My Journey With

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back to school blog: Bullying and the lasting scars: My personal story

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I've been debating when to tell my personal story about bullying.  This is going to be a hard blog entry to write, and it's going to bring a lot of emotions forward that I really don't want to deal with.  I'm going to write it over a period of days.  I've decided that it is more important to tell my story, though, than to keep parts of it buried.  I feel it is important to tell my story to hopefully bring awareness to this issue, as well as a way to stop it.  Let me begin my story.



As a child I was very anxious and worried.  A traumatic event happened when I was four, and again when I was seven.  When I was ten I went into a deep depression that didn't lift until I fourteen.  I then went back into the deep depression and it didn't lift again until I was nineteen and had my second bout with mania.  It was then I was diagnosed with bipolar, but I digress.


When I was ten I developed faster than the other girls my age.  I'd been wearing a bra since I was eight and by ten it was very obvious I was going through puberty faster and further along than my classmates.  I don't really remember how the bullying started.  I remember people picking their noses and flinging boogers at me, breaking my glasses by punching me in the temple, breaking my glasses by hitting me in the face with basketballs, kicking me in the butt while I walked, taping signs on my back, spreading rumors about me, etc.  Some of the things that hurt the worst was that my best friend until then, Jessie, turned into one of my tormentors.  I lost every friend I had, and was completely alone.  I remember Sarah coming up to me, smiling sweetly, and saying "Amy, I want to be your best friend."  My heart would leap with joy and I'd smile with hope that someone wanted to be my friend.  That's when she'd say "NOT!" and my face would crumple, trying to hold back tears.


The bullying continued, escalating each year.  By the time I was thirteen I was researching suicide options.  I started self-injuring on a semi-regular basis.  I would pierce the veins in my feet and watch under the skin on my foot fill with blood.  I also cut with razors that I shaved my legs with, but I didn't do any real damage.  I daydreamed about all the kids in my class dying or my school burning down.  It wasn't that I really wanted them to die, but at that point the verbal and physical abuse were horrible and I couldn't deal with it.


When my first male crush came out (I still didn't like him in the same way I liked my first female crush, but I digress) I was made fun of horribly.  This one girl, especially, spread rumors that I wanted to sit on his face.  I was very naive and hadn't the slightest idea what that meant.  I was pretty sure she thought I wanted to smother him to death.  I went home crying every night.  She has died since then.  Then Jonathan and Edward would say such horrible things about my dog (that they skinned him alive, etc) that I would cry so hard I almost threw up and couldn't stand up because I was shaking so hard.  My dog was my best friend in the world.  He was a better friend than any human ever turned out to be (except Om, Mandy, and of course, Jim, but I didn't know him then).  It was the meanest thing I can think of.  I'd rather they kicked me in the gut.


I moved to another town when I was fourteen.  I was hoping so much that this would mean the end of the bullying, instead it got worse.  I started self-injuring again, this time on a regular basis.  The first week I was at my new school I was pushed over while half naked in gym class and told off.  I was pushed down the stairs, kicked, and hit.  This was all in my first three days of school.  My parents inquired into moving to the next town before we were even completely unpacked to avoid the bullying I was already experiencing.  I think in the end we all realized that it didn't matter where I went to school, the bullying would still happen.


By fifteen the bullying was even worse.  I carried a bottle of medication with me that I'd never given much thought to.  Then one day Carla threatened to kick my ass after school.  During PE class I went into the bathroom stall and took every pill in my purse.  It wasn't enough to make me throw up, but it was enough to do some serious damage.  I know now that it didn't do any damage, and I have no idea why.  I still don't know why it didn't kill me.  I was still self-injuring, though not on a regular basis, and I did it without anyone finding out.  At this point my tormentors were mainly guys.  I had three or four guys in my yard once beating the shit out of me, while my parents looked on and held my growling dog back.  They beat me until I just lay on the ground in the fetal position, taking kicks from all of them.  Afterwards, I was in trouble by my parents for getting beaten when they "had to watch" because I had "no idea how hard it is for your parents to watch their daughter getting beaten."  Why didn't they think of stepping in and rescuing me?


These same boys used to hit me with huge rose vines.  I remember pulling each thorn out one by one and watching the blood run in little streams down my legs.  Believe it or not, it wasn't my own mom who took care of me, but a neighbor girl's mom.  I remember laying face down in a ditch while the other boys twisted my arms behind my back, far enough to really hurt, and thinking that soon my arm would break.  Considering I have EDS and am stretchier than most people, I think it would have dislocated a normal person's shoulder.  I can't remember what else they did to me that day.


At fifteen I still road the bus.  One day I was "lucky" enough to get the back seat.  One of the back seats on the bus is a half seat, while the other seat is a full seat.  I'd grabbed the half seat.  An older high school boy squeezed in next to me.  I asked him to please get another seat, as he was almost sitting on top of me.  He called me a "fucking bitch" and told me he'd do what he wanted.  He pushed me up against the side of the bus with his body and thrust his hand roughly between my legs.  "I'll come back and rape you later, bitch. Just wait on me." I ended up telling my dad about three days later after living in terror during those three days and he told the bus driver, who chewed that guy's ass.  He never messed with me again after that.  The bus driver told me that his dad likely beat him for acting like that.


Also at fifteen I did something stupid.  I was incredibly protective of my sister, and really didn't know how to properly defend her.  So when this 18 year old guy, Chris, who got out of jail the night before who just got out of jail the day before started cutting her down I had the wrong reaction and slapped him.  I didn't slap him hard, but regardless I shouldn't have done it.  I immediately realized what I did was wrong and said "I'm so, so sorry, please forgive me, I'm so sorry..."  He wouldn't say a word to me.  I knew he was still angry but I didn't know how to pacify his anger about what I'd done.  So when he stood up to get off the bus, he turned around and backhanded me so hard that he knocked me out.  He left a perfect imprint of his senior ring in my face.  After I got off the bus my mom made me march right down to his house and apologize.  He begrudgingly accepted my apology.  He never hit me again, anyway.  I also got suspended from the bus for three days.  When I had come to after he knocked me out, though, I was screaming.  So, for the next three years everyone on the bus called me either "banshee" or "pizza face," because of my moderately severe acne.  The dermatologist tried prescription after prescription and I was allergic to almost all of them.


Also at fifteen I was beat by the star football player/wrestler because his girlfriend told him she thought I liked him, which I did not.  During a Spanish skit after school a girl named Rosanna tried to push me down the stairs backwards.  I have no doubt her plan was to kill me.  I pivoted, and landed on the concrete tile floor next to the stairs.  My head hit so hard it echoed off the walls and the lockers.  The pain in my head and neck exploded, I hurt so bad I could barely see.  I somehow made it, through tears, confusion, severe pain, and having a hard time seeing, to my mom's car where she was waiting on me outside.  I don't remember much else about that day.  A concussion will do that.  I ended up injuring my neck in the fall and was in a neck brace.  The whole thing was on camera, but the lawyer we say said he wouldn't sue Rosanna because she is the same race (white), the same religion (at the time-Catholic), and the same gender (female).


When I went back to school in the neck brace I was made fun of horribly.  During lunch Lisa (name has been changed) and her cronies threw food at me and I couldn't turn my head to see where it was coming from.  Lisa brought Rapist I (who raped me once when I skipped school) to lunch, but I couldn't even keep an eye on him to know I was safe because I couldn't turn my head.  Even though I know he wouldn't attack me at lunch, I still  felt safer being able to see him.


In PE, which I was excused from, a guy started spreading rumors that I'd hurt my neck giving a a whole bunch of men oral sex, except he said it a lot more vulgar than that.  I told the principle, in tears, what he was saying, and he got in trouble.  Then Lisa and her friends got worse and worse, throwing food at me during lunch.  I finally went to the vice-principal and begged for help.  I would have been just fine if he let me go into the library during lunches and skip eating, and that's what I asked for.  I just couldn't take food being thrown at me anymore.  I was I was being tortured in all my classes, and even by people I didn't have classes with.  Finally the vice-principal, when I went to him, told me that I was too much of a distraction to my fellow students and he was sending me home for the rest of the year.  There was about a week and a half left of school.  He assured me that I would be excused from finals, but some in classes I was counting on finals to raise my grade.  So, I got sent home for the rest of the year.


At sixteen I met the man who would eventually rape me, Rapist I.  I couldn't bring myself to leave him, though until Lisa started seeing him.  Once Lisa, who had been my best friend, started seeing him I gathered the courage to say no to ever seeing him again...or so I thought.  Lisa started bring Rapist I to school. She brought him to lunch, to assemblies, hell, even to graduation.  Each time I'd break out in a sweat, start hyperventilating  my stomach would start churning, I'd start sweating, start crying, and I would shake so hard I could barely stand up, much less walk.  To this day, I am absolutely terrified of Rapist I, even though I know he won't ever hurt me again.  The visits to school from Rapist I went on throughout my junior and senior years of high school.  Every single morning and every afternoon I would go to the top of the stairs and lean over the railing, willing myself to gather the courage to jump.  If I'd known that I would have died and not ended up a vegetable then I wouldn't be here now.


My senior year I met Scott.  He seemed like a friend at first, but grew increasingly violent.  He would leave hand prints on me after hitting me.  He'd grab my hair, kick my body into the table behind us in an empty classroom, and start kicking me and twisting my arms.  He pushed me down the stairs often.  He played a number on my self-esteem.  I still considered him a friend because I thought that I wasn't worthy of any friends who treated me better.


Bullies never remember you or the bullying they did because it wasn't important to them.  Only the person being bullied remembers.


I didn't go into all the people who bullied me, or the scars and effects of it that still touch my life today, but I feel as if sharing my story has been therapeutic.  The self-injury I developed in junior high and high school still plagues me.  It is an addiction I struggle with every single day.  Most days I don't cut, but some days I can't seem to help it.  I am glad that the DSM V (the book of mental health disorders) has included self-injury as a mental illness all on it's own.  I developed it from the bullying going on at school and my depression that followed me everwhere.

If you read this and you are being bullied, you are not alone!!!  It does get better.  I don't know what to tell you on how to stop bullying.  If I did I would have stopped it when I was being bullied.  I can however, leave you with some resources that may be able to help. I'm sorry but all the hotlines I found are for US residents.


Bullying Resources
Stopbullying.gov
STOP Violence
Stop Bullying Now!
Boystown National Hotline: Help at the end of the line
Bullystoppers
National Association of School Psychologists: Bullies and Victims
Bullying Hotline 1-866-444-6996


Cyber Bullying Resources
Cyberbullying
Stop Cyber Bullying
Cyber Byllying Research Center
Stop Cyber Bullying
Cyber Bullying Hotline in Boston (not sure if it's national) 1-617-534-5050


LGBT Bullying Resources
Bullying and Gay Youth
Bullying, Harrassment, School-based Violence (LGBT Youth)
Resources for LGBTQ kids and teens dealing with bullying
How You Can Help Stop LGBT Bullying
GLBT National Help Center
LGBT Bullying
GLAAD's Resources on Bullying
LGBT/GLBT National Hotline 1-888-THE-GLNH (1-888-843-4564)


Self-Injury Resources
Self-Abuse Finally Ends (SAFE) Alternatives
secret shame (self-injury information and support)
Cutting and Self-Harm: Self-Injury Help, Support, and Treatment
Self-Harm: Recovery, Advice and Support
Sirius Project - Self-Help for Self-Harm - Recovery Resources
Self-Injury (also called self-harm and self-mutilation) national hotline 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)


Suicide Resources
Jared's Story
Suicide.org: Bullying and Suicide
Science Daily: Bullying And Being Bullied Linked To Suicide In Children, Review Of Studies Suggests
Psychiatric Times: Bullying and Suicide: Detection and Intervention
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-2376-TALK (8255)

Bullying in the News
One mother helps build task force against school bullying
Bullying can ruin children’s lives
Anti-Bullying Law Starts for Schools Next Month
Parents of bullies must take lead for changing their kids' behaviour
Bullying — how to help your child
Drivers train to thwart bullies on school buses
Bullying: The New Teen Terrorism
Actress Finally Speaks Out About Bullying in Hollywood
Local Woman Fights School Bullying
How Parents Can Talk To Their Kids About Bullying


EDIT: After posting this blog, I've had two of the high school bullies I talked about (Rosanna and "Lisa") who have sent mean email.  They don't remember bullying me at all and swear they didn't.  What did I say about the bully never remembers bullying you because it wasn't important enough to them to remember?

3 comments:

  1. i came across your blog whilst reading on bullying at school. Being a mum myself, your post brought me to tears and I can't believe that your parents didn't do something! Did the teachers know what was going on?
    I really really hope that after such a cruel start on life, that you're living a much better life today and have found peace within.

    ReplyDelete
  2. that's an amazing journey that you have been on already at such a young age! we know some children can be cruel and dont understand the hurt and damage they cause to others! At Step Up! International we are attempting to get across to schools and teachers the need for self harm help for self harming pupils and for them to have self harm resource materials for teachers to provide the best and most relevant support for pupils self harming. it doesnt seem as if that happened in your case. pupils are in schools most of the day and need the support to happen then as well as home.
    g

    good luck with your endeavours for the future and i know your blog will help others being bullied

    ReplyDelete
  3. I hope that no one would ever treat you like this again.

    ReplyDelete

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