A few years ago I read a Jodi Picoult novel about a suicidal young woman, a high schooler, who convinced her boyfriend to help her kill herself.
Though she never told her boyfriend the true reason she wanted to die, the novel revealed that her depression stemmed from being sexually abused by a stranger in a fast food restaurant public restroom as a child. She had never told anyone.
Though it was only fiction, that story has stayed with me, and I am very skittish about my kids and public restrooms. Even when my 14-year-old goes in one, I count the seconds until he re-appears. My younger two, eleven and seven, still go with me and not alone.
Never have I been so thankful for my public restroom fear that this morning, when I read this Facebook status from mom Misty McDavid. She describes a terrifying experience involving her son and a public restroom at a Michael’s craft store, of all places. Since she posted her status a little over twenty-four hours ago, Misty’s story has been shared over 2,000 times — and it needs to be shared many more! She says:
It has taken me a few days to decide whether or not to post this. For the protection of our babies, I’m going to.
Last Thursday Luke and I were in Michaels in JC. Luke has to go to the bathroom every time you turn around. So of course, “Mom, I’ve got to go pee.” I was in a hurry and thought “we are in Michaels, he should be fine.” I sent him on alone.
He returned in a few minutes with a horrible expression on his face. He said, “Mom I just got really scared the worst I have ever been.” I asked why. He said that a man tried to get in the bathroom with him. I asked maybe if the man was just pulling the door to see if the stall was open. He said, “No mom, he jerked and jerked on the door trying to get in.” I asked if Luke could identify him, did he see him through the cracks? He said, “I looked at his shoes and I know what he had on.” I began scanning the store for the black, muddy, work boots Luke had described. All of the sudden I was two feet from the punk who attempted to enter the stall with my son. I froze. I looked him dead in the eyes and just stared at him. He smirked, kind of laughed, ran his fingers through his black greasy hair, and walked off. He knew I knew. He knew there was nothing I could do. I was stunned. My mind played over and over how different the day could have ended. I thanked God for his protection. That was all I could say, “Thank you Lord.”
You know, in my mind I’ve rehearsed all the things I would do to someone in a similar situation. Not a word would come that day, only shock and fear. In the same respect, we have told Luke a million times, “If anyone ever tries to bother you, scream and act like someone is killing you.” In that moment do you know what he did? Silent. Dead silent. He was scared to death and stayed as quiet as he could.
There’s a real good chance you or your children won’t respond in the way you’ve been trained, but I still believe training needs to be given. Luke and I will enter self defense classes. I will not ever let him go to the bathroom alone again. It’s awkward to take a 10 year old to the ladies room. I don’t care. I have a friend who says she opens the door to the men’s room and stands in the doorway while her son goes. Do something.
Also this incident forced me to have to explain to my child how he could be raped. While that is a horrid conversation to have, it is necessary. Before that day, Luke didn’t really know why to fear. He didn’t really know what could happen. In order to understand why things have to be the way they are, our children need to know the evil in this crazy world.
Pray for your babies, pray over them, for God’s protection. I’m humbled and there are no words to describe how thankful I am for God’s protection that day.