FIRST crushes and first love, they say, hit the deepest, and are usually a feature of the teenage years when hormones try to get the best of us. Most times the object of affection is a fellow teenager, one who can relate to the turbulence of adolescence. But too often, that love interest is older — a person who, looking back, introduced us to the world of the inappropriate.
These women, on looking back at some of the people they were involved with as teenagers, now realise that the men were nothing but predators, and share their stories below.
Chelsey, 27, operations manager:
Things never got to the dating stage, but my high school teacher would always tell me how he thought he was born in the wrong decade because I would have been his ideal wife. He would take away my possessions, or books I was sneak reading, and I would go to his office after school to retrieve them, which is when most of our conversations took place. It felt good to be noticed. I enjoyed talking to him, and we did it most times for an hour or more. The conversations were definitely, on reflection, inappropriate. For example, he would make suggestions about the type of man I was really into, the kind of sex I would like, and the areas on my body he felt a man would find most desirable.
He eventually got married and left the school and so that was the end of that. I have since realised that for a year of my life something that felt so good should not have happened.
Geena, 25, stay-at-home mom:
I met him when I was 14 and he told me that he was 18 at the time. At the time I just thought I was very intelligent for my age, and that's why he liked me. I lost my virginity to him at 15, and by 17 I was spending weekends at his house washing and cooking for him. I found his ID in his pants one day, and according to his date of birth he was three years older than he'd told me. I later found out that he was fooling around with a younger girl in the community, and I cut him off when I started university.
Lichelle, 37, computer technician:
In fifth form this older man drove me down a couple times and offered me rides, and initially I declined, but soon he became so persistent that I accepted. That led to him dropping me home most days, and then even sometimes coming to my school to pick me up. The other girls were so impressed that I had a boyfriend who drove, even more when I told them that he was a big lawyer! He was my first real boyfriend and Rodney's Arms was our spot. But it fizzled out after my mother found out and threatened to call the police on him. He disappeared from my life after that. At that time I was mad at my mom, but looking back now I wonder what was I thinking!
Penny, 35, make-up artist:
At 13, I had a crush on my older sister's boyfriend, who was her age — 27. He would bring me gifts when he visited her. I guess he realised that this little girl loved him and he took advantage. He would come by all the time when she wasn't home and invite me to watch movies with him — 'blue' movies. And then he would tell me not to tell my sister. This went on for a couple years, and he didn't do anything except hold my hand while we watched the movies, and I never told my sister. All the while I was getting extra lunch money, clothes and fast food. I didn't even realise anything had been wrong until I was in college, and by that time they had long broken up.
Paula, 38, writer:
This was my IT teacher in sixth form and to be honest, when you're that age a teacher paying attention to you is exhilarating. He would comment on how perky my breasts were, and how good I looked in my skirt, and one day while he was invigilating my exam he sat there and drew a picture of me, which he later presented to me, and which I hung up in my room for years after. Then one time I was alone in the IT lab and he started rubbing my shoulders and his hand migrated to my breasts. He only stopped when another student walked in. Our 'relationship' didn't go beyond that, but it was when I was older and a boyfriend commented on the drawing (which was still hanging on the mirror of my dresser) and I explained to him who the artist was, that he explained to me that it was more perverted than admirable. That's when I saw the 'relationship' for what it was.
Tamara, 40, nurse:
My first boyfriend was 46 and I was 16. I loved him a lot and he put me through college and bought me my first car. It didn't seem inappropriate to me at the time, but after he died and his children came from overseas and started passing remarks, I guess that's the first time it hit me that our relationship was inappropriate.