Was It Sexual Abuse? (triggers)

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2003
Was It Sexual Abuse? (triggers)
6
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 2:42pm
Hello Everbody. I am new here.

Feel kind of silly asking this, but in my head I still keep wondering how I could have let this happen and why I kept quiet about it for so long. I try to think that maybe what happened wasn't bad and that I overreacted.

In my senior year of high school, my music teacher, whom I had learned from for the enire 4 years of high school, started coming on to me, verbally and physically.

I highly respected and liked this teacher and became very confused by his actions toward me.

I was 17 years old, but was relatively naive about men and had dated very little. I went to school events and dances, and had only gone out with people my own age.

This teacher was 28 or 29 years old at the time. He was not good-looking, and I was not in the least attracted to him nor did I have a school-girl crush on him. I did regard him as a friend, but always kept in mind that, until I was out of high school, he was still my teacher.

The first time I felt uncomfortable with him - our music ensemble was performing at Disneyland, and after our work was done, we were all free to enjoy the amusement park. At the ride the Bobsleds/Matterhorn - I climbed into one of the cars, and this teacher climbed in behind me. If you know this ride you know there isn't much time between when you get in and when it starts going...so I didn't have a chance to jump out of the car or even think about it. I just held on to the front and made sure I wasn't leaning on him. He said something like, "c'mon, relax," and pulled me back up against him and wrapped his arms around my waist. I felt very trapped. Even worse - I felt - or at least I thought I felt - his male part against my back. I had/have no idea if he was having an erection or what or if one could even feel that just by being pressed up against a man like that, even if he was not erect. In any case - I was grossed out.

Later I chastised myself for being an immature girl and for overreacting. I have had a hard time trusting my instincts with men and my perception of advances, wanted or unwanted, since then. I also thought I was overreacting because this happened in public, with friends, classmates, and even parent chaperones around. I thought I was going crazy. There were other times, and I won't go into all of them. One other example was when I was trying to tie a man's necktie on myself for a particular performance's costume. He came up behind me and started doing it for me...again his arms around me, stood very close behind, and I could have sworn he was caressing my neck and shoulders. But again I wasn't sure and this time there wasn't really anyone around - but we were at school, in the music classrooms.

All of this occurred starting about one-third into my senior year and up until graduation. I was miserable all that time, and am a bit bitter now because I was supposed to be enjoying my last months as a carefree teenager...not only because I was graduating, but because all my hard work up 'til then was paying off - I was valedictorian, popular with my classmates and in the community, and had colleges and scholarships begging me to be a part of their communities. Essentially I could do no wrong. I struggled with what I should do (now it seems so obvious that I should have spoken up right away), but in the end told myself that I was going off to college soon and wouldn't have to deal with him anymore, pretty much convinced myself that I had overreacted, and most importantly, I knew that this teacher was a role model for many "misfit" type kids who gravitated to the music department because they needed to belong somewhere. I felt that I couldn't be the one to take away their fragile idealism and was also vaguely aware of the uproar I could cause in the school and the community. Have felt like a cowardly nincompoop ever since.

Did well in college - but one day in junior year - was trotting across campus going from my part-time job to class, when I looked up and THERE HE WAS. To this day, I am not sure if it was really even him. It was a possibility because I had heard from former classmates that my former teacher would join them to play in music "gigs" sometimes on campus and in the area's clubs.

That moment, which lasted maybe half a second - felt like 5 minutes, at least. I felt like someone had boxed me in the head by clapping their hands over both my ears. I couldn't breathe. I did not stop even a moment, didn't say anything to this person, and continued walking and didn't look back. By the time I got to my lecture hall, I felt better, and rather silly. However, after that day, I started having nightmares - usually with a faceless "boogeyman" doing something akin to poking me in the back, and it was painful, and no matter what I did I could not turn around to look at his face, and it was pitch black, so I couldn't see anyway. I also spent more and more time at my work (lab job - so easy to do) didn't keep a social life and started having low moods and crying spells for no apparent reason.

I have had one serious relationship since then (5+ years), and my counselor - whom I've seen occaionally for about 4 years now, told me about 3 years ago that it was a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship. I agreed to some extent but of course ended up staying with person even after a couple of dramatic break-ups. My former partner had told me time and again that I needed counseling, needed to deal with all this "stuff," I agreed for the most part. However, to my surprise, confusion and disappointment, he has not been supportive of my efforts to deal with the past now that I have decided to do so, and tells me I am not getting any better. I feel that I cannot have a healthy relationship - with anyone - until I get this thing from my past resolved or at least come to better terms with it.

I recently started weekly counseling to deal with this problem because obviously it won't go away by itself, as I'd hoped. Even though this happened several years ago, the counselor was still required to file a report (probably collecting dust somewhere) when I finally chose to reveal the name of this man, especially since I have learned that he is still teaching - recently started at a junior high. I don't want any more kids than may already have been victimized all these years to get hurt anymore. It seems I can't just go charging into the school flinging accusations around, but at least it is on record now, so if anyone else decides to report, there will already something on file.

Please somebody tell me if I am doing the right thing, or if I am just silly and need to grow up already and move on from this thing which has plagued me for the last 10 years.

Sorry for the long post. Thanks for reading / listening.

gupp

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 4:03pm
It sounds like abuse to me. I can see how you might think that maybe he wasn't doing those things to be perverted, that maybe it was innocent, but that is what men like that do. They refrain from doing things so obvious because if you were to say something about it, he could turn it around and claim that it was nothing, but what he did was totally innappropriate. Men in his position are aware of teenage girls' and they are generally carefull not to do anything that might be misconstrued. If he came up behind you like that, whether he had an erection or not, he was trying to be slick and cop a feel. The most important thing is how it made you FEEL. You felt abused, so it was abuse. I suggest discussing it with your counselor because a lot of the problems you described with relationships sounds like typical experiences of victims, and counseling really helps you change the patterns by helping you heal from your experiences. As for guilt about not reporting it earlier, well, sadly, it probably wouldn't be enough to really get him in trouble. It depends on what state you are in I guess. Plus, many victims don't report for the same reason as they feel "crazy" or think, "it wasn't that bad." It is easy to say, report anything that even feels inappropriate, but when it actually happens to you, it isn't that easy. Heck, if I reported any possible innappropriateness I experienced in high school from men or students, I would be reporting things every day! It is sad that these things go on so much, but that doesn't make it right or any less painful to experience.

God Bless,

LilBit
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 6:12pm
Thank you...I would like to hang out at this board for a while if that's ok...

gupp

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 7:23pm
Of course it's okay!! Hi, welcome to our board. There's not much I can add to what's already been said. She's right when she said these perps are so slick as they hide their true intentions. We're the ones who are left questioning our reality and it sucks. You're situation sounds so abusive to me, too. This man definitely crossed the lines!

Well, I'm glad you're here. I think you'll understand you're not alone as you read some of the posts. Feel free to lurk or post, whatever you feel comfortable doing. There are incredibly powerful and wise women here.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 1:01am
Thank you to those of you who have replied. It really does help to have that validation. My family is supportive with respect to my counseling and "dealing with it" but they would rather not hear me talk about it and I guess I don't really blame them.

When I named the teacher who abused me in high school, my counselor filed the report as mandated by the law. Since then he has spoken with the local law enforcement of the city where my high school is, and although the law enforcement person acknowledged that, if true, then what happened was "wrong," it was not something would investigate, especially after 9 years after the fact. I kind of expected this stance by the law enforcement, as there is no proof or anything. Also, the teacher left after I graduated and started teaching at another high school in a neighboring city (different school district), so it is literally no longer their problem, but the new city's. He was at the new high school for about 4 years and has just started teaching at a middle school or junior high in the same area. I know of his movements because I looked at the schools' websites online and the general picture is that this teacher is as popular as he was in my school. Same old story. Makes me sick. I have no idea if he is married, if there have been others since me, if the reason he is teaching at this third school is beacuse he thinks he won't be tempted by the younger less developed population. I do worry about what might be going on...but I don't know how to approach this problem. Yes the report is filed already, so there will be an existing record if anyone else reports on him. But I don't know if the record only pertains to the city where the abuse occurred or if the new schools will ever even be aware of the report. Should I arrange to meet with the school(s) in this city that he is in now and raise the red flag? I know I will risk some public humiliation and probably a law suit for doing that, but I don't know if it is right for me to not do anything else about this.

Have also pondered going back to my high school and discussing the problem with the administration or the wschool district. I want to make sure there are processes in place to protect the kids and where the kids can go and feel safe IF something should happen. When I was there there were guidance counselors, but they were for career planning, not emotional or social help. I am worried that, in effort to protect themselves from bad publicity, that no one will pay any attention to what I say and would just be happy to not know, cover up or whatever - especially since the school board now and the principal of the school now are different people.

The one thing I have in my favor is that I was a model student, and what reason would I have for bringing up allegations which might only serve to humilate myself if they were not true? I do worry that someone will try to make me look like a bitter young woman who is taking revenge on her former instructor for whatever reason, or that I am looking for someone to blame for how awful my life has been since then - and maybe I am - but foremost in my mind is that there should be an awareness of WHAT is RIGHT and WRONG, and that even the model picture of decency doesn't always fit. It is sad, but kids need to be wise to the world - I wasn't, despite being an intelligent and usually perceptive individual - at least not at that age.

Any ideas or thoughts on my ramblings would be appreciated. Take care everyone.

gupp

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 9:25am
I can understand how you feel about doing something to prevent this in the future. As long as this isn't a way of diverting your deeper healing then I say go for it. Oh heck, even if it is, so what. Just do whatever you feel you need to do.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 10:06am
Welcome! I *don't* think you're over-reacting. You were made to feel unsafe and preyed upon. I think it's admirable that you are willing and courageous enough to work through these issues. What you wrote reminds me of something that happened to me at my job when I was a senior in high school. The boss's son, who was about 10 years older than me, did things like that, and I thought I had to put up with it. I don't think I ever even *thought* of saying anything to anyone. Like it wasn't even an option for me to say no. Last I heard, he was running for town council. I hope he lost. :o)