Stand up for myself, or walk away?

Questions and discussions about relationships: girlfriends, boyfriends, lovers, partners, friends, family or other intimate relationships in your lives.
E_F
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Stand up for myself, or walk away?

Unread post by E_F »

This is a chronic issue in my life, not an acute one. So, while I would very much appreciate a thoughtful response, please don’t imagine it is of the highest priority, or urgent. I know that it is not.

In a quarter I will be graduating in the middle of my class from what is possibly, academically, the worst accredited high school in the state. Which does not offer much in the way of helping me move on to anything better. The diploma is literally just a piece of fairly-nice paper.

I don’t doubt that I could have done far better for myself had I not been required to deal with my batshit and drunken family over the past four years. (I have written before, under different pseudonyms and from different emails and I don’t really want to rehash all the issues. Suffice it to say that I have been bounced around five different homes – with three different legal guardians as well as the state, twice – while attending three different high schools.

Between now and my graduation ceremony, I will also become 18. That event will mean that I can bring suit in state courts against a number of actual and artificial persons – to include my mother, father, one set of grandparents, and two school districts . . . criminals employed by the state sadly have qualified immunity. I have spoken to two attorneys who would each be willing to do so on my behalf.

Or . . . I could just move on.

Shortly before Easter – and please forgive the blatant symbolism, in my youth I was afflicted by religious influences – I thought that I would reach out to my father and offer a new relationship between us based on us both being adults. That did not go well – in his opinion the police were wrong, the courts were wrong, the video was doctored, and his fuck-buddy is Jesus . . . maybe Jesus’ dad . . . or possibly Jesus, Casper, George Burns, and John Lennon.

Dealing with my family means dealing with a caricature of myself. Dealing with the way that they see me. Queer: well, I have had more intimate female friends than male ones . . . because I hang with those whom I share interests with, befriend those whom I can trust, and love those who are capable of returning my love. Brother-fucker: didn’t happen, but we are close confidants. Teacher-fucker: didn’t happen, he just thought I had potential. Thief: I lived with falling-down drunks who can’t remember where they leave things most people don’t misplace . . . like wallets and 3,000 pound automobiles.

I don’t imagine that I will change them. I don’t imagine that I’ll ever have a relationship with them. I’m not sure that I would want to, or that it would be healthy for me. Repairing my reputation is trickier, because nobody respects my family. Nobody believes their lies. But, I am included in that disreputable group.

So, proceeding with legal action would be for (1) revenge – not a noble goal, and (2) to try and obtain a better future for myself by gaining entry into a college or university after obtaining revised grades and / or some settlement money. None of that is guaranteed. The school districts ignored state law, but they followed specific court orders once issued. I just wasn’t able to get every violation examined by the court, and the court wasn’t timely in issuing its orders.

On the other hand, after qualifying graduates don their blue or golden cords and the Principal, Valedictorian, and Salutatorian speak, changing my GPA and class rank costs the district nothing. So, I might get something because it's an easy course of action.

A year, or two years, ago I could not have written this. I was too angry. There was no question in my mind that I would do every legal thing that I could to extract that pound of flesh closest the heart. But, I have found that it is the worry and the lack of choice that is damning. Worrying about giving the boss of the group home a blowie is far worse than actually doing it. A shot of Listerine later, it is almost forgotten.
Sam W
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Re: Stand up for myself, or walk away?

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi E_F

Really quick, before I give you my thoughts on this, can you please let me know what other account(s) is you? We ask in the guidelines that users no make multiple accounts, and part of the reason for that is it makes it hard to keep track of a users history, including what information they've given us and what things we've suggested already, if they're posting from more than one handle.

In terms of your bigger question, when dealing with people who have hurt us, it can often be useful to focus on two broad questions: what outcome do we most want and why? And what outcome is going to be best for our overall well-being while also being realistic?

Sometimes, the answers to those questions are the same, or at least pretty close to it. Other times, the answers point us in two directions, and the sound choice is the one that has the best chance of both happening and letting us take care of ourselves.

In your case, what stands out to me as a big consideration is that even if you do try to pursue legal action, that keeps you embroiled with people who have harmed and/or neglected you. For some people, that continued connection is worth it because they at least want to try to make those people face some form of consequences for what they did. For other people, it feels like they're just surrendering more of their life and their energy to relationships that hurt them, and the better choice for them is to choose whatever path(s) mean they don't have to deal with those people anymore. Knowing where you fall on that spectrum might help you work out your next steps.

I do also want to say that, in my book, walking away from these people and places is a form of standing up for yourself. Sometimes disengaging, even when we could technically continue to fight, is the kindest thing we can do for ourselves and is a way of showing we value our wellbeing.
E_F
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Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2024 11:27 am
Age: 18
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Primary language: Klingon, jus'kidding
Pronouns: she, her, tonite's powerball winner
Sexual identity: FF, FFF, FMF
Location: Illinois USA

Re: Stand up for myself, or walk away?

Unread post by E_F »

I will be 18 in a few weeks. I have lived in six homes and had four legal guardians over the past four years (while being a ward of the state twice). I made one account when I was 14/15 and another when I was 16/17 but no longer have access to either email or scarletteen account. In both cases I had a short series of back-and-forth's with a moderator here.

I really don't want to rehash every event of the past four years. I was demonized for loving those of my own gender and accused of multiple acts that I did not commit. But I do appreciate the fact that I always felt that the advice and support I was given here was genuine.

I guess that maybe I have matured. I no longer see fighting it out -- or even "winning," whatever that means -- as an accomplishment. All of the people who harmed me are fucked beyond redemption and not worth worrying about.

But, I also see my high school graduation for what it is . . . just barely better than not graduating at all. Perhaps fighting can provide some concessions from the powers that be. Recognition that I'm 500 / 1000 not 900 / 1000 and that I warrant the opportunity to go on to college.

At this point I won't relish continued involvement with my family, which legal action will require. Walking away really appeals to me. But making a life with a high school diploma that might as well be printed on Charmin Ultra Strong is pretty iffy too.
Heather
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Re: Stand up for myself, or walk away?

Unread post by Heather »

Hey there, E_F. We've talked before, and while I'm not glad this is the reason you're here, I'm glad to see you back.

I'm wondering: do you think it's worth exploring other avenues that could help you attend college? I'm not sure how wealthy your family or school district is, but if the answer isn't "very" then I'd say you getting any kind of monetary sum for lawsuits brought against any of them for abuse is probably very slim. It also sounds like this is about the only reason (besides vengeance, which I also get) you'd want to pursue it.

One other option is to connect with legal aid and consult with someone to see what a lawyer thinks filing charges could result in for you: then you would at least have more information to make this choice with?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
E_F
newbie
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2024 11:27 am
Age: 18
Awesomeness Quotient: I am a survivor
Primary language: Klingon, jus'kidding
Pronouns: she, her, tonite's powerball winner
Sexual identity: FF, FFF, FMF
Location: Illinois USA

Re: Stand up for myself, or walk away?

Unread post by E_F »

Hi Heather,

Right now, and I would have given a very different answer just a year ago, revenge just seems pointless to me. Getting a year of college paid for . . . or kudos to warrant a scholarship of some sort, on the other hand, seem well worth the effort.

But, while two attorneys that I have spoken to are willing to accept 25 to 40% of any potential judgement -- based on when there is a settlement or court victory -- that money won't come from my family, and even if it comes from the school district it will be years down the road.

Logically, the idea that I would gain very much through legal action is just not well supported.

There is a part of me that is thinking that had I been physically assaulted I would feel that it was an ethical imperative to do everything I could to have the person who assaulted me charged and convicted so that they would not be free to assault others.

So . . . is it wrong to act differently here? But, of course, my mother and grandparents could only make false alligations against those close to them . . . and they probably eliminated the possibility others would ever get close to them when they attacked me. So, is "preventing future harm" just a weak excuse for revenge?

Or is "getting on with my life" just a weak excuse for uncertainty and fear of the unknown?

Yeah . . . there are no "right" answers . . ..
E_F
newbie
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2024 11:27 am
Age: 18
Awesomeness Quotient: I am a survivor
Primary language: Klingon, jus'kidding
Pronouns: she, her, tonite's powerball winner
Sexual identity: FF, FFF, FMF
Location: Illinois USA

Re: Stand up for myself, or walk away?

Unread post by E_F »

Sam,

The more that I read:

"I do also want to say that, in my book, walking away from these people and places is a form of standing up for yourself. Sometimes disengaging, even when we could technically continue to fight, is the kindest thing we can do for ourselves and is a way of showing we value our wellbeing."

The more impact it has.

Thanks

E
Heather
scarleteen founder & director
Posts: 9566
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:43 am
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Awesomeness Quotient: I have been a sex educator for over 25 years!
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Location: Chicago

Re: Stand up for myself, or walk away?

Unread post by Heather »

Hey again.

I was going to say that what Sam said right up there -- before you posted it -- resonated with me, too. I don't think any of these choices seem to involve NOT standing up for yourself. After all, this whole set of choices is about you and centering your own needs and goals and feelings. All by itself, that makes all of this standing up for yourself.

I'll tell you, and as someone who also had to make their own way coming from the wreckage of a family system with no resources, I'd be willing to bet that focusing on doing that, and not lawsuits that don't seem likely to actually net you what you'd be looking for from them, is going to serve you a lot better than the alternative. (And if you want a little help looking into scholarships and other funding options in Illinois for school, I would also be happy to pitch in and help. I've been there, too, even though that was a few decades ago.)

It isn't like walking away is some kind of super easy choice. It is fecking HARD to let go of harm and wrongs done us, especially the biggest kinds. So hard. I still struggle, almost 40 years after I left home, not to be hypervigilant and check on a stepparent to see if anyone else reported them. But there are also a lot of benefits, all the more when it's not likely that you'll get justice or amends from the people or systems you'd seek it from. That way can lie some seriously frustrating madness.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
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