My lip was swollen and purple – it throbbed. The (expletive) had bitten through my flesh. He was my Sunday school teacher – I was eleven.
He dismissed class early that day. “I need to talk to you two,” he said to me and another girl. I thought I was in trouble. The girl and I waited, so did he. The room finally cleared, and he proceeded.
“I kept you two back because you are doing such a good job in class… I want to give you a treat,” the (expletive) said with a grin. That was strange; I hated Sunday school and I put absolutely no effort towards class.
He walked the two of us girls up to a cabinet, reached in, and pulled out a single Starburst candy. It was strawberry. He held the candy out in his palm, waiting for one of us to grab it. I was painfully shy – the other girl pounced immediately. He told her she could go.
(As an adult, I understand why he did that. He wanted to decipher which of the two of us would make noise or tell on him. She was loud, I was quiet. That’s why he chose me.)
I obediently waited for his instructions. He was an adult, and my teacher. “You should practice a little more,” the (expletive) stated. I was bummed. I wanted to play outside with the other kids. I felt sad but I had no choice. I dropped my head and walked back to my seat.
He opened my book to Moses’ story. He told me to read it. I began.
Peering over my shoulder, he pressed against me. I didn’t know anything was wrong until he put his arm around me. We were side by side. He grasped my chin and turned my face towards his.
I felt warm, embarrassed, uncomfortable and confused. The room was spinning. I had no idea what was happening – all I knew was that it was very wrong.
He leaned in – his disgusting lips made contact with mine. I couldn’t breathe. I felt paralyzed. My heart felt like it was going to explode.
(This is getting harder to talk about but it’s important, so I’ll go on.)
He proceeded to “suck” on my lower lip. Then, he bit into it. It hurt. “Please be over, please be over,” I remember chanting in my mind. It felt like an eternity. He finally released me. I remained still – eyes locked on the book in front of me. The (expletive) leaned in again, and repeated his leisurely assault.
He released me once again. “Can I go now,” I asked in my littlest voice. He reluctantly allowed me to leave – but he followed me.
I wanted to call my mom. He caught me with the receiver in my hand. He took it from me. Like bait, he dangled the receiver in front of me. “You want to go home… first you have to do something for me,” he said. I stared at the floor, and then him. He put his finger to his lips and tapped.
My heart sank. It wasn’t over. I stood in place – he moved toward me. In a swift move, he grabbed me by the shoulders and assaulted me once again – this time – I turned away. With tears running down my cheeks, I quivered, “I want to go!”
My yelp must have scared him because he loosened his grip immediately. I ran.
Kids played in the yard, like nothing had changed. They jumped rope and sat in the grass – just like any other summer day. Nothing was the same for me. “What happened to your lip,” a fellow classmate questioned. In the smallest voice I could muster, I said, “the teacher kissed me.”
“Ewww!” she squealed. I didn’t know that the evidence of his abuse was literally splattered across my face. I was mortified.
Long story short – my purple, cut, swollen lip drew immediate attention from my parents. We made a midnight trip to someone’s house where adults gathered and asked me – an eleven year old child – excruciating questions. They made suggestions to me about running into walls, self-inflicting my injuries and making up the entire story.
The conclusion? They asked him. He lied.They believed him. He continued to teach. My parents believed me. I stopped attending Sunday school. No one talked about it again until I brought it up as an adult. They thought I had forgotten. I will not.