Julie's Story

He made me feel special. I was 14, and didn't even like boys yet. Mr. Lamb was the new vocal music teacher, a demanding, intimidating man who had a wife and a small child.

My mother wanted me to take piano lessons from him, which I did for one hour a week after school. He needed clerical help, and asked if I would do that after school in payment, so I stayed after school for an hour on a different day;. The first time I sat at the typewriter, he stood behind me and put his hands on my shoulders. It was unusual, but I thought it was "fatherly", and was flattered. When I took my piano lessons, he stood behind me, and often put his hands on my shoulders as I played. One day he reached down my blouse and fondled me. I stopped playing, totally shocked, and he took his hand away, talking about the music, and what notes I should have played – as if he were somehow not attached to his own hand. I didn't know what to do, so I didn't do anything. Sometimes he pushed up against my back. It felt disgusting, but I thought it was because I was special to him, and I was afraid of what he might do if I told him to stop. I also believed I must have done something to invite it, and felt ashamed.

One day he sat beside me on the piano bench, so I thought he would leave me alone, but he put his hand on my knee, then under my skirt. When I put my legs together, he stopped, but didn't say anything. I just gave in then. I knew what he was doing was really wrong, and yet there was some pleasure in being touched; so I felt even more shame. Sometimes the janitor would come in, so Mr. Lamb would stop until he left. He molested me pretty much every week for the rest of the school year. If he saw me in the hall, he leered at me in a way that made me feel uncomfortable. At one point, I told him I needed to quit both the lessons and clerical help because I needed to study more, but he said it was too late to get a replacement for clerical help. He threatened to fail me in music, and I didn't think my parents would believe me if I told them the truth. Shortly before the school year ended, he told me to take inventory of all the music in the very small storage closet.

He left, as he usually did while I worked, but this time,he went to lock the music room door and came back. He pushed me against the wall. He had never been rough before, and I knew I couldn't stop him from raping me. Then somebody was banging on the music room door! He ignored it at first, but it didn't stop. He told me to be quiet, and went to open the door. It was another male teacher. I was shaking so badly, but got myself together as quickly as I could and ran out the door past them. I never went back after that.

The next school year he transferred to another small town in Iowa. I wish now I had reported him, or sent a letter (even anonymously) to that next school to warn them. But he was a respected teacher, and I was just a kid, so I didn't think anyone would believe me. One time I asked a friend, who took private voice lessons from him, if he had ever tried anything. She blew up at me, saying he was a friend of her family's, she babysat for their child, he was totally professional, a wonderful person, and would never do anything of the kind! After that, I knew to keep my mouth shut.

Many years later, receiving therapy for PTSD, I finally realized it wasn't my fault. I wish all victims of pedophiles could know it is never, ever, your fault! It is the responsibility of the adult to control themselves. I was horrified to read recently that even today, schools are more afraid of being sued by the teachers than the students. When students get the courage to tell, it's discounted or ignored. These are the people who are supposed to protect their students! The long-term effects of this abuse can be subtle and persistent. For a long time, I victimized myself in various ways, feeling powerless and angry, long after I was a grown woman! My self-esteem was 0, I developed a drinking problem, partly to anesthetize the memories and feelings of rage and shame.

Once I was in a therapy group with other women who had been sexually abused. I was the only one who wasn't an incest victim. I felt what happened to me wasn't as bad, and stopped going. Your statement in the newsletter that sexually exploitative behavior by teachers is "psychologically equivalent to incest" was powerful and profound for me.

When I was an adult, I was raped in a third-world country. I thought I could stop it, but I couldn't and regressed mentally to the helplessness I had felt at the age of 14. I never knew it was possible to feel so violated or degraded, and I disassociated for most of it. I'm grateful I survived, but am occasionally hypervigilant, and re-experience a sense of shame and anger, despite several years of therapy and long-term sobriety. My therapist said it all goes back to what Mr. Lamb did to me as a child. I live in Littleton, Colorado, and after the shootings at Columbine High School, right down the street from he, it brought back all the issues of losing one's sense of personal safety, which is never really regained.

I doubt that Mr. Lamb is still teaching. He would be in his 60's now. Whatever he's doing, he is undoubtedly still stalking young girls, unless he's dead.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story, and reminding me I am not alone. There is empowerment in numbers! Your continuing effort to get protective legislation passed is much appreciated. He may have taken my innocence, but he did not win. Despite some of the lingering effects, today I have a sense of peace and happiness. I feel whole and strong and grateful for each day of life. There is hope.

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