WELL… now this is an interesting and exciting development. For the first time since I began my therapy and treatment for my PTSD I’ve been able to go past my most recent trauma and delve into my adolescent trauma. I just figured out why I don’t trust the police. Like any and all police, not just the ones I’ve been directly involved with. If you have a badge I’m less likely to trust you than if you don’t, and for the life of me I really couldn’t understand why until last night; then it hit me like a ton of bricks as most traumatic memory recall does.
My entire middle school experience was awful, but the most poignant event was toward the end of my 7th grade year. It happened in May actually, somewhere around the 8th but I don’t remember the exact date. After most of my school experience had been spent at home, my mom decided to take a teaching job at a small private school and enroll myself and my sisters along with it. It wasn’t so bad for my sisters to acclimate to first and third grade, but jumping right into middle school when most of these kids had been attending the school since it’s inception was pretty much impossible.
I had been the victim of relentless teasing since I started at the school. There were a few days after the beginning of the year that the other students introduced themselves and asked what my hobbies and interests were. A few days when I sat at the community lunch table being the odd man out of cliche conversations. Then I just began to sit at my own desk and keep to myself. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be a part of the group, it’s that I really didn’t have anything in common with the other students. Instead of trying to fit in to their cliques like most other middle school kids do, I would read or draw until lunch period was over. That plus my wardrobe and hair style all being fairly masculine opened me up to all sorts of ridicule.
One afternoon several other students sitting at my cluster of desks began passing notes, snickering amongst themselves. They were passing them to everyone but myself, so when one crossed my desk, instead of passing it to the intended recipient, I opened it. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but I do remember keeping it and writing my own response to the intended recipient. I told her to quit writing notes about me. This continued for the rest of the afternoon, our fighting via notes, until the end of the school day. I had kept everything neatly tucked into my desk, not thinking too much about it since everyone left and went on their way for the day.
My argument continued in the hallway and down to the front door where parents were waiting to pick up their kids, but I assumed everything that needed to be said had been said and I was content to leave it at that. I made my way back upstairs to my mom’s classroom and we went home.
The next day as soon as I arrived to my classroom I was sent down to the office. When I arrived I found both of my parents, all of the school faculty, and one other student who had been the recipient of the note I intercepted. I was told that I had been pulled out to discuss my “antisocial” behavior and some “threatening” language in the notes that had been passed back and forth. Much like my blogging often gets me in trouble when I use an inappropriate emotional word to describe things, I had used an emotional word in the heat of the argument which was misconstrued. They said they brought me in to ask for my side of the story after hearing the other student (We’ll call her T) share her side, but any time I tried to explain/defend myself I was dismissed. They were’t looking for the truth of my experience with the other students, in the world immediately following the Columbine School Shooting late 90’s early 00’s, anything that could even be twisted out of context into threatening language was taken very seriously.
I defended myself tit for tat for several hours until the faculty got stuck on my “threatening” note which had only been a response to T’s note explaining how she knew exactly where her father, a local police officer, kept his gun and she wasn’t afraid to use it. None of the faculty recalled seeing that note. T had collected them and taken them home to her parents, which is how the school became involved in the first place. T’s father had threatened to have me arrested if the school didn’t suspend or expel me citing the notes he brought in as evidence.
I demanded to be taken to my desk, because I knew the note defending my innocence was tucked away in a corner where I left it. At least I thought the note was where I left it, but when I was taken to the classroom and allowed to look in my desk all of the notes were gone. I tore my desk apart looking for them when I didn’t immediately see it where I remembered leaving it until the realization slowly sank in. T had taken the notes from my desk as well as her own notes home to her father, but only the ones incriminating myself had made their way back to the school. At thirteen years old, I was betrayed, threatened, and essentially framed by a police officer.
When I realized what had happened, I cleaned up my desk and returned to the office empty handed. I didn’t say another word after that, accepting whatever my fate was going to be and terrified that I would be arrested. My silence was viewed as disrespectful and defiant, so in addition to the three day suspension I received I was also supposed to attend mandatory counseling with the principal twice a week to correct my “attitude”. I only attended one “counseling” session with that woman, and it was the closest thing to psychological torture I’ve ever endured from a stranger.
Two hours I sat in her office terrified to speak at all when I was told that T’s father was a very “close personal friend” which is why the principal had stepped in to “correct” my behavior, which shows how little she actually knew about any type of counseling as I sat across from her desk arms tightly crossed with tears finding their way down each cheek even as desperately as I wanted to stop them. For anyone who doesn’t know, crossing your arms or legs, setting a bag, or anything else between yourself and another person is a defensive posture, not a defiant posture. I was terrified to say anything and inadvertently end up in jail so I sat there and endured that woman telling me how backwards I was, and how it was inappropriate to respond with silence when an elder authority figure was addressing you, and how I should look her in the eye when she was speaking, and how the Bible says to respect authority.
I don’t remember if she actually let me go, or if I had taken enough of her abuse and bolted out of her office, but I do remember bawling for my mother of all people to protect me and take me home. Yeah. That’s how bad this was. I preferred my mother to the principal of the school. When I couldn’t find my mom I made my way to my next class, still upset, still bawling, dizzy and hardly able to stand. I was supposed to report to gym class, but I didn’t even go to the locker room before hand. I just walked down to the gym and basically collapsed on the bleachers still crying.
Several students paused to see if I was okay, and the teacher came over to ask me what was wrong, but I couldn’t say anything except the principal’s name and that I wanted to go home. After that incident, the principal tenured her resignation, and I don’t think she ever spoke to me or acknowledged my presence ever again. My mom also quit her job so she could bring me and my sisters back home, but I wanted to come back and finish out my 8th grade year.
In the midst of the chaos I had found three students that I actually got a long with. They were a year behind me, but because of the small size of the school 7th and 8th grade was combined. I wanted to go back to spend another school year with them, some of my own friends at that point. Mom wasn’t thrilled, but eventually enrolled me to finish. 8th grade wasn’t nearly as bad as my 7th grade year had been. Most of the students I had issues with went off to high school or other schools all together, leaving myself and my friends behind. The interim principal wasn’t nearly as abusive as the first.
The one thing about that school that ultimately imprinted and changed my life was the incident with T and her father. I’ve never trusted any law enforcement officer since, even the ones that have been genuinely interested in helping me. Even as a middle class caucasian woman, at the impressionable age of thirteen I have seen the dark side of the police world and encountered an officer willing and ready to abuse his power. Granted he thought he was protecting his daughter, and most parents will go to great lengths to protect their children. Even still, as an officer he had a responsibility to protect the community as a whole, not just his own interests and he failed.
He was just as big of a bully as his daughter had been, which is probably where she learned the behavior in the first place. It forever left a lasting impression on me, that I honestly didn’t even know I had until recently. At least I figured it out I guess… now I just have to figure out how to undo the damage.