He would stroke my thighs, caress my shoulders, and linger his hands when he should not have done so. He came up behind me, put his arms on either side of me and placed his hands on the desk, trapping me between his pale arms. He planted his chin on my shoulder, positioning his thin lips right next to my ear. He whispered something but I was never able to recall what it was, my brain was in too much shock to process whatever he whispered into my ear. I was only able to focus on what he had just done. He would sometimes place his hands on my lower thighs and slowly move them up, stopping only below where a schoolgirls uniform skirt would be hemmed. He once took me by the arm, and placed his hand on my lower back, pushing me along even if I didn’t need to be guided into wherever he was taking me. I had told this man my issues, my worries, things that ran through my head. He was essentially a father figure to me. I trusted him, but unfortunately, he deceived me.
I joined Academic Decathlon at the end of my sophomore year after the coach and a friend managed to convince me. I walked into the classroom where the interest meeting was being held in with a couple of my friends. We had heard the basics before from the coach, one topic, ten subjects, and some competitions.
I quickly started to gain a liking to the club. I would show up to the classroom after school to catch up on practice or just to talk to the coach. I ended up trusting this man a lot; I would tell him about my struggles with classes, my mental health or anything that bothered me. I soon realized that I trusted him too much. He took advantage of me and my vulnerability. He knew things that went through my head and so he went behind my back. I should have known how manipulative he was from the minute he beguiled me into Academic Decathlon. There were multiple times where I was uncomfortable under his touch and even his gaze.
During English my heart was racing, it was the last class of the day which meant I had to go to practice for AcDec right after. My body was filled with anxiety; I did not want to see him again. The bell rang, my vision got blurry as I gathered my things, getting ready to leave. The ink on my papers started to bleed as my tears fell and created puddles of black and blue. I stuffed my belongings into my bag, not caring if they got torn since they were already ruined. Everyone had already left the classroom; it was just me and my English teacher. He tried making small talk, asking if I was working later that day but quickly abandoned his questioned and replacing it with “Are you okay?” That only seemed to make things worse, he kept telling me that it was okay and asking me to tell him what happened. After calming down enough I explained why I was upset, I explained why I was crying and explained why I didn’t want to go to practice. I explained to him that one of the people I trusted the most had taken advantage of my weaknesses and used them to make me feel repulsive.
He looked at me for a while, his hand covering his mouth but I could see his jaw dropped. He kept looking at me as I cried in the desk I had used to demonstrate how the man I trusted had touched me and betrayed me. After some time of us sitting in the dark he apologized,— he told me he would have to tell my principal about this, that he couldn’t just listen to this and go on as if he didn’t hear something.
It was Thursday, February 1st; I had just gotten back from my internship and walked into my US History class. We had a big test and I had studied for this. I was confident. The teacher passed around the test, wished us luck and let us begin. Not even five minutes into the test the teacher got a call. She answered and said “She’s taking a test right now, can she go in later?” Throughout the rest of the call she made eye contact with me so I knew I was the subject of the conversation. “The principal wants to talk to you.” I walked into the office, my heart was racing. I pushed the door open and saw her sitting behind a desk cluttered with papers, an empty seat in front of the desk and another chair occupied by a school security officer. Seeing the security officer in the office made my heart drop. My vision got blurry fast, my face got hot and my knees started to feel weak. The principal and the officer shared the same look of concern on their face, I was handed tissues and told to take some seconds to calm down. “Your teacher told us what happened. We just want you to tell us what exactly happened.”
After explaining to them how I had my body violated by this man I was asked to write out the report. Making it the third time I had to explain what happened. My parents had not known yet but I decided on telling my sister what happened that night when I got home. She was furious, she went on and on about how messed up it was for him to do that, how no one has a right to touch me like that, how it’s important to stand up for myself in situations like this. Eventually I had to tell my mom, shortly after I was forced into talking to district detectives, Child Protective Services, and even more district detectives. This went on for the last half my junior year.
At some point after the second meeting with a detective, he stopped showing up to work. A handful of people knew the reason as to why he was gone; the rest of the school did not. A rumor about him breaking his hip started going around the school, this was better than people knowing the truth and blaming me for his absence. People later started to realize that he had been gone for longer than the recovery time for a broken hip. Soon, teachers started gossiping as well, everyone wanted to know why he was gone. Being in a classroom where half the class was spent talking about this made me want to crawl out of my skin.
My English teacher ended up having to be the one to put in grades for his class while he was gone. I felt guilty for this; I saw his workload pile on because of something I could have kept to myself. I felt guilty for everything that happened because of me deciding to come forward. I regretted it, “if I would have not said anything things would be better.” This is something I constantly told myself. I blamed myself for him not being able to work. I blamed myself for my teacher’s increased workload, I thought that since he wasn’t here, his students weren’t able to pass the AP test for his class. I blamed myself for all of these things.
My senior year he came back along with the nightmares; dreams of him doing worse things. I wake up in cold sweats and lie in bed until my alarm clock goes off signaling me to get ready to face him at school. Because even after being investigated I had to sit in silence while he got to stay on paid leave and keep his five-figure wage. So, I sit in my classrooms in fear that one of my dreams will no longer be a dream but a reality. I avoid his hallway at all costs and risk getting to class late. My friends have gotten annoyed of this and I can tell, anytime I refuse to pass his den they roll their eyes as they turn around, but I notice. I feel bad for it but I can’t change it, I want to be braver and face him and show him that I don’t care about what he’s done but I can’t.
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Charlotte is an eighteen year old who during her free time enjoys listening to music, making jewelry, and practicing her embroidery skills. She will be attending Texas Woman’s University in the fall of 2019 and plans on majoring in Kinesiology and later becoming an Occupational Therapist.