A Personal Plea, Part 1
CC image courtesy of Flickr, duffyemma92
CW: Sexual Harassment
Edited by Wende Benner, HA Editorial Staff
Editorial note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kit’s blog, Dauntless in Denver. Kit is a homeschool and ATI survivor. It was originally published on November 13, 2016. Not every part of the series explicitly mentions homeschool, but each part ties to her homeschool experience.
I’ve been struggling with how to write this post since Wednesday. I still don’t know exactly how to go about it, so please bear with me. I don’t write this to condemn anyone. I do write this to explain where I’m coming from, and what I’ve been experiencing the last few days. This is going to be raw and blunt. It may take a number of installments. I beg anyone who loves and respects me at all, to read and listen with an open heart.
I was what society refers to as an “early bloomer.” At the age of 12, I was 5’3, 135lbs, my dress size was 12, and yes, I’ll be frank, my bra size was a 34C. I was very thin. This wasn’t extra weight. It was simply me. Not only was I very advanced in my development for the average 12 year old, but I also, thanks to my late summer birthday, was a year older than most of my classmates, putting me even further ahead of them. At the time, I was going to a very expensive college prep Christian school on the outskirts of Cincinnati. It wasn’t the kind of place my parents could afford on their own, it was paid for by the money my grandfather left all his grandkids for their education.
Sixth grade there was hell.
I was Autistic, but we didn’t know it. Autism was not nearly as well understood in the early-mid 90s as it is today. Despite a father who worked as a speech pathologist with special needs kids, including Autistic kids, it was just never on our radar until I was about 20 or so, and I didn’t get a diagnosis until I was 32. Between being years ahead of average in my development, and being Autistic and therefore having next to zero social skills, or ability to deal with bad social situations, I was a magnet for the most brutal of bullying, sexual harassment, and assault from my classmates.
At first, it was just brutal bullying and teasing. Cracks about being poor, about being dumb, about no one ever liking me. Cracks about how excited I got at school spirit rallies. About how I believed people when they said they wanted to be friends with me. They broke into my locker so many times, leaving nasty messages, and even vandalizing my belongings, I couldn’t keep up with them in requests to the school office for new locker combinations.
But then, in about November of that year (1995), the bullying went beyond that. I even remember exactly where I was when it started. I was at the front of Mrs. Slemmons’s English class, and we were playing some sort of educational game, I don’t remember what. My INTJ personality type doesn’t make me overly-excitable, that’s my Autism. Autism is neurological in nature. Those of us with it have a very different neurological map, and “normal” things affect us differently. It’s easy for us to get overstimulated, or simply…more stimulated than other people about things, hence the over-excitement during games, competitions, etc. This game was no exception to that. My team was winning, and I was trying to get my classmates to make the right guesses before the clock ran out. I was laughing, and bouncing up and down on my toes. As you can imagine, with anyone of my chest size, things don’t stay still when I’m bouncing. I remember exactly which boy started smirking, and said, “Jiggle, jiggle.” His cousin, sitting next to him, smirked and started saying the same thing. For a second, I wasn’t sure what was going on, but then, it hit me: They were mocking me for the size of my chest.
I remember feeling odd about it after it happened, but I didn’t know why.
This felt different from the other bullying. Before then, I hadn’t really ever thought twice about my body and early development. I was blissfully ignorant. But after that, I became incredibly self-conscious. And what I did not know, was that this wasn’t a one-time thing. It was going to continue throughout the rest of the year. And not only was it going to continue, it was going to get far, far worse. By the end of that school year, I would hit a new low. I would have developed PTSD for the THIRD time (the first two events being when I was 3, and when I was 6). And my usually healthy self-esteem would be nowhere to be found…for the next 18 years.
This is just the beginning. I beg of you to please keep reading over the next several days. My next one is going to be incredibly unpleasant to read, but please, read it. Try to understand. This all ties into the events of the last few days, and I desperately need my friends and family who voted for Trump to understand where I’m coming from, and why I’m having a hard time dealing with it.