My Trust Issues With Men, Part II: Un-Gentlemanly Callers

(Note: Sexual material ahead. I don’t think it’s too explicit, but you might not want to share it with your boss…)

I got trust issues with men. Not all men, and not all the time. Still, I got issues.

Example No. 2. I used to volunteer at a crisis hotline. It’s a great resource available to anyone in any situation they feel they can’t handle. Most call in just to talk, but the organization also makes referrals to community agencies, and we had a special program to assist survivors of rape. I answered phone calls and I was also one of the survivor advocates.

Now, one of the first thing a hotline volunteer learns on the job is that many of the calls that come in are made by the same group of people. We call them regulars. They may call once a week, once a day or even once an hour (and sometimes more). Many of these regulars really do need help. Some are paranoid schizophrenics who hear voices or believe the world is truly out to get them. Some are chronically lonely, or struggle with depression, or call us as an alternative to going back to the bottle or the rock. And while the regularity of their calls can be frustrating, I truly believed that being on the other end of that phone line for them was worthwhile.

But then there’s another sort of regular. We called them the masturbators. For reasons that became all too obvious.

Masturbators are manipulative. They’ll call and feed you a part of a story, wanting you to drag the rest out from them. They’ll lie. They’ll pretend they’re doing any manner of other thing while in reality, they’re yanking it. And those are the good ones. The truly vile masturbator callers don’t even try to hide it.

It’s not hard to see why they called the crisis line. They know they have a captive audience. We’re honor bound to answer their calls, even if they call several times in a night. Doesn’t mean we’ll stay on the phone, but each time we get a new crop of volunteers in, they don’t know if they’re talking to a masturbator or someone who is truly in crisis. And they take advantage of that willingness to do good. It was rare to have a shift go buy and not hear from one or more of them. And some would call up over and over and over, sometimes 10 times in a night. It is abuse, plain and simple.

I detest these men. Here are a few of their strategies:

  • The “you’d never guess what I’m doing” guy. These guys called and talked about things you’d think were so mundane, there’s no way they’d be spanking the monkey on the other end of the line. One liked to spell out words, saying he had trouble reading. But what he really wanted was to hear a woman (he hung up if a guy answered) say “mmhmm” or “uh-huh.” If you said that, he’d make this weird groaning sound that he said was caused by a brain injury. AND I BELIEVED IT. Until one day, I caught him making that groan and then saying, “oh, so good.” I froze, and curtly asked, “WHAT is so good?” He stammered. “You weren’t supposed to hear that,” he said. Yeah, busted.
  • The advice seeker. This guy called up purportedly asking for advice. You could usually spot them because they asked about things you never hear anyone else asking about. “I came home from work and saw my wife having sex with my dog.” Or, “my wife likes to take me to swinger parties, and I like to see her have sex, but I can’t get an erection. Is that normal?” Or, “What should I do? My sister walked in on me and my girlfriend having sex?” (After I heard the same guy ask that same question on three different nights, I simply said, “get a lock” and hung up.)
  • The ain’t no shame guy. He didn’t even try to hide it. “I’m feeling a lot of stress and masturbating helps me relieve it.” Well, great, dude. Now hang up and get busy. At least these guys were up front and transparent.

But by far, the absolute worst of these was the fake rape caller.

Some of these guys called up pretending to be women who were raped. Sometimes they just presented themselves as guys who caught their daughter or wife being raped (or here’s a twist, “I thought she was being raped but it turned out she liked it. Barf.) And before you ask, yes, I knew for sure they were lying. Because I’d talked to them too many times and I’ve heard the same stories – or variations of the same story – from the same men over and over. One guy thought he was being clever by trying to hide his voice behind several different kinds of accents, but he used the same words and same patterns of speech each time. Dumbass.

These guys I would gladly have reached through the phone line and choked them from the inside out if I could. I. Hate. Them.

Why?

Because the crisis center offers services to actual victims of rape. I have been to the hospital about 100 times to be with someone who was just raped. I’ve held their hands through the examinations, explained the legal process to them and their families, helped them create a safety plan for when they left the hospital, heard them retell their story to the police. I’ve spend hundreds of hours in one-on-one counseling sessions with them, watched them weep, watched them rage – and watched them heal.

I can’t tell you how important and how gratifying that work is.

But then, when some god damned loser calls in lying about rape just so he can get off while talking to me about it? I don’t know how to describe how much I detest them. They are scum.

And the worst part of it? Those men made me cautious about every other man who called the hotline. I didn’t want it to be that way. I didn’t like it being that way. But I got burned so often. So each time a man called in, there was a period of hesitancy before I trusted that his call was genuine. And they deserved better than that.

It’s a damned shame that a sick, entitled few made it more difficult for the rest of our male callers to get the help they needed. It wasn’t fair to anyone.

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5 comments

  1. Thank you for posting this. It’s horrible that men are using these crisis lines as a free phone sex hotline. Disgusting. I’m sorry you had to go through that, and I’m grateful for the good work you’ve done.

  2. margeaux

    And then there are M2Ts who want to work at these centers and hotlines. gee, I wonder why?

  3. I don’t think that is necessarily nefarious. I don’t think most trans* people do the kinds of things I listed above, just like most born men don’t. I will say, however, that what is common in nearly all the cases that these callers are men. That’s just the fact of it. But to your question, though, it’s not hard for me to imagine that someone who has gone through depression or oppression wants to give back by volunteering on a hotline. We heard that a lot in our training groups. And trans* people experience depression and thoughts of suicide at a rate greater than the general public,

  4. Oh I sooo feel you! I also volunteer at a distress line, we call them arousal callers. Such creepy, manipulative fuckers. One of our male trainers told us to stay respectful and just redirect the conversation, and that even though they are inappropriate, they clearly have issues, and so they need support. I tried being nice & redirective with these guys when I first started at the center, but it didn’t take long for me to get fed up with these bastards. I tried explaining to the trainer that it is a violation for female volunteers to pretend the call isn’t inappropriate and try to respect them, when they need to be told to show some RESPECT, or fuck off!

  5. That’s fucking foul. And I understand how it would make you wary. The same thing happened to me when I was a corrections officer. The population of sex offenders at the prison where I worked was unusually high because we had the only treatment program in the state. So we got all the SOs. You see predators male or female practicing their predation, you automatically start cataloging behavior patterns and it makes you wary. I had inmates who I wouldn’t speak with unless they had their hands where I could see them because they’d jerk off while talking to the female officers. Or they’d try to find a way to flash their dicks. They’d say you can’t lock up a man and expect him not to act that way. And then when I was raped, it was by someone I knew. Someone who was supposed to be my friend. I know there are good men in the world, but whenever I meet someone new…. I’m always cataloging their behavior and waiting for that one thing to happen that shows the nasty underneath.

    @Feminist Rag- Ugh, are you kidding me? I’d like to take that guy on a walkthrough of a female corrections facility. He’d come out with a much different opinion on that. When my husband took his tour (he’s still a CO, I write full time) he said walking through and having women expose themselves and speak to him the way they did, he said he had an idea of what it was like for me working at an all male facility and he didn’t know how I did it. Because he felt so violated and used, and there was no chance any of them were stronger or bigger than he was whereas in my case, that knowledge was always present.

    And to both of you who worked crisis lines, thank you.

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