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The Average Life of A Victim of Bullying (Part One)

I need to take a moment to say how much I love you all. Whether you’ve read this blog since September 6th or you just found me today, you have my love and appreciation. Your comments yesterday touched me and gave me a plethora of ideas (that help organize all my other ideas ^_^). Thank you. You guys are awesome!

Today’s story is about my average day in school, after years of bullying and with an understanding that the bullying would likely continue for years. After Wednesday’s post, I wanted to write a story that would help people understand what it’s like to exist in fear of your peers. This isn’t meant for sympathy. Instead, I just want people to see. Put yourself in this young girls shoes. Experience life as she knows it every school day and ask yourself if it would be worth the risk to stand up for her. I hope to motivate people  to stand up to bullies and to teach children to stand up.

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You wake up to the sound of your mother’s voice telling you to get out of bed. By the third time she calls, you have finally stubble into the bathroom. After going through the usual routines, you sit for breakfast. When everything you need has been securely gathered in your backpack, you walk out the door towards the bus stop.

Some children play on the playground while they wait for the bus, other just stand silently watching as parents drop off more of your peers. The bus pulls up. You file in with the rest.

This photo, “school busses” is copyright (c) 2014 Rupert Ganzer and made available under an Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license

Used to the typical gossip and mischief that occurs on the bus, you find a seat near the center. Here, you are far enough away from your ‘popular’ peers in the back and the meaner peers who got in enough trouble to be forced to sit in the front. Here in the middle, you seek solitude. Leaning a shoulder against the window, you pull out a book and escape.

You retain just enough notice of the real world to dodge anything that my affront you. A peer may make a snide remark about your choice of activity. They may point, laugh and wonder at the oddity that is an avid book reader. As Belle was shunned from her community for her curiosity and love of novels, so are you.

Every time the bus stops to pick up more of your peers, you stop reading. Leaving the book where it is, your eyes on the page, you pretend to read as you assess the additional passengers. You’d rather none of them sit next to you, although it eventually becomes inevitable. Will they do or say anything to you? Too much has happened in your short life for you to assume they’d be kind. Best case scenario, they simply ignore you. Worst case, they make a point to crash into you so hard you smack your head on the window.

That happened once, and you ignored the pain. Your parents told you the bullies just wanted to get a reaction. They would leave you alone if you ignored them. But the bully kept up with the rough pushing, smacking your head many times. Tears welled up in your eyes, but you refused to let them fall. Eventually, it stopped. The bus moved on. The bully turned away. You let a few tears fall for the pain.

Thankfully, you were simply ignored as usual. At least with a person sitting next to you, there was no longer a need to pause when the bus stopped for more passengers.

The bus arrives at your school. You stand with the rest of your class, keeping an eye out for your only friend. If she is not there, you stand silently, listening to the chatter of everyone else. In this crowd, you stand alone in your thoughts, praying for the bell to ring.

(I am literally shaking as I write this. I guess my body remembers these feelings.)

Your nerves are on high, but then, you are always on high alert. The tense feeling has become a trademark of daily life. The school is a mixture of wonder and horror. You can’t help but be intrigued by you classes. History, math, science, art and the ever beloved Language Arts keep your mind busy. You diligently take it all in, absorbing all the knowledge you can.

Every once in a while, the peace is disturbed when you are forced to work in groups. You and your friend always join for group projects, but the choice isn’t always yours to make. Depending on the peers you are assigned with, you may be left with most of the work or you may be cast aside as useless. Neither is really better than the other. You go along with whatever your peers say to avoid conflict. Conflict has a cost and it’s a cost you aren’t willing to pay in this case.

Class is easy. It’s the parts of the day where your peers have more freedom that worry you. Walking between classes is usually uneventful. There might be someone who laughs or whispers something as you walk by, but you’ve long since gotten used to that. Lunch and recess are a mix of joy and fear. Like the bus, they usually go by without event. The small things are what keep you alert.

You and your friend sit together at lunch. No one sits next to you if they can help it. No one else talks to you. Sometimes you hear comments or snickers, but you ignore it. All they want is a rise, you tell yourself. You often wonder if you are paranoid. Maybe they aren’t talking about you. Too much has happened in your life for you to accept that logic. It’s safer to assume they are talking about you so you can be prepared.

There was the one time where you grabbed a kick ball from the bag to place with after lunch at recess. You and your friend had developed a game with the ball and you wanted to play. While it wasn’t the last ball in the bag, the rest quickly disappeared. On your way out to play, a group of peers confronts you. They want the ball

For once, you decide you will fight this. You have every right to this ball. Without it, you and your friend can’t play your game. This was your plan for recess. Even though you are outnumbered and pinned against a locker, you decide this is a battle worth fighting.

Click here to read Part Two!

This is based on my average childhood experiences during grade school. It is meant to depict how I thought and felt during an average middle school day. This is who I was after being bullied for many 
years. This was my struggle to survive. I do not mean to undermine the experiences of others who have been bullied. There are people who had it and who still have it worse than I did. My hope is to build
understanding of the emotional turmoil that results from bullying. Through that understanding, I hope more people stand up to bullies and speak out when they see someone bullying another.
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28 thoughts on “The Average Life of A Victim of Bullying (Part One)”

  1. I have a certification in domestic violence counseling and one of the elements of the program involved a concentration on the subject of bullying……I remember writing quite emphatically in one of my essays that principles and teachers who don’t make a concerted effort to totally eliminate bullying in schools should be dismissed from their jobs; that any child is ever the victim of bullying is unacceptable. I have one friend (one of my closest friends in life) who was bullied throughout middle school and it has scarred him for life…….

    1. For a while, I thought everything that happened to me was normal and that I was just weak. When I decided to see a therapist to find the root of my insomnia in college, they asked about bullying on the form I filled out. When I talked about some of the worser stories (because this is just an average day), he told me that it sounded pretty traumatic to him.

      I often wonder where the adults were for some of my stories. Did they just walk past a student pinned against a locker? Did they not see when I ran out of a classroom crying?
      Bullies are smart, though. They know not to act that way around teachers and staff. They find you between classes, while you’re walking home and any other place where they can be sure no one will see. I do agree that teachers should do more, but they can’t keep an eye on kids all the time.

  2. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I’ve had a few more minor experiences with it. In fourth grade I moved to a new school and the popular girl bullied me. After a few weeks I told her off. I guess it was enough to scare her into deciding to be my best friend for the rest of the year. My first year of middle school a boy bullied me on the bus. Luckily, it was just one guy. And it was just one year. Maybe because I didn’t respond the way he wanted it decreased over time. And again in high school – the latter years–I got bullied by girls who were jealous that some of the boys they liked liked me. But their bullying only happened every now and again. My last incident of bullying was my mother-in-law. I told her that if she didn’t stop I wouldn’t be seeing her anymore. I don’t see her anymore.

    Looking back, I see that I have become more compassionate because it’s easier to have empathy when you have been hurt. I also know that hurt people hurt people. You almost have to feel sorry for people who live all day long with that much anger inside them. And now I pity them. And I imagine that is the last thing they would want. I have also learned to forgive them and let them go — for my sake not theirs. I once had a quote taped to my desk that said something like, “Forgive them. Don’t let bullies live rent-free in your head.”

    1. Anger was a big thing for me. The story is not here, because this is an average day, but there was a night where my despair reached life threatening levels. If you would have asked me then, I would say I didn’t go through with it because I was a coward. That night, I became angry. I became angry because it was the only way I could survive. I hated myself, but I hated the people who bullied me more. I hated the thought of proving them right. Even though I believed I was broken and worthless, I hated letting them know I knew that.

      That anger still lives in this story. It keeps me silent and alert. It assumes all laughter is aimed at me. It assumes all acts of kindness have an ulterior motive. It assumes every person, whether they know me or not, hates me. It protected me until the bullies stopped. Then, it became a burden in social situations. I still battle with that anger today, but it’s small. I moved away from those people and have developed strong relationships with people who never knew me as a child. I’ve forgive my bullies because they were children who had no idea what they were doing to me. That doesn’t erase the anger I have towards those people, but it does diminish it. Someday, it will be gone. I just keep telling myself they didn’t know what they were doing. Hell, they probably don’t even know I considered them bullies in the first place.

  3. Ugh, TK… You’ve talked about these in comments on my blog several times, but I just hate hearing about it… I mean… I don’t hate reading your writing about it! But I hate knowing that it happened and that you had to live with it for such a long time. Reading your examples I could picture several different people across my school years who bore the brunt of the bullying at the schools I attended. It’s sickening and extra sickening to hear it told from your perspective. It may seem presumptuous to be like “I’m so glad you turned out great!” but I AM glad that you seem to be doing well now… have a great guy… ambitions (even if we both mutually loathe successful teenage authors together) etc. I look forward (in a somber way) to reading the next half of this.

    1. I’m not sure what to say to this because nothing I think of seems appropriate. I’m happy with my life today, but I wish I could have gotten here without those experiences. The truth is, I’m lucky. I came close to succumbing but, instead, I survived. Sometimes, I think of middle school and high school as the way we weed out the weak. If you can live past that without too much trauma, your allowed to move on to adult hood.

      On the bright side, if this piece read well, there’s no reason I can’t write an amazing book. Take that teenage authors! !

      1. It really is odd the things that some of us can survive that others can’t… it’s almost something you can’t really identify or trace– you just have to be thankful I guess. UGH– well I’m glad you did! And yes, stick it to those writing wunderkinds!

        1. Or you have to be lucky. If I had viewed the world differently or had different method of escape, my whole outcome would have changed.

          Darn wonderkids, earning money on their talents while I was busy playing video games!

      2. I liked your post- although I would double check it for spelling errors tho (but its written with heart and experience and that usually means we miss the odd spelling error) and It also brought memories back from my bullying and its true you never truly get over it – thank god for my husband – it took him years but finally I am a totally different person to the 15/16yr old that hated every day at school, had no real friends – and just wanted to be with her horse or stuck in a book :)

        1. I should probably review it… It was very emotional for me to write it all out. I suppose that one didn’t get the same treatment as some of my other blogs because I didn’t want to reread it. I just wanted to get the experience out of me.

          The thing that pains me the most about my youth is that I had no idea of what the real world held for me. I cried myself to sleep, wondered if this was all life had to offer and thought far too casually about death. I’m not really sure how I survived. While I will never say that anything is worth those painful years, I am grateful for the strength I developed by putting up with it all.

  4. i dont get the satisfaction that people get out of bullying! its so frustrating, especially when nobody does anything about it. im so sorry to hear you had to go through this, and anybody else for that matter, because ive been there too. bullying is one of the worst things, because it can leave years and years of damage which is unfortunate

    1. I’m sure they didn’t understand the effect they were having on me. People who didn’t stand up for me didn’t understand I was being hurt. I say I survived, but that’s what we all do in grade school. I didn’t fault anyone for not stepping in. I was pretty sure they’d face the same fate if they dared to stand up.

      Thanks for reading.

  5. It’s a horrible reality of school for many kids, and I agree with culturemonk that teachers possibly need to do more. But I believe the cycle of bullying quite often begins at home (it’s where bullies are born, and where we learn to deal with them or not). At least, that’s how it was for me, and I’ve been sobered to realise the pattern has continued into my adult life. I learned how to keep the peace, but not how to make a stand. We’ll call it a work in progress :) Look forward to hearing Part 2 of your story…

    1. “I learned how to keep the peace, but not how to make a stand.”

      This is spot on. I was always instructed to ignore the bullies. I was told they’d get bored and stop. I wonder if that ever worked for anyone? I don’t think I’ll tell my kids that because I don’t believe it works.

      Effecting home life to reduce bullying will be hard. I grew up in a small town. I think a lot of the old bullies had children who became bullies. How do you fight that?

      1. my mum always said that to me.. eventually one day I had enough and screamed at her to leave me alone – asking what the hell had I done to deserve her constant bullying… the next day she ignored me. 8 years later she came up to me in a pub and apologized – I listened to her but said I couldnt really forgive her as it was way too late. BUT said do me a favor bring up any kids you have to treat their peers better than you treated your victims! I think she was floored she mumbled sorry and disappeared. Fair enough she had a rough home life – but its not on for her to take it out on me – nor was it fair for the schools to ignore it

        1. The school system ignores far too much of you ask me. I can remember a handful of times where I was cornered in a hallway or ran out of a classroom crying. I KNOW there was a teacher or adult somewhere near. What were they doing? You can’t tell me there was nothing they could do.

          I’m sorry for your experiences, but it sounds like you have risen above it all. I’m happy life has worked out well for you.

      2. and I agree with your stand on not telling your kids that. as you are right ignoring them never works.

        1. I thought that was pretty standard. Maybe it was because that’s what I was told over and over. I have friends and coworkers with children in school. They don’t tell them to ignore the bullies. They tell them to stand up for themselves. I know that’s what I will tell my kinds. In my opinion, being pushed into a locker or punched in the face isn’t as bad as having to hide who you are from the world. Pretending to be someone you’re not wreaks havoc on the soul.

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