In “A Teacher,” Claire begins grooming her student, Eric, in one of their first interactions, when she flirtatiously implies that he is smarter than his friends and offers him half her sandwich. Although these acts may seem innocent enough, they set the stage for her to define their relationship as a “special” one where the usual rules don’t apply.
rationalizing predatory behavior, especially when it goes against stereotypes (for example, the fact that in this case the perpetrator is female).“A Teacher” Illustrates the Difficulty of Recognizing Abuse | Psychology Today
Predators may also work to create a narrative in which the victim sees themselves as the aggressor. Although Claire has spent weeks cultivating intimate moments with Eric and testing his boundaries, when he finally tries to kiss her, she reacts in shock and rebuffs him. Later, she acts as if she is finally giving in to his wishes when she initiates physical contact that seems to go beyond what he is comfortable with. He returns home after their meetings determined to see them as a triumph, telling himself, “you’re the man” through what seems like an attempt to fight back tears.
A Teacher” educates viewers about the psychology of abuse and the toll it takes on victims, but it also teaches us something about our own susceptibility toward rationalizing predatory behavior, especially when it goes against stereotypes (for example, the fact that in this case the perpetrator is female). While understandable, these biases can compromise our ability to identify and prevent abuse in our lives and the lives of those around us. Seeing clearly may mean seeing things we don’t want to see, but it also gives us more power to change them.