Your Idol: The Teacher Who Stood Up For My Rapist
During my sophomore year of high school, everyone’s uncontested favorite time of day was fifth period: English class, from 11:15- 12:05. Our teacher, or “Dr. C” as we affectionately called him, was our wise and all-knowing guru on all matters of life. He was the teacher whose class we looked forward to, not just to better ourselves as writers, but to soak in his wisdom about the capital T Truths of the world. After school, we often filed into his classroom, hoping that we might glean some insight from the nuggets of wisdom he casually sprinkled in conversation.
It’s never a rape victim’s fault
You always have the right to say no
Like ducks flocking to a waterfront, we hung onto his words, hoping that his breadcrumbs might lead us home.
Two and a half months after I got my drivers license, my boyfriend raped me for the first time.
I wrote to Dr. C in a reflection paper on the last day of school.
I think he really cares about you, he probably just got carried away.
Is what Dr. C told me the day he called me back in to talk.
The police officer in the stiff blue uniform was cold as my sixteen-year-old self faltered, ashamed to talk about when stuff had “started to go places”. Where was the victim advocate to smile at me encouragingly with tissues when I cried? You weren’t raped. It’s misconduct, not a crime.
It is not a well kept secret that our justice system frequently fails victims of sexual violence. The response I got from that officer is not an outlier. Devastating, but retrospectively, horrifyingly expected. However, if the Bellevue School District’s sexual harassment training leaves school staff failing to understand these basic realities affecting student safety, there is something missing. While I was crying and hurt, Dr. C and the school seemed to sigh with relief. Did anyone even bother mentioning it to the boy?
“I promise I’ll never do it again, give me a second chance,” the boy badgered me over and over. “I love you.” But of course, he did “do it again.” And by then, I no longer had a “no” to say. He loves me. I guess this is just what happens.
His second chance turned into his third, then his seventeenth. They all blended together. My vagina was his plaything. And after the first time, it was almost like it didn’t matter. I didn’t matter. Boys will be boys.
Would they have brushed it off so easily if he had been physically violent in a more conventional sense? Did they need to see bruises in more delicate, hidden places? Is there no physicality in sexuality? Sexual violence is physical violence. Instead of shoving me into walls, that boy shoved himself inside of me.
I trusted Dr. C and my school for a map to a safer place, but they taped my mouth shut and spun me around, back into the arms of the boy who casually disregarded consent in our intimate spaces.
The next school year, we shared four classes. For two hundred and forty minutes on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, I sat learning about electromagnetism, The Death of a Salesman, and the United States Constitution with the boy who violated me regularly. Wednesday and Thursday block periods totaled three hundred and sixty minutes. I sat in class with him for 18 hours a week. That’s a part time job. That’s the hours in a long waking day. Where was Dr. C, star teacher purported advocate?
With a weak smile, I cuddled up next to the boy who raped me. No one tossed me a shield or showed me a place to hide, so I let the bullets strike. That’s just how it is. Where were they to tell me I deserved more, that I didn’t owe him anything? Why were they only looking out for him?
I wasn’t the only student they hurt. The boy who raped me, my rapist, was never held accountable as My Rapist. That boy, along with his casual disregard for consent, passed through their guidance unmolested by notions of misconduct while I grew sick in the dark corners where they trapped me. I learned to doubt myself in Dr. C’s class, he did not. They took away an opportunity for that boy to hold himself accountable. As odd as it may sound, I think he missed the lesson that rape is reprehensible, illegal, and had life altering ramifications for me. This much was clear when this past summer he told me the anger I harbored about “the rape thing” was “unnecessary” because it was “like five years ago” and “we were dating”. It’s my understanding that this past summer in court was the first time that boy had heard anyone else speak about the gravity of his actions.
Not only did Dr. C fail him in high school, but Dr. C continued to condone that boy’s abuse and aggression toward me by filing in support of him on official school letterhead for my domestic violence protection order hearing. While I stood with my entire body shaking in court trying not to pass out, Dr. C smiled from the letter he filed on the boy’s behalf. Dr. C continued kick me on the ground in his hurry to help my rapist.
The court ruled that I met my burden of proof for a domestic violence protection order.
Dr. C’s experience of that boy was that he appeared “kind”, “intrinsically moraled”, and like “a big teddy bear”, strikingly similar to my impression of him up until the point when he raped me. Or was he expecting to see the boy molesting me in the corners of the hallways? My rapist’s actions were not my shame: they were his. Dr. C is an educator, but he failed to educate when it mattered. We need to hold teachers and schools accountable for student safety as well as sexual and domestic violence training. Despite the detailed and thoroughly researched complaint I filed with the Bellevue School District, in August of 2015, regarding my rape in 2011, it does not appear from their response- dated February 9th, 2016- that they are taking much (if any) action. I did not see any mention of improving policy or training for staff and students in handling sexual assault and school safety, nor did I see any mention of Dr. C’s inappropriate letter. They seemed interested only in absolving themselves of legal responsibility.
It’s uncomfortable to have this conversation, but this is a conversation we can no longer avoid. The Bellevue School District must stand up for student safety and we must hold them accountable. Do not allow other students to slip through the cracks as I did. I implore you to share my story. To add your voice, even if that’s just a like, a share, or a little green heart. If not for me, then for the others who have been and will be silenced. We need you to fight with us, because we can’t fight alone. No one should have to feel how I felt. You can prevent stories like mine.
I wrote this song because people act like bodily autonomy is confusing.
I can’t believe they silenced me,
I disappeared almost.
But you can’t touch me anymore,
I’m no longer your ghost.
My body is mine, my body is mine, my body is mine.