“I Was 14 Years Old When My Teacher Fell In Love With Me”
When I heard my old English teacher might be coming to a school reunion, I was horrified at the thought of him, all over again. I was 14 years old and good at English, although I never felt marked out for preferential treatment. I clearly wasn’t one of those girls who blossomed early; straight hair, invariably greasy and lank, knee-high socks, flat shoes and a chest to match. I was a bit chubby, too. Maybe my teacher singled me out because I was seen as somehow vulnerable, a child from a broken home – more unusual in the Seventies.
I Was Suddenly Alone With My Teacher…
One afternoon after school, he was at my neighbours’ house, knocking at their door. I knew they wouldn’t be back until late and, after a while, I went out to tell him. He said it was important and asked if he could come in and wait for them. My mother was still at work. Reluctantly, I said okay. To be alone with an adult like this was uncharted territory for me, but I also felt grown up. I was making instant coffee, not for any old adult, but an actual teacher, in my house.
Then he said he had something he wanted to tell me. He talked about me being a “dream girl”. I was so innocent that I instantly assumed he meant I was too dreamy and that I should concentrate more in class. Yet as he continued to talk, it slowly dawned on me. Here was my teacher, an authority figure, standing in my kitchen saying he was no longer attracted to his (pregnant) wife because he was overwhelmed with thoughts of me. As a teenage girl, I just saw him as old – with glasses, thinning hair and white, clammy skin. I leaned against the kitchen door, feeling blank, sick and out of focus, then a sense of pure disbelief as his feelings of lust for me spilled out.
Eventually he must have seen the look of horror on my face and retreated to his car. I realised that coming to see the neighbours had been a ruse. By the time my mother got back, I felt ashamed and couldn’t bear the idea of telling her what had happened. It was all too surreal. My mother was low after the divorce and I knew she wouldn’t cope well with my experience. Instead I went to the local youth club and cried as I told my best friend.
He Handed Me A Love Note With My Exam Paper…
A few weeks later, as I was sitting down to write exams, he handed me my English paper and out dropped a love note. He said he needed to see me, to convince me it would all work out between us. As I read it, he sat down quietly at his desk as if nothing had happened. Everyone silently got on with their papers, but my head was spinning. How I got through that exam I’ll never know.
A week later, during home revision, there were more knocks at the door. I was alone and already had a dreadful feeling it was him. I peered out of a window and saw the top of his balding head. I ducked, hoping he hadn’t seen me. He walked around outside the house rattling the doors. I was terrified; we didn’t have a home phone and it was years before cellphones.
Eventually he left, but when my mother got back I still felt I couldn’t tell her. It had somehow gone too far by then. Instead, I went to another teacher, a woman I trusted, and told her everything. She and a colleague tried to warn him off, but he simply said he couldn’t stop himself, so they went to the headmaster. I was summoned to his office alone and remember him saying, “What’s all this fuss I hear you’ve been making. I would think any young woman would be flattered that an adult man found her remotely interesting.”
Suddenly, It Was All Over
The next thing I knew, I’d been moved out of his class and he’d been given two weeks’ holiday. As far as I know, there was no disciplinary action. He never taught me again and it all stopped after that – thankfully, I felt safe and supported by the teachers I’d told.
Now I have a daughter in high school, almost 14, and when I look at her, I realise how awful my experience was. I trust it will never happen to her, but if it did, I’d be fighting in her corner. It also makes me realise how much has improved since then – support for the victim, awareness of how positions of trust can be abused, information and guidelines that just didn’t exist back then. They say you remember your teachers; I’ll never forget mine. I always wavered between studying English or art, but he kind of made up my mind – I went to art school.