Was It Sexual Abuse? (triggers)
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|Wed, 04-02-2003 - 2:42pm|
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.