There was a twitter thread the other day that made me think deeply about my experience with older people in positions of authority over children and proceeded to break out into a cold sweat. You watch the news and hear stories about teachers and school staff preying on the youth and you think how terrible it is and how it can’t happen to you, pharmacy not even realizing how some people groom you for their own desires.
To give some context: I met one of my exes when I was 10 and he was 21.
Only, buy I didn’t know he would be my ex. He was just a friend of another family that had a daughter in my class. He seemed harmless, erectile almost like a cool, young uncle. He was just a face I’d see around the neighborhood, as he had gotten a job at a middle school not far from my home.
We were cordial to each other, but I never really thought much about it. When I got to high school in 2007 however, I was surprised to learn he worked at my high school. Mainly relieved because at least I knew someone. I was bullied pretty badly in middle school, and generally a quiet girl, so it brought me comfort knowing that someone with authority was keeping an eye on me.
Then sophomore year, an incident put my sex life on display and the dynamics changed. A male gym teacher outright told me that I’d made the wrong choice in hanging around boys my age, I needed a man to teach me some things and he was just the man to do it. My old ‘friend’ laughed at that comment, as he chastised the teacher, noting my disgusted expression. I shook it off, thinking I needed to have tougher skin. Then I noticed that when left to their own devices, many of the male administrators would lust over female students, hyping each other up about what they’d do to/with certain well-developed girls if they knew they wouldn’t get caught. Only a rare few had the so-called decency to throw in “after she graduates.” The whispered rumors ran rampant about student/faculty pairings.
My ‘friend’ and I continued to be cordial to each other, but then he’d started bringing me breakfast every now and again when he went to get food because I hated school breakfast.
His interest in my dating life also piqued when I’d gotten a belly ring at 16. He’d make off-handed comments every now and again and I’d just respond that he needed to calm down, he had known me since I was in elementary school and he’d change the subject.
Then one day, I was talking about missing my ex and he pulled me into one of the staircases that didn’t have cameras and kissed me and disappeared for the rest of the day, leaving me wholly confused. I wasn’t in a position where I could discuss it, so I kept it to myself. When I saw him the next day and asked him about it, he kissed me again and told me that the guys I wanted weren’t good enough for me and he couldn’t take it anymore.
I’d just barely turned 17 then.
Since he worked at the high school, we had to keep our relationship private or he could’ve lost his job. That should have been a flag to me, but I was caught up in the fact that I was with an older guy and his friend, the very married with children gym teacher, was pissed about it. In some warped sense, I felt powerful knowing that these two grown men wanted me and were willing to do my bidding. My ex grew very controlling and insecure and then he started pulling me out of school in the middle of the day to hook up. One day I jokingly said, “it’s crazy how I’ve known you almost my whole life and here we are.” He replied, “I knew I wanted you.”
One of my male friends started hearing rumors and seemed to have known more about my ex than I did and they fought. My ex blew up at me in front of one of his colleagues, who then started putting the pieces together and filed a complaint that I wouldn’t learn about well into my college years.
The straw that broke this relationship was finding out that I wasn’t the first time he had relations with an under aged to just legal. Only, she had his child and he couldn’t deny it. So, I started pulling away, and it seems that he started grooming one of my underclassmen friends to take my place. Her mother realized that something was up almost immediately and went to the police, another thing that I wouldn’t know until college.
I thought about his toddler daughter and I panicked. I mean, I was only 14 years older than her at the time, and he had known me since I was a child. That didn’t stop him from pursuing me. I started to open up to a counselor at the school and since they knew him really well and were godparents to his kids… they wanted to turn a blind eye. The school would have turned a blind eye and just waited for me to graduate.
He was quietly reprimanded and sent to a middle school. To spend his days around younger girls. I was horrified. As easily as he had laid groundwork with me, he could with them. They had ultimately given him access to start all over again. By that point, I had snapped out of my fog and I knew he and most of the male school staff were predators, whether they acted on it or not.
There shouldn’t be anything sexually enticing to a 27+ year old man when we’re talking about 14-17-year-old girls. There is literally no common ground between the two. It was sickening and yet so much of it was swept under the rug.
It’s maddening that there was/is no protection for those sorts of things. Schools not wanting to deal with the investigations and paperwork, cover up by quietly reprimanding guilty parties and making a hostile environment for the victims. Too many friends of mine have either heard or seen experiences like mine or they have their own.
My skewed justice came in the form of the complaint that his colleague had filed that was being followed up on. Two detectives showed up on my step, took my statement and then sent me to a lawyer- my ex wanted to fight to keep his job. He said I was just bitter that he didn’t do anything wrong.
My phone records and emails said otherwise. Ultimately, he lost his job for inappropriate conduct with a minor.
I’ll always live with the realization that I was groomed by a child predator, who could very well be out there, hurting someone else because of loopholes in laws about age and his access. I’ll live with the fact I have to think and think again about trusting men because of how he got into my head at such a young age. You look at people in authority differently. You never think it could happen to you, and yet, it happened to me.
Written by Aubri Elle