VLOG TRANSCRIPT (by Catrina Register): Hi. My name is Catrina. When I talk in this vlog, I was previously known as Corbin. I will be reading notes to make sure I share things in order, not out of order. This is pretty much a raw video, so I’m trying to stay in order. I’ve been seeing many stories about Maryland School for the Deaf. I feel that it is time and my turn to share my experiences, and my journey. I am tired of staying silent, because sometimes silence is a trigger for me pretty often. For example, the hashtag #metoo, and BLM. I get triggered, and I cry, because it’s old news, what happened to me in my past, but it triggers me and I cry.
For example, I recently cried hard because in Maryland School for the Deaf, four students got caught oppressing a Black student. They got caught. Finally, you got caught. That made me cry. Finally! It’s bullshit. Why now? That made me cry. It triggered me because those four people who got caught bullying another Black student – they aren’t the only ones. Many students did that, too. That triggered me and got me thinking. I think about it everyday. I get nightmares. It needs to stop. I just want to share my story, my experience. I’m really scared to share this, but I realized… Who am I protecting? Who? No one. I have nothing to lose. Ok. I understand the BLM movement. I understand. BLM is about those going through oppression, discrimination, and ignorance. I understand that. I’ve been through the same thing. I get it. I understand and I feel their pain and their anger, because I’ve been through the same thing. I don’t understand a hundred percent, no, but I get the concept and understand the picture. I’ve been through it – anger and pain. I understand. That is why it triggers me easily.
Ok. Before I go ahead, I will share my background first and explain about my family. My parents are divorced. I moved to Maryland when I was five. The reason my parents divorced: My father is a hard worker, and a very good person. Unfortunately, I don’t remember. When he was working, his life was fine, until suddenly he got a fever of 105 or 104 degrees. It lasted for two weeks or three weeks. It finally went down, but he was still in a coma. Again, two months later, his fever went up to about 205 degrees – no, that’s wrong, I mean 105 degrees. It was 105 degrees, that’s bad, and it didn’t stop. If not for ice baths, he would not make it. So he had an ongoing fever and was sick, and then he finally woke up from his coma. He finally woke up, and he woke up as a different person. He woke up as a seven year old child. My real father is gone. He was gone while he was in a coma. He never came back. Never.
So, you get the concept – my father was not able to support me. He can’t emotionally support me or raise me. He couldn’t. He doesn’t know how to hold back from going to the bathroom. He doesn’t know how to hold his emotions, and he screams often like a child. Imagine that. I had to go through my father behaving like me. I was five at that time. I didn’t understand.
My mom is an unfit mother. She did not raise me. I lived with a different family since I was 11 or 12. They found drugs after raising me. My mom treats me like I’m her ATM. My mom would prefer that I drink than hang out with good people. She always calls me a bad person, a bad girl, lazy… She never really listened or wanted to have a conversation. She always bullies me and is mean to me. Always. That’s my home. My mom allowed her boyfriend to control and verbally abuse me. It was so awful. It got so ugly to the point where court was involved, and CYF, and social workers. It got so ugly. Awful. See how bad enough my home life was, for me to ever go back? You get the picture.
Now, as of right now, my mom and I are ok. But at that time, it was awful. Awful. Ok. So my parents don’t give me love and attention, or communication and support. Nothing. You get the picture. Now I’m going to share my experience about Maryland School. How did bullying start? Why am I an easy target? Because I have no family support. Ok. When my classmates – at that time I was in 6th grade. I moved to Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick from the school in Columbia in 6th grade. 6th or 7th, I’m not sure. Girls were talking to each other about wanting to lose their virginity, imagining hot guys they could lose their virginity to, and where it would be at, like at the beach… I was jealous of their life. Good parents. They had support from their siblings. I was jealous. I wanted them to be jealous of my life, too. How? Lose my virginity. Because, you know, it seemed to be something they really wanted.
So I lied and i told them that I lost my virginity,and their reaction was “Eww. You’re a whore.” That’s not what I meant. I just lie. That was it. My classmates had siblings in high school too, so the word spread and almost everyone knew that I am “easy”. That I am a whore. It was already bad enough because they already know I do drink from an early age, because my mom allowed that. So it was a mess, and from there, boys think I am easy. They think they can fish and reel me in, hoping I’ll send a naked picture. And it worked. So I dated one boy who was my classmate in 7th grade in the spring, I believe. I dated him and he asked for a naked picture. I wasn’t sure, but it was just between us, and maybe we could grow something from there. I was desperate for love and attention. I said ok, and I sent it to him. The next thing I knew, he sent it to his friends. Everyone knew. They asked me what was up with my naked picture, asking me why I sent it. I denied it, thinking “shit, shit”, and kept quiet. That week, on Friday, I got on the bus. I live far, in Baltimore. So I got on the bus, and two boys said “I have your picture” and said “I can help”. I said “Ok, like what?” and they said if I emailed them a new naked picture, they would block and it would block all the pictures linked to me. I didn’t believe them, but technology was advanced… It could be true. I didn’t fully believe them, but they kept pestering me.
The bus ride is a two hour trip. Two hours. So they kept at it, trying to convince me, and I said no. When I arrived home, they sent me a message on AIM… at that time, it was on a Sidekick. I don’t remember the name, but anyway, it was on a Sidekick. They kept contacting me, and I already knew my life was over because the picture was already out there. So if I sent it to them, honestly, there’s no difference. I went ahead and took pictures of myself and sent it to them. I made the biggest mistake ever. He immediately stopped contacting me and sent it to all his friends. Teachers, parents. He sent it to everyone. No… No… It was over. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then Monday when I went back to school… Everyone held up my naked picture in front of my face. People said “Your body is ugly.” “Your breasts are ugly, ew.” My self esteem completely deflated. Everything was blown away to nothing. Then the principal called me in for a meeting and he said “Don’t do that again”. He told me “If you do that one more time, another naked picture, I will call the cops on you”. Oh, my god. I’m a criminal? I broke a law? I was scared for my life. My principal said that to me. I was so scared, and questioned myself. She said “I have your picture in my email”. I found out that my classmates’ parents had my naked picture too. I knew my life was over.
I tried to tell my mom about it – my mom didn’t know about the situation – but she kept saying I was a bad girl. I had no support at home. No support at school. I had no place to go. I considered suicide. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t get out. My life was over. My name was destroyed. I kept thinking about it, about killing myself, and was so unsure. I was scared to hurt myself, but I couldn’t live that kind of life. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. No. It took me a few months thinking about it, whether I should attempt or not, and I decided to keep going. Just fight through it. What is my plan B, my plan C? I missed school and avoided it. I tried so hard. What I went through… Awful.
Then I met a guy who was 10 years older than me. He was 23 and I was 13 at that time. We were in a relationship, as girlfriend and boyfriend. Understand that I was desperate for love and attention, so he thought I matched his needs. So… I would do anything for love. So we were in a relationship, and I told my classmates about my boyfriend and who he was. He’s Deaf. They told me “Bullshit,” and didn’t believe me. They thought I was making it up and lying, but it was true. We actually were in a relationship, but no one believed me. I asked him why, and he told me to ignore them, and that they’re just jealous, so just ignore them. Then later… He is a pedophile. He did it to me, and many women are victims who have no family support. I learned that later. We lost touch, then reconnected again in 2009, the summer of 2009. At that time I was 14. I actually lost my virginity to him right before my freshman year. He took advantage of me, and then he never talked to me again. I didn’t understand. I was confused. I thought it was love. Sadly, that happened to me. Sad.
When I said I was in a relationship with that person, staff, parents, and students saw our conversations. They saw me on VP. They saw everything, and yet parents did nothing about it. Staff did nothing about it. They could have prevented him from taking advantage of me, but no. They didn’t believe my talk, but they did see our conversations. They let him do that to me. I feel like you treated me like I am a stray dog that got abandoned on the road. You care about your own dog and treat me like a stray dog, and act like it’s not your responsibility. That’s what I felt like with what I went through at MSD. From middle school to high school, it was nonstop. People kept calling me a whore, an easy person, nasty, dirty, that I had HIV/AIDS, and many more. Actually, I only lost my virginity one time to that guy who was older than me. Then I got in a relationship with my ex-boyfriend who I stayed with for seven years. And they still call me a whore. If not for my ex-boyfriend, who is considered from an elite family, I would not have survived in high school. Being with him saved me and helped me survive high school. If it wasn’t for him… Ok. I want to say something. No child should go through that. No one should go through that. Many parents who work at MSD already knew my background and my history, they knew, and they still told their kids to not go near me. They said I was a bad influence and that their kids couldn’t go near me. Why? You could have educated them instead, and said “She’s having a tough time at home. She lacks education”. They could have explained that and told them to be nice to me. But no, they allowed that to happen. They let their own kids pick on me, insult me, hurt me. I learned through my own mistakes. I never learned anything from my parents. No one helped me.
Now, I want to talk about Chelsea Morris. I called her out on her bullshit and making others go through hell, not just that Black girl. She messaged me a personal message and said “I am a different person than I was 10 years ago”. My ass. Don’t say that. Don’t say I should forgive your behavior because you’re a different person than you were ten years ago. Learn to own up to your mistakes. That’s all I want to explain about my experiences and what I went through. Parents did nothing. The school did nothing. They watched me go through it, seeing if I would survive or not. Some of my coaches said I joined the softball team because I like balls. I’m a whore. I won’t last. Or they would say that I would get pregnant by accident in high school. That should not happen. That school, MSD or any school, should provide a support system for people who don’t have a good home. They should have given that. They should have. But the people who saw what I went through, they can confirm that. They can.
That’s all I want to say. I want to add something. When I said parents and staff, I specifically mean those elite families who worked at MSD and their kids who went to MSD. That is what I mean, those who were bystanders and think it’s funny, what they did to me. They laughed, thinking it was ok. They thought that yes, I’m awful. I’m a bad person. They hurt me, and thought it was ok to pick on me and bully on me, and pull me down, because I am an easy target. Next, I am posting because I know I am not the only one. I know there are many people out there who went and are going through the same thing. And I am posting this for people who are struggling and ready to give up with life because of a bad school, bad home and want it all to be over. Don’t, because if I made it out, that means you can do it too. I promise it will get better. And sometimes I’m sick of this – every time I meet new people and meet new faces, they ask “Where are you from?” and they judge me based on it, because MSD has a reputation of picking on other people and bullying other schools. They have a history of that, so they make me look bad. I have to tell them “I’m not one of them”. I am not elite. I am not. I defend myself because MSD has a history of bullying other schools. That’s why. There are good people that graduated from Maryland. There are. I want to emphasize that. So, that’s all. Thank you.
Catrina Register is one of many survivors who shared about their experiences at the Maryland School for the Deaf [MSD] in a public vlog (shown above with the transcript). Register’s story illustrates MSD’s alleged systemic failure to protect students in the event of bullying and sexual exploitation, including victim-shaming and the bystander effect on the part of employees (many of them who were also MSD parents at the same time), from the perspective of a white feminine-presenting non-elite Deaf person. Register indicates that MSD’s failure continues to this day, because it was only recently that four students were caught bullying a Black student, and it is only a small number out of countless bullying incidents: “They got caught. Finally, you got caught. That made me cry. It’s bullshit. Why now? That made me cry.”
When asked how Register feels now that she has shared her story, Register commented, “I did not realize how much impact it can make. What I went through was terrible as is. Other students of color have suffered more.”
Voices of MSD Survivors, an official Facebook site for all public and anonymous stories of MSD Survivors, shared Register’s story last month. More recently, the MSD Survivors came together to work on and release their August 12, 2020 open letter of demands for intensive change at MSD (a PDF copy is available here). The open letter is also featured in their new petition, which has over 630 signatures as of today (August 17, 2020). The removal of the current Superintendent, as listed in their demands, is just the first step in a series of action items. To show your support, sign and share the petition.