Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Victim or Survivor?

Walking amongst us every day there are survivors and victims.   There are men and women, children and adults that have been abused.  I know because I am one of them. Abuse can take many forms.  There is physical, financial, sexual, psychological and emotional to name a few.  Some forms of abuse leave obvious marks on the abused.  You can see the bruises.  You can witness the scars.  Other forms are not as obvious.  Emotional abuse is one of those forms.  Many people are unaware that they are even being emotionally abused until the abuse becomes too much to bear. 

Kali Munro, a pyschotherapist defines emotional abuse as the following:

Let's say that slowly:  Emotional abuse is a series of repeated incidents that insult, threaten, isolate, degrade, humiliate, and/or control another person.  Hmmmmm......  It includes:  insults, criticisms, aggressive demands or expectations, threats, rejection, neglect, BLAME, emotional manipulation and control, ISOLATION, punishment, terrorizing, ignoring or teasing.

Emotional abuse chips away at your soul.  It leaves scars that no one can see and never truly leave you.  Emotional abuse makes you question yourself.  It makes you feel as though you are not smart enough, not skilled enough, not good enough.  Emotional abuse can shake your confidence.  It can affect your relationships and can change your future.
As a survivor, I can look back and understand the slow and insidious way that emotional abuse changed my life.  I still vividly recall how I felt and how much I questioned myself.  I remember placing the blame on myself for the abuse.  I remember being isolated.  I remember worrying that if I spoke up, that others would not believe me.
I guess this is why I am so incensed at what I see happening in our schools.  It is truly nothing short of emotional abuse.  Our children and our teachers are being emotionally abused.  Worse yet, they are being gaslighted to believe that they are the problem.  The assessments are designed to show failure, not success.  We are testing our children using instruments that are clearly not appropriate, intentionally written above their grade level and maturity level, requiring them to sit for long periods of time and creating a situation where they feel poorly about themselves.  Our children are being emotionally manipulated to believe that these tests are normal, even good for them.  Parents are being emotionally manipulated into believing that these tests actually tell them something about their children and their schools.  Teachers are being manipulated into administering these tests under secure conditions that rival the security at the Pentagon.  Additionally are then coerced into signing affidavits that state that if they discuss the tests that they are required to score, they could be subjected to job loss and prosecution.   These aggressive demands have become so commonplace that we are even subjected to test protocol meetings as part of a regular faculty meeting.  
The teachers in our public schools are being emotionally abused every day.  We are living in a climate of fear.  We fear for our jobs.  We fear for our ratings.  We fear for our students.  We fear that at any moment someone may walk in and rate us based upon an unrealistic expectation.  We are isolated from colleagues and friends.  Our concerns are ignored and at times ridiculed.  Our words are twisted and used against us.  We are portrayed as "entitled" and "whiners" when we advocate for children and the academic freedom that is part of our contractual rights.
Fighting against emotional abuse is hard.  It is a game that is best played by experts.  Abusers tend to hone their skills.  Victims are often so oppressed that they spend much of their time fending off attacks and simply surviving. It is difficult to get out on the offensive.  It takes courage.  It takes a support system.  It takes resources.  I know, because it took every ounce of strength I had to break out of the abuse.  I had to learn to trust my support system and bravely defend myself.  It took time and it took every ounce of resources that I had.  Today, I am a different person.  Although I bear no physical scars, I carry them deep inside my heart.  I choose to be a survivor and not a victim.  I use my experience to remind me that no one has the right to make me feel less about myself and who I am.  I will never again believe that I am not smart enough, or skilled enough or good enough.  I will never allow myself to be abused again.

Teachers, we must choose to fight against this abuse.  We must lean on each other and we must trust each other.  We must be united in our support of our fellow educators.  We must not let others define us.  We can define ourselves.  It is time to take back what was always ours:  Education.  We are educators.  We are skilled enough.  We are good enough.  We are smart enough.  Scripts and packaged curriculum do not teach.  WE DO.   We will always carry the scars; we need them to remind us of where we were and who we are.   But, we must choose to be survivors, not victims.  The time is now.

#IgniteTheFight  #Speaktruthtopower #StandupSpeakout 

1 comment:

  1. Kate, my name is Danna Thomas and I am a public school teacher in inner-city Baltimore. I am also the founder of "happy teacher revolution". Your words are so unbelievably powerful and so perfectly aligned with the mission of happy teacher revolution. Please email me at because I believe your words and your message needs to be spread and speaks to the necessity of a happy teacher REVOLUTION !!!