There is a big secret about my past that I have only told a handful of people – I was bullied.
At the age of 14, I broke down and contemplated suicide. I just wanted the constant name-calling, stalking, and abuse to stop.
I was an awkward child – tall for my age, highly intelligent, and social inept. I could not relate to children my age and was only comfortable around people much older than I was. I hardly ever watched cartoons. Instead of Paula Abdul and MC Hammer, I “rocked out” to classical music and Swing music from the 1920’s. My style was eclectic and unique. And “becoming a woman” at 10 and going from scrawny to curvy in a summer, only made things worse.
Things were rough in school. I was poor and odd in a sea of the rich and popular elite. When my parents divorced, things went from bad to hell-on-earth. Not only did I stand out for being different, now I was the only one in my class who lived with a single father.
We went from struggling for money to surviving on government assistance. From affording department store clothing to scrounging, rummage sales and thrift stores. Do you know those families that receive church handouts during the holiday times? Yep. That was my family.
So, now I really stood out.
As if daily bullying was not enough, when I turned 13, a girl named Jessica spotted me on the bus. From that day on, it became her personal mission in life to ruin mine.
She stalked me on and off the bus. And when our physical education class was scheduled together, she interfered with my privacy. I had to start dressing out in the bathroom stall. Then she would climb under it, or look over it. She called me “dike” and spread rumors that my female friends and I messed around. Any boy who even looked at me, she was quick to tell them I was a lesbian.
I was not a lesbian, though. And I felt bad for some of this kids I knew who were struggling with their sexuality. People like Jessica made my life a living hell all based on a lie, I could not imagine what they could do to people who were gay.
With time, her abuse turned from verbal to physical. I had landed a part in the musical and had to stay after school for practice. I was leaving the choral department one evening when Jessica and her three thug friends jumped me. I only got away because a teacher came walking down the stairs.
For years, I had cried to my parents and teachers. I had refused to go to school. I had skipped school. Hid out in parks, praying the school would not call my house. Teachers told me to toughen up. My dad told me to stop being a geek. And it got to the point where I felt no one was listening to me. And they never would.
I felt isolated. Worthless. Miserable. Then numb. I just wanted it all to end.
Thankfully, something stopped me. I stopped and realized what I was contemplating. Still, no one listened to me until I broke down before a choral concert, crying, “I don’t want to die.”
It has taken years to heal from the torture and pain bullies caused. There are still scars I will live with my entire life.
These scars ache when I hear of children taking their life due to bullying.
Over the weekend, I learned of a 10 year-old who took her life because she was being bullied. Teachers, school officials, even the girls’ mother failed to take her concerns seriously.
Her story reminds me of my own – children calling her names, calling her gay, parents denying her pleas for homeschooling.
Why does this continue? What is wrong with our society that children cannot get the help they need? Why does our society foster hatred?!?
BULLYING IS NEVER OKAY.
If you or someone you know is a victim of a bully, tell an adult! Don’t let them ignore your plea for help!!
Please take a moment to check out and share some of these Stop Bullying resources. Together, we can make change.
I know there are many more valuable anti-bullying resources I have left out. Feel free to add any in the comment section to help others.
If you or someone you know are contemplating suicide, please do not hesitate to seek help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – US – has a section on its webpage about bullying prevention. In the UK, there is the HopeLineUK. Their number is confidential – 0800 068 41 41.