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Debbies's Story

It took me twenty-eight long years to finally “get it.” My affair with the teacher began when I was 17, a senior in high school. He was in his forties and married. Our affair lasted two and a half years. After numerous attempts to leave him, I finally found the courage. While in the relationship, and long after, I suffered devastating consequences: The loss of innocence. Shame. Isolation. Depression. Suicidal thoughts. Just to name a few. All those years, despite the abuse, I had felt responsible for what had happened. After all, I was the one who had started it. I had reached out to him for emotional support after a break-up with my boyfriend.  

For the next 20+ years, on the outside, I appeared to be leading a normal life. I got married. I had a job. I raised five kids. Yet, I was not able to forget what had taken place. In church, the topic of adultery was often discussed. In the media, the teacher/student scandals made headlines. And I was reminded each time of what had happened; scenes replayed in my mind which wouldn’t go away for weeks at a time. I had asked God for forgiveness. I forgave the teacher. And eventually, I forgave myself. But one troubling thing remained. I still blamed myself; I still felt it was my fault. I deserved the consequences for which I suffered: a lack of friends, having to keep my past a secret, an inability to trust people.   

In the meantime, I felt the Lord nudging me to write. After digging through old files, I came across the teacher’s letters, our printed phone conversations, and my journals. So, I began to write and eventually completed my manuscript. My reason for disclosure was simple: to warn the readers of the devastating consequences of sin and how God extends his forgiveness to those who are remorseful for what they have done.I ended my manuscript with the line: “I never knew the price I’d paid.” I had thought that was why the Lord wanted me to write. But I was wrong. Little did I know how greatly God’s plan would surpass my understanding!

Frustrated with several minor setbacks while dealing with a publishing company, I decided to ask my husband’s colleague to read the manuscript and get her feedback. She was a social worker/therapist. The next morning she contacted me, insisting that we talk. And once again, my world turned upside down. She told me candidly that I had been sexually exploited. The teacher was an adult and I was a kid. She also said that the abuse was NOT my fault.

I was exploited? I didn’t like what she said. But after several days of thinking about her comments, I realized that what she had said was true. All the little things I had pondered through the years suddenly made sense. To know that I was taken advantage of was not easy to accept, yet what a relief it was to finally be able to let go of the burden I’d carried for so long.

I changed my manuscript’s ending in nick of time and last spring,Deception: A Deaf Girl’s Journey through Trust, Betrayal, Abuse, and Redemption was published.  

But that was not the end of my journey. After its release, the Deaf community reacted. Some voiced their support and offered words of encouragement. Some remained silent and said nothing. Yet others actually attacked me for not reporting the teacher. I was victimized the first time by the teacher. And now, the Deaf community was victimizing me a second time! Yet through it all, I remained strong.

There’s so much to be done to educate and bring awareness to the community at large. Thank you S.E.S.A.M.E. for spreading awareness about teacher exploitation. 

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