This post is in no way an attack towards anyone, hence why I have not included names or details about anyone. It is not my intention to upset or make anyone feel guilty. The sole purpose of me sharing my experiences is to help all those children, young adults, and adults struggling with bullying and to let them know they are not alone. I hope my experiences can help cause some positive change and provide an anonymous outlet for anyone struggling with any issues or have children dealing with similar problems.
My first experience of bullying was when I had just been released from hospital in seventh grade and the kids began to leave me out of things, call me nasty names and run to the teacher and say that I had called them words I had never even used, and would throw stones, food, punches, and kicks at me while I became quieter and quieter. I withdrew into myself and in turn, these kids began to paint me as someone who thought they were too good to fight back, and so they became even more violent, shoving me, stealing from me, trying to convince teachers I was a cheat because I did well at school. Some kids would even email me and call me an “anorexic freak” or a “ghost” or an “ugly witch” or “Paris Hilton bitch” and I quickly became very reclusive and painfully shy. Now, kids will be kids and often don’t understand the weight of things that they do or say, and unfortunately these children weren’t old enough yet to understand that as a person who was already such a damaged little girl, their actions wounded me irreparably. Whenever I met new kids I was terrified that I would receive the same treatment from them. One group of kids chased my friend one day and when I told them to leave her alone they punched me and knocked me right on my ass. It certainly scared me stiff and I avoided those certain groups from then on. Before a swimming carnival one day, I was lined up with a big inflatable hammer and was in my new togs and excited for my first high school swimming carnival. One of the boys from my grade came over and took the hammer off me and then for ten minutes belted me around the head with it. The other students laughed and when asked if anyone wanted to join in, a few people stood up and took turns. The boy told me he had waited a long time to hit me, and was enjoying it. I dropped my head, and tried to cover my face. It was humiliating. The school wouldn’t even let me call my mother, so I spent the day hiding in my friend’s sporting house and had a great rest of the day being with some nice kids. That afternoon however as I was walking out of school they called after me, calling insults and throwing stones at me as I walked. Some kids would even shove me against walls, take my things off me, pour things on me, and tell me to go kill myself. I swiftly fell back into anorexia, and began to sit in the toilet cubicles all lunch to hide from everyone.When teachers began to grow aware of how skeletal and withdrawn I was they rang my mother and informed her that they believed I was hiding in the toilets at lunch time. I was so embarrassed that I denied it straight away, and nothing was said of it again. I was so scared that my family would see me as the weirdo that everyone at school saw me as, particularly those who had known of my past hospitalisation in primary school and had followed to the same high school.
Something I have noticed about people who have experienced bullying throughout their lives is that they will take one of two paths; they will either become a bully themselves, or will become deeply sensitive and concerned about others who are struggling, who are different, or who are being targeted themselves, and they will, however become painfully insecure, thinking they are not loved at all and are of no value.
Too often I have experienced people who project some deep rooted insecurity onto myself and others and instead of learning compassion from their own ordeals have been hardened and filled with a need to bring others down. I was friends with certain girls in school who one day decided to stop talking to me or socialising with me. I didn’t pursue them about this, and I let them be, choosing to always try to greet them or talk to them when I encountered them or offer help with school work etc. A majority of these girls chose to look me up and down, give me dirty looks and turn their backs on me, exclude me, talk nasty things about me or to me, and spread untrue, nasty rumours. I was dumbfounded. The couple of good friends I had stood by me and assured me it was just jealousy or their problem, not mine, but it still wounded me that these people seemed overnight to develop a hatred towards me. These were people I had consoled through their hard times with family problems, assignment and learning problems, relationship problems, and their own insecurities, and had considered my friends. These were people who I had never so much as given a dirty look towards. I had always strived in vain to make sure these people knew that I was friendly, helpful, and that I cared. I never considered myself perfect. In fact I have had a very hard time accepting or even liking myself due to many childhood issues. I found myself desperate for acceptance, awkward, and weird. I do wear many faults about myself proudly though, and like to poke fun at myself.
I call myself a nerd, a weirdo, a loner, a black sheep.
A girl who had been shunned by everyone because of a mistake she had made became an outsider, and I became her sole friend. We were best of friends, and although she was there for me through the relentless bullying, put-downs, and nasty behaviour of the other girls, she did seem to be always in the thick of things. I had always distanced myself from confrontation, even when it was smacking me in the face, I never bit back, I never stood up to them, I just remained silent and took it on the chin. One day we were sitting at the back of class and she made a comment about a girl passing us which resulted in a fight between the two. I wanted to disappear. I did not want to be caught up in the middle of a fight, and yet this friend was intent on starting them up. The same girl made a comment about us being disgusting and my friend turned and began to fight back. I stood in the back, feeling sick to my stomach, when another girl piped up and aired my friend’s mistake and situation out in front of everyone. I told her that it was not okay to share something that private with everyone and how dare she!, to which she promptly replied by turning to me and calling me a disgusting bitch, and began saying that I had slept with her brother. Which was of course not true. However over time, these girls invited my friend back into their group, and although she tried to bring me along with her they would drag her away so I was alone, and spend the night laughing at me or telling everyone how much they hated me, how fake I was, and that I could go and get f*****. A young man saw this happen one night and saw me walk off alone upset, and offered me a ride home. He shared his own experiences with bullying and explained that many people just want to tear down people they either see as a threat, don’t understand, or who are different from them. He said he could see that I was a soft, kind person with a big heart, and that made me an easy target for them. I was never going to give it back to them. He assured me however, that there were people that could see the goodness in me, and the fact I was always friendly and smiling, and looked after people who were going through tough times as well. That gave me some hope.
A girl I had helped out a lot and even worked with became friends with a more popular group of girls who had ridiculed the way I looked the very first day of school, with some girls even taking it to the extreme of kicking and punching me on the ground as I tried to get things out of my school bag, or becoming intimate with my boyfriend at the time. This girl had begun to whisper some very hateful things about me to people and these people were starting to listen. Some of them stayed away from it because they knew the type of person she was, but unfortunately she managed to plant a seed of resentment towards me in others around her.
There were times people just flat out called me names to my face, made fun of the way I looked, excluded me from any social or school groups, told horrible lies about me, made fun of me on social media about my friendships with boys who I thought I could find some peaceful friends with, my appearance, and my history of anorexia, threatened to cut all my hair off or slam my face against a brick wall, and even wished horrible things to happen to me. A couple of these girls were extremely competitive with me for some reason, and whenever I got a good grade they would say nasty things about me, and when I won cross country and received age champion and broke the school record, one such girl said she didn’t win because of a sore foot and that I only won because I was a freak who trained every day. A boy I liked and began to be friends with suddenly wouldn’t have anything to do with me because of this girl telling him that I was a weirdo who ran too much, and he said he didn’t want to be around someone with issues. I didn’t understand it. The principal called me to his office one day and said that a few teachers had expressed concern after seeing a couple of these girls bullying me, and said that he had dealt with many instances of these girls, and one in particular, being very nasty to people they were trying to drag down. He told me to come to him if this continued, but I kept it to myself, hoping that one day the behaviour would stop and they would start to be nice to me. I tried to join in more by attending parties or sitting with some of them at school but found myself a couple of times being ignored, whispered about or had digs at, or just walked away from. For years I tried to build a relationship with these people, only to be let down time and time again. And for what? I knew they were not nice people, and was told by teachers, parents, and other school students, that they were never going to change and be friends, but I still hoped.
I finished my work early in one class and was wondering what the next class was. I looked around and saw the only other person from Art class who was finished and asked him whether it was next. That same mean girl sitting across from me let rip a whole tirade of abuse. She called me a bitch, inconsiderate, and said she was f*cking sick of me and couldn’t stand me, and everyone fell silent. I hung my head and quickly packed up my books, only to hear her continue her defend her outburst with more insults towards me that she hoped would paint me as some kind of mean person. Regardless of this girl’s behaviour, I still tried to talk to her, and even managed to discuss graduation dresses one day. I sent her a photo of the dress I was thinking of buying, and come graduation day, she turned up in that exact dress. I had thankfully changed my mind shortly before graduation, but it became evident that this girl was trying to tear me down so much because perhaps there was something about me she was threatened by. My friend and I arrived at schoolies by ourselves, and when we ran into a few of our fellow classmates we were promptly ignored. However, after going up to two of those girls and saying hello they had looked me up and down and whispered something to each other and turned their backs, I realised that I was the problem.
After high school, I tried to still be friends with some of these girls, even letting them stay in a room I had rented with a couple of friends and my boyfriend at the time for new years. They came and took the main bedroom from us so my boyfriend and I slept awkwardly on a single, went off to the beach and shops without me, made fun of me the next morning for being sick in the bathroom and said I was disgusting, and one girl told me that I was really sweet and nice but she would never like me and she didn’t know why.
A friend of mine was told not to invite me to parties because everyone hated me and when a couple of them went on twitter and posted nasty things about me one day I finally bit back. I posted that the one girl who I had seen at a lingerie section of a store needn’t buy any, to which she responded by having her mother come into my work and in front of all my colleagues, label me as the bully all along, and that I was just jealous of her daughter, and would always be just a envious, nasty person.
I didn’t hate her, because all she was doing was defending her daughter and was just going by what her daughter had told her. Although in this case, it was not the truth. I was devastated. The one time I had sunk to their level had caused this girl who had made life so hard for me, to turn around and say everything that she was, was who I was. It was such an outrageous, unbelievable lie that I felt sick. Those who had seen all along what I had went through assured me that one day this girl would get what was coming to her for being so cruel to me for so many years, and that there were so many people who knew I wasn’t the person she made me out to be. The few times I have ran into these people in the last couple of years I have tried to be the bigger person. I have walked up and smiled and said hello and asked how they were doing and every one of them has given me a dirty look or turned away and either ignored me or whispered about me right in front of me. I simply brush it off now. They are missing out on someone who would do anything to help them and make them happy. They are missing out on someone who won’t be like those other girls and bitch about them or try to hurt them. I am not perfect though, and there have been times where I have been so caught up in my issues that I have neglected to be there for a friend, for which I deeply regret although at the time I didn’t know that this friend was upset that I was withdrawing and becoming consumed by my own wallowing. It is funny though, the mother and daughter I have approached alone have wanted nothing to do with me, but in front of others they are suddenly friendly towards me. I chose not to call them out on it though. Why cause a confrontation when I can simply just be polite back, and know that I am being the bigger person.
The one time I learned this was when former close friends of mine had spread a lie about a loved one of mind having an affair with a young girl in town. They were so convincing and adamant and added so much detail that I became worried and when they told me to tell others involved, I instead approached the accused and when the girl in question found out she provided phone records to prove no such affair had occured, and in fact, the person’s boyfriend at the time had been the one who had been inappopriate towards her. We still forgave the people after they confessed to lying, and yet one still continued to lie about him being a cheat, liar, c*nt etc infront of a child involved.
I simply distanced myself from them all, avoided them at all costs, and even when my friend decided that she would write me off and go back to being in the group of girls who had caused so much hurt, I knew that I was beyond all of that. These girls are still stuck together, in the same towns, doing the same things, wrapped up in the same dramas, conflicts, and endless cycles of attacking each other. They will never change. I truly hope one day they learn to appreciate goodness, but you cannot force someone to change if they do not wish to.
To this day I am deeply passionate about helping others who are dealing with bullying, and it is devastating to see that it is becoming more and more common, and is affecting children of younger and younger ages.
It was difficult to write all this, mainly because I don’t like to seem like I’m still so affected by these people, or that I’m feeling sorry for myself. It was something that made me very considerate of others’ feelings, and focused on helping people instead of hurting them. I see it a lot how society has become so fixated on the superficial. So many people like to make fun of someone for how they look, whether they think they are too thin, too big, ugly, different, whatever, and will still turn around and say that they hate people that are cruel and that they have suffered bullying in some point in their lives. They can see the injustice being done to them, but fail to see how their actions and their words have exactly the same effect on someone else. We need to realise that your feelings and your ego and insecurities are not more important than that girl’s who you just called a whale, or that disabled person who you just called a freak, or that thin girl who you called disgusting. You are no better than any of these people. I often find that these people who have been labelled outcasts are often far more beautiful people than those who consider themselves physically superior, and that those people who are making fun of them are really very ugly because of whom they are inside. The people who they target have learned to be considerate of others and build a kind, humble, and empathetic personality, and have so much more than those who belittle them have to offer. Beauty is only a temporary thing, and these people who place so much importance on appearances fail to realise that they too will be someone who they don’t consider attractive, and then what? Will they hate themselves too? Or will they suddenly turn around and say that they are being considered outcasts and that it doesn’t matter what’s on the outside? Why wait until then? These people should learn that lesson right now, and instead of waiting until they have been directly affected by it, learn to see the beauty inside of people while they are still young.
I don’t consider myself a very attractive person. I have my good days and my bad days, and yet what really matters to me – finally, after all these years of insecurity – is that I am a good person. That is all I could ever hope for.
I have been too thin. I have been too fat. I have been a healthy size. I have been everywhere in between, and I can tell you, that once someone is true to themselves, the only beauty that shines through is the one inside.
I met a young man who saw me at my largest and told me I was beautiful. I was so sceptical of this and he was so kind and good to me that it scared me. I had never experienced a relationship that healthy before, and I ran away from it. I didn’t think I deserved it. I told myself that I needed to lose all the weight and become attractive before I could deserve a guy treating me that well. I found the goodness inside of him shone through and he was obviously someone who was not shallow, and cared more about who I was, even when I was in the midst of binging and filling a void inside of me with junk. He helped me during that time to treat my body better and myself, and stuck by me throughout a lot of hurt I had after being shunned and made to feel worthless.
It was the insecurities and belittlement from others that I had let stand in my way of being actually happy. I hid myself away from the outside world because I anticipated the return of the onslaught, and in turn, I missed out on years of living. I cheated myself out of being happy and experiencing life. I didn’t think I deserved to be young and have fun. This was simply not true.
In so many areas of my life I had struggled to be accepted, where I had experienced forms of bullying, harassment, rumours, targeting, exclusion, put downs, the blame for a lot of things that had gone wrong in others’ lives, and many lonely nights after losing relationships with many I deeply loved and cared for because of lies, and partners where I had been cheated on, put down, told I was nothing more than a sex object to them or a slave or a housecleaner or a cook, controlled in everything I said, wore, ate, was told where I could go or who I could talk to, was patrolled and had phones taken from me or smashed when I talked to a male friend, had to prove where I was at all times, would be guilt-tripped or forced into doing things or being someone they wanted, and was hounded with psychotically twisted games that would leave me terrified and cringing as fists went flying into walls next to me, or locked up at home keeping the house and myself presentable like they told me to while they attended a party I wasn’t allowed to attend so they could cheat. I could have become such a nasty, negative, horrible person, and in one relationship I did begin to become someone I didn’t like (insecure, paranoid, jealous, withdrawn) but I knew that if I were to do that, all those people would have succeeded, and I would have become someone I truly didn’t want to be. The best thing I could do was to simply walk away from them. It has been the only thing that has saved me from these negative influences, and over time I have begun to bloom again, and feel a little better about myself, and see all the happiness, love, and good things around me. I am incredibly blessed with this life I have been given.
I spent a lot of time trying to keep the peace, and would often apologise, do things for people, buy things for them, or try to make them happy again when they would have an outburst towards me for no reason other than they were frustrated with something within themselves. Sometimes a simple question asking why they had done something invasive and very inappropriate and sometimes illegal towards me would result in them having these rages, which would somehow leave me feeling guilty about upsetting them.
I do not hate these people, at all. In fact, I still care for them and hope they become happier and more stable and balanced individuals. However, after years of forgiving and forgetting I got to the point where I couldn’t take it any more. It was exhausting. I felt physically and mentally and emotionally drained, and I was sick to the stomach about dreading whether it would happen again or I would say something to set them off, or they would misinterpret a glance or a silence as an attitude they needed to smack out of me. I didn’t hate them because I knew these people who loved me were doing things in a way they saw as tough love, or because they didn’t know any better, and perhaps had gone through so much in their own lives that had made them how they were towards me. I tried to understand that and assure myself that perhaps it is not me they want to hurt, but in their blind rage they can’t distinguish between the hurtful things they do and say, and what is needed to express their frustration. I know some people have only ever tried to help me and in their way they saw what they were doing as a way to push me along, but they didn’t understand how sensitive people can be. I am still saddened by the broken relationships that have occurred simply because some of these people couldn’t grow to love me how I was and saw something wrong with me and they needed to convince so many other people to feel the same resentment they felt towards me. I do believe that it was because they simply didn’t understand me and because I was so different to them they were fearful of my strength and intimidated by me. I have tried to mend these relationships many times but have had many betrayals or rebuttals scar me. I was slandered across town as a skank, had “Stephanie Allen is a slut” spray painted outside my house and across town because a boy had been cheating on me and I didn’t even know, had people pretend to be one of the only people left in my life on Facebook and even write like them to send me put downs (which the person had no idea of because the other person had deleted all records from their Facebook of sending it), had text after text after text calling me names and blaming me for all the wrong things that had happened in their lives, was told I had no friends, was told people didn’t like me and talked nasty things about me, had personal diaries and bank accounts invaded, had been told what a horrible person I was for telling the truth about things that had been said to me or things they had taken the wrong way, that I was no longer wanted around, and that everything that had been done to me (physical abuse and otherwise) was actually what I had done to them. This lie was definitely the turning point for me, where I had finally had enough. I could tolerate everything else but I would not be made out to be a bully when it simply wasn’t true. I do not hold any hate in my heart, because in doing so, I would be robbing myself of my own happiness. When we hold onto anger, it does nothing to the other person and it only hurts us. Life is so short, and I want to be sure not to spend another second of my life worrying what people think of me, whether they hate me or not, and whether I am good enough for them. At the end of the day, no matter what someone says about you all they are concerned about is themselves. They aren’t going to go home and obsess over how you look or dress or whatever they pick on you for. All they are going to worry about is their own identity, their own ego, their own issues, because as human beings, we are programmed to be selfish and self-aware. Many of the people who have hurt probably never gave it a second thought, because it wasn’t affecting them, yet with it being something I took on as my own issue, it stayed with me for a long time. I had the choice to let it, and I chose unwisely, and forgot that most people will not obsess over your faults or differences or imperfections as much as I will. They are far too concerned with their own. Just like people going to a party; the other person isn’t going to spend all night worrying about how you are dressed. They are going to spend a majority of the night thinking about themselves. And if we can realise that, we can see that we are all human, and are all insecure about something about ourselves.
However, I had once in seventh grade followed a couple of girls to tell this other girl to stop talking about someone behind their back, not realising that it appeared as though I was condoning a form of bullying. I received detention and although I hadn’t had the intention of doing anything or saying anything to that girl or even knew what my friend was going to say, I was still following along, and that time I was wrong.
(I’m sorry to be such a Debbie downer with all these depressing recounts but I really hope that someone reading these things can learn or feel better about themselves and realise there are so many others out there who will be there for them through all the tough times! Just reach out to me, and I will give you as much love, guidance, and help that I can. You are not alone. As much as I hate to be so depressing and dredge up old, negative memories, I truly believe that nothing happens to us for no reason at all. Perhaps I can help as many of you as I can!)
I was not a bad person. It was something I struggled with for so long, but I have now realised that all the bad things that have happened to me and that people have done to me or said about me, are not my problem. The problem is within them. I cannot help them change their heart or how they treat people, nor can I continue to spend the rest of my life being a doormat, a punching bag, or trying to win them over. It will never happen. I have found so much more fulfilment and happiness from helping other people, from furthering my career, from meeting people who are similar to me, and from living the life I know I deserve. There is so much beauty and good things out there waiting for us, if only we step away from these negative influences on our lives and tell ourselves that we deserve it. I struggled so long with self-doubt and self-hatred, and now I can see nothing but light and love coming for me. I hope to help as many people as I can, and educate those who are on the other side of things to put themselves in the shoes of the person they are hurting. Would they feel differently if someone did the same to their child? Would they feel differently if someone did the same to them? There are no excuses. If we cannot be in this together, those people will be left behind. The only resolution is growth. With maturity many of these people may find themselves ashamed of how they have treated others, or they will remain lost and continue to blame the dramas they have brought upon themselves on other people, and justify their actions by shifting the blame. That is not growth, it is immaturity. If you get involved in a conflict and you add fuel to the fire, you are not a victim. You are just as at fault. Just as you are when you permit wrong to happen to someone or something, you are condoning that behaviour. You are not preventing it. But in saying that, you should only ever approach these situations with calmness, understanding and love. If you go in guns blazing, calling them every name under the sun, and throwing fists, you are no better. We must come to a point too where we look at why these bullies are the way they are. Sometimes they don’t understand what they are doing is bullying and may just see their actions and words as tough love or something far less severe than what they dealt with at one time. Perhaps it is a result of their conditioning and they have had the best intentions but sometimes went about it all entirely the wrong way, and not realising that they are deeply hurting the other person and leaving them scared, broken, and insecure. As a child, actions and words are always something that we build upon as a foundation to even greater issues or parts of ourselves throughout our lives. If we learn to be considerate and careful with how we approach people when angry, jealous, threatened, or frustrated, we can help prevent so many people growing up with issues that will affect their lives in so many other ways. There is a saying that you need to be careful of your words, because it is much easier to build strong children than to fix broken adults.
If you are currently dealing with any issues of bullying or have a child or loved one currently involved or being affected by it, please know that there is a possibility of breaking free of the cycle. We need to approach children and teenagers with a calm understanding and realise that any frustrations and emotions you have as a parent impact on your child. If you cannot get through to your child, know that they are looking towards you as a safe space, and need to feel like home is a separate and secure haven away. I do realise that it is incredibly heartbreaking and frustrating to see them be hurt and not know what to do, and sometimes children do not wish to share what is happening to them, for fear of others thinking less of them or for fear of the situation being made even worse. I know that I was scared to tell my parents for fear of them thinking I was the person that all these bullies thought I was, and that they too would think less of me. It simply wasn’t true, but in the mind of a fragile, insecure child, the opinions of those around you are extremely important to your identity and how you value yourself. I am an adult now and have been affected by these experiences and the harshness of how people treated me when they couldn’t understand why I was so withdrawn and shy, for many years. It has taken a lot of personal growth to understand that within myself I have abundant power to control my life and steer it onto a better path. I was affected by these people because I gave them the power. My opinion of myself depended on whether I was accepted, and once we learn to realise that we can eliminate fear and replace it with a resolute strength to be entirely true to ourselves regardless of the many opinions of others, we can begin to see the world as one of endless possibilities. There are no more barriers, there are no more obstacles or limits, there are no more judgments. It is all in our minds. If we can teach young people today that their value isn’t based upon social acceptance or physical beauty or popularity, we can ensure that nothing will ever step in their way of being whoever they want to be.
I hope one day I will meet these people again and am able to talk openly to them and have a mutual understanding, love, and care. I will hold some of these people close to my heart, and send nothing but love, light, and positivity their way. I wish them nothing but the best, and hope they receive so much love and happiness that it affects them so much that they in turn focus on being people that are kind, compassionate, and want only the best for everyone, and no longer have any negativity, only positivity. I miss many of them greatly, and will always be grateful for the good times and good things that they have done for me, and focus on them rather than the negatives. One day, we will all be in harmony.