TV Shows Like ‘A Teacher’ Have a Responsibility to Explain Why Some Predators Succeed
I was barely 16 when I was sexually assaulted by a school official. FX's miniseries gave me a blueprint for sexual predation, but it did nothing to give voice to young victims.
FX on HuluI also felt equipped to consent when I met a man we’ll call Joey. He was cute, in a celebrity crush sort of way—I’d always thought of him as the Italian John Stamos. He was into acting and popular in the local theater circuit; he lived nearby and offered me rides to and from rehearsal. Joey met my mom, and she trusted him to transport me safely. When we were in the car together, he’d ask me about school and tell me about women he was dating and shows he performed in. I told him about colleges I was interested in and confided in him about my parents’ recent separation.
My experience getting to know Joey reminds me of how Mrs. Wilson groomed Eric. The car rides and the oversharing about her personal life built trust between them. Eric lapped it all up, like an abandoned puppy looking for a forever home.Like Eric, I was honored that a talented and objectively good-looking adult would want to interact with me, a kid concerned mostly with schoolwork, grades, and negotiating weekend curfews. With Joey, I felt seen in ways my home life wasn’t granting me. And by the time he appeared in my tiny world, I’d already been thrust into adulthood. When your father chooses his vices over his family and your mother defaults to rage and routinely behaves as though motherhood is the short end of the stick she was given, your childhood peters out like a flame to water. Research now knows that children born to
struggle to get their psychological needs met at home. I firmly believe that the emotional void I’d experienced as a child primed me for Joey’s grooming.Related StoryNick Robinson Breaks Down the 'A Teacher' FinaleEven 25 years later, it’s hard to internalize that I was not—and could not have been—a consenting partner in this equation. Sometimes, I still catch myself chalking the experience up to my own bad decision-making and failure to speak up. I was a child who grew up in an archaic and invalidating"children should be seen and not heard" environment, headtopics.com
a toxic approach to parenting that has endured for generations. Thanks to therapy, I know now that Joey deluded me with a carefully crafted show of respect and validation that the other adults weren’t showing me. As a child craving adult acceptance and positive attention, I fell for the ruse and was his for the taking. Before I knew it, I was cutting school to be with him. And like Eric, I didn’t tell anyone. I felt an obligation to protect my abuser—a sense of responsibility that may also be a byproduct of parentification.
When I think of all that I was processing at the time, and all that made me susceptible, I get angry. Joey seized an opportunity I could not have consented to—that Iwould nothave consented to under normal and healthy circumstances. At 16, I was not capable of consent. And I don’t have to know anything about Joey’s life or struggles to know that what he did was objectively criminal and damaging. There is no level of nuance that could have made his behavior palatable.
We need more television shows and films that dive deeper into the root causes of sexual predation, on the receiving end. But what we don’t need are any more glorifications about attractive, wayward, and unfulfilled predators who seek escape in vulnerable children.
A Teacherhelped me understand, fully, that I’d been sexually abused. But it failed to help me feel understood.This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io headtopics.com
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