On June 21st, the Horace Mann Board of Trustees received a letter from a group of former students who were sexually abused by teachers at the school. Today, July 1st, having received no official response from the Board, we share the letter:
Horace Mann Survivors’ Document
We invite our fellow Horace Mann alumni/ae and other members of the Horace Mann community to express their support of what we have written here. If you are in support of our initiative, please leave a comment on this page or email us at HoraceMannSurvivor@gmail.com, giving us your name and your class year or your relationship to Horace Mann. We will post a list of signatories at HoraceMannSurvivor.org. If you yourself were abused, or if you know someone else who was, please feel free to contact us at the same address.
HoraceMannSurvivor.org was originally started by two people – Joseph Cumming ‘77 and Ed Bowen ‘74 – who were sexually abused by Horace Mann teachers, but the site now serves a community of dozens who were abused at HM. The two of us first learned in early 2011 of each other’s experiences – decades after the abuse took place. For a video about this, see here. We found it healing to talk with each other. We had both suffered in silence for decades, wondering whether we were the only ones, so it was deeply meaningful to learn we were not alone. Our conversations were painful because they brought up humiliating memories, but it was a good kind of pain – the kind that heals.
When Amos Kamil began researching his June 10, 2012 article in the New York Times Magazine, he found his way to us, and we were happy to help with his article. If you have not already read that article, please read it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/magazine/the-horace-mann-schools-secret-history-of-sexual-abuse.html. We know that many who read that article will experience both pain (as your own memories come rushing back) and relief (as you realize you are not alone).
We wish also to serve family members and loved-ones of abuse survivors at Horace Mann, as well as the wider Horace Mann community. We know that you too may be hurting and wondering how to help your loved-ones and friends who were abused. If you yourself were abused at Horace Mann, or if someone you know was abused at Horace Mann, we welcome you here – whether under a pseudonym or under your real name. If you want, we can put you in contact – confidentially – with other members of the HM Survivors’ Group.
We invite you to post comments about your experience. To post comments, you must sign in below, but you can create a pseudonymous Gmail account to do so if you prefer. We want to make this as safe a space as is possible on the internet for such a sensitive topic. To that end, comments will be moderated. We will delete comments we believe are abusive or harmful, but we will not delete comments just because we disagree with them. Please note that this site is NOT a place to post unsubstantiated rumors you may have heard about any Horace Mann teacher if you yourself cannot bear witness to their truth. If you yourself had an experience, or if someone you know had an experience, we welcome you to share that here, but please do not post mere gossip. We had many wonderful teachers at Horace Mann, and we do not want to malign teachers who were innocent of any wrongdoing.