Bullies must be having a great time right now. Bullying Prevention Awareness Month is long over. The media is too preoccupied with exploiting greiving parents and tramatized children in Connecticut to bother with bullies. However it won't be long before there is another suicide because of bullying. It's not getting any better.
I feel so bad for all the bullied kids out there, because I know what it is to be treated as something less than human by your peers. It doesn’t just happen to gay people. It happens to anyone who is perceived as weak, isolated or different. I am sick of people blaming the victims for just being themselves and giving the bullies pats on the back for their ingenuity. I was bullied and abused by my classmates for ten years, and I will never forget it.
I told one teacher that I was Jewish and that I didn’t want to recite the Pledge of Allegiance because I felt like it was idolatry. She made me stand up in class and singled me out as being part of some crackpot group. From that point forward I was an acceptable target. Other students did not get punished for things that would have gotten them suspended or expelled if they had done it to any other student.
They wouldn’t let me have a seat on the bus. The kicked, punched and tripped me as I stood in the middle of the aisle because no one would scoot over and let me have a seat. They called me the ugly girl to my face and "refried" behind my back. They were spitting on me at the height of the AIDS scare, when we didn’t know how it was spread, and teachers did absolutely nothing to help me. The faculty might as well have been completely absent.
The kids called me a dog and mocked everything they could find about me that made me the least bit different. My clothes, my hair, my face—nothing was beyond limits with these kids. I was blanketed with acne, my hair was all wrong, and I didn’t wear designer clothes. Boys made vomiting noises when they were paired with me for square dancing because I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs, and they forced us to wear shorts for physical education.
I couldn’t go anywhere and be left alone. Even lunch was nightmarish. I would go to return my tray, and tables full of boys would bark at me as loud as they could, because they said I looked like a dog. I ranked lower than an animal and they were relentless making sure I knew it and understood my place. Girls sent me fake notes from popular, good-looking boys telling me how much they liked me and wanted me to be their girlfriend. I was at the bottom of a caste system and there was no way I would ever get out. I had to do my best to make it tolerable by burying my head in library books and making up stories about… well, anything but where I was.
For a whole year, one girl made it her business to harass and bully me every morning before English class. She hurled every insult imaginable at the top of her lungs, shoved me, and knocked my books off my desk. She would stand over my head with a stapler while I was trying to read, and eject staples into my hair as fast as she could, stopping only to reload when she ran out of ammunition. This girl had her boyfriend’s name in iron-on lettering across the seat of her pants, but no adults believed that she was capable of such sadistic behavior.
There was a boy a few lockers away from me who got his kicks tripping me and shoving me into the walls in the hallway not just every day, but during every 5 minute break between classes. He piled this on top of verbal abuse, telling me how unattractive, and how worthless I was. That was when I decided to go to the guidance counselor and beg to be transferred to another school.
I intended to go in there and calmly ask for a transfer, and had listed a ton of reasons why I needed this. Instead, once she shut the door, I just burst into tears, telling her I just couldn’t take it anymore, and begged for her help. She told me that she couldn’t solve all my problems, and if I ignored it, it would go away. I knew that no one was ever going to help me. As I choked back my sobs and went back to class, I knew I would have to survive all by myself.
My academic work was all over the place. In a field of As and Bs, my report cards were also littered with Ds, Fs, and erasure marks. Sometimes I got “unacceptable citizenship” because I did not show enough school spirit by wearing the school colors and cheering on the very people who were making my childhood miserable. I worked to pull my grades up to be admitted to the National Honor Society, and was denied membership on this very point. The next year membership was based on concrete facts rather than subjective material, but by then I just didn’t care anymore.
I never wanted a career. I didn’t want to go to college. My biggest ambition was to go someplace where I wouldn’t have to be afraid all the time.
Nobody clapped for me on graduation day. I wanted to get my diploma through the mail, but my parents forced me to go anyway. It was a small school, and we had a graduating class of less than 200 people. Everyone knew everyone in that town, they were all there, and I got not one single clap. The silence in the auditorium was deafening as I took my diploma and made a plastic smile for the photographer so that my mom and dad could have THEIR ceremony.
That wasn’t even the final slap. That came a few months later when yearbooks were published. The yearbook staff had chosen to use my photo, taken without my permission, in a libelous two-page spread meant to hurt and humiliate me and the only friend I ever had.
The reason that I am telling you all of this is that I want every bullying victim out there to know that I understand your pain. No one is more in your corner than I am. I have been there and I am on your side, because no one should ever have to endure what I endured. That’s why I am against these anti-bullying campaigns. They victimize you and use you just as much as the bullies do, and they lie to you.
We should tell kids the truth about bullying. It doesn’t get better. It never gets easier. You need to brace yourself, because it doesn’t stop. Chances are that whatever makes you different, whatever unique characteristic you have, will never change. Your difference will follow you around for the rest of your life, and the bullies will too. They just change tactics as they get older.
I hate it when bullies apologize to me. It puts me in a terrible position, where I have to choose whether to tell them it’s all OK when it’s NOT all OK. They damaged me, and they deserve to feel bad about it. However, if I don’t accept an apology, society blames me, labels me as unforgiving and holds the bully up as a hero
These anti-bullying organizations are rewarding the bullies twice. Bullies get to feel good about themselves when they bully you, then they get fifteen minutes of fame when they get the cameras to watch them apologize for their behavior in viral videos and news articles..
You have to take a stand, and you are going to have to accept that you are going to have to do it alone. Celebrities who jump on cause bandwagons don’t care about you. They only care about the publicity they get for taking 30 seconds out of their day to do a meaningless TV spot that changes nothing. Adults will blow you off, and not all communities "come together" to support the outcasts. In fact, most of them join in to kick you when you're down.
No one is coming to rescue you. You have to rescue yourself. You have the right, the duty even, to defend yourself, and you don’t have to take anything from anyone. You are worth it.