I take a walk down to the holy site and my mind kind of does its thing. Thoughts float through, emotions well up. Walking seems to get things moving both inside and outside. This is not always a good thing—I’m nearly crying.

It crosses my mind that the institutions of society betrayed me and now I am a part of one. Ordinary men raped me, as one commenter pointed out: cops, judges, teachers. Ordinary people, in addition to the johns, drove down the street, took our money in shops, walked past us. They did not rescue us. They did not even necessarily see the pain and horror from which we needed to be rescued from.

It creates a sense of an amoral universe. I was forced to be morally reprehensible. Those I might assume to be morally “pure” behaved in callous and amoral ways: they didn’t help us. There is a sense of being both without value to society and having a society to join that has no value to me. My closest friends and my protectors raped me. I raped them. There was no one untainted by the horror of what I lived through.

Everyone who helped me maintain any degree of resilience is someone who did not stop the abuse from happening. I did not behave in a morally “normal” way—resist, protect my friends, tell, flee. “Bystanders” did not either.

I am now a bystander in the lives of my students. I can offer crumbs of worth, but I can’t stop a lot of things. I can’t save them. I suppose this has happened with C. It began to seem—from her behaviour and from what I observed—that she was being abused at home. Not like I was, but to an extent that definitely counts for me. She’s not alone, but she brought herself to me in a sense.

And my helplessness fills me with rage.

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