Abuse Is Real, So Let’s Talk About It

As the semester ends, I find myself reflecting on everything I learned, everything discussed, and the professors I had. One thing that stood out to me was a bittersweet lecture in one of my courses. I am a freshman in college, and some of my biggest life experiences had never been discussed until this semester. I remember, clearly, the adrenaline running through me as I called my mom after class, ranting to her. My experiences were finally recognized and validated in a classroom, so I was thrilled, but I was angry that it took far too long. 

My mom and I lived in a broken home. It was an abusive setting, complete with excessive drugs and alcohol. My mom is the closest person to Buddy the Elf you will ever meet, and I strive to be like her, but we were unhappy. We were unhappy, and we were quiet about it because to the world, we were the happy ones, the reliable ones, the strong ones. They did not need to know our struggles, so we stayed quiet. We suppressed it all, severely damaging our health in many forms.

Every now and then, in class, we would talk about those “taboo” topics. We talked about abuse of all forms, we talked about drug addiction, we talked about alcoholism, but we never spoke as if the children in the room experienced this. My teachers spoke as though we lived in a bubble, a perfect little town with no heartache or turmoil. This occurred in two completely different states, two different types of schools, though, so I cannot excuse this as a matter of setting. Various teachers spoke of these topics in a fictional sense, as we studied classic literature or a psychological case study across the world. 

Through these practices, teachers are isolating their students. Children being abused or growing up in a broken home feel themselves freeze when these topics are brought up, and feel their hearts break when they are made to feel as though this does not happen to kids like them. This behavior only further encourages them to remain silent, and ride through the turmoil. That is unacceptable.

My lecture had a day where the discussion was completely open for us to lead, and based on the novel we had just read. The novel was set in fairly modern times, in an area near us, discussing painful topics. We even touched on the fact that we, in our entire academic lives, had never been exposed to literature such as this that related to us. The discussion led to several students briefly opening up, saying how greatly they appreciated seeing themselves in this novel, seeing the author discuss what happened to her, and how she grew from it. My professor agreed with us, saying K-12 teachers do not address these topics in a proper manner; therefore, they are isolating the students needing to hear they are not the only ones and that things can get so much better. I wish I could tell my younger self that I was not alone and that things would get better. 

Teachers, educators, PTA boards, whoever you might be, please do better. You hold the power to change lives. If students were exposed to topics such as abuse, addiction, etc., then they would be more encouraged to seek help, to share their story, to know it will not always be that way. Thank you, my professor, for acknowledging and fulfilling this need. 

If you suspect or know of a child or vulnerable adult in immediate danger, call 911.

The Florida Abuse Hotline can be reached at 1-800-962-2873.

Help is out there, whether it be a hotline, a counselor, a friend, or an educator. 

Photo courtesy of Rupi Kaur