Whenever a light had been shined on me in the past it had never been a good thing. All of the wrong people seemed to be the only ones to ever pay attention to me. Even now, I still feel anxious around strangers and acquaintances. I still deal with that hypervigilance that comes from suffering through trauma, always waiting for it to happen again. I’m much better about dealing with it, but it’s still there. It always will be. When the world has learned to only search for the superficial the only ones who can look deeper are those who would turn it to such dark purpose. And those that they injure. People were largely oblivious to processes, sources, and depth. That’s why they rarely noticed the signs. That’s why things like suicide, assault, rape, and addiction tended to come as a surprise. They’d never learned how to look. Only the predators learned how to look. The prey often consisted of those who were able to see early on. Rarely, I suppose if one of them wasn’t around, would the predators cull the oblivious. But see, the predator needs a place to hide. They need the oblivious to blend in with and take their prey unawares. Both predator and prey became chameleons. They used the regular crowd for relief, to pretend, to forget. The one who committed boundary violations against another person was a conman, a robber just as surely as anyone who stole goods. They scoped out a body like they were casing a joint, determined to find any weakness, any way inside. They set up the game like the conman, setting out the bait before hooking someone. Instead of taking money or goods, they took power and autonomy. That’s why so many victims and survivors, and everyone else, were always taken by surprise and rarely caught on before it was too late. The con and the rape required deception, opportunity, and a sense of entitlement. They required trust. Where most normal people believed that the only violations that could occur required the guilty party to be overtly violent and a completely depraved stranger, most survivors know that it is more likely to be someone that they trust. All that the predator needs is a sense of safety in order to perpetrate. They balance the likelihood of being caught against their desire and wait for the opportunity. All they needed was an excuse and the time. And the best way to ensure that was to establish at least a temporary rapport with the object of one’s affection. Access and an easy escape lowered the chances of being called out. If the victim maintained their dirty little secret because they had dared to trust them before the act then the exit was clearly laid out. By the time they would realize they’d been swindled, stolen from, and betrayed the perpetrator would be long gone, back hiding in the crowd, and free from persecution. By the time the value of all that had been lost was accounted for the predator had already found others to con and violate.