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Author Topic: Student I know was Physically Abused *trigger warning for abuse*
moonlight bouncing off water
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I am the peer helper of a class at my high school, which basically means I am the teachers assistant in a class of people two grades below me.

Today I overheard a student (student A) talking to others about how she and student B got into a fight because student A doesn't like B's boyfriend. A said B called her at 6 am crying because her boyfriend had hit her (or something of the sort, their conversation became more hushed at this point, but I pieced this together from the rest of the eavesdropped conversation). She has said that she 'b*tched out' the boyfriend, and this made B angry.

A says that B claims he is not hitting her anymore, but I am getting this information third-hand and understand that people being abused may not tell the truth because they have been manipulated by the abuser.

Additionally, A has told her mother and said she wishes to call the police, but the mother told her that she would be picking a fight with half of [where we live] if she did this.

As far as know I am the only person of authority who knows about this and isn't responding like A's mother. But as a student the only thing I can do is report this.

So my question is this: what is my next step? Do I confront A and ask her to tell the teacher of the class I peer help, with me there for moral support? Do I tell the teacher myself (this is problematic as I'm not quite sure which person is B, only that B is also in the class)? Do I figure out who B is and confront her and then tell the teacher? Do I report it to the office?

I have this responsibility to make sure that B gets the help she needs, or at least that the school knows what is going on. I won't turn a blind eye to this, difficult as it is to speak up (much easier for me as a thrid party though).

Is it okay for me to ask, not only for your advice, but your moral support for this? I feel like I don't get to feel emotional about this, but the truth is I feel scared about speaking up, ashamed (like I'm somehow bad for know this even though I know that makes no sense). Mostly I feel scared about speaking up.

Please help, how do I handle this properly (and avoid chickening out like a coward)?

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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Heather
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Good for you for being so invested, moonlight, even though I'd not expect anything less of you. [Smile]

I'd say your next steps are to encourage the student to reach out for more help, for sure.

In terms of telling the teacher yourself, do you have any obligations or contractual agreements as a peer helper in terms of reporting things like this to the teacher or the administration?

And for sure: we've got your back with some extra support as needed.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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moonlight bouncing off water
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As a peer helper I am expected to report any cases of abuse that I become aware of, and yes this is in the contract I signed. I don't think it specifies who I must report it to, but it makes the most sense to tell the teacher and see what she says.

Are you suggesting that I encourage the friend to reach out, or the one being abused?

EDIT I just realized that "uncomfortable" is a better way to describe how I feel.

[ 04-24-2013, 03:28 PM: Message edited by: moonlight bouncing off water ]

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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Heather
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Okay, so you'll need to abide by that contract. My personal advice with that is to make this student clear you have that obligation, but to offer them the opportunity to report with you, so some of this still feels in their control.

I'd say both, per reaching out.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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moonlight bouncing off water
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Okay, that's kind of what I was thinking made the most sense. I think I will have to ask A for more info (like B's name and any other info she is willing to give) and then tell the teacher either by myself or ideally with the student.

I'm not really sure what to say.

I guess for student A I will say something like: "I over heard you talking yesterday about your friend and how her boyfriend hit her. As a peer helper, I have signed a contract stating that I will report any abuse I become aware of, so I am going to need to do that. What I am asking from you, so we can help your friend is for you to tell me as much information as you can, or for you to come with me to tell [teacher name]."

But I really don't know how to tell this to the teacher. Obviously I need to have these conversations out of earshot of other people.

Also,I have an idea of who B is but when I know for sure, I suppose I will have to talk to her as well. I think it might be best to talk to her before I talk to the teacher, so she also has a chance to be there when I report this, but based on what I over heard I'm not sure she'll want to.

What do you suggest I say to these people?

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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Heather
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I like your something-to-say a lot.

How about leading with what A wants to do about this, per B? Then taking it from there?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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moonlight bouncing off water
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That is brilliant Heather! I will figure out a way to talk to her alone tomorrow! (Do you think it is okay to tell the teacher the day after tomorrow if this is how it works out time-wise, or is this something that needs to be taken care of ASAP with absolutely no deays?).

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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Heather
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It sounds to me like for the time being, A is safe, so I personally think it can wait a day.

Especially if that wait means A getting to basically stay in charge of her personal information per being able to disclose with you.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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moonlight bouncing off water
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Okay, good to know you think it can wait.

But I think their might be a miscommunication: person A is the friend, person B is the one with the boyfriend who hit her. So do you mean A (the friend) gets to decide to stay in charge of her personal information, that information being about person B, or that person B (the one with the boyfriend) gets to stay in charge of her info by that giving me the chance to talk to her after talking to A?

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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moonlight bouncing off water
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And I guess for talking to the teacher I can say: "[teacher], [student] has made me aware that [other student] was hit by her boyfriend. I am telling you this so it can get reported to whomever it needs to and so that [other student] can get the help she needs to get handle/get out of this situation."

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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Heather
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Perfect. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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moonlight bouncing off water
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Okay, I spoke to the student today. She refused to tell me details because she did not want her friend to hate her more. I then talked to the teacher, who passed me along to the administration. The girl did tell me that the friend goes to another school, which does make the school itself less liable for reporting. This doesn't mean they won't but it does mean that this student who has this info about her friend might feel safer knowing nothing will be done with information she gives unless she okays it. The principal has asked meto see if this student would be okay with going and talking to him with me there.

I will talk to the student again tomorrow about this, I really hope she will talk to the principal.

One thing she said to me when I asked her friend's name and school is that she didn't feel safe telling me. I'm not really sure what to do with that. As per her request I haven't reported her name (I would if I thought it would hep, but unless she is willing to divulge the name I don't see how knowing her name would help. It can only cause her to lose any trust in me).

I'll let you know how tomorrow goes.

EDIT oops, I put does instead of does not

[ 04-25-2013, 03:35 PM: Message edited by: moonlight bouncing off water ]

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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moonlight bouncing off water
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Sorry to double post, but some feelings have come up with this that I feel I need to process.

Today I was feeling fine and unemotional about all of this. Not that I felt nothing -- but I am sufficiently removed from the situation that it was much easier to cope with.

But then I watched Glee which was featuring yet another serious issue: molestation. Although it is an altogether different issue from what the friend of this student is coping with, it is close enough in terms of both being abusive situations that it was very hard for me to watch the episode and it left me feeling emotionally raw.

Reporting this abuse isn't the only big ticket item I have dealt with lately. Just today I reported to a teacher that a friend of mine was planning on cheating on a test.

All of this along with other big responsibilities in my life is really just weighing me down. Plus one of my friends is moving away this week and having a going away party that I'm conflicted about attending.

There is just so much going on right now. I need some relief and some light and fluffy fun, but I can't just drop the unresolved big items.

I'm sorry if I'm going beyond what Scarleteen does as a service by posting this, but I really just needed to put it all in writing.

PS my parents are fighting right now. Its not an unhealthy fight or anything, but its really stressing me out and as it night time I can't leave. This is just making it all worse.

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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Heather
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It's okay, moonlight.

It sure sounds like you have a lot on your plate right now, and also like you're kind of holding a lot of other people's tough stuff at the moment. Obviously, those of us who work here know that sometimes that can be really rough.

What do you typically do for yourself at times like these to let that stuff go once it's done?

If it helps, for me in times like this, I amp up my self-care, talk to others about what's going on, and often do, watch or listen to something to really put me somewhere different altogether, often with things or media familiar to me that don't hold any surprises, like favorite movies I've already seen again and again.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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moonlight bouncing off water
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Heather,

Thank you for you reply. I literally started crying when I read the first line. I have so much swirling around in my head and I can't even stop and block it out because I can hear my parents fighting.


At times like this, I try and distract myself. I do this by reading, watching a funny tv show or doing house work. Unfortunately my parents are in the tv room, so that option's out. I think I will clean my room right now. Sometime when there is big stuff, its bad to do work that doesn't occupy my mind, but right now its the best option I have.

Taking a shower usually makes me feel better, but I don't feel like it right now. Really most of my self care things aren't interesting me right now. And I'm really still working out how to care for myself properly. I'm still making my self care tool kit. (I know its a dynamic work in progress, but I don't even have a full base set yet).

Pretty soon I will go to bed (if that is my parents finally stop fighting, I can't handle going to bed when people are fighting its too stressful). Beyond talking to the student and then potentially the principal, along with going to class, I have no responsibilities tomorrow, which is nice. Now that I'm busier and see my friends less, I enjoy time with them more (when they are being positive. When they aren't they can really bring me down sometimes since they all have really big stressful life issues). I will try and spend more time with them tomorrow.

I think things will be better tomorrow, and they will certainly be better come the weekend. But I'm really having hard time, right now, tonight. Minutes stretch like hours and I wish I could just sleep.

I really want tomorrow to come.

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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moonlight bouncing off water
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And right now, today I have no one to reach out to talk to. I really need to talk, but everyone is sleeping right now.

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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Heather
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I'm so sorry. [Frown]

Cleaning/clearing physical space can certainly sometimes help us do that with our emotional space, I agree.

Too, if it helps, I'd say learning to take care of yourself when it comes to holding people's heavy stuff certainly isn't easy, and it can take a lot of learning and practice. I know I've been doing that for decades, and you know, I *still* sometimes really stink at it.

(I can assure you that a couple volunteers who read this will be nodding their heads at this point. [Razz] )

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of2HU3LGdbo

[Big Grin]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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moonlight bouncing off water
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I'm going to go look at that video and I have good news, my parents stopped fighting! Not even in a mature let's pause this for the night kind of way, but in a rare it got worked out and no one in the fight is even resentful that they can't hammer their point home any longer. It's like the straw that broke the camel's back, plus one pack have been lifted. I still have all the other stuff to deal with, but my home is now tranquil. I can calm down and ease my mind away from the big stuff.

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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Heather
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I'm very glad to hear that. Just really sounds like, even though that's always upsetting, right now it was just much too much. [Frown]

I'm way past my usual work hours, but I'm just about to chill out in my office for a little while, so I'll check back in on you in another hour or so just in case you haven't been able to get yourself to sleep and need anything else tonight.

I really hope you can find some solace.

(If it helps, by the way, moonlight you're one of the longtime users here that myself or the volunteers talk about really appreciating a lot as a person, and not just because you're lovely to other people. You're deeply valued around here, and I know we all want you to be as happy and well as possible, always.)

[ 04-25-2013, 10:37 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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moonlight bouncing off water
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Thank you Heather, I really appreciate that (both knowing you'll check back and being told that I am valued here).

I'm pretty sure I'll be okay. I know I can get to sleep now or at least keep my mind distracted until I fall asleep from sheer exhaustion. (Yay for finding an interesting science tv show now that the tv room is free!).

I have some work to do and I need to drop some activities. If I wasn't so over busy all of this wouldn't be hitting me so hard.


Thank you so, so much Heather. I really appreciate the support I've gotten from you.

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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Heather
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Of course: I wish there were more I could do. Sleep well, moonlight.

I hope tomorrow looks a lot better when you wake up.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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moonlight bouncing off water
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I spoke to the student today, but she refuses to speak to the principal. I have asked her to think about it, but I know she won't talk to him. Her mother basically telling her not to rock to boat, and this girl is terrified because she already lost her best friend over this.

I am angry. Angry at this girl for not simplying giving a name and a few details to help her friend. For chosing inaction because acting is scary. I am angry at the principal for not saying that I must tell this girl's name so he can make her tell the name of the friend. I am angry at this girl's mother (the girl I know) for counselling her to inaction! I am angry that I have to be a part of this at all. I am angry that the weight of this knowledge has been placed on this girl's shoulders and angry that she won't dislodge it. I suppose I am angry at the abusive boyfriend too, for he is the root cause of all of this pain and heavy weights on shoulders. Indeed I know I am angry at him, but the situation has become so convuluted and removed from the actual situation that he becomes abstract.

I will talk to the principal on Monday, with or without the student. Although I have said I will keep her anonymous, I want very badly to tell the principal her name. This is not my issue, this problem is not mine to solve! By the end of monday, I will have done all that I am responsible for and all that I can do without snooping around and asking the girl's friends who she was talking about.

Would it be okay to tell the principal the name of the student who refuses to talk to him? Should I warn her that I will be doing this? I really feel like telling her name is the most responsible thing to do since that gives the principal to call her down to talk to him if he sees fit. I know this girl will be very angry at me if I do this but I need to do what is right, not what will make people happy.

I also wish that this girl could get some counselling about how this affects her, is this something I can suggest to the principal? Is this over stepping my bounds?


I will be talking to the principal to tell him that this girl won't, but I'm not sure how much to tell him.

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

Posts: 864 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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