Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,
Today we begin with our guest posts on the subject of bullies. The young lady who starts us off is Rachel, of When A Lion Sleeps Let It Sleep. Rachel has had a very rough time with bullies so I count on all of you to give her the tender loving comments she deserves. I hope you'll also visit her blog and consider following her. I'm very fond of Rachel.
Take it away, Rachel:
Hello! Let me start off by saying that my name is Rachel and I have never done a guest post before. I saw Janie's request on Twitter for guest posts about bullying and I asked to do one without a second thought. There are a lot of things that are important to me, but this is at the top of the list.
I've been bullied most of my life. In grade school, there were mean girls who would tease me because I was too quiet or I was friends with the labeled "bad kid". The "bad kid" was my neighbor. He used to come over to my house to hide when his mother got loud, drunk, and invited different men over for parties in the middle of the afternoon. We hid him so that he wouldn't get any more bruises than he already had and I became his friend. At school, he just needed somebody to pay attention to him so he played harmless pranks and spoke out of turn. Can you blame him though?
In middle school, I was in a new state. I wanted a new start, away from all of the teasing, but that wasn't what I got. In my new school, I was shoved against lockers, pushed down the stairs, had my gym locker broken into multiple times only for the gym teacher to tell me to stop lying about forgetting my uniform at home. Rumors were spread and boys started grabbing at me more and more.
The halls were so crowded that I was only able to catch one boy who did it. I had him pinned up against the wall and all my anger came out in words: "If you EVER touch me or anyone else like that again, I will make sure you end up in prison for molestation and sexual harassment. My mom is friends with half the cops in this town so I can guarantee that will happen. If I don't make you pay myself." Dramatic pause while the color drained from his face. "Don't come near me again." He didn't-–he just had his friends come after me instead. I knew that because I would see him smirking and watching when I was grabbed by some unknown pervert.
"Why didn't you go to the teachers?"
In that school, I only had two people on my side. One was my English teacher and the other was the school guard. The English classroom was the only place where I was safe, because she would hand out detentions like candy on Halloween night if anyone messed with me. She was also the only one who didn't yell at me if I stood up for myself. She was the only person who believed that I wasn't faking the incapacitating stress-stomachaches that put me in the hospital at least once a week. The school guard would escort me to classes when he could, but he could never get too close because the two times he spoke to me, I left with bruises on my side and a sprained ankle from being pushed down the stairs. They both stopped my mom the day that she told them I "moved away" (code for: "dropped out at thirteen") and asked her to wish me luck and to stay hidden until I was legally allowed to leave school.
The PE coach was already mentioned, but she wasn't the worst, despite yelling at me for having my things stolen. (Because, you know, I asked for that to happen?) The reading teacher was a nightmare. Thanks to her, the target on my back ended up a flashing neon sign that said, "Sic her!" and pointed to me. She stopped class and walked around the room one day. "Now, I've recently learned that our school counselor has been talking to students, learning their secrets, and telling a certain somebody in this class, who has then been spreading the rumors." She looked at me, faced me, and everyone followed her eyes until I was the center of attention. "I expect you all to stop speaking with the counselor unless you want everyone to know your secrets." It only got worse. I still don't know who the counselor was-–I never met her or him.
Snitch. Bitch. Whore. Loser. Skank. Liar. Dork. Nerd. Geek. Slut. Rat. Idiot. Stupid. Fat. Ugly.
I heard those words and more on the daily basis until that was all I could believe about myself. I only made it half the school year before I left. Now, I'm twenty years old and still trying to graduate, while trying to function as a normal adult. I wanted to kill myself and I got close to it many times. I cried constantly and became an angry, hateful person to the only people who supported me. I used to get into fist fights with my own mom because I was positive that she would turn against me too. I lost the line between being a strong person and being a broken person hiding behind a spiked wall. I'm still trying to find it, seven years later.
I still have nightmares. I'm still insecure. I still have days where I don't want to get out of bed. I can't trust anyone until they prove themselves to me repeatedly. Generally speaking, the depression is under control now. I don't want to kill myself anymore, but I still have days where I want to just disappear. I still have anger problems, which I'm not sure will ever just go away. But if I see somebody being bullied, you can bet your life that I will jump in front of the victim to save them from it. I would do anything to protect somebody else from going through what I have.
The worst part? I got off lucky. Just think about how many people kill themselves every year (thousands) and then think about how many are results of bullying (Rebecca Sedwick and Amanda Todd, to name just two). Think about how much worse it's gotten for people with computers (which I didn't have while in school) because it's so much easier to be anonymous. Think about how many people turn to alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, cutting, or other forms of self harm just to escape the pain (tens of thousands). Think about how many turn into bullies themselves so that they won't be a victim anymore (the number one cause of bullying).
I will probably be recovering for the rest of my life and I'm one of the lucky ones. Talk to your kids, your grandkids, your nieces or nephews or friends. Ask them how they get along with people, ask them how they're feeling. Talk to them about how one little action can either save or ruin a life. For all you know, that could cause a butterfly effect and save a life.
Thank you so much for opening up to us, Rachel. This post calls attention to how severe bullying can be. I know Rachel is working very hard to try to finish her GED, and I wish her all the best.
She's an unusually sympathetic and intuitive person. I'm not happy about what happened to her, but we are shaped by our experiences and Rachel puts what she's gone through to good use by making people aware of bullying whenever she has the chance, by being willing to stand up for other people, and by offering kindness everywhere she goes.
Infinities of love to you, and especially to Rachel,