My Scarleteen Story

Having recently become a Volunteer over at Scarleteen (Whoo Hooo!) I wanted to share my own story of how I stumbled across Scarleteen during some of the most confusing years of my life, and how that place has made such a huge impression in my life. So I guess I will start at the beginning!

My high school years were a confusing time for me for many reasons the big one for me was that I was still being abused by my fathers friend which made it extra confusing for me when I started to develop feelings toward boys my own age and entered into the world of dating, drinking and all that comes with those two. It didn’t help that I hated my school, it wasn’t that I didn’t like the people I had lots of friends, always had a party to go to and friends to talk too much with in class, it was the school itself. I was sent to a private, all girls, catholic high school. I am not Catholic, although I was raised one but I learnt very fast that families like mine are not very welcome in the church, and I was not upset by this as I felt it was a good excuse to get out of that whole scene at a very young age much to the horror of my mother.

Sex Ed at our school consisted of a short film about a teen couple (who have sex and get pregnant) the girl’s mother, a nun, a priest, and a crying baby. There was nothing about sex in it, nothing about the risks of STD’s, no mention of the girls options once she became pregnant. The big emphasis in the film was about how they had sex before marriage and just look how bad their lives turned out with that crying baby. Needless to say, most of us left feeling quite confused, and were never given a chance to ask any questions. I knew about sex, but only from being abused which left me with even more questions and the film left me feeling like I really had better not tell anyone what was going on, fearing I would just end up in some terrible catholic school sex ed video or something.

At my school it was compulsory that we took a religious education class for the whole 5 years we attended the school. Most of the time I would sit through the class and stare out the window and not really mind being there, but as I got older I started to notice things were coming up in that class which were really unhealthy for teenage girls (or boys) to be hearing from a teacher regarding sex. We were told that if we were having sex we should not be using protection because we wont get pregnant at certain times of the month and if we do it is our fault for having sex in the first place (of course the male involved was somehow exempt from blame in such a situation). We were also told that abortions would have us swiftly on the way to hell condemned as baby killers. By this time I had already had an abortion performed by a friend of a friend who sort of knew how to do them which resulted in me getting very ill because I did not know my options when I became pregnant (due to rape) and was too terrified to ask anyone (and of course my friends didn’t know any better than I did).

I didn’t know much about these issues at the time as we had obviously not been well educated on them at school, but I knew what I was hearing was wrong or at least I didn’t like it so I spoke up in that class. I asked questions they didn’t want anyone to ask, and probably had not expected anyone to ask. This was the time I was officially banned from religious studies classes for the rest of my time at the school, with a letter sent home to my parents saying I was too controversial and disruptive for the classroom. Once again I was left without answers to my questions.
So I went looking, and it was then I found Scarleteen. At first I just browsed the boards for a while feeling a little uneasy to step up and start asking questions, but I soon discovered that many of my concerns were not mine alone, I was not the only girl out there feeling scared and confused. Eventually I had the courage to start asking, and as I got more comfortable there I began to ask questions about being abused. That was a big deal for me, no one really knew before that, and those who I had hinted to never did anything about it. The people at Scarleteen really cared. They didn’t pat me on the shoulder and tell me it will get better, they gave me real answers, they told me it was going to be a hard journey and it was going to be something that is with me forever but so many of them have been there too and that gave me a lot of hope.

Since then, with the help of Scarleteen I managed to get away from my abusers, to start seeing a counsellor who I really like going to see, and start telling people what happened to me. And here I am a volunteer myself now. I only hope I can answer another confused teen girls questions there as well as mine were answered, all that time ago.

Thanks Scarleteen!