Thank you for writing. I’m sure it was difficult to put the story into words yet again. I’m very glad you are seeing a therapist. And, yes, I agree with the diagnosis – with one exception. I don’t think this was a “mild” trauma. From your description, this was a highly traumatic experience for you. I wonder if you shared the whole story with your therapist. If not, please consider showing him/her the entire letter you wrote to me.
Your teacher crossed an important professional boundary. The fact that you think you had a lot in common despite a 10 year age difference suggests she was also highly immature. She used you for her personal emotional needs. By keeping you so involved with her, she also deprived you of normal teen experiences. As painful as it can be, flirting, trying out relationships and the shake ups and break ups, help a young person learn what kind of person they want to be with and how to be close to someone special. By convincing you that you were her most intimate friend, your teacher gradually isolated you from your peers. This is emotional abuse. She pulled you into emotional content and experiences that you weren’t ready for. The only “silver lining” in this story is that the relationship was stopped before it became even more intimate; perhaps even sexual. It seemed to be headed that way.
My guess is that someone tipped off the authorities and her job was in jeopardy. Rather than take responsibility for what she had done, she somehow convinced her superiors that there was something wrong with you, leaving you, a young boy, feeling betrayed and ashamed and scared. If that weren’t enough, you were threatened into silence. It’s no wonder to me that the way the relationship ended traumatized you.
Fortunately, you are still young. At 19, your feelings and your intellect are still growing. With some good therapy, you can integrate what happened and move on. Yes, you were deeply, deeply wounded. But with proper treatment wounds do heal and scars can fade over time.
I encourage you to stick with your therapy and to be as honest as you know how with your therapist. You will at times feel strong feelings. Let your therapist help you through them instead of running from them. Once the wound is cleaned out, you can assign the blame and shame where it belongs — with a teacher who misused her position and your vulnerability for her own ends.
I salute you for telling your story in this forum. By sharing you are helping other young people who have been hurt this way feel less alone.
I wish you well.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on May 16, 2009.