I found the support and understanding that I needed from my animals. Through my association with my pets, I found the attention and love that I was missing. They understood how I felt and they listened when I talked to them. If it wasn't for my pets, I don't know where I would be. At school, any time I had to write, I wrote about animals. It didn't matter what I had been assigned, I wrote about animals.
I had very large handwriting. As the abuse continued my handwriting got smaller and smaller. The teachers saw this as positive because they said my handwriting was too large and messy. I know it was a withdrawal into myself. During this time, my learning came in bits and pieces. I was often in class in body, but not in mind.
I didn't care about myself, didn't do my homework, felt tired all the time, couldn't study, and failed tests. My writing and spelling skills didn't develop and I began to have serious trouble with school. I wasn't learning anything and didn't feel I could ask for help. Because of the abuse, I was afraid to go to gym class because I had to show my body. I just skipped this class. I eventually got to the point that whenever I was feeling badly about myself, I just skipped school. I began to get into trouble for skipping school and I was punished.
The teachers became frustrated with my behaviour. I was not working while at school and I missed a lot of days because I skipped. I felt I couldn't work at school because I was a bad person. I didn't deserve to do well. I had always loved going to school, but I came to believe I wasn't good enough for school and didn't deserve to be there. I stopped working. As a result, I was put into special classes.
There was no time pressure and we did only short bits of learning. The first year in special class was okay, not great, just okay. My second year was very hard because I had a male teacher. I felt very nervous and insecure in this class. Having a man for a teacher reminded me daily of the abuse. I got depressed and I learned very little. I was falling farther and farther behind my school mates. This made me feel stupid and dumb. I came to believe that I couldn't learn because I was a "slow learner." ... .
From grade four on, I know that I didn't learn what I should have. I was put from one grade to the next without learning anything. They gave me "social passes." I continued to go to school until I was in junior high. For a short time the abuse wasn't happening all the time and I again began to enjoy school. It didn't last long. The third abuser came into my life and all fears, nervousness, and isolation returned. Learning once again stood still and, finally, I quit school.
I am presently in an adult upgrading class. I still find it hard because I am still trying to deal with all of the abuse from the past. I still have days when I feel worthless and I miss school, but I am doing the best that I can. In end I know that I will get what I want. I'll never give up!
The author of "Coping" wishes to remain anonymous. This is the first time she has put her experience into words for anyone, including herself. It has helped her to look at what she has experienced and is a first step to dealing with it.