“My principal told me I was disgusting”

Vanja Skotnes

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

When ‘Emily’ (20) was in Catholic school, a teacher spotted her holding hands with her girlfriend. “My life was made hell”, she says. 

‘Emily’ attended an all girls Catholic boarding school when she was 15 years old. In this period, she entered into an ‘experimental’ relationship with another girl. One Saturday, ‘Emily’ and her girlfriend went for a walk in the park, holding hands. One of ‘Emily’s’ teachers saw them and immediately called the principal to tell her about it.

“As a consequence my girlfriend was expelled for misguiding and corrupting other students”, says ‘Emily’.

Although she wasn’t even sure of her sexual orientation, ‘Emily’ was forced by her principal to tell her parents that she was gay.

“She took away all my confidence”

‘Emily’ was forced to see the school’s councillor once a week.

“If I didn’t do that I would have been expelled as well. The councillor didn’t make me feel better at all, she was disgusted by what I had done and told me it was wrong. She made me feel awful.”

The therapy did the opposite of what it was supposed to do – it made ‘Emily’ depressed.

“I got very self destructive. The therapy was about ‘what was wrong with me for wanting to be in a gay relationship’. The councillor reported back to my principal after every session. She also told me that there was something wrong with me. My parents had split up and she told me that my parents’ problems were my fault, making me believe that I was a person with a lot of problems. Basically, we paid 80 € a week to hear that I was a freak.”

‘Emily’ says that this period was an extremely confusing time for her.

“The principal told me that there were certain employers that wouldn’t hire me, so I would have to re-think what I was going to do in college and all that. It made me feel really insecure. Sometimes I still do feel that I don’t know where I’m going and I frequently feel insecure because of what my principal used to tell me”, she says.

After a while, ‘Emily’s’ parents saw how bad she felt after seeing the councillor and ended up paying the councillor not to say anything to ‘Emily’s’ principal about her not attending therapy anymore.

“My life was made hell by my principal. She took away all my confidence. It was awful, and it really affected my studies. The principal also rang all my friends’ mothers and told them that I was gay. She made me believe that the world didn’t approve of me”, says ‘Emily’.

“I wanted to give the finger to everyone”

‘Emily’ became very self destructive.

“I started to feel like my boarding school was a prison, and I needed to get the hell out.”

On the school walls, horrible things were written about her.

“When this whole thing went on I didn’t eat and I drank a lot of alcohol. I would also self-harm. This went on for eight months. I felt like I was alone. And I didn’t want to worry anyone so I didn’t speak to anyone about it”, she says.

‘Emily’ also ran away from home a lot without telling anyone where she was for days.

“One time I bought painkillers to mix with alcohol. Not to hurt myself, but to forget about everything for a little while.”

She used to be violent with herself.

“If I was in stressful situations, like in my principal’s office, I would pull my hair or pinch myself because I had so much frustration. I had no opportunity to release the frustration because it was constantly getting pumped up in me from everywhere. Someone was constantly watching me, whether it was my principal, teachers or someone else. No one trusted me and it was all because of this one time a teachers saw me holding hands with another girl”, ‘Emily’ says.

This has also given her a problem with authority.

“I just wanted to give the finger to everyone because they made me feel like shit. The teachers never told us about the real world, but about an ‘ideal world’. This messes people up, because you are told that you are wrong”, says ‘Emily’.

Banned and largely isolated

‘Emily’s principal told her that being gay would hinder her career, education and social life.

“She also told me that it wasn’t normal and that it was unacceptable in the school. I am sure she was coming from a religious point of view, because she banned me from services and I was kept back if there was going to be prayers in assembly. I was largely isolated”, she says.

‘Emily’ felt like her principal had her security in her hands, and says she was very afraid of her.

“She told me that I was disgusting. Not only what I had done, but that I was disgusting.”

Still struggles

‘Emily’ says she’s happy now. She is in college, discovered that she’s straight and has a boyfriend. She knows now that there wasn’t something wrong with her, but rather something wrong with the principal, she says. However, she is still struggling.

“I am very insecure in a lot of social situations. I’m very self-conscious about my looks. I would be worried that everyone would stare at me if I didn’t have my makeup and hair done. I have very little confidence and major trust issues. I always worry that someone is doing something to hurt me”, she says.

She feels that she has wasted her teenage years, and she has a lot of regrets that frequently make her feel depressed.

“I have very little faith in myself and I’m frequently questioning my abilities. I would say that what happened still affects me three days a week – somehow.”

 READ MY PREVIOUS POSTS ABOUT THIS TOPIC:

 

 

/ 8 Articles

Vanja Skotnes

As a former journalist for Amnesty International, I will use this blog to write about human rights abuses. My intention is to create more awareness. Follow my posts and stay updated. Twitter: @vanjaskotnes

  • Charlotte

    What a frustrating story. Tragic to hear that the School system’s employees utilize their power in this way. Employees working to disseminate knowledge must learn to convey the right knowledge. Harassment and bullying at a high level. Sickening…

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks for the comment, Charlotte.

  • Stian

    This makes me sad, poor girl! Cant imagine how though it must have been/still is. To me its surreal to read about teachers and principals that manage to be this ignorant. Im glad she now lives in an accepting environment

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks for the comment, Stian.

  • morten skotnes

    “Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”
    ― Bob Marley
    Papps;)

  • Kim

    Mm, yeah, i came out after i got into university. Before then, it was really unacceptable disgusting things also for me… If that principal had been really religious person she would never have done those violent things. Even if somebody can say being gay is disgusting, they cannot hate gay people only with that reason…
    Thanks for good article again.

  • Pingback: Gay marriage in Catholic Ireland? | The Circular()

  • Pingback: Fighting homophobia with Day of Silence | The Circular()