When I was in high school I had a sexual relationship with a teacher for over a year… but I didn’t talk openly about it until I had a daughter of my own to protect.
I recently took a “Parenting Safe Children” workshop to learn how to prevent my daughter from being a victim of sexual abuse. I mostly took the class because I stumbled upon the ”registered sex offender list” for my little town and was floored to discover that I knew 2 of the 11 people listed. This revelation was shocking to me and scared me into taking the workshop.
At the workshop, some parents introduced themselves as sexual abuse survivors. But not me, I said “nothing bad ever happened to me as a child, I’m here to learn how to protect my young daughter from sexual predators.” That’s when it hit me, something “bad” had happened to me, at age 16, I was having sex with a 35 year old teacher. That WAS sexual abuse, I HAD been sexually abused. Rape. Statutory rape, that’s what it was. Up to that point, I only thought of this lurid relationship with a teacher as “age-inappropriate.” Now, I call it what it was: statutory rape. Today, if a teacher, coach, counselor or any person touched my daughter inappropriately, I would prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.
Today I understand a common pathology of many sexual predators… they make the victim feel special. It wasn’t until an older friend who was a bartender in our little town said, “I’d be a rich woman if I had a nickel for every woman who said she had sex with coach “X”.” I realized I wasn’t special at all, I was just one of many. He was a pathological sexual predator. Thirty years later, I’m finally talking about it. I know my story is not uncommon because other women have opened up to me who had the same experience. Sometimes the teachers forcibly raped the students. In my case and in the cases of those I’ve spoken to, alcohol was always involved.
I thought I forgave my perpetrator years ago, he was a very, very sick man. Still, my heart is heavy as I write; I fear this type of rape is more common than anyone acknowledges… because as a young woman although I knew it was wrong, I also thought it was consensual. Today the thought of my precious daughter being sexually abused is horrifying. I can’t hide behind the “that stuff doesn’t really happen” denial. It does happen, and it’s wrong. Exposing it for what it is: rape, is a step in the direction of preventing it from happening to others.