A Personal Plea, Part 3
CC image courtesy of Flickr, duffyemma92
CW: Sexual Harassment and molestation, suicide ideation, and bullying
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 15, 2016. Not every part of the series explicitly mentions homeschool, but each part ties to her homeschool experience.
The rest of the school year is a blur. Bits and snatches of continued bullying, continued sexual harassment, etc. I remember breaking down sobbing in the hall outside of my history classroom, and rummaging through my backpack for anything I could use to kill myself with. I remember holding my metal compass in my hand, and looking at the point on it, wondering if I could do the job with that. I remember holing up in a bathroom stall, trying to get myself together. And I remember three of those five boys, going out of their way to “accidentally” bump, brush, or even grab my chest or my butt. It was only those three. Never others. But sometimes, one of their friends would see it and smirk. I remember begging God to let me die, or make me never ever go back to that school. Begging to wake up and find it all a bad dream. Begging for God to let one of the teachers see it. Of course, none of that ever happened.
There is one massive event I do NOT remember. The only reason I know it happened, is that the school counselor told my mom, who then told me. And my friend Brittany was there, and remembers. The 6th graders only had half lockers, and they all lined the wall in a “U” shape on the second floor outside the science room. Apparently, one afternoon, several of the kids had surrounded me, blocking the exit from the locker area. It was the kids in front and beside me, and the lockers behind me. They started calling me a “bitch,” but in the literal sense- they were calling me a female dog, not a female jerk. They started telling me to bark and roll over. And I did. And they were laughing when the counselor apparently saw and intervened. My mom still chokes up and has trouble finishing when talking about that, 21 years later. Like I said, I have zero memory of that event. I hear it, and it seems like it’s about someone else. That’s one of the big stories Mom would tell when getting me evaluated for Autism and other psychological issues.
I may not remember it, but I know enough about trauma and psychology to say, it’s still there in my head.
It had such an impact on me, that I literally blocked it out. But it’s still there, whether I can find it or not. And I can also tell you exactly why I rolled over and barked like a dog, even though I can’t remember ever doing it. Those kids crushed my soul. They crushed my will and my desire to live. They absolutely obliterated my previously healthy self-esteem, and that lasted for nearly two decades. I was trapped, I was being mocked, I was desperate. They weren’t going to let me go, even if I sat down and did nothing. They’d keep taunting and mocking until, yet again, I broke. I’m not sure I even cared anymore. I’m not sure I had any will left to resist. I may not remember this, but thinking about that 12 year old little girl, absolutely breaks my heart. I was entirely broken. The only thing left to do when your abuser completely breaks you, and you can’t get out, is to give them what they want. So I did. I reduced myself to an animal, because I didn’t know what else to do. No one had really protected me. No one had succeeded in making it go away. Fighting back never worked.
Mercifully, the school year came to an end, and that year of hell was over.
But the trauma remained.
Some people like to say that a person’s past is their past, and it doesn’t define them. That’s partially true. The thing about trauma, is that it actually can rewire parts of your neurology. It can also actually rewrite parts of your DNA. When those things happen, they’re not ever fully in the past. Sure, healing can occur, growth can happen. The actual events are in the past and they don’t define you. But in very real, very concrete, and very biological, scientific ways, the past is also partly your present. That’s the cruel truth of PTSD. When Traumas rewire your neurology, and actually alter your DNA, they stay with you in ways you can’t help. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a victim. That’s what this whole blog is all about. Facing reality, facing my fears, and facing the truth. Living in spite of my fears. I’m not going through all of this because I’m wallowing, or I’m held down by the past.
I’m writing all of this as a plea for you all to please try and understand how trauma victims, including myself, live.
As I said, the school year ended, and that hell was over. But what I didn’t know, is that the one year of hell behind me may have been done, but I had nine more years of an entirely different kind of hell in front of me. Homeschooling would prove not to be the safe haven my parents had been hoping for. That story, though, begins in Part 4.