My teacher started sleeping with me when I was 17. But first she brainwashed and groomed me, a meticulous process that took years. I know it started when I was at least 16, but probably as early as 14. The details are murky to me and it's so hard to know what to trust. As a man who was abused by a woman, I feel constant pressure to exaggerate the nature of what happened to me so that my feelings make more sense. I constantly have to remind myself, just because I thought I wanted the sex at the time, that doesn't mean it was appropriate or my fault. I never initiated anything, but she grilled it into my head that I had instigated the whole process. Even though my I can work through it intellectually, my body and spirit seem to still believe I'm at fault. As my senior year of high school came to a close, I watched myself transform from charismatic and confident leader to a distrustful and antisocial cynic. I was constantly pulled away from my friends and family, forced to lie to them. She even had me steal pharmaceuticals from my friend's parents for her own personal use. She demanded my time and attention at a whim and then sometimes would ignore me for days at a time, usually after threatening to hurt or kill herself. I constantly feared that I had ruined her life, that I had driven her to suicide. I carried the shame of her family. She told me I had to protect her father's fame. That if anyone found out it would bring down his career. Over the summer, she encouraged me to travel thousands of miles across the country to visit her while she was with family. She promised that she would leverage their network and wealth to help my career. I paid for the trip myself, lied to my family that I was visiting friends. I now see that I went mostly because I was scared what would happen if I didn't. When I finally got off the plane, she picked me up at the airport and dropped me off at my reservations. She told me she wouldn't be seeing me. I was terrified: two weeks in almost completely alone in another city as a broke 17 year old. She ignored my calls for days. When she finally agreed to see me, she told me that the stress I had caused was tearing her family apart. She drove me across the state in her car and made me stay the night with her. I felt so scared and alone. I couldn't explain how badly I wanted to go home. The only thing I could real do with her was have feelingless, mechanical sex, that left me feeling a moment's relief, then deeply ashamed. When we both got back home she agreed to leave me alone. I felt relieved, like she wanted me to get on with my life. I always assumed she had my best interest in mind. I wanted to help her, I didn't understand that it wasn't my responsibility to manage her moods and feelings. Even when we went our separate ways, I still felt like I owed her something. And sure enough when I left for college, on the other side of the country, she booked herself a two week visit. I did not want her to come, but I couldn't say no. She might kill herself. Or publicly shame me. I took two weeks off from friends and school to spend time with a woman that terrified me. She fed me alcohol and opiates. I would break down in tears after sex, hysterical and ashamed and scared and confused. She would shame me for crying. I didn't know how to get away. I have memories of her trying to have sex with me while I was barely conscious. I try not to read into those so deeply. I just don't know what happened. When she finally left, she promised she would leave me alone. Of course, she didn't. Instead she bombarded me with texts and phone calls. I ignored them for months, I wanted to get on with my life. When I got back home for winter break, she insisted we meet for lunch. I told myself that this was the last straw, that maybe I could finally get rid of her this time. When we sat down, she lamented to me about the chaos of her life, how terrible it was without me. Once I was feeling sorry for her, she let me know what a terrible person I was. She told me I was a liar and an impostor, and that I was full of false promises. She completely destroyed my confidence in myself. Targeted every single teenage insecurity. She followed me to my car and forced herself on me. I felt like I was no longer in my body. I forced her away and she finally got out of my car. Back at college I continued to ignore her calls and texts for months. Then she sent me a package with two ultrasounds and a photo of her pregnant belly. "You shouldn't ignore my calls," she wrote. I was terrified; I knew it was nearly impossible that she was pregnant- we always used protection. But a part of me would rather believe she was pregnant than believe she would make something like this up to get my attention. On that day, I felt my psyche fracture permanently. It was clear- this was a very bad thing. I doubled down on drinking and drugs. My only way out was hedonism. My school and my art were pushed to the backburner, all I cared about now was getting loaded. I spent college in a daze. Buying, selling, using drugs, shoplifting and generally causing trouble. I somehow managed to graduate in 3 years all the same. I was just eager to get on with my life. I got a promising job and cleaned up a little bit, trying to pour myself into work, instead of hedonism. But nothing really worked. I was running away from a constant sense of shame and guilt. I blamed myself for everything. Eventually my job, relationships, and social life fell apart. My entire being was crumbling because of a foundational lie- I believed that there was something terribly wrong with me. I believed I had ruined someone's life and family. And that I would have to carry that shame forever. Eventually I threw in the towel on everything else and headed back home with family to focus on healing. Here I am at 24, and my life is nowhere near what I thought it would be. The relationship was about 9 months, but I've carried it with me everyday for the past 6 years. I've taken the past year to focus on healing, on letting go, and it actually feels like something's happening. I'm miles ahead of where I was a year ago, but I still feel so much pain and shame and grief. Today, I sincerely felt for a moment that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Just a glimpse, but I will carry it with me to the end. There's so much more I could put here. All the painful details and nuances and logistics. Frankly, I don't have the energy, at least not right now. I just want to say this: it does get better, I am healing, and someday I will be free of this. It's not my damn fault.
1 year later
It's over now. It took about a year focused on healing. But I've transcended my experience, and I'm stronger for it. I was very lucky to have the resources to come home, remain unemployed, and focus on healing during the pandemic. I spent months feeling my shame and letting it pass. Twice weekly therapy. I also had to disentangle my trauma from my sleep disorders and bipolar disorder. But eventually the smoke started to clear. I'm free from shame. I'm free from self-blame and self-hatred. I'm free from the feelings of anger and entrapment. And my life is moving on. It can happen to you. Both trauma and total, complete healing. I was so low when I shared my narrative here. But now my world outlook is completely different. I'm happy, healthy, and my life is full of love. Stay with it.