I was nearly abducted by a paedophile | Personal post

In my life I've had the unfortunate bad luck of being in the close proximity of paedophiles as a child, obviously at the time, I wasn't aware, my parents were not aware and the same kind of attitude went for the communities in which I grew up in, at that time parents would let their kids go outside to play or walk around the streets and didn't give it a second thought. 

I used to live next door to a paedophile (he was abusing his two step daughters and nobody knew because he'd threatened the girls to stay quiet. I was friends with the girls and they never let on to me or anyone else what was happening. When their mum was at work I would sleep over at their house and he would sit on the sofa with us watching Disney films. It makes me nauseous thinking about that with what we were to learn about him later. Not only did he abuse his step daughters but other children as well, he would sit outside primary schools watching the kids and attacked a woman when he was working as a taxi driver, horrible, horrible person), One was a babysitter (but we never knew he was a paedophile till years later), I had a family member who's since passed who had a strange fixation on children (it's a long story and maybe one that I will post here one day), We had a paedophile teacher at school, I encountered one at my place of work, the list goes on.

I have a dark memory of being at a shopping centre in Leeds with my mum when I was about 9 years old. This was the first time that I had moved to England (I've been back and forth living between Scotland and England during growing up) and I went with my mum to a place called 'Seacroft shopping centre'. It was the old shopping centre before they pulled it down and there was about two floors to the building and it didn't really have that many shops in it but on the ground floor they had a market.

My mum used to take me to the market to get clothes and things because we didn't have much money and one day we were at this market when I remember being stood looking at something whilst my mum was talking to one of the market stall holders, I felt like someone was behind me and a bit too close for comfort. I thought at the time that I was just imagining it and so I moved a few steps to the side and this person (I didn't look behind at first, but I knew they were there because their coat was brushing against me) moved a few steps to the side too. This person was following every move that I made.

I turned around and there was this guy, he seemed really tall (this is from a 9 year old's perspective), he had black hair and glasses with a long sandy coloured coat (I kept thinking 'Clark Kent' for some reason). Today I'd say that he looked about 30's. He was transfixed with me and he had this strange look which I can only describe as when you look at someone you are in love with? Straight away my blood turned cold and I felt really uncomfortable (looking back I cannot believe this guy had the confidence to do this in a crowded market with my mum only stood a few steps away).

For some reason instead of doing the sensible thing (to my defence, I was only 9 years old) and going straight to my mum and making a scene. I panicked and decided to make a run for it! My mum at the time seemed to be too distracted by talking to someone or doing something, I can't remember but she didn't seem to notice any of this going on. So I got as quickly as I could out of the market and I was on the other side of the ground floor, there was people everywhere so I thought I was doing the right thing by keeping myself in public. To my horror this nutcase started running after me (this was all in front of people, I don't know if they thought he was my Dad or what? I should have stopped and told someone, but I was too scared and naive. It was like split second decisions).

I kept running then I'd try to hide behind things but he'd just stop and his eyes were still fixated on me. As soon as I started running he would take off again. he chased me all over this damn shopping centre. 

I had no idea what I was doing, I was full of panic. he seemed to be quite a fast runner too and I was running out of places in this shopping centre.

I decided (don't ask me why, a naive 9 year old's logic) to run out of the shopping centre (there was people outside of the centre and cars so it was still pretty public. That's one thing that I made sure of, that there was always people around) and had the split second Idea to run into a phone box. I couldn't see him for a few minutes but then he appeared and I could see him looking at me. He made a beeline for the phone box and I gave him a really angry look (I just had this determination that he was not going to get me, that I would fight him, bite, kick, scream and scratch if I had to) and picked up the phone pretending that I was talking to the police or my Dad (I had no money or a clue to what I was doing. I know I should have just called 999 but I just remember the feeling of panic and not knowing what to do. I wasn't crying, I seemed to be in some kind of shock. We'd been told at school never to talk to strangers but never told what to do if you have a creepy grown man running after you) and suddenly he stopped and gave me this really sad pathetic look, shaking his head and shrugging his shoulders.

He turned away from the phone box and started walking across the street, every now and then (I was still pretending to be on the phone) he would look back at me and just shrug his shoulders and shake his head. 

I saw him get into this dirty brown van but I couldn't see the licence plate because it was from the side and I probably wouldn't have thought to get the licence plate number anyway being as naive and panicked as I was.

I ran like thunder back into the shopping centre looking for my mum and finally I found her and told her what had happened, I was actually traumatised but I'm sad to say that my mum didn't take any of what I had said seriously. She told me that I shouldn't have wandered off and gave me a lecture. 

Looking back, the police should have been called because this guy was a nutcase and shouldn't have been walking the streets in my opinion. I have always hoped and prayed over the years that nobody came to any harm because of this person. I always kept an eye on the news in Leeds to see if anyone fitting his description was ever reported but I never came across anything. 

Gives me chills to this day to think that this guy might still be out there and that there is people like this out there. If you have young kids, keep them close when you're out shopping or visiting places because you never know the moment. 

If you see a child running away from an adult or an adult behaving suspiciously towards a child, try and do something about it, call the police, tell security if you're in a shopping centre. Check if the child is OK. 

When we watch movies it's easy to scream at the screen and say ''I would do this or I would do that'' but when you are actually in a real life situation like that you never know how you're going to respond. It's sad to me that I didn't shout out or talk to the nearest adult, maybe I thought they wouldn't do anything because my mum didn't take it seriously when I told her after it happened.

I've included a list of websites which include helplines and useful information if you think a child may be in danger or someone is behaving inappropriately with a child:

INHOPE (protecting children from online grooming)

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  1. I can't imagine how scared you must have been. I'm so glad you didn't come to any harm from him. It's really scary to think there are many living in our communities that we dont know about. Thanks for sharing something so personal x

    1. Thank you lovely for taking the time to read & comment. I do think that it's a parents right to be informed if these types of people are living within their community. It's scary nowadays too, you never know who's who x

  2. Wow another great post, I have tears in my eyes X

  3. I can only imagine how frightened and petrified you must have been having to go through that at such a young age, my heart broke for you reading this beautiful ♥︎ It's terrifying the amount of harmful and disgusting people out there in the world, and your post proves it. You are so courageous for sharing your story which must have been so hard. I'm so glad he didn't harm you but so sad and upset for you reading this as it's absolutely terrifying what you had to go through. Sharing your story is raising awareness and helping so many others out there, you're truly amazing xxx

    Sophie | soinspo xo