I was bullied from ages 11-16, and it ended nearly 5 years ago, and I’m still suffering from the consequences.
It started in primary school, the last year or so, when groups of friends have been formed. I’d already made a couple of ‘enemies’ as I was seen as an easy target to blame for friendship group arguments, the normal primary school stuff. It didn’t bother me that much, because I didn’t take that much notice of it. I knew I had my own group of friends, and even if I was bullied by a few other people, I still had my friends.
I explained my basic experience of secondary school in the my story post on my blog, but I’ll explain it briefly here as well. In the first 2-3 years I had one friend, called Sophie. She was my best friend for those 2-3 years, we were basically inseparable. I had a lot of other ‘friends’ which we hung out with during the breaks from classes and things like that, but nobody stood out as much as she did. Then we had a falling out which led to us not being friends anymore, which was devastating to me. It seemed to be a very sharp learning curve for me, since I quickly realised that all those ‘friends’ we hung out with were only friends with me because they were friends with her. I couldn’t exactly go up to them and ask some of them to hang out with me, because then it would seem like I was trying to rival Sophie.
I ended up just sitting by myself in my tutor room most of the time, sometimes my tutor would be there and sometimes she wouldn’t, so most of the time I would read a book or write in my diary. I wouldn’t eat, because if I ate in that room and someone came in, it really would look sad. I pretended that I just ‘didn’t want to hang out with anyone’ and saved my lunch until I got home from school. Sometimes I would go to a room where some other ‘outcast’ people went, it was kind of the school guidance office in a way. I didn’t really like it in there, however if the bullying was particularly bad I would feel safer in that room than in my tutor room.
It was fine doing that, obviously extremely isolating and I had no friends so I was lonely and depressed. It wasn’t the sitting alone that made me sad, it was the context and the reason behind me doing it. Then the people who were bullying me started to find out that I sat in certain places in the school, and came into the room throughout the breaks. They’d ask me why I was in there, why I didn’t just go and find some friends, they insulted my appearance and I was even told once that if I told my tutor on them that they would ‘make it worse for me’. Pleasant, I know!
The worst part about it for me was that nobody stood up for me. Nobody even bothered to check if I was okay, and that hurt. Even the people that were supposedly my friends, didn’t come up to see if I wanted someone to sit with for 10 minutes. I would have people to sit with during classes, who would act friendly towards me and make me happy, then they would split off as soon as the breaks came around and I’d be left alone again. It’s a new type of loneliness, because you’re not just alone physically, you feel completely alone. Add on top of that the name calling, harassment, etc… you basically have a recipe for disaster.
The teachers of that school did practically nothing for me. The only person who helped me was my tutor, and she did all she could to make me more comfortable, but without the higher up people in the school also helping; she could do nothing to stop it completely. I can’t remember if the head teacher spoke to the boys doing it or not, but I’m assuming not, since I figure if he had then they would’ve stopped – they were a bunch of cowards, after all. The system of my school let me down completely, and I know I wasn’t the only bullied person in that school who felt that way. The fact there were more people than me in itself is bad, but add on top of that the fact that none of them had help, is even worse.
The bullying ceased slightly when I managed to find a new friendship group to be in. It didn’t stop, but it made me feel safer knowing that my friends were around me. They weren’t bullied, meaning that they had friends in the same friendship groups that used to bully me. I think they knew it was happening but at that age, you don’t really think about stepping in. Unless you want your reputation to be on the line, it’s easier to just make the person feel better about it after it happens. I am grateful they did that, but I also wish that someone, anyone, would’ve said something. It’s a massive movement nowadays to step in, in those situations. I wish it was then as well.
The after effects have been the bane of my life. You think after it stops that it’ll be fine, because you’re not being yelled at or being laughed at anymore. You think “Wow, I got through it, now I’ll be okay.” – But it’s not like that, and it still isn’t like that for me, nearly 5 years later. It started with flashbacks in the first couple of years, mainly during dissociation or panic episodes, which were horrible. I’d see all their faces over and over again, hear the names they used to call me, it was like I never left that situation. After those had mainly subsided, the fear started. Even today, I am scared of groups of boys. I won’t go even close to a group of boys, I’m scared of places like clubs or parties because there’s groups of boys in those places who (in my mind) are exactly like the boys who bullied me.
I’m scared to go into the town where my old school is, because most of the boys still reside there. I don’t want to see them, so I avoid going into that town at all costs. I deleted everyone associated to them on Facebook and Instagram, and I’m scared of men in general because of it. I refuse to have male therapists, I refuse to make male friends unless it’s through mutual connection. It’s really bad, and I wish I wasn’t like that, but I am.
For me, the part that really leaves an effect on me, is the fact that they might be reading this and asking themselves who did this. They might not even remember it was them, or what they said, or what they did. They might not even care. It kills me inside to think that they’re living their lives happily, and I know for a fact some of them are, and I’ve gone through what I’ve gone through. That’s the way the world is, I suppose. Up until last year I was angry, extremely angry, that they got away with it. I speak of it like it’s a crime because I think it is, it feels like I was a victim of a crime that never got resolved. It helped that last year, I realised that none of it matters anymore. Right now, I’m doing great with my mental health and my life in general, I’ve managed to build myself back up. I truly believe that if I hadn’t have gone through what I did, I wouldn’t be as strong and resilient as I am today.
I’m not perfect, I don’t think anybody is. At least now I love myself, and I care about myself enough to at least try and not care what they think. I don’t forgive the people who bullied me (I never will), but that doesn’t mean I can’t forget it and move on. I’m strong enough to do that now, so why shouldn’t I?
P.S Getting bullied contributed to me making this blog, so thanks bullies, you accidentally got me over 150 new friends!