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Bullying Goes Beyond the Fist

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October 3, 2011

December 6th, 2010, was a day in my life I will never understand, and probably never come to grips with. I thought that a school was the safest place to be — it turned out that I was never more wrong in my life. You see, that was the day I was raped at school and the day I went to a teacher for protection. I thought I would be taken care of. At age 17 you are not fully an adult. You rely on others who are adults to help you. This did not happen to me. I was told to “confront my attacker.” My world began to spin. The bullying went beyond the fist. It went through the skin and bones to my very soul, and now I had no help at all. How was I going to tell my parents about this? What was going to happen to my world? In fact, the teacher I had told saw my parents that night and never said a word. Eventually my family and I turned to the police, but if it was not for a friend of mine I confided in nothing would have ever happened, and I wouldn’t be sharing this with you or trying to pull others up through the hell they have been through.

I found out though all of this — through the police investigation, through being accused that it was consensual — that teachers are not always educated or taught how to deal with victims of sexual abuse. If only the teacher I confided in had been taught, if only he knew. My life would have turned out a little different in the aftermath of what I call a war in hell.

After being raped the school charged me with sexual misconduct and sent me to a disciplinary school where I had to not only face him, but the bullying of others because he bragged about it.

After the police got involved, after being interrogated at the child advocacy center and having to go through a grueling inspection of the lower half of my female parts, I came to find out that these things happen more than we think they do. After my parents met with the police department and the school officials, they found out these things happen one or two times every couple of years at the school I attended. It makes me wonder where those students are now and how those cases were handled.

I want you to know, it’s okay to have a voice, it’s okay to come out and talk about your war in hell, it’s okay to say I was a victim — male or female. My family’s life will never be the same, but we are growing and we are healing and we are reaching out to others who have been through this. We want to help other survivors, we want to get them to heal and we want them to know it was not their fault. I can’t imagine life now without helping those who have been through this. Truly this is the only way I am going to get through this myself.

Gender-based violence and harassment are behaviors that are committed because of a person’s gender or sex. They can be carried out by a boyfriend or girlfriend, a date, other kids, or adults. Under the requirements of Title IX schools receiving federal funds have a legal obligation to protect students from gender-based violence and harassment — including sexual assault. Faith’s school failed her and the ACLU filed a complaint against her school district on her behalf with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Find out more about schools’ obligations under Title IX and students’ rights here.

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