Something to Hiss About: Speaking Out About Bullying
There are many forms of bullying: verbal, physical, emotional, cyber…the list goes on. Bullying, when you get right down to it, is a form of abuse. It shows no discrimination and it’s victims can be children, adults, and, yes, even animals. When it was brought to our attention that authors K.C. Neal and K.M. Parr were planning to host an event which dealt with bringing attention to the growing problem of bullying, we knew we had to sign up. We felines are proud to support this event with all of our nine lives because our human, Cameron, was a victim of bullying while growing up. This is her story.
I’ll be honest when I say that I’m not one who likes to reminiscence about my childhood, in fact I’d much prefer to forget most of it ever happened. but everything that has happened in my life, both the good and the bad, have shaped me into the person who I am now. Looking back I’d say the bulk of the bullying started upon entering my first year of Middle School. It started with the usual name calling but slowly progressed into what was the worst three years of my academic life.
When I was young, my two front teeth stuck out further than the rest because my upper jaw was very narrow. Thank goodness for braces and about 3-4 solid years of dental correction. However the damage had already been done. Nothing is worse than the cruelty of children. For three years I was subjected to being called “The Bucked Tooth Beaver” and “Bucky.” Not very original, I know. While I could put up with the name calling, that was easy enough to block out most of the time, it was watching the people who I thought were friends turn their backs on me and the physical abuse start to happen that made me realize I couldn’t ignore the problem any longer.
Upon walking home from school one day, I ran into a boy who routinely went out of his way to try and make my life miserable. He proceeded to ride his bike in circles around me, taunting me, hoping to get a rise from me. I remember him laughing and saying he was going to get me good just before riding off down the street. I watched him ride up to two girls who were high school students and begin talking with them. Several times he pointed in my direction. What happened next still makes my head spin in surprise.
The two girls began walking in my direction. I never once thought to try and hide. It wasn’t until they’d each grabbed a hold of my arms and pulled me off to the side of a building that I realized just how serious the trouble was. These two girls, whom I didn’t know by name and had no ties too, proceeded to scream obscenities in my face and threatened to beat me senseless. Apparently the boy from my school had told them that I was talking smack about them and wanted to fight them. I’ll admit, I freaked out. Tears streaming down my face, body shaking in fear, I spent what felt like a year trying to get both of them to hear me out. Finally they both realized what had happened, that the boy had lied to them, and they let me go. I went home and hid myself in my room for the rest of the day.
My mom went to the head of my school the next day hoping that they would intervene, but naturally nothing ever came from it. I learned early on that you couldn’t count on anyone to help protect you. Because my mom had made a big deal over the continual teasing and threat, my friends slowly started to turn their backs on me. You’d have thought that they would have supported me, but they didn’t. I couldn’t understand why they all stopped being my friend, but they did. Many of them even joined in on the teasing and tormenting. For the two years I was in Middle School, I was pushed around, continually had my hair pulled, had items stolen from me, was the brunt of jokes, and generally made to feel like it was all my fault. I felt that I wasn’t good enough for anyone to care about me. I honestly felt like I didn’t have a friend in the world.
When it came time to go to High School, I was hoping things would change because most of the kids from Middle School would be going to a different school than me. Only a small handful would actually transfer over to the new school which had been built the year before. Unfortunately, my wishes were not granted. I found a whole new group of bullies waiting for me at my new school. One day as I was walking down the stairs from the second floor science rooms, a girl threw her umbrella between my legs in the hopes of knocking me down the stairs. She laughed the entire time and said that I should do the world a favor and kill my ugly self. Later that same year I decided to audition for a solo part in my choir and had a senior girl threaten to beat me up if I so much as got the part. There was no rhyme or reason to any of these moments. These were just people who couldn’t handle their own troubles and so felt that they needed to make someone else’s life just as miserable as their own.
Throughout these three years there was more that went on, but these are the moments that stand out the most whenever I think back on those times. I finally escaped it all by going to a school where no one had ever heard of me. San Diego SCPA (School of Creative and Performing Arts) was heaven. It allowed me to start over and gave me the best three years of my entire life. It’s sad that I had to change schools in order to find friends and happiness. Though I did have two girls at that school who tried to start bullying me, I wouldn’t allow them to succeed and finally managed to find the strength to stand up for myself. Shame it took four years and a change of schools to do so.
I’ve had folks tell me that I should have fought my bullies. I’ve had others say I was a coward for running away. And still others simply cannot understand why I put up with all the abuse without doing anything about it. To these people I always say, unless you are in that position, you can never truly understand how painful it is and how helpless it makes you feel. Yeah it’s easy to say, fight them, but the reality is it’s not as easy as you would think to fight back. Bullies want one thing and one thing only: To make their victims suffer. I didn’t ask for any of this to happen to me. I’d like to think I wasn’t walking around with a sign on my back which read, “Easy victim here!” But even now, years after it all, I still deal with insecurities. I keep waiting for friends to turn their backs on me and I still suffer from self-esteem issues.
It sickens me whenever I read about a child who’s taken their life because of bullying. And when I see grown adults repeatedly bad mouth another online, I want to scream over how stupid, childish, and cruel they are behaving. I simply cannot understand the desire people have to better their opinion of themselves at the cost of someone else’s happiness. Bullying is wrong! It’s not the answer to anyone’s problems. To engage in it causes just as much damage to the one doing the bullying as the to the one suffering from it.
I agree with my fellow blogging and author friends that the time has come to Spread Love and Not Hate! It’s time to put an end to the bullying. I hope that by sharing just a bit of what I went through those of you reading this will join me in this effort.
For a full list of blogs participating in this event and to sign up for the cause, please click HERE!