A list of all the people who bullied me at school.

Anti-bullying week is over.

Thanks goodness for that.

Another fifty-one weeks where no-one gets bullied, until next year, when the majority of the world remembers that bullying happens once again.

For a select few, however, bullying is not just a theme of a week of fundraising, charity work and poster design. For some people, bullying is the only predictable thing in their life, day in, day out; year in, year out.

I was bullied. It probably doesn’t take much to tell that – either you went to school with me, or you know how weird I am. It took three days from the start of secondary school for my form to identify me as their target. Suddenly, I was partnerless, genderless and helpless.

Obviously I haven’t published a list of people who bullied me at school. That would take far too long. Ha.

What I don’t understand, and that I have never understood is why? Why would a group of people watch somebody cry and still refuse to touch anything that she touched; grab hold of her crotch to feel for a penis; pass a text from one person at school to the next, until everybody was whispering in every corridor that she were pregnant? It’s easier for most people to be nice to somebody than to break them: why would you go out of your way to do that? Does that make you a horrible person?

I’m not going to lie: I wasn’t cool. Never have been; don’t want to be anymore. I didn’t have any friends when I started secondary school because they’d all gone elsewhere, but I really wanted to make friends. I tried to be nice to people; helped them with their work; brought them presents back when I went on holiday. I tried not to get them into trouble by not involving anybody else, but when it became almost unbearable, I did. They found out and told me that I was a horrible liar and that I should tell our form teacher I’d made it up so they didn’t get into trouble. They ruined my coat when I was eleven; wrote my name on the toilet walls when I was fifteen, something that I still have nightmares about.

Actually, all I wanted was to sit in the library; read my book and do my work. I would much rather have been ignored than bullied.

In the end, it was an open secret: I am sure that all my teachers knew what was happening, but nobody ever tried to do anything. I won a fairly prestigious prize every year that I was at school, and I’m still pretty sure that I hadn’t done anything except put up with being bullied without complaining.

For five continuous years, I was bullied for being who I am. The scars still throb: I struggle, and fail, to believe that anybody likes me; I walk into a room and still try to find the least conspicuous place to sit and I can’t bear meeting people when I’m out in the real world in case they shout things at me.

Usually, anti-bullying posts end with a message to people who are being bullied, but I don’t think people who are being bullied should have to do anything. It’s not their job to change. If you’re being bullied, you’re perfect as you are. You don’t deserve to be hated, or isolated, or made fun of. Tell someone and tell them loudly. And don’t stop telling until it stops. It’s not you who needs to change.

The people I really want to give a message to is everybody out there who has bullied someone else; purposefully gone out of their way to make them feel uncomfortable, or ashamed, or that they shouldn’t exist. To those people, I want to say: you should be ashamed of yourself. Your behaviour was vile. One day, I hope you’ll realise that what you did was utterly and completely disgusting, and that you’ll be livid with yourself. I hope you understand the days and days of pain you caused, and that you were part of destroying somebody from the inside out. What seemed like fun to you at one point has probably changed somebody else’s life. It’s never too late to say sorry, but it does become too late for other people to begin repairing themselves. What I hope you never experience is bullying: I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Ever.

If you bullied me, despite everything that I have written above, I forgive you. That doesn’t give you permission to forgive yourselves.

2 thoughts on “A list of all the people who bullied me at school.

  1. Hi Kate,
    Thank you so much for writing this — it is a difficult post to read and absolutely spot on. I completely sympathise and know well how five years of such relentless abuse can have shattering short- and long-term consequences. For what it’s worth, I always appreciated your presence while also hiding in the library, and looked up to your courage for carrying on being yourself (or seeming to) in such a hostile environment — it made it so much easier for me to do so, and probably others as well.

    I’ve only recently realised how much those five years wrecked my ability to trust people, socialise, or have any kind of belief in myself; how could anyone, when they’re hated so passionately by so many people for being themselves? I think the prolonged loneliness and sense that there must be something fundamentally wrong with me hurt much more in the long term than the frequent acts of being punched in the face, or having homework ripped up on the bus, or being locked in a cupboard for hours, etc. Retrospect has also enhanced my disbelief and anger that this sort of thing was allowed to happen, as *so* many people — students and teachers — stood by and did nothing (scared that it’d happen to them too, I imagine). However long the list of active bullies, the list of those who watched and never intervened or showed support must be even longer. I wonder if any of them regret it. When I finally found a small group of friends in year 11, I never believed they actually liked me (all of them had laughed along at some point) so after leaving I made no effort to stay in touch in an attempt to forget the place.

    I’m not sure what I intended by this (unintentionally long, sorry!) comment: I guess to say that you’re not alone, that I hope things carry on improving for you, and to thank you for your courage in posting this (and other posts). My ‘anon’ comment is nameless because I can’t speak openly about this yet — six years after leaving I’m still avoiding addressing what I know to be the root of many problems I’ve since encountered. Your openness in documenting your experiences is, again, something to look up to.

    Like

    1. Thankyou so much for sharing this with me, but I’m so sorry that you suffered in the same way that I did. I completely agree that not intervening in bullying makes people complicit, and I know exactly what you mean about struggling with friends who have previously been part of making you wary of trusting anybody. It has taken me a long time to admit that I was bullied – I didn’t tell my parents until last year, and I’m still not keen on thinking about what it might mean about me. You are most definitely not in any way somebody who should hate themselves (and I say this without knowing who you are, but knowing that everybody in the library was an interesting, wonderful person). If you ever need to talk, please Facebook message me. I’m always here.

      Like

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