and how they may be applied to predatory behavior. It may help prevent further assaults.


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