As you know, I have taken time out from my blog to write a new book, which will probably be released as fiction, but is based (or inspired) on many non-fiction events. In the process of writing the book, I have decided I wanted to put this snippet of information in the cyber world, as it may immediately begin helping some people, children as well as adult survivors, based on my own experiences. It is an excerpt only, giving an easy to digest example of an abusive teacher in a school, shortened from the chapter I have written for the book. The article I have written is called, avoiding childhood sexual abuse (CSA):
When I was in Standard Five (Grade Seven), my class went on a school trip to Durban, to celebrate the end of our Primary School years. One afternoon a teacher, call him Mr Sam, took me aside and asked me to leave the door to my room unlocked that night. I suspect now that he was testing me in asking the question, and any hint of acquiescence might have been used as an opportunity to follow through on. I glanced quickly at him and then shyly looked down and I nodded. I did not leave the door unlocked that night, though I was restless in bed and pondering what to do, as my intuition told me to be careful. I sought him out the next day and then apologised as I told him I had forgotten. He gave a beaming wry smile in appreciation, not seeming to notice I might have been lying, though perhaps he could see my nervousness as well as my street smarts.
Sexual abuse sometimes happens by quiet testing of victims, gentle manipulation, withholding and giving of love, fanning an expectation of obedience by the victim to the perpetrator, and the creation of guilt and shame to keep quiet. Did he see though my hesitant apology, as if I had no hint of what could have happened? I wonder still what he thought at the time.
I remember helping Mr Sam earlier in the year to sort out books in the afternoon, which stopped when another male teacher walked in to the room and took him aside outside, and when Mr Sam returned, he said he could no longer let me help him after school hours. He had given me me a long claustrophobic hug earlier in the day, and I had felt quite uncomfortable. I do believe I escaped a potentially disastrous situation. The school announced he died from lung cancer a couple of years later, and I was relieved, as I never told anyone my experience with him, and what I thought he had tried.
I would be horrified today if I found out a teacher did anything abusive to my children! Teach your children to honour their own personal boundaries, and the value of saying “no”, and to remove themselves from dangerous situations. Help them to recognise potential danger signs, for example if they are receiving undue affection that pushes personal boundary limits and is out of place with a child. No child is ever to blame for abuse that happens. An adult should always know better! It’s like blaming a rape victim for her attack if she wears a short skirt – no, this is completely wrong! I believe perpetrators do seek children out who they will be able to control. Children who they know will keep quiet and keep secrets, and who will endure abuse that is like torture. I’ve heard many stories of people telling their personal sexual abuse survival stories, and I’ve sometimes wondered why what I experienced seems to be so different to these stories of seemingly more uncaring perpetrators, who would abuse even if the child was crying. The teacher I knew never forced a situation. He seemed to quietly test. But he would try again another time. He seemed friendly to everyone he knew, very likeable in fact, with a congenial laugh, and I am sure no-one suspected anything untoward from him. Children crave love from adults they look up to, like teachers. A child will not lead an adult into sexual behaviour, unless this has been learnt somewhere, for example if the child is groomed by a perpetrator that this is the only way to obtain his love, the only time he is interested in that child.