I was a little girl, only about six years old when my innocence was ripped away from me. Each day my mother would drop me off at my babysitters house, a child and when she picked me up I had lost my faith in the world a little more each time because of the sexual abuse I experienced. This loss of faith in the world almost ruined me, but one caring teacher influenced me in such a positive way that I believe she saved me. Educators should know that they can make a difference and can have a positive effect on a student.
My teacher helped me to break out of my shell and find out a little more about myself. To protect myself from the pain of the abuse, I created a shield of silence that I carried with me through out my entire life. The silence persisted until my senior year when I really bonded with one of my teachers. She was just my teacher, nothing more but some thing inside her compelled her to reach out to me. Just by simply talking to me and being there for support she changed the world for me. It was the little acts of kindness that helped pull me out of my stage of silence that made me feel so depressed.
My teacher also helped me to see that just because sexual abuse happened to me it does not mean that I am worth less than if I would have never been abused. From the first time I was sexually abused to after the abuse ended, I seriously believed I was ruined: damaged goods. When my teacher began talking to me and displaying that she cared, I started feeling like I had more worth that I was giving myself. I saw that if this busy teacher believed I was important enough to help me, then maybe I really had some value and this helped my confidence.
My teacher’s actions and conversations helped me to feel beautiful and helped me to feel happy. It was as if her words and kindness reached inside of me and touched my heart, leaving a fingerprint of love that I will always carry with me. These simple words were powerful. Her kindness introduced me into a world of caring and understanding that I never knew about. Slowly my feelings about revealing the truth about the abuse started to loosen and I started realizing the truth behind what happened to me. Each response she gave me lead me to feel empowered. She was the first person that told me I was a survivor, not a victim and the words I will forever remember. I saw someone in an authority position who actually cared about me enough to spend time working with me and that made feel worthwhile as a person.
I hope that by telling my story, I show the difference one teacher made to me and I hope that my story serves as an inspiration to educators. I want these people who are so fundamental in a student’s life to know that they can really have a positive effect and to know that it is worth trying to be the best influences and support systems that they can be.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.