Authors Against Bullying – 19th October

Authors Against Bullying

Today, I’m taking part in Authors Against Bullying (#AuthorsAgainstBullying), having seen Mandy M. Roth talking about it on Twitter. The following post is about my experiences and how I got past them. The post may contain some triggerish things. Just to warn you. Many years later, when I described this to some friends at a writing conference, I suddenly found myself surrounded by shocked and silent faces. Oops.

It’s always hard to talk about Bullying. It stays with you. It leaves its marks. Perhaps you don’t want to be seen as weak, or as someone who complains. Especially if it happened a long time ago, as it did with me. The scary thing is that the things I experienced as a teenager are probably nothing to the things that teenagers go through now. I could go home, leaving it behind me. It didn’t follow me home, neither in person nor via the internet.

But I remember the feeling. Trying to be sick so as to not have to go to school. Trying to avoid the perpetrators who just thought is was all so very funny and harmless. Who possibly didn’t even realize what they were doing. Because as I look back on it now, they couldn’t have realized. If they did, surely they wouldn’t have done such things. So says the rationalizing, adult mind, years later. It’s never just one thing–it’s a litany of casual cruelties, sly comments, mean cartoons, nasty intentions and others being too scared or too oblivious to intervene. And the silence that lives alongside “Don’t tell tales.” Until it all becomes too much.

I never realized how much of a mark it had left on me until I described the final straw event last year. There’s always a final straw event. It can end positively or profoundly negatively. For me the final straw was finding myself in a classroom, after school waiting for a sports class. This was a common enough. I was not a very sporty person, but this was something I loved. I was 13 or 14 years old. I went to a good school. These weren’t kids who wanted for much. They were “nice people”.

They were also my “friends”. Well, I’d thought they were. This particular day came as something of a wake up call.

To be honest I’m not entirely sure what happened. Strangely enough (or maybe it’s not so strange that I have gaps in my memories. It was a long time ago. Perhaps I tried to block it out.) My main memory was of being curled up under a desk while my “friends” poked sweeping brushes in at me and laughed together about “sweeping the rubbish out”. A lot of things were at last very clear. These were not my friends, had not been for a long time, if they ever were. And no matter how I tried to appease them, it was never going to get any better.

There is another blank part in my memory here. I don’t remember getting out, but I did. I left the school and walked to my sister’s flat. It wasn’t a short walk. Luckily she was there (I don’t know what might have happened if she hadn’t been) and as I recall it I fell in the door crying. And told her everything. She contacted my mum (this was long before mobile phones) who was by now frantic. Bear in mind, I had just vanished from school. Mum picked me up, we talked and the next day she went to see my school principal.

I’d like to say it was sorted then and there, but actually it took at least another year, and following that the amalgamation with another school, and a new headmistress who had a firm zero-tolerance policy before it was finally stopped. In the meantime I made new friends. Actual friends. Just a few, but since they were genuine, firm and loyal, the number didn’t matter. But just as important, because I finally spoke about it, broke out of the “don’t tell on people” mindset, I had the support of my family and the teaching staff were at least aware it was going on. I started to reach out again.

We’re often told that surviving bullying makes you stronger. I don’t really believe that. Speaking for myself, I would say no, it didn’t make me stronger.  If anything it made me more wary. It made me more careful about who I allowed to get close to me, who I could trust. I know my friends, I know the people I can rely on. I have struggled long and hard to make good friends, and have been lucky enough to make some of the best in the world. But I had to make myself go out there and make them. For a while, that was impossible. But still, I am careful.

It does get better. It can be stopped. But the first step is opening up and telling someone. Reaching out. Getting help. And people will help. Don’t give up. Talk to family, to teachers, to brothers and sisters, to someone you can trust.

Talk until someone listens.

Reaching out for help can shed a light on bullying and help everyone to say Stop.

~oOo~

Follow the links below to other Authors taking part today.

Comments

Authors Against Bullying – 19th October — 5 Comments

  1. Yes, I do think it’s important that bullying victims talk about it, and they should be told that it gets better and that there are people willing to listen. Which is what I focused on in my anti-bullying blog post for today.

    It amazes me how many people are or were bullying victims. Of all the blog posts I’ve read today, that were about bullying, all of the people were a victim themselves once. Wow.

    I was a victim of bullying too. But I never write about that.

  2. Glad you posted this. You’re absolutely right in that you have to keep talking until someone listens. Whoever that may be. I think bringing about awareness in all will help educators and parents realize that it’s going on more often than we know. Thank you for sharing. xo

  3. Thanks for reading and commenting. I’ve been reading through some of the other posts and my heart goes out to everyone sharing painful stories. Poor OH came home the other night to me stomping around the house and muttering. I wasn’t even aware I was doing it until he asked what was wrong. I told him I had just written this post. We looked at each other,talked and had a hug instead. Much better than stomping.