After 3 months of continual sexual harassment (verbal)?
By a teacher (I'm a high school senior.)
I finally became brave and decided to fight back and talk to school administration when my Mum told me to do it for the girls who might take his classes after me.
I didn't realize it, but it sucked the life out of me. I became an empty shell, I didn't want to listen to my favorite music, I was withdrawn, near the end I was numb, didn't want to get out of bed in the morning, zero concentration, sleeping 3-4 hours a night only, and didn't want to go to the barn (this has been a passion of mine my entire life, and my horse is everything to me).
How do you go back to normal after something like this? I feel like I am waking up from a three-month-long nightmare. I know I'll never get those three months back, but how can I put it behind me asap? I'm super lucky to have a wonderful mother I am very close to, and that my barn friends (all are older than me) are all very strong, supportive women who I view as extended family and role models who have been wonderful to me through this.
Wondering if anyone has any words of wisdom for struggling with feelings of guilt (I know this is ridiculous, but some days I feel like it was the wrong thing to do to say anything) and just feeling lost in general (YAY! I'm out of that situation. But real life has just kept on going without me during those 3 months, and jumping back in is tough!).
Also, the teacher is still at my school. Any practical words of advice for having to be in the same vicinity as your former abuser? (Only through May and then I'm out, and technically he's not supposed to have anything to do with me, but I'm still afraid for whatever reason...)
Wow, you poor thing! Good for you for doing the right thing and speaking up. It's too bad they didn't suspend the teacher for the duration of the school year. If it's too difficult to even be at school, I'm sure they would come up with an alternate way for you to participate off site.
It's not ridiculous to feel guilty, but it sounds like you have a good support network.
I would recommend you seek out a professional to help you sort through all of the feelings you have. Perhaps you can even find someone who specializes in working with people such as you.
You WILL get over it and put it behind you, but it may take a while, and that's okay. You sound like a strong, capable young woman and eventually, you will find you once again enjoy doing the activities you enjoy.
I think you need to find a good therapist so you can just get it all out. I can't imagine the pressure of reporting someone the way you did at such a young age (and GOOD for you!!!!) High school is a tough enough social and emotional gauntlet to traverse without that added crapola. It was an incredibly brave thing to do, but it sounds like it triggered some anxiety in you.
Continue to surround yourself with the strong and supportive people in your life. Talk to them. And find a good doc to chat with, and if you feel threatened or scared in anyway, listen to your gut. Often times, those "I don't know why I feel this way" feelings are instinct waving it's hand at you. Instinct isn't some woo-woo thing. It's your subconscious picking up on very small clues. Way better to be safe than sorry.
Above all, be proud of yourself for doing something many adults aren't willing or capable of doing. It was a very strong thing you did, and speaks loudly about your character.
Good for you - what you did took incredible strength and courage, and I'm sure that your mother is proud of you - I'M proud of you!
I agree with getting help from a therapist - a therapist will be able to help you with questions that arise, especially as time passes.
I'd also hope that you remember that by speaking out, you've likely kept someone else from having to endure in the future what you've already gone through.
It sounds like the barn is a great place for you to be right now - even if you have days when you don't feel like going, it's probably important to make yourself just go, even if it's just to do a short grooming session. Chances are you'll be feeling better by the end of the grooming - at least, that's how it's worked for me.
Stay mad. Don't let this asshat still have control over your feelings. You are the victim here and should be very proud of that you refused to let him take advantage his position. Time will help. As an ex-abused wife I found using my experience to council others helped a lot. Pray for piece of mind. It will come.
And remember: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Righteous_indignation
"I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted". - Anonymous
You did the right thing! Like others I am proud of you. Don't lose that now by accepting the "victim" role. It's the real world, people do bad stuff. You did what you needed to do. Now move on and refuse to let your past determine who you are today.
Put one foot in front of the other and determine how YOU are going to spend your days. Life will be very unpleasant for you if you let others determine how you are going to feel.
I'm also SO proud of you - you did something women much older than you are often unable to face.
Agree with the others who said therapy. Journaling may help.
Don't put yourself on a timeline. There is no right answer to "how long". It will take however long it takes, but look at it positively as a time for self awareness and learning more about yourself. Sometimes facing evil is a gift.
My daughter went through something like this, though it involved her classmates and teachers turned a blind eye to it. After confronting the principal with my DH we removed both daughters from that school. The daughter in question had 14 weeks left until graduation. She would have been second in her class, and even though her grades put her there at the new school because she transfered in at a late date she wasn't acknowledged. She was allowed to continue running track (she'd been state champion in her division the previous year) but the stress of it all, she got sick and lost, badly at regionals. She said watching people pass her who she'd previously beaten with ease was really tough.
BUT, she came home the first day of school and said "I smiled today at school, for the first time all year!" That alone was worth it. She didn't have therapy, maybe it would have been helpful. She was able to walk away from that school and never look back at it. She did have one or two friends that she has kept a casual contact with.
It took time. She looks back on it now, 15 yr later, as something that made her stronger. She is now a teacher and she has a very good insight in to things her students are dealing with and she is able to teach them how to cope with it.
She learned that you can't give people like that the power to ruin or control your life. That power is yours to control.
One thing I remarked in your post was your sense of urgency:
'but how can I put it behind me asap?'
I watched a lesson the other day in which a timid adult rider was struggling with feelings of discomfort to the left. 'I thought I was starting to get it but I know I'm all over the place. I think he's about to take off with me. How do I half halt when he's about to run out? I'm definitely on the wrong lead, right?'. From the ground her equitation looked fine. Her school horse requires a crop, and I don't know if he's even capable of jumping a cross rail.
'No Anna,' said her instructor, 'stay where you are. 'You don't want to half-halt, you want to keep your leg on. Porcupine is just stiff to his left and it will never feel as comfortable as it does going to the right'.
You've gone through a lot and it is very confusing and very uncomfortable. That doesn't mean you're not on the right lead. Give yourself a break and permission to feel guilty, bad and all the rest, knowing that your feelings are normal stages of the recovery process. Sometimes doing the right thing just feels bad. Otherwise, everyone would do it all the time!!
Congratulations on taking a difficult step to halt bad behaviour, and for putting your safety and that of others at the forefront. Congratulations, too, on taking the initiative to assemble a community (mother, barn, internet; you've gotten sound advice here to consider adding a therapist to your team) to support your efforts to regain your balance.
First, thank you to all who have replied thus far, I greatly appreciate your support.
Second, I will definitely follow up on adding a therapist to my support network, thank you for suggesting this.
Third, to those who are wondering, I have not been notified of any repercussions for the teacher. Whether this is SOP because of the possible criminal nature of the case or whether the school is going to let this slide, I do not know. I go to a very small, country school, and I know things are not dealt with "by the books" very often. My mother works for a school district in a large and, admittedly rough, city, and so she's been great to have through this because she knows what is supposed to happen (because the district is so large, everything must be done according to procedure), so she's keeping an eye on things.
I'm not even supposed to tell anyone at school what happened, which bothers me: what if someone else is going/has been through this and is too scared to speak out?
I was assured that, "Student safety is a number one priority throughout this process," but he's still teaching, still having students at, "tutoring," (we need a puking face, mods).
He is a charmer (they all seem to be) and so I believe he's managed to talk his way out of a lot, just from what my mother's said about the meetings she's been having with people from the school district.
Thinking about this and knowing that many of the people (women, mostly) on this board have school-aged children: keep an eye on your child, if something doesn't seem right, don't let it slide. And never, EVER, do what so many people told my Mum to do and, "hope it goes away." Was I supposed to wait until the abuse turned physical? HELL no.
But therein lies the problem. How did I let it go on for so long? Because you think, "Maybe if I do this one thing, it will stop. Maybe if I change this one thing about me, it will stop. Maybe... it will stop."
It won't. They just keep picking away at the boundaries you've established until you have none left.
Fourth, to those of you who have posted about personal experiences or the experiences of loved ones, I absolutely wish you all the best, because (unfortunately) I have an idea of how hard it is after.
Thank you! Somehow, part of the healing process is saying, "HEY! This is what happened to me, and I can't change it, but maybe someone has some insight, and maybe if I put this out there, it might not happen to someone else."
My good Lord, child, you are a HEROINE for speaking up.
My advice would be get to a therapist ASAP, NOT necessarily b/c you sound like you need it (you don't, you sound remarkably level-headed) BUT b/c a skilled therapist will know how to advocate for you, not only w/ the school authorities but also with your mom, who really should have had you out of that school and into a private one long before now IMO. A therapist will also know exactly how to document things for the school board and whatnot.
Your instinct is correct that very small country schools DO let this stuff slide on occasion - yours is not by any means the only story I've heard where the principal and school board refused to do anything to help a young person. Then too, the wheels of law often grind slowly, and that is NOT your fault or anything you should have to continue to deal with.
IMO there is no EARTHLY reason why you should stay at that school if you're uncomfortable for one millisecond. Even if money is a problem, half a semester's private school tuition isn't going to break anybody's bank! Alternatively, ask your therapist, guidance counselor and/or parent(s) if homeschooling would be an option.
God bless and huge hugs. You hang in there.
"The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief
Having dealt with a family member who was sexually abused as a child and never dealt with it to an adult, I agree with everyone on find a good therapist now!!!! A good therapist will be a huge help in coping with what you have been through.
Did you make a police report yet? If the police have not been involved then they need to be brought in this ASAP. Once they are involved it will be harder for the school to sweep it under the rug.
Oh and do NOT keep quiet about this! If you feel comfortable enough talking about it then do it. I can almost guarantee that you are not alone. If he was inappropriate with you, you can bet there is someone else at that school that he has also been out of line with. If they see one person with the courage to come forward then that may be just the nudge they need to come forward too.
Good luck and kudos to you for standing up and doing the right thing!!!
"You are under arrest for operating your mouth under the influence of
ignorance!" Officer Beck