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2006/5/4, not at all a dream, by Wayan

Dr. William H. Ayres, convicted child molester.

I got a letter from my mom days ago, but I just wouldn't open it; didn't know why. Now I do. It's a press clipping about Dr William Ayres, the child psychiatrist who my parents forced me to see for three years, age 10 to 12--bullies had cracked my rib in our public middle school, and my parents' response wasn't to put me in a safer school, but to call me paranoid and send me to Ayres.

Now he's under multiple criminal indictments alleging he molested his clients, all boys. He began with a pretext--a physical exam including a hernia test: holding testicles and having the boy cough. Did that to me too, though it didn't upset me much since he acted neutral, professional, and I was emaciated, sickly; assumed it was justified. But victims' stories all start that way and go on gradually into sexual exploitation. One boy accused him at the time but his parents disbelieved him--a prestigious doctor versus a troubled kid! Those sent to him by the school district or child welfare bureau as problem kids were particularly vulnerable--who's gonna believe them? Most victims waited till they had legal and financial independence and could accuse him safely. By which time the statute of limitations had run out.

Why didn't he go further with me? I was a bit younger than all the reported victims. Also, I was a private patient, and thus a cash cow compared to the school-district's rates. Age and class/money may have saved me. Well, half-saved.

My dreams didn't warn he was a sexual predator--they feared his therapeutic designs on me. One epic dream, Titania, had "the Devil of Social Adjustment" living in his office! Mostly my dreams felt he pushed the same values as my teachers--how to fit in and act normal, how to suppress my real self.

I never trusted him, though I got to where I could mildly enjoy the sparring game I played to fend him off. Both my dreams and my waking memories of him saw him as manipulative, but not abusive. Yet during the years he saw me, sexualizing every conversation but keeping his hands to himself, it seems he was selectively molesting his more vulnerable patients.

I instinctively hid my vital issues from him for three years: my shamanic dreams, my family's strong streak of ESP and its resulting boundary problems, my gender dysphoria (I was strongly femme), being a fur (species dysphoria!)... instead I talked about getting bullied in school; it was legitimate cover. To steer him away from my sexual feelings I alternated between obliviousness and ten-year-old gross-out. I acted my chronological age (not my hormonal, emotional, or intellectual age--all considerably older, though not in sync!)... using my appearance and precocity against him. I recall consciously thinking stuff like "Oops, that was too negative, he'll see anxiety about sex rather than immaturity there." Tried hard to portray myself as presexual so he'd not probe too far. It worked, too. He tried to draw me out socially, no more. I'm sure he knew I hid deeper stuff by doling out safer problems to distract him, but he couldn't pry my shell open.

I knew my parents couldn't be relied on to protect me. Truth is, he COULD have molested me and they wouldn't have believed me. They trusted experts.

So I fended him off, playing a waiting game. I acted like I was slowly improving when I wasn't. Bullying continued even in high school, but I was safer there. It was so huge, there were enough gifted students to justify AP classes (though they weren't called it openly). My bullies weren't in them; fewer opportunities to hit me. And as I grew, being two years younger than my classmates mattered less. I pretended it was Ayres who'd helped, and convinced my parents I could do without more such "help".

Years of weekly sparring with an abuser I didn't consciously register as such! Well, took for granted as the sleazy average I could expect from adults. Did successfully, if barely, evading molestation still affect me, did Ayres get to me? I think he did:

  1. Sex and social life: for three crucial years when I most needed to reach out, I had to shut down. Drawing either his or parental attention felt dangerous. Even crushes (let alone try to date or find a girlfriend) might give him an opening wedge. I stayed inactive because my instincts whispered "Be silent, be still. Lie low." Years later, am I still hiding in the underbrush from him?
  2. Power and politics: bone-deep mistrust of authorities. Getting treated as a freak in school had already taught me to avoid and hide, but Ayres hardened it from tactic to iron law.
  3. Deceit: Ayres was, horribly, a role model. He split himself into a respectable shell hiding a closeted abuser. So even when he wasn't necessarily plotting to molest a kid, as in my case, he taught the dishonesty he lived. He pushed me (and others) to adjust, fit in, fake normality... not be myself. Lying shaped his worldview shaped his therapy shaped me. I've struggled for years to quit assuming my real self must be locked up as criminal. He taught it sincerely--since his was.
  4. Self-defense: I expect evil, I'm resigned to it... if it leaves me a private life. But if baddies try to own me, I snap violently. I assume I'm fighting total evil. Seeing a predator exploit social rules the way Ayres did left me both slow to dispute small injustices, yet ready to demonize consistent abusers; I don't expect any core of basic decency. My faith we're all in it together was wrung out of me over three dreary cat-and-mouse years. Having known one monster, I expect more.
Sheesh. No wonder I tend to go it alone. Thanks, Doc.


A website built by his victims tells the rest. Ayres molested boys as young as 9, as early as the 1960s. So it wasn't my youth or the stage of his career that saved me, but my parents' money, or my cunning, or both.

His trial? His lawyers stalled it for years, arguing Alzheimers' had left him incompetent to stand trial. In 2011 the case was dropped. But two years later, a judge heard evidence Ayres behaved quite differently outside the courtroom, and ruled he was competent. The trial resumed. Ayres was quickly convicted and spent the last three years of his life in prison. It seems utterly consistent he'd fake senility to stay out of jail. All his life he lied about himself for fun and profit; he openly preached it to me.

San Mateo county DA: "I've met few people I'd call truly evil. He was."

Evil? I saw him as no worse than my teachers. Do I now? Well... maybe they were evil too. I sure recall more malice from some--like that math teacher who faked my calculus exam results (he hated my dad--they were in a political battle--and took it out on me. My dad didn't bother to warn me. Is neglect evil?) Or that social studies teacher who falsely accused me of theft, trying to block my graduation (never learned HER motive; just dug up (literally; in our middle school's basement) physical proof she was wrong. But the principal went along with it, put the burden of proof on me, age 11. Teaching me that I was guilty until proven innocent. Evil?) And then there were my so-called peers who spat on, robbed and hit me. Like the boy I barely knew who jumped me in the library while I was reading, and kicked me hard enough to dislocate my rib. Now that hurt.

Ayres? Ayres was mediocre. In every sense.

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