When I Was 14

In regards to the Roy Moore scandal: No adult should be preying on children. He needs to get the hell out of politics and anyone who jumps to defend him might want to take a hard look at what drives them to willfully blind themselves. Toxic Masculinity isn’t a “liberal conspiracy.” It’s one of the biggest cultural epidemics of our time.

When I was 14, I’d just gotten into Portland’s prestigious Catlin Gabel School. Given annual tuition around $15,000, my attendance would not have been possible without a hefty scholarship. Catlin was challenging, not just financially, but in academics. It was also an odd dynamic, coming from the East side, taking public transportation to a private school, where most kids had never ridden a bus and some even got new cars for their sixteenth birthdays. Still, having grown depressed with social frustrations in middle school, by the time I got to Catlin, I was thrilled to land at a place where no one knew me.

By fall of sophomore year, it was my second year running on the varsity cross country team. I was also in theater. So when the assistant coach, who had a day job as a producer for one of the local TV stations, offered me a part in a commercial, I jumped at the opportunity.

IMG_3831He brought me to a remote part of Sauvie Island, alone, where he shot some pretty scenes of me looking wistful in the tall grass. (It was a PSA about that friend of yours from high school, who just found out she’s got breast cancer.) I was not yet sexually active, and I don’t remember anything physical happening between us. That’s not saying it didn’t occur, because my ability to forget is special. I joke that it’s my superpower. Or a defense mechanism. Because without that, I would’ve jumped off a bridge a long time ago.

He put me in three commercials that year. Three commercials that I was proud to have as ink on my acting resume. Never mind the fact, he said he was in love with me. From what I’d gathered, it took a heavy toll on his marriage.

Never mind that I felt so ashamed, became withdrawn, unable to pay attention in school. I skipped classes to get stoned with whoever else would join me. After an abysmal winter term, the administration decided to run a series of tests, to figure out what my problem was. There were eight types of intelligence measured. The woman conducting the exams told me she’d never seen anything like it – she’d never had someone score in the top few percentile, across the board. Soon thereafter, the Headmaster brought me into her office. She said if I wouldn’t improve my academic performance, the scholarship dollars would be better spent on someone else. So I left Catlin.

Things went downhill from there.

I regret the disconnect that kept me from speaking to someone about my awkward situation with the assistant coach, because who knows how many girls he took to that island (or someplace like it). People like him have no place working in schools. Nor, for that matter, in entertainment, or politics! Yet here we are, with scumbags peppered from the bottom to the top of every major field.

It’s hard to express the feelings of relief, when you’re able to flick the lights on into the darkest places. I’d forgotten most of this experience, until seeing so many people sharing pictures of their 14-year-old selves on twitter today. When I was 14, I was bright, talented, at the best school in the state. What went wrong?

IMG_3825

I wish I’d taken action. Albeit belated, I hope my story can help some kid overcome what I could not. The shame is not your fault and NO ONE (not even a desperate wannabe actor) deserves to suffer, both direct/short-term, and obscure, often unimaginable long-term consequences, at the hands of a sexual predator.

4 thoughts on “When I Was 14

  1. Love you Audrey. You have come so far since then. You have raised Violet to be an amazing woman and she gets that amazing fearless strength from you. I am not sure that you realize how many people you actually impact in your life. You are unforgettable! Thank you for sharing this story. It will definitely help others with sharing their stories and start healing. Love!

  2. I went to Catlin too, though at a younger age. I’m sorry that this happened to you and that is was so understandably derailing. I hope that as we continue to discuss our collective experiences, we’ll find healing and change occurring in equal measure.

  3. I am so sorry Audrey. ❤️ You deserved so much more from the adults at that school.

    Sent from my iPad

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