How past trauma can affect classroom work – James’s story

James felt satisfaction at how the muscles in his upper arms stretched the fabric of his t-shirt. Working out had paid off, and he knew he was strong. Yet when he scanned the faces in his new class, he didn’t feel so strong.

That face reminded him of the guy in high school who had squirted soda in his face while two other guys held him against a wall, laughing. That girl made him think of his sister who had called him dirty names every day of his life while their mom did nothing.

He knew most kids in the room weren’t like that – this was college, and there wasn’t so much bullying – but he still felt uncomfortable. What would these students be like?

He wished class was over so that he could hole out in the library or be on his way off campus.  But for now, he joined the class, sat in back , and took refuge in his phone. At least his video games wouldn’t bully him.

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