I have wanted to write my story for a really long time, but there are some things that have been getting in my way. It is hard to face the truth and to relive it by writing it down, but I am writing it down in hopes it will either help someone else or set another small part of me free. I grew up in a home with an abusive, alcoholic dad and a mom who worked while going to school and managing two daughters. My mom bore the brunt of the abuse until they divorced when I was 12 years old. Our already broken family was still hurting. We nursed our wounds in tears and silence, disconnection and depression. This depression is something I have carried with me every day of my life since. Sometimes it hides, and sometimes it rears its ugly head for days and drags me to the depths of hell.
The only thing that seemed to have any impact on driving depression away was music. Listening, playing flute, singing, and the camaraderie of the musical experience. Soon my band family was just as important as my immediate family. I have been a huge band nerd since at least the first day of marching band in high school. I spent my entire life in a small city in Indiana, attending my zoned elementary school and the only public middle and high schools in the city. Nothing was atypical about that part of the experience.
When freshman year was concluding, our band director dropped a bomb on us... she was leaving. Change came like a freight train. Our new band director was aggressive, pushed us all really hard musically (in technique and fundamental knowledge) and held us to a painfully high rehearsal etiquette standard. I knew we were learning a lot. She told us how far behind we were, which we were not used to hearing. We were used to performing "okay" at local marching and stage contests, but we never cared that much about getting 1st place. We more cared about the experience and enjoying making music with our friends. The new director pushed us so that many hated her. As someone who was considering teaching as a profession, I was interested in how I could improve and be the best flute player. At times I hated her, but I appreciated that she didn't sugarcoat it and told us how it was... even if it sucked to hear. She easily discovered who the devoted members of the band were and quickly got those people on her side. It was a tough year for her with a lot of dead weight in the ensemble, and she frequently vented her anger on the ensemble in the most unattractive, unprofessional way. She frequently flew into rages at kids who weren't pulling their weight or were being idiotic. A core group of us appreciated this ridiculous behavior because it meant she cared about our class time and felt bad when our time was wasted. That didn't stop some kids engraving "******* has AIDS" on music stands or making crude jokes behind her back. She was an unmarried cat owner living in an apartment, and many kids assumed she was a lesbian because she was almost 40 years old and still single.
As she stuck around for a second year, she took further interest in my musical abilities and encouraged my middle class family to splurge on flute lessons. She began tutoring me and two of my classmates on music theory because we were the ones she thought should become music teachers. She had us spend lunch hours with her in the music office doing mini lessons on theory and conducting. She also had us go over to one of the girl's homes to do theory together. It was weird seeing a teacher at my friend's house. But we just shrugged and went with it. The problem is that she had already started grooming me. At the end of year 2, she decided to leave for a job at the university she attended for her bachelor's and master's degrees. Her core group, me included, was shocked. She had started to turn our group into a band that sounded better and worked harder. The woman who was hired in her place lacked the knowledge to succeed as a high school band director.
My friend and I, as drum majors, had to take the band to contests and act as the teachers because the new lady didn't know what she was doing. And before leaving, our previous director gave us her email. She and I began emailing regularly. At first, I was complaining about the state of our program and how it was diminishing. Then we began talking about my family troubles. She would console me and listen when I didn't feel like my parents were listening. She gave me a calling card so I could call her if I needed to. It seemed weird, but when things at home were tough, I would call her. I hid her phone number and the calling cards in the empty battery slot of my boombox. We began writing poems back and forth. I was desperate for someone to take me away from my home situation, which was really hard to navigate with my depression and increasing desire for independence. She joined a popular art site my friends and I were using to private message me, send me poems that increased in both intensity and sexual content, and comment on my poems and artwork. My friends didn't know it was her. She convinced me to do music education as my major... she wanted me to follow in her footsteps. Instead of taking band senior year, I took a computer class. I used that class to talk to her constantly on the art site mentioned previously.
As I prepared for solo/ensemble and my college audition, she kept in constant contact with me via email and phone. I learned two songs for the audition that were very challenging. My friends and I prepared a flute ensemble for a contest, and one of my friends invited her to come to the house where we would all be practicing that day. She was happy to come over to listen to solos and our big ensemble. As I was left alone in the basement with her, I began to shake. I played my first audition piece for her, which was slow and sultry. As soon as I was done, she shoved the music stand aside and faced me with a powerful stance, her shoulders square to mine. She kissed me passionately and hard. I didn't know what to do, but I did not pull away. I remember feeling panicked knowing that my friends were just upstairs and could easily come down at any moment. She asked me to sit down and kissed me more. She put her hand between my thighs, and my face grew hot. Then she asked me to play the second song.
We returned from a band contest in my senior year. My older sister went to college that year, so there was nobody to tell the truth when I told my mom what time we would be getting back. I walked the four or so blocks to the DQ near the high school, where "she" was waiting for me in her car. She drove toward my house, which was just a couple of miles away. Instead of driving to my house, however, she pulled in behind the Croatian Center. It was probably a 7 minute walk from my house. She parked the car in the dark, deserted lot and began to kiss me. She put her hand up my shirt. And then up my skirt. I was really embarrassed and didn't quite know what to do. She couldn't have seen my red face in the darkness that surrounded the car that night. I felt disgusting and dirty. I had never been with anyone before. Who knew the first time would be with a teacher I had always looked up to and respected? I remember finding a lot of blood later and feeling really uncomfortable for a few days given her roughness. She gloated a day later about how she had to throw away the rings she had on her fingers that night. I didn't want to tell anyone about what happened because I think I was trying to be a grown up. I still trusted her and hoped she wouldn't do anything to hurt me.
She came to a restaurant after one of our marching contests that most of the band students and chaperones attended. She gave me some of her perfume and insisted on holding my hand under the table. I sat in fear throughout that entire meal. I didn't want anyone to know because I knew it was wrong. But I was also scared. She continued showing up to school-sponsored events off campus because she wanted to see me away from my parents. She showed up at a Maynard Ferguson concert our band went to one evening. She came to an Applebee's dinner with some band friends and band boosters. She insisted on driving me home from Indiana All-State Band. At each of these events, she would find a way to go into the bathroom with me. She would shove my hand down her pants and shove her hands down mine. I knew that my actions were incredibly grown up, but I wasn't mentally ready for any of it. Sometimes it felt good, sometimes it hurt, and sometimes I felt numb.
On my 18th birthday, my English class took a field trip to Chicago. We prearranged that I would stay at her condo instead of returning with my class to the school afterward. She took further advantage of me at her condominium just west of the city. She was so excited I was legal and said if I ever told anyone about her actions before that day, she would deny everything. I figured I had no leg to stand on when it came to being believed about everything. She bought me a piccolo, which is something I had wanted for a long time... but it was too expensive and I felt very strange accepting the gift. I remember she made me shower with her after having sex that day, but I felt so naked and damaged and wished I could have escaped. While I was visiting her in the city, she took me to an erotic shop. I was embarrassed and didn't know what to make of it. I thought I was going to get in trouble for being there. She nonchalantly talked to me about and showed me things I had never seen before. She seemed to delight in it. When it was time for her to take me back to the train station that night, I cried. Part of me didn't want to go home. It was a lonely place. As we sat in the train station, I cried some more. She decided to drive me home instead. We sat for quite some time talking about the future and my education. She said that if I was accepted into the college, I could live with her to ease the financial burden. I knew my parents would not go for that.
My mom had begun reading my email after installing some sort of tracking device on our computer to record my password. She threatened to call the cops and even called this woman at work. I was scared because I thought it would be my fault if she got in trouble. Many days I wish I had been honest with my mom. I didn't want to get in trouble. I wasn't a bad person... I usually did as I was told. I wish I had been able to see what was happening to me. I wish I would have understood that this woman was the predator and that she had groomed me. I was sucked into a 7-year relationship with her, from ages 17-24. It was a secret we kept from my family and was the basis of many lies about myself, my relationship, and my living quarters for years. I can only imagine what a scandal it would have made in that small city in Indiana had I busted the lid open on what was happening. I was waiting to be saved, but I didn't have an idea who could save me. I ended up moving to Texas for a new job. Our relationship formally ended after she cheated on me during the first school year with an old man. It was so dramatic. It was so difficult. It was such a relief. The amount of time it has taken to get anywhere close to healing has been monumental.
The statute of limitations on child seduction, which is the legal name for my situation according to Indiana law, states that as the victim turns 31, no charges can be brought against the instigator. I turned 32 this year. The insane amount of healing time tells me that no statute of limitations should exist; by the time a victim is ready to come forward, it might be too late. The person who stole that part of my life is still a teacher, working in the Chicago area. I hope every day that there hasn't been another "me" in her life.