The guest blog this week was written by one of our staff members. It is an incredibly candid blog that looks deeply into the ‘John’s’ side of this issue.
I was married once. I met him when I was 18 years old. He was tall, good-looking, had dark hair, green eyes, and a dimple on his right cheek. My son has his dimple. We met through mutual friends, quickly became friends, and somewhere along the way I blurted out ‘I love you’ and he told me he’d loved me for a while. So we did what people in love do…we got married.
He was a good husband, and I was a happy wife. We both had respectable jobs. We had friends that we hung out with and families that we saw on the weekends. He was known as a “good guy.” Someone who’d help anyone who needed him, loved to joke around, laughed easily and a lot. Couldn’t hold his liquor so he didn’t drink it. We attended church every Sunday and sometimes on Wednesday. We sat in the second pew from the front to the right.
I remember one time I had the flu and I felt terrible. I woke up one night to feel his hand over mine. He was kneeling by the bed, eyes closed. He was praying for me. My fever broke shortly after that.
The babies took a long time to get here, but they came along in time. Our first, a daughter, had a rather dramatic entry. The entire drive to the hospital my husband told me it would “be alright” and I believed him. He held her all through the night, reluctantly giving her to the nurse early in the morning for her check up. A surprisingly short time later, he was taking pictures of our newborn son, rushing to his work to show them off to his friends and coworkers.
I remember him letting me sleep in on Saturdays while he watched cartoons with the kids. I remember his tolerance of my insistence that all presents from Santa be wrapped in different paper than we’d used for our presents under the tree; in case they realized it matched and became suspicious. We had that discussion when my daughter was three. I remember the year both the kids got bikes for Christmas and we stayed up till three in the morning while he wrestled directions, missing parts, extra parts and wobbly handle bars.
I also remember the day the police officers came to our door. My husband was arrested. There was an investigation and then a trial. He was found guilty.
Over the course of a six-month period, he had (on several occasions) sex with the teenager down the street. She was 13 years old, and he knew it. He’d given her money, bought her things, paid for her to go skating and even dropped her off at the skating rink. How do you drop off a teenager at the skating rink and then have sex with her in the car before you take her home? Who was this man?
This was not the man who got up before his wife to turn on the coffee pot so it was ready before she got out of bed. Not the man who lived in my house, loved our children, took the trash out every Thursday, mowed the yard during the summer and raked it during the fall. There was no way I could reconcile that man to the man who had done this.
He was sentenced to seven years in prison. The girl and her family moved. The town talked.
I lost my job. We lost our house. When the men from the church came to pack up our furniture, they found pornography magazines hidden under the mattress, behind the dresser, between the cushions of the chair in our room.
Our marriage didn’t survive it.
So many times when we think about what a “John” looks like, we think of some sleazy scumbag. But the reality is, and studies prove it, a majority of men who buy sex from underage girls are upper middle class professionals. These men work in the same office as us, go to the same church as us, and live in the same subdivisions as us. The reason a “John” is called a “John” is because he’s just an ordinary, average guy. One in the long line of “Johns” who will pay a pimp to have sex with a young girl, then get in his midsize sedan, drive home to his three bedroom, two bath home, kiss his wife and kids and go on about his life. His wife, his family, and his friends are clueless. Not because they are stupid, but because it wouldn’t even enter their minds he might do something like that.
The last thing I want to do is have every church member suspicious of the man in the pew in front of him, every neighbor keeping their teenagers locked in their rooms till they graduate, or every staff member searching their fellow staff members office for porn. I don’t want wives terrified their story will be my story. But the reality of supply and demand means that as long as there is a demand, there will be a supply. To stop the trafficking of girls and women, those that provide the demand must be stopped. It’s time for us to realize, this is not happening “out there,” it is happening here. It’s time for men to stop making excuses for themselves, to realize these girls are victims and that they are the victimizers as well as the traffickers. It’s time for men to realize they might need help and accountability. It’s time for men to be a voice…to say, “This is not okay.”
My husband’s name was not “John”
He had a name, a family, a life.
When he became a “John,” he lost it all.
If you are in bondage to sexual sin, or know someone who is, there are many programs out there to help you. Here are a couple:
HopeQuest out of First Baptist Woodstock
Matt Snyder (Abolitionist Leader for men in the fight against human trafficking)