I was a fast runner, but they’d always catch me. Thrown to the ground, my heart thumping in my chest, sweat beads on my brow and pooling in my arm pits. I’d shout and squirm as they’d grab under my skirt and push my arms down beside my shaking body. They thought it was a game; it was funny to them. It was terrifying to me. Humiliating.
I’d kick myself free, pull their arms away and push their sweaty bodies off me and run to the sanctuary of the toilets. They’d move onto the next girl. The chase would begin again. I’d hear her screams.
When the teachers discovered what was going on “the game” stopped. And a new one begun. This time the boys would gather at the school gate and follow me onto the bus. They’d taunt me, they’d call me names like “slut” and “bitch” and “whore”. I was thirteen. I’d only kissed a boy once behind the shelter sheds. Frigid would have been a “better” choice of word.
I’d jump off the bus and run. At first, they’d let me be. They’d laugh out the window while I stumbled, dragging my school bag behind me. I’d only stop to rest once I knew I was truly alone.
But then they decided it was time to step it up a notch. Then they started getting off the bus with me; walking behind me and telling me what they’d do to me. They’d nudge me from behind, push at my school bag, slip their hand under my dress, brush their arms against my breasts. I’d run faster.
It didn’t take long for my Mum to notice a change in me. I’d arrive home flustered and quiet. She questioned me. And finally I felt brave enough to ask her to meet me at the bus stop. I was ashamed. I was embarrassed. I didn’t want her coming to the school as I knew it would only get worse. I knew they’d get bored soon and leave me alone. Seeing my Mum must’ve touched a nerve in them because as quickly as they’d started, they then stopped. I was no longer their target.
That wasn’t my only experience of bullying or harassment. There have been other times throughout high school and in the workplace. I coped in different ways. I even bullied another girl at school for a time; a younger girl, a girl with long blonde hair and a so-called “perfect life”. We’d heard she’d been mean to some others in her class, so my friends and I become vigilantes for the underdogs. I’d gone from powerless to powerful. We cornered her, we followed her around, we called her “Barbie” and “bitch”, we made her cry. Her tears and her fear of us eventually made us stop. I was full of shame. I have never forgiven myself for such nasty behaviour, for stooping to that level. I knew the pain it had caused me and yet I had become the bully.
You never know what’s going on in someone’s home, head or heart. When you join the pack and have a go at someone else whether it be over a difference of opinion or in pure hatred it impacts on their psyche. Bullying comes in many forms, it’s not always obvious. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am social media did not exist when I was at school.
You need to put yourself in the shoes of the one running and also the one chasing. Empathy and understanding, kindness and listening with an open heart. These qualities are all important to fully understand bullying. Approach confrontation in a more measured way. Step in and lend support if you see someone faltering. How can we teach our children to treat others respectfully, if we can not lead by example?
I will never forget the fear of running like a scared animal; the fear of being hunted. I am so lucky I had someone who was there to look out for the signs, imagine those who are alone. I’m grateful I’ve a strength of self to keep carrying on, many do not.
there are no excuses that make bullying ok.
my heart breaks for you as a little girl & for all the other little girls and boys that suffer.
and the not so little girls and boys who as adults are on the end of this cruel behaviour.
my and my kids often talk about this- from all angles.
we have had to deal with it- my kids are all proudly ‘different’ and with that comes bullying & ridicule.
it’s true- we can never truly know what goes on in peoples homes when we aren’t there.
kindness and compassion are two of the most important things i hope to teach my children.
and the strength to speak out like you have.
BRAVE big words today B.
lots of love
The stuff with the boys sounds like sexual harassment. There is a lot going on around ‘rape culture’ at the moment & while I was never bullied as a child I was certainly frightened many times by older boys who threatened to rape me. The first memory of feeling really threatened was when I was only 8 & a high school boy followed me, threatening rape. It was terrifying. Unfortunately I knew what the word meant.
Oh, , sometimes I feel like I’ve gone through my life in one enormous bubble of bliss, I feel so sad just reading that description of you running and being caught with such awful consequences. I went to an all girls state high school, and we just had the bitching most of the time, but that alone can be dreadful. I’m glad you could tell your Mum. I’m glad you were strong enough in your self. I hope my little children don’t have to face such awful-ness down the road. Hugs to you x
Bianca, so sorry this happened to you, that was disgusting behaviour. Suffering that sort of treatment can leave deep scars. As a parent of a child going through (similar but different) these things today, it is also rough. Action can only be taken after the fact, there seems to be little in the way of prevention, it’s so hard xxx
I was horrified at your stories, but did have a bit of a smirk at the image of those bullies being confronted with your Mum. I hope she let fly.
Thank you for sharing your story Bianca. We have dealt with this on many levels in our home, yet it never seems to get any easier. Empathy, understanding and kindness – there is not enough of that in this world…
God, so powerful, Bianca. You’re spot on, too. Spot on.
Yes, bullying has touched my life and my son’s and so I have seen it from both sides. Thankfully as a parent, I have been able to be there for him, unlike my parents. I also relate to the transition from victim to bully, that is pretty normal though. Most bullies are being or have been bullied somewhere and it is sad to know that for many, it is from those who are supposed to love them most.
The worst part of bullying is that many people don’t grow out of it and go on to be bullies as adults, perpetuating a cycle as they teach their children by example the same behaviours.
Where will it end, how can we put a stop to this … I hope your post is a good start, it made me think and hopefully, others will too. Sandra xo
Bloody hell B – powerful words x
Wise words Bianca, and so sorry you had to go through such an awful time x
Great post B.
I like that you told both sides of your story – being bullied & being the bully. Again, great post xx
Another good read Bianca .. I was bullied for along time when I was a kid only it was my so called friend who bullied me .. Her Dad was a bully too .. She stayed with me at Nana Dells house one weekend and my Nanna was so angry at this girl that she spoke it her very sternly and said “When you get old you are going to be a very very very lonely old lady “I spent part of my later life with her and she was still a very domineering woman and very much a bully .. Leopards don’t change their spots … She is now a very lonely woman .. And her daughter I believe is a bully also ..Much love to you and to your wonderful Mum …
Such a great post. I was bullied when I was in primary school. It became so bad that my parents pulled me out of that school and put me into another. What you had to experience was awful, and no child deserves to be treated like that. As a mother, I am always talking to my boys about what’s fair, and putting themselves in other people’s shoes. I hope they are not victims, or the bully. Thank you for sharing your story. x