We Still Don’t Have Enough

thighInappropriate relationship between teacher and student: it’s an epidemic nowadays. Lately the news has been plastered with arrests from all over the country. Scandalous text messages, off-campus encounters, accusations swelling from behind classroom doors.

“I’m shocked!”

“I know some people are just sick, but him?! I can’t believe it!”

Do we ever really see these things coming? Sometimes, perhaps. I went to high school with a kid whose favorite pastime was talking about and looking at pictures of guns (a mere ten years later such a thing would be raising every flag in the book), but he never entered the hallways wielding one. We can never really be sure who will end up doing what appalling thing. Maybe they never suspect it themselves, until the opportunity is set in front of them, and they are given two choices. What are the odds they choose the right one?

Each of us may be holding on to some dark aspect of ourselves we don’t yet know about. Scary, huh? If the situation ever arises, just be sure to let your morals do the talking (unless you don’t have any, in which case there’s no question of what the choice will be, right?).

Watching these things happen from a distance is one thing, but when it occurs at home base, it’s something entirely different. Unfortunately, my high school has now been added to the list. What’s more, the accused attended school there before becoming a teacher years later. A close friend of mine dated him when we were all innocent teenagers in the drama club. Everything was normal. Do you ever see these things coming?

I graduated in 2006, and have not seen or heard anything of this man since then, besides that he landed a job at the school, met a girl and got married. Now this, via Facebook yesterday afternoon. My jaw hit the floor with a soft thump when I pulled up the article. Regardless of passing time, when you see a familiar name below such a horrific headline, it punches you in the gut. Our high school never had the best reputation to begin with (not sure why, I thought it was great), and now this.

All of that aside, of course these accusations remain – at this time – just that. Accusations. And while I haven’t seen much talk circulating across social media, a friend (via Facebook) mentioned some nasty comments were going around about the young girl representing the other side of the situation. You know, the typical slut-shaming sort of comments.

(not direct quotes):

If she was a willing participant then she wasn’t raped.

She’s probably lying.

Messing with a teacher? What a whore.

Why didn’t she tell anyone sooner?

***

Do we have to remind everyone that he plays the role of adult here, and she plays the role of child? Regardless of her level of willingness, the ultimate outcome was up to him.

Bullshit. All of it.

That friend said it best:

“This is the last and only thing I’m going to say about what is happening with [him]. I looked up to him as a teacher, mentor and friend my years in [school] and years after. I know it was the same for many of my fellow students in the performing arts department. And what is happening is a hard pill to swallow.

Obviously, there is enough evidence against him that he is being charged with multiple things. And while I pray everything is not true, I must say this.

When anyone finds out or if anyone knows who the girl is that these charges are stemming from, you better leave her the fuck alone.

When someone makes an accusation of being molested/sexually assaulted/etc. you do not call them a liar. You do not call them a slut. You don’t say they were asking for it. You also don’t say they should have spoke up sooner.

You have no right. And anyone who says those things about a girl who could be emotionally hurting right now is a piece of shit.

No one knows what the truth is.
Sometimes good people do bad things. And maybe a teacher we looked up to did something bad.

Don’t make a possible honest victim feel like shit because you just can’t believe it.”

***

If this victim is not a victim, the flip side is just as horrible. In that case, a man’s reputation is forever ruined over nothing; because even if these things did not happen, the question of “what if” will forever hover over his head. But whatever the truth is, the two people at the center of it all are hurting right now – not to mention their loved ones on the sidelines. (And unless proven otherwise, she is the victim.)

But please, regardless of the outcome, remember this. Shaming someone for coming forward is wrong. Put yourself in their shoes. It’s embarrassing, it’s difficult, it shines an unwanted spotlight directly into their lives. And when you know nothing of what occurred, you have zero right to open your big dumb mouth and spew nonsense.

I know it’s been said a thousand times, but I just wanted to sprinkle a tiny bit more awareness of sexual assault victims on the atmosphere, because it seems we still don’t have enough.

Click here for more information on spreading the word.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “We Still Don’t Have Enough

  1. (And unless proven otherwise, she is the victim.) Well, actually, you’re innocent until proven guilty in our legal system.

    But emotionally, I totally agree with you – he’s probably gonna fry.

  2. When I was in high school, there were at least three different girls…and at least one boy…that we “all” knew were having inappropriate relationships with teachers…and we were jealous! The kids either wanted to be “the one”, or were mad that we couldn’t compete. One of the teachers went out of his way to be a mentor to several boys, including me, and he genearlly gave thoughtful, sound advice; we all knew what he was doing – but that didn’t matter to us. Perspective is a strange thing…what is obviously wrong to adults looks perfectly normal to a teenager – maybe being exploited is just part of the expectation when you know you are not in control of your own life yet.

    That same teacher eventually lost his job, bit not over the girl (they got married after he left). He was using the school’s purchasing accounts to buy raw materials to manufacture methamphetamine…”Breaking Bad”, only 20 years ahead of TV…we knew that too, but we sure weren’t gonna tell; the teacher was young enough that we identified with him over the administration…I guess more of that adolescent short-sightedness.

    I’m not trying to condone or justify his actions – they were undeniably wrong. but people who throw accusations in all directions should realize that it isn’t so black-and-white when you are on the inside; that’s all I am saying.

  3. Mel Mel

    This was beautiful, Nicole. 💗

  4. I read this the other day while sitting at a Panera drive thru and kept meaning to come back and tell you how I enjoyed it (enjoyed is probably not the right word… appreciated it?) I’ve had this same sort of experience… there are a lot of these sorts of scandals in my hometown as well and it’s upsetting to see many of the reactions that come after the news gets out.

  5. These things shouldn’t happen and they do….just like other crimes 😦 Wish somebody had a magic wand to put everything right!

  6. Lili

    I like that you’re able to view this from a different perspective than many others. Often when something like this is in media, people will either slut-shame the victim, or speak offensively about the accused. I don’t think either behavior is fair and it doesn’t really help anyone. No one except those two know what really happened- it’s yet to be found out, which is why there will be hearings, time in court and so on.

    Also, it’s like you and your friend say: if she’s a victim, coming forward is a very brave thing to do. And if she’s not a victim, it’s just as horrible because his life might be ruined forever. But until anyone knows for sure, why must people accuse either one of lying? It is most likely a very stressful situation for everyone involved. Their lives are all over media. It can’t be fun, no matter what happened. Nasty comments don’t make it easier.

    People like to think that they are SO perfect. That they don’t have any dark desires and they could never do anything bad. That’s why it’s so easy to point fingers when something like this happens. However, I believe us humans are far more complicated than Good Guy or Bad Guy. (I don’t remember which movie it comes from but the lines go: “There are no good or bad guys. There’s just a bunch of… guys.” It’s an awesome quote.)

    There’s a subconscious in all of us and there is a future we yet don’t know anything about. I’m sure that under the “right” circumstances, most people could do something bad. It’s like you write:

    “Each of us may be holding on to some dark aspect of ourselves we don’t yet know about.”

    • Lili,

      Thank you so much for your comment. It makes me happy to find other people who feel this way; we cannot make any assumptions about either party, because like you said, only THEY know exactly what happened. I feel horrible for both sides, no matter the outcome.

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