The most powerful person in the room was our bully, and the court made us stay there. I don't think there were very many healthy choices available to us to survive that day to day environment.
She called many of us names....and didn't just do name-calling, which would have been bad enough. But she used name-calling as a tool of control through threat of humiliation.
One example was the kids she called 'pigs' and other horrible names. She encouraged us to demean, bully, and laugh at our classmates as they were abused.
....and other damaging, truly unspeakable things.
I am ashamed and sorry for the times I laughed along with the crowd. I am more ashamed for the times I stayed silent. Both of these are normal responses to bullying by teachers.
"Victims of bullying by teachers often feel emotionally distraught and fearful, with no place to turn for help. The victim’s distress is compounded by the inaction or outright complicity of the larger group. The function of such inaction is to further enable the bully and to affirm his or her “right” to use professional authority in an arbitrary manner. By not defending the victim, others are confirming his or her selection as an appropriate target, thus endorsing and tacitly legitimizing the abuser’s mistreatment of that individual. Although not every member of the victim’s environment shares the abuser’s values, some do. Many bystanders remain silent or comply to avoid being targeted themselves."
Source: TEACHERS WHO BULLY STUDENTS: PATTERNS AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS. Available: http://www.stopbullyingnow.com/teachers%20who%20bully%20students%20McEvoy.pdf
Especially targeted were the boys, or those who had something she saw as 'different' - whether that be disabled, of a different religion, different socio-economic class, having mannerisms other than what she deemed acceptable.
The red beads are glued on throughout the piece. It took me many weeks of looking for what I felt would be a true representation all the many, many tiny bits of trauma, each harmful to the person targeted. From the physical abuse, to the cutting remarks, to the laughter at humiliation, to the lost opportunities for socialization and forming of basic skills...to the isolation and loss of potential happy childhood memories, the destruction of self-esteem. Fear. Anxiety.
Anguish at being a witness and survivor.
Although I don't wish to make this journey have too many triggering details of the abuse, I have an awful memory which has never been witnessed.
She was making a boy in my class cry and cry....she just kept up the insults at him, screaming in his face, shaming him about his family, his clothes, his hygiene...and then, when his tears and mucous ran down his face onto the floor, and he was crumpled in upon himself in the back of the room, with her screaming over him....she got really mad when he was sobbing and screamed 'You're A DISGUSTING PIG!!!!!!'.....
That classmate, from a family who was struggling economically, and had little support. He never, to my knowledge, even got to have anyone tell about that incident.
This was just one of the many, far too many everyday incidents that went on in that classroom.
On his behalf, I am telling it now.