The Curse of Cute

Recently I have been trying to avoid PTSD triggers. While I accept that therapy and meaningful recollection offers a route out of this mess; all too often one seems trapped in a vicious circle of escalating anxiety as if I have acquired a new dysfunctional behaviour.

So while I try to avoid what has become a habit of victim mentality, I try to remain open to new insights and to understand what happened.

While I remember events, their emotional context is in a constant flux. Sometimes I get it, but mostly it remains chaotic.

So realisations that offer some kind of clarification are still welcome, but I no longer chase them.

Last night I remembered how teachers encouraged me to play the clown in school performances. In lessons my presence was seen as a challenge,  not because I was naughty or disruptive, but more that my “cuteness” was a distraction. They put a silly oversized hat on me and had me play  the drums with floppy drumsticks and looking suitably bewildered. It worked. The parents let out a collective “awww” and I learnt a little about the magic of performance art. I was mostly unaware at that stage of what this cuteness meant, but was learning to harness its magic.

I must emphasise that I did not see myself as in any way special. I was shy, but thrilled and surprised by my power. Last night I realised that this must have been why I was popular. Other children also found me cute?

I have often wondered what was going on in the mind of the paedophile deputy head who groomed and then abused me. The word cute comes back at me, like a curse inviting the evil eye. As a ten year old I relished my power over an adult. But a year later I was no longer seen as cute and actually felt his hate. Maybe I was still cute, but, as an 11 year old, too old for him.


This account is personal and could be misleading in understanding the sexual abuse of children. For most abusers, cuteness may only be a minor factor. Instead they target the vulnerable. I guess I qualified on both counts.


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