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Is My Teacher Abusing Me?

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From a teen in England:  I don’t know if my teacher emotionally abused me.  I don’t know whether I’m being too sensitive or trying to paint myself as a victim in a situation where I’m not but even now that I’ve left high school I am still severely emotionally affected by my relationship with a particular teacher.

I first met her when I was 14, she taught one to one music lessons she would always say really positive things and that I was her best student. Being a teenager with low self esteem I naturally loved this attention. However, I felt like I was walking on eggshells around her with no idea where the boundaries were.

She was constantly hugging me and touching me ( not sexually though) and would talk to me loads about her personal life , I’d do the same. I guess somewhere along the line I developed a bit of a crush on her , I always felt guilty , I was already uncomfortable with myself for being queer and having these feelings made me feel like I was some kind of pervert.

I never said anything about these feelings to her and tried not to overstep boundaries but I had no idea where they were! It was like she could do or say anything she wanted regardless of how uncomfortable it made me but if I said something that she didn’t like she was quick to get cross at me or to ignore me completely.

I accidentally sent her a text talking about my feelings and how they made me suicidal at the time. She told the safeguarding team at the school and didn’t get into any trouble over giving her personal phone number to a student. After that she ignored me a lot and would snap at me if I tried to talk to her, I felt like it was all my fault.

Am I just blaming a innocent teacher for my own issues? I’ve been out of school for nearly a year now but still see her quite often, though I avoid places now in case I bump into her. The last time I went to see her I intended to apologize because I was worried that I made her uncomfortable with my feelings but before I could say anything she told me to go away because she was busy.

I don’t know what to think, why would she want to hurt me?

Is My Teacher Abusing Me?

Answered by on -

A.

I don’t know enough from your letter to be able to answer your question. Yes, it’s possible your teacher was emotionally abusive and purposefully overstepped boundaries. But it’s also possible that she saw you as a kid who needed a lot of support and then unintentionally got overly involved.

Sometimes people who are trying to help don’t know how to draw effective but sympathetic boundaries. Since they are confused themselves, they give confusing signals to the person they are trying to help. As I said, I can’t tell from the information I have what went on with her.

Of more importance to me than figuring out what the teacher did or did not do is that you are feeling emotionally affected. It could be that the same vulnerabilities or needs that got you into this relationship still exist. I do think you need some help untangling your feelings and dealing with the low self-esteem.

I encourage you to get into some therapy to help you do that. You need some closure on the incident with the teacher. And you deserve the attention of a professional counselor who can maintain appropriate boundaries while helping you figure out how to go from here.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Is My Teacher Abusing Me?

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). Is My Teacher Abusing Me?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 8, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/03/20/is-my-teacher-abusing-me/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 15 Mar 2020 (Originally: 20 Mar 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 15 Mar 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.