Throughout most of my young life, I was a happy and outgoing child. Even when I started going through puberty in elementary school, I still remained upbeat, despite all those weird emotions that came with it.
It wasn’t until the fourth grade that my life changed forever.
The fourth grade was my first time having a male teacher. He was in his late forties or early fifties, but he could still somehow click with a bunch of 9- and 10-year-olds. Usually, the morning portion of class would involve class reading, where we would sit on the carpet while he read aloud.
Usually I sat wherever my friends sat, but one time I decided to sit next to my teacher. He was already on the carpet, and it was taking the class longer than usual to sit down, so I just sat down next to him. Not even 30 seconds after sitting next to him, he took his hand and started to touch my thigh, edging towards a region that he shouldn’t have been near at all.
I sat there quietly when he started reading, but my head was moving a mile a minute, and the only thing I could think was, “What just happened?!” Once he was done with the lesson, I asked to go to the bathroom to try and process what just happened. I asked myself questions like, “Why did I have to wear shorts today?” and, “Did I provoke him to do it?” and, “Is it my fault?” After a little while I went back to snack time and continued on with my day, though I wasn’t really speaking as much as I usually would.
Years later, I still ask why didn’t I tell anyone until recently. I thought at the time that it was completely my fault. But as the year went by, the amount of discomfort I got from going to class kept growing and growing.
A particularly uncomfortable day was when we had our sweet school counselor come into the class to do a lecture with a guest speaker about what to do if we are inappropriately touched. We even watched a video of a particular situation that seemed so similar to my own experience that I had to leave the classroom to calm myself down. When I returned, the class was practicing how to “say no” and leave the situation. But deep down inside, I wanted to ask them, “What if it’s too late? What if you feel like it’s your fault that it happened?”
I wish right then and there that I could have gotten the guts to tell the counselor what happened, but it was just too overwhelming to even think about. Once the fourth grade was over, I bolted out of that door and headed home, relieved that I’d never have to deal with that man ever again.
From the fifth grade to around my freshman year of high school, I repressed the event in my memory. I just went on through life as my happy and outgoing self. However, once freshman year started, I realized that the repressed memory would come out at full force through some crucial times in my high school career.