At a fairly young age, I was introduced to the negatives of the world, my fifth grade year was one of my roughest. To be fair, unbeknownst to me, my teacher that year had found his husband and dog dead in their cabin over the summer. I don’t think that they ever made a ruling on foul play or suicide. Anyways, because of that, he came into the new school year of my fifth grade year a very angry individual, and something about me sparked that even more. Up until fifth grade, I was fairly into school, academically I wasn’t the top of my class. I struggled in math big time and science a bit, I wasn’t too big into PE either as i wasn’t super athletic. I had a fair amount of friends, mostly boys because I was more of a tomboy.
Ever since I was little I was able to feel and absorb the emotions and feelings people are putting out there. He came into the classroom very stern looking, but the feelings I was picking up were very angry and very very sad and lost. I shook it off and we got into classwork. At first he just seemed like a rather strict teacher. Then eventually, a few weeks in it started. He would call on me, ever though my hand wasnt raised, it was always math or science, my two least understood subjects. When I couldn’t complete the problem, he would come up behind me, turn me facing the classroom, and out loudly he would say, “class, I want you to take a good look, Kelly here will be working at Mcdonald’s her entire life because she is too lazy and dumb to do anything else.” When it was a math problem, he would call on me and as I stood there staring at it, desperately trying not to cry but yet trying to figure it out, he would say, “come on dummy, try hard as you can, you might be able to do something a little better then serve Mcdonald’s your whole life.” When we did PE outside, he would yell at me to “quit being so lazy, actually try and be successful at something.” It got to a point where I just started telling my mom I was sick, all the time, so that I didn’t have to go to school. Eventually, she started asking me what was going on, at ten years old, I thought that she wouldn’t believe me, he was an adult, I was a kid, so I just told her I was sick. I spent a lot of time at the doctors that year trying to figure out what was going making me so ill. Fortunately, the end of the year came and I was so excited to be out of that class. Unfortunately, after that, I lost my enjoyment for school forever, I was always terrified the next teacher was going to do the same, and furthermore, because I did struggle in those subjects, i started to believe him. The rest of the time i was in school was a major struggle for me, and very emotional.
Around eight grade, my sister and I were walking to school one day. I looked over my shoulder and realized that there was tiny red Toyota truck with a camper driving slowly about ten feet behind us. When I would glance back in that direction, he would pause a moment and then continue to crawl towards us. I became very aware that he was watching us, I didn’t want to scare my sister, so I thought for a moment, home was closer then the school. So I made a last minute decision, I told her, we NEED to go home real quick, we need to run. So I grabbed her hand and very quickly turned around and ran. The entire time I ran, I was digging in my backpack for the house key. I grabbed it, and then glanced over my shoulder again, he was RIGHT THERE following us. I ran up into the front yard and very quickly unlocked the door. Slammed it shut and locked ever bolt and safety lock we had (my father was a bit paranoid.) Then I sent my sister up to her room and I ran up to mine. My room was at the front of the house upstairs, so i crept over to the window and he had parked right in front of our house. I could hear him downstairs knocking on the door and rattling the doorknob. I ran to my mom’s room and grabbed the phone and called her at work. She told me to hang up and call 911. So I did, the lady at 911 told me to stay upstairs out of sight, but to describe the guy and the truck, he was walking around our yard trying to see if there was a window or something he could see us in, so I started telling her everything I could about him, and his truck. After a few moments, I heard a siren and he was gone. The cops got there and I let them in, then my mom got home. They searched the neighborhood but never found him. It was the single most terrifying thing I had ever gone through up to that point. For close to two years, every time my parents left to run errands, I went with them because I was terrified he would come back.
When I was 15 almost 16, in high school, there was a guy in the grade above me, he was in several classes of mine. He would always make comments to me and throw things at me or in the classes he sat next to me he would reach out and try and touch me or grab my hair. Eventually, it escalated to in between classes he would bark at me or make really crude comments. Then he started trying to grab me every time he saw me. I tried really hard to ignore him. I felt like we are in high school and if I just ignore him it will make him move on to someone else. One night, i was at this pizza place we used to hang out at, he was there with his friends, we were on opposite sides of the place. I just did what I always do and I ignored him. I kept to my side and my friends. At one point I got up and went to the bathroom, when I came out of the stall, he was in the the bathroom. He locked the main door to the bathroom, then grabbed me and yanked me back into the stall, locking that door behind him. I went numb, my hearing blurred out like a bomb had just gone off next to my head, I was paralyzed, for the next few moments, he ripped at my clothes to gain access to me and then he raped me. It’s taken me a long time to be able to say that, I got raped… its not as easy as you would think. After it happened I buried it deep inside me, tried as HARD as i could to imagine it never happened. After he left the bathroom, I got what I could of my clothing on me in a manner that I could leave the restaurant quickly and without showing everyone my whole body, and I bolted out of there telling my friends that I wasnt feeling good and needed to go home now. When I got home, I changed very quickly, showered, and threw all my clothes away. I was determined to not be a “victim” which was the dumbest thing I ever did. I should have told someone, reported it, gone to the hospital. I was too scared at the time. I was too in shock. I couldn’t believe that had happened to me. I went straight to bed and laid there all night, thinking about how I could have prevented this. Doubting myself, thinking that I should have told someone when It was just saying inappropriate things and attempts to grab at me. Feeling ashamed, embarrassed, and like I in some way brought this on myself. Worst of all, feeling like I was weak for not fighting it off, not screaming, trying to fight him off of me. I know now, that I wasn’t weak, my vagal nerve response kicked in and decided that I was in too much shock and just shut down. It happen’s, my therapist has explained it to me so many times now. My body basically took over and determined that I was not going to be able to deal with this in a fight or flight sort of way, so it just shut down, went into survival mode.
All three of these things have impacted my life and the way I have lived and made choices since they happened. I have depression, anxiety and PTSD because of them. It is extremely hard for me to trust or feel safe. I tend to try and control or dictate as much as I can to feel like I am not going to be put back into another bad or traumatizing situation. It has made relationships hard, friendships hard, loving myself hard. Therapy helps, but it’s a really slow frustrating process. I am trying though, with everything I have, I am trying. Some days I have small victories, some days i have large victories, some days I have set back and some days I just merely exist and that’s all I accomplish for that day.
Im sharing this because Im sure I am not alone. I am sure there are other people out there who have been through similar or worse things, feeling the same way I do. I try my hardest to still smile and enjoy each day. I am always there for whoever needs it. I am still human and make mistakes, clearly I have my flaws. At the end of the day, all we can do is try.