Dreams and Nightmares

Once or twice a month I dream (more like a nightmare) about a so-called teacher who taught home economics at Cascade Junior High School in Bend Oregon when I was in the seventh grade (I was in the seventh grade for two school years–more on that later–so it would have been from September 1971 through June 1972 and then again from September 1972 through December 1972)

I call Dorothy Stenkamp a so-called teacher because she had no more business teaching students, molding young minds, or being in a classroom than my cats do. Even in the seventies, teachers were expected to teach children skills they needed for their future, to report abuse to the authorities, and more than anything else NOT to abuse the children themselves.

I don’t know if I was the only student she verbally and emotionally abused in her so-called teaching career, but I really doubt it. I was a troubled and troublesome student but you can’t tell me that I was the only troubled/troublesome student she ran into in 30 years of so-called teaching.

Now, if this teacher had possessed half a brain she would have seen beyond the behavior to the underlying causes. I know that 40 years ago the regulations on reporting suspected abuse basically did not exist, and there were no repercussions for not reporting suspected abuse–but this woman made things worse by her actions towards me.

I was physically abused by my mother from the time I was 3 years old until I was 16 years old; I was sexually abused by my maternal grandfather from the time I was 8 years old until I was 15 years old; and I have been verbally and emotionally abused by two other family members (mother and maternal grandmother) throughout my life (this abuse continues to this day from my mother).

Any idiot with even half a brain should have realized that a 12 year old girl doesn’t scream at other students so loudly that it hurt their ears for no reason (if I screamed at my tormenters loud enough to hurt their ears, they went away and left me alone, at least til the next time) and any idiot should have realized that a 12 year old girl with test results showing a 140 IQ doesn’t flunk half her classes for no reason.

Teachers often talk about students to other teachers. At least one teacher at Kenwood Elementary School and one at Cascade Junior High would have seen the bruises on my back, buttocks, and the back of my thighs. So its not unlikely that all of my teachers knew somebody was abusing me even though I never said anything (I did however act out to beat hell!)

And you cannot tell me that when my so-called best friend–in whom I had confided–got furious with me and told everybody in school about my maternal grandfather having sex with me when I was 11 years old that the ‘rumors’ stayed confined to the student body. The junior high school counselor heard the ‘rumor’, assumed that it was more than just a ‘rumor’, and had discussed it with my mother ‘there is something very major but she won’t talk about it to me.’ I despised that school counselor with every fiber of my being and wouldn’t have discussed a hangnail with her, much less an attempted rape.

To add to the total joy of being me from third grade through seventh grade (1967 though 1972) my parents divorced in 1968. Back in the sixties, divorce was neither as prevalent or as accepted as it is now. Being from a “broken family’ or ‘a single parent household’ was looked down upon in those years or at least it was in my extended family.

So there you have it: a child from a ‘broken home’ who is being sexually, verbally, physically, mentally and emotionally abused by three out of the four authority figures in her life (the fourth one was largely absent from the picture), who is also being harassed (by what feels like every member of the student body) about an attempted rape (although my ex-friend stated “Suellen had sex with her grandfather” not “Suellen’s grandfather tried to rape her’) and then a long-time teacher hops in and abuses her verbally and emotionally.

This teacher had it in for me (why I do not know) and called me a liar and a thief to my face, not only one time but repeatedly. For example, I found an wool army blanket in the local park, when I told her about finding it, she said I’d stolen it. She even told my mother that I’d stolen the blanket. Then when I accidentally skipped her class (and went across the street to the public library instead) I was called names for skipping class, a liar for saying I went to the library, and a liar for saying it was accidental (3 names for the price of one, how nice! NOT!)

I don’t know why the memory of this teacher haunts me twice a month but I want this woman out of my head. I owe her NO explanations, and its none of her business that not only did I graduate from high school but that I graduated from college (TWICE even).

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