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Alexa says that no agency should turn a blind eye to inappropriate relationships

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Alexa recounts that as a teenager, she had an ‘intimate relationship’ with her science teacher. He lied about the state of his marriage and when the ‘relationship’ ended, she was left troubled for many years.

She says that at the time, she felt it was a love affair and it was only years after it ended and she became a mother that she recognised it was abuse.

Alexa lived with her mother and stepfather. Her mother had serious health problems, and Alexa wonders if this made her a little vulnerable and caused her to look for attention or a connection with someone outside her family.

She was academically able and studying for her exams when her science teacher set up a revision group on instant messenger for the students. He and Alexa began communicating on a more personal level for a few weeks before meeting up at his house.

After a while the relationship became sexual. Alexa was 14 years old and this was her first ‘serious relationship’. The teacher was married with a child, but led her to believe ‘his wife didn’t understand him’ and they no longer had a sexual relationship.

She describes having similar interests as her teacher and that they enjoyed the same music, frequently travelling to gigs across the country together. She persuaded her friend to provide an alibi for her if she was out for the night with him.

Although they were discreet at school regarding their relationship, Alexa believes some teachers and pupils knew about the relationship, but it was ‘not spoken about’.  On one occasion police officers in school asked her if she was in a relationship with the teacher, but she says ‘I lied, I didn’t want the relationship to end and I didn’t want him in trouble’.

The police officers accepted what she said and the relationship continued for another 18 months.

Alexa says she experienced some very difficult times during this period. The teacher didn’t leave his wife and in fact they conceived a child. She became depressed, self-harming and threatening suicide. Her GP prescribed antidepressants for her but did not explore why she was depressed or make a referral for any other support.  

She thinks her parents knew she was in a relationship with the teacher, but that they probably felt powerless to stop it. She says it was likely she would have rebelled if they had tried.

Alexa ended the relationship about two and a half years after it began. She felt the teacher was never going to leave his wife and she met someone her own age.

She says that in her young adulthood she had difficulties with her mental health, and was smoking, drinking and taking drugs. She sees that her experience with her teacher caused her to establish more dysfunctional relationships for a period afterwards.

Alexa now has a more stable life; she has accessed counselling, returned to education and is working towards a professional career. She questions what she might have already achieved academically had she been free to study instead of being engaged in an abusive relationship throughout her exam courses.

The birth of her first child enabled her to re-evaluate her relationship with the teacher. She says ‘At the time I felt that … it was love. We were soul mates, even though he was older I felt it was acceptable. After the birth of my daughter, my thoughts changed and I knew that the relationship would never be acceptable.’

Alexa began to wonder if he was still teaching and if he had had relationships with pupils before or after her. She decided to report the matter to the police.

She describes her experiences of reporting the abuse as very positive. She was allocated a female liaison officer who kept her up to date. During the investigation she learnt her abuser had had sex with another pupil from the school. He pleaded guilty to the offences against Alexa and received a custodial sentence.

Alexa went to the trial. Because the teacher pleaded guilty, the evidence was not heard in court. This enabled his lawyer to present the case as a love affair, rather than a teacher abusing his pupil, and Alexa was frustrated by this. The other pupil did not want to press charges so the court was unaware that this was not an isolated incident.

Because of her experience Alexa says she has established very open communication with her children. She hopes that as they grow up they will be able to talk to her about anything.

Alexa feels that teachers, the police and her GP all missed opportunities to ask more questions. She asks why no one questioned her depression, self-harming or suicide attempt. She also questions whether it is in the public interests that courts are not informed, prior to sentencing, of other allegations of abuse and that lawyers are allowed to present abuse as a love affair.


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