Jordan Powers, Child Sexual Abuse and Me
In two days, I’ll be speaking at Las Positas College in Livermore, Calif. My presentation ties into the current news headlines about a story in the rural area of Modesto: that’s where former Enochs High School teacher James Hooker is being investigated for moving in with one of his students, Jordan Powers, who is just 18. (And who has not graduated yet, I might add, which is significant.)
Someone said recently that since they’re both adults, society should just leave them alone and let them have their chance at happiness. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I was hardly an adult at 18—even though I had given birth to one child and was pregnant for a second. I sure thought I was but by the time I turned 28, and in hindsight, I saw how really immature I had been then.
And yet, I made the very same decision as Powers, for the very same reason: I thought I loved him, and I thought I was an adult with the maturity needed to make that decision. I was wrong. Is Powers? Well, if she’s been under the influence of this 41-year-old man for the last few years, yes, she is. That’s a differential in power in the relationship, and it’s based more on wanting and needing affection from an adult male role model, a teacher who wields an incredible amount of power over his students.
It’s happening all over this country and elsewhere, and it’s not the same type of relationship that occurs in two consenting adults who are truly mature individuals—and who have not had an imbalance of power where grooming occurred that led the younger of the two to come to believe that the dynamic is love, and not something much darker.
I’m in California because I just spoke about this topic at a conference. And next week, I’ll speak at Las Positas. In between, I’m dropping off copies of my memoir at schools all over California. I’m told they’re beginning to look at this problem in a new light, to see what they can do differently to help students with this very real, very insidious problem. I’m hopeful my book will become one of the tools they use to do that. If it’s good enough for students at Johns Hopkins University, it should be good enough for high school educators here in the Golden State.
Editor’s note: Daleen Berry has expertise in overcoming abuse through awareness, empowerment and goal attainment, and is an award-winning author, editor and journalist who speaks at conferences around the country. Berry will one of two keynote speakers addressing a national audience at “The Many Faces of Domestic Violence,” the 18th Annual Conference of the Association of Batterers’ Intervention Programs on March 1, 2012, in Anaheim, Calif. She recently spoke to social workers from all over the country at the “Hope for the Future: Ending Domestic Violence in Families” conference at the University of California, Berkeley.
Her memoir (paperback and as an e-book) can be found at bookstores everywhere, or ordered online. To read the first chapter free, please go to Goodreads. To read 30 five-star reviews, check out this title on Amazon. To see a mock up of the SOS t-shirt, check out Berry’s Facebook page.