Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Serious talk

The high school I attended is in a suburb of Houston, Texas about 35 miles north of downtown.  At the time, there were three high schools in our school district.  Since then, the area has grown and a rather disturbing news story has come from my hometown area.  A high school softball coach and social studies teacher has committed suicide after accusations of sexual misconduct with a student.  You can read an article about it here. 

I've been struggling since reading and hearing this.  No, this is not the first story of sexual misconduct I've read about in the last 20+ years.  But, every single time, I read a story like this, I can't help but think of the victim. 

I have my own story, and you can read about it My Own "Dark Places".

The current story is going to be filled with controversy.  The coach and teacher was married with children.  He was only accused, so in light of America being a country where one is innocent until proven guilty, I don't want to make judgement of guilt or innocence.  Some may say he killed himself because of the guilt he felt, or the fear he felt for getting caught, or the stress he felt for being accused of something maybe he didn't do.  We don't know his story. 

I admit that I am angry.  IF the behaviour and actions are indeed true, can you imagine what that 16 year old girl is feeling now?  Accompanied with the trauma, shame, embarrassment, and confusion she was most likely already experiencing, now she is unjustly carrying feelings of guilt as well.  That angers me.  IF the accusations are true, he took the coward's way out.  He added another heap of negativity to that 16 year old added with the trauma he has caused his wife and children.

You know this social media culture that we live in with a whole lot of keyboard judges and juries?  You know the ones.  The ones that sit behind a monitor and pass judgement without facts.  I've already read comments from these people that make my stomach turn.  (Some of those comments are on the news article link I posted.)  Comments that blame the accuser for the man's death.  Comments that question and claim that these are false allegations.  Comments, on the contrary, that claim knowledge of other victims.  None of these comments are needed on social media platforms during a tragic time like this.  I shake my head and my skin crawls. Yes, one comment even made me cry because I can't help my own feelings to creep back in. 

I am going to share some hopes...  I hope the 16 year old girl AND the family of the deceased open themselves up to therapy.  I hope they find a counselor that they develop the type of  therapeutic relationship that will help them sort, discover, face, cope, and heal from the feelings and emotions that will result from the role they play in this tragic story.  I hope they find themselves surrounded with compassion, support, and encouragement.  I hope they are free from judgement, ridicule, and speculation.  I hope this experience doesn't negatively define the future that a 16 year old is facing.

Sadly, I believe that my hopes listed above are stretched and unrealistic.  But, I don't want a life without hope.


  1. I've never read your personal story that you linked to until now. I'm sorry you had to go through something so traumatic at such a young age- at any age, actually. Manipulation through "love" and relationships makes me so anger. I hate physical abuse, but I absolutely detest mental or emotional abuse.
    This is a sad story to read. It's hard to sympathize or blame anyone until facts come out (if they ever do), but it's definitely a reminder that we are responsible for our actions... And sometimes we're vulnerable, but that's why it's important to surround ourselves with quality people. What a sad story :(

  2. i'm off to read your story now. bc i must. this story you wrote about here is terrible. what is wrong w people! i mean i can't say we'll ever understand why people do what they do. i feel terrible for the 16 year old as well. and the families. of everyone. sigh. <3

    xoxo cheshire kat

  3. Oh my gosh - that's just heartbreaking - in so many ways. Praying for that young girl... & even the family of that man. Can you imagine how far the ripples go?
    & what's worse, these sorts of stories are just increasing in number every day it seems... so much heartache in the world.
    I'm with you on all the HOPES.

  4. How did I never read that first post before today? A lot of things you've mentioned make so much more sense now.

    Every aspect of the story you discussed here breaks my heart. What interesting is that where I live, a teacher was recently arrested for having a relationship with one of her middle school students. Absolutely nothing I've seen has had even a hint of victim blaming. I don't know if it has to do with his age or the fact that he was a boy and gender roles were reversed but the teacher is absolutely seen as a predator and the boy as a victim. It's horrible that it's not the same for the girl in your hometown.

  5. Oh Erin. First, thank you for sharing your story in Dark Places and being willing to be so honest and vulnerable. Two traits that are hard enough to do IRL, much less online where bottom feeders can be cruel. You're helping similar victims know they are not alone, which is something so many believe, both during and afterwards. Second, it makes me so mad at how they are treating the young girl. Does it shock me, sadly no. The fact that so many women are made to feel to blame for their assault is why so many never go to the authorities. I, too, hope she and her family get the help they need and surround themselves with those who support them. I love that quote you shared too.

  6. I had never read your post, I can't even imagine. It sickens me to watch predators get into authoritative positions like teaching to take advantage of our youth. Anytime anyone commits suicide, I always think of the family and friends they left behind and the guilt that they must live with. When you add in a victim of this magnitude? I can't even begin to process it. I strongly believe that you can let things that happen in your life define you. But the road to discover that is a long and hard one.

  7. I remember hearing something about this on the news! It really is so amazing how quickly our society is to jump in and judge another person for something that they just read or hear about on the news. Just because it's on the internet or TV doesn't make it true. I also feel so incredibly sorry for that girl, because she should never have to walk around with feeling guilt for coming forward with an allegation like that, especially if it's true.

  8. Wow, it's just terrible for everyone involved. But you are right, he did take the coward's way out. He should have stayed & worked out what needed to be worked out. I too really feel for that 16 year old & the teacher's wife & children, those are the ones that are gonna have to deal to deal with it now. Wow.

  9. What a terrible story. I'm with you in hoping that the victim and the deceased's family find some peace.

  10. I had a very good friend who was investigated for misconduct. They never found any evidence of wrong-doing at all, but he committed suicide because of it. It's horribly sad and totally changed my perspective on the idea of "innocent until proven guilty." Accusations are not convictions.

    That being said, I totally agree with you that if this happened then I really hope that teenage victim gets the help she needs to work through this and to become a healthy, whole adult.

  11. I re-read your post because I want sure if I had read it, but I did.

    Why is the victim always blamed in some way, shape or form, every single time? HE killed himself, he did that, no one else. He made hat choice, for whatever reason that was, but she did not push or make him. He chose that and now he's got to lie in his bed he made. To me that's just so black and white, but I think I also feel immense empathy and can relate on the victim side because I've been there. Hell, we moved out of our city because I got death threats and he vowed to come find me and kill us all after he finished his measly 6 month sentence.
    Can you imagine his children and how they're doing? Wth the accusations, the rumors, that chatter .... Flippin crazy shit man.

  12. oh Erin. this is horrible. I agree with everything you said and I have the same hopes as you. I also love that you called them keyboard judges.. we need less assholes in the world. so quick to judge and comment about something they know nothing about.

  13. I see victim blaming far too often (when the victim is female, that is). I think a lot of it comes from extremely sexist men who think women just love to make up false accusations for attention or to ruin men's lives. And it infuriates me. And a lot of these men are married or dating and I'm just like WHY?! How, as a woman, can you stomach a man like that?

    I'm going off on a tangent...but anyway, I have the same hopes as you and I detest victim blaming.

  14. I also hope that the young girl can avoid the shitty comments on social media/news articles. I think if I were in her position, I would absolutely have to do that (no matter how much I might want to read the comments). I just don't have a thick enough skin to handle the generally awful things some people like to say when they're safely behind a computer screen. Regardless of what some people think, it's not just words on a screen. Those words can really affect other people, and if that person is already dealing with a traumatic experience, those words could have devastating effects.


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