When I was 13, I was targeted by a physical bully. I don’t recall how long he went after me, more than a week, less than a month, probably. I vividly remember several run-ins.
The guy would grab my hair and hold on. I’d have to bend sideways until he let go.
he forced me to walk around the classroom like that. That was mortifying. He’d
twist my arm. He’d dig his nails into my skin and leave a mark. He rammed me
into a doorframe and once pushed me onto the floor. When I tried to get up, he
pushed me back down again.
complained to the teacher and to my parents, and they said yes, he should stop, but
they pointed out that I should be complimented. Boys got rough when they liked
girls. In a few years, my father said, the guy would figure out how to deal
with his attraction better.
That particular kid had had some trauma in his life—his father had died suddenly and violently. Maybe that was why there weren’t consequences to his actions--at least none I saw.
I think some adult must have talked to him about leaving me alone, or maybe he moved onto another target because the abuse stopped suddenly.
I remember feeling an impotent rage at that guy. I day-dreamed about smashing him. I never, not once, considered smashing myself because of what he’d done to me.
Here’s the thing: That bullying kid who caused physical pain
was nothing compared to mental
bullies. Most significantly, he was a single person, not a group going for a mass pile-on.
That situation was easy to cope with compared to the more subtle nasty bullying that I’ve seen. I knew that what he was doing was crappy and wrong (even if the adults around didn’t seem to).
The pain he created was immediate and didn’t linger. I knew he was a dickhead and I felt angry, and I didn’t wonder to myself if maybe he had a point. I don’t recall words he used, but even if he did talk trash, I never thought I was the problem—he so clearly was.
He acted alone. If other people had joined him maybe I'd have some scars, and I don't mean the physical sort. That sort of bullying requires conversation, at least two people talking about the object of their scorn. The chatter can eat a person's self-confidence and sense of worth with the speed of sound.
A slap on the face is no fun, but nothing can cause destruction like bullies who use words skillfully or, worse, carelessly. Words pile up and suffocate joy.
That line about sticks and stones? Garbage.
What happened to Amanda included physical attacks but the words used on her like "slut" and "look around nobody likes you" and "I hope she dies this time." battered her soul. People crumble faster when the violence of words hit something inside.
Amanda Todd was abused by bullies for two years. Right now people are looking around, trying to point fingers at the original bully. Anonymous tracked down a man who they claim is responsible for blackmailing her and spreading pictures of her. But his actions were only the start. Like most of the truly horrific bullying cases out there, she became the target of more than a single person.
One person, one word, one action starts the whole useless pain of bullying but it is the accumulation of words, so easy to toss off unless you're the target, that does the damage.
Join other authors against bullying.
Mandy M. Roth Yasmine Galenorn Lauren Dane
Michelle M. Pillow Kate Douglas Shawntelle Madison Leah Braemel
Aaron Crocco NJ Walters
Jackie Morse Kessler
Jesse L. Cairns
Ruth Frances Long