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Bullies Be Gone

Friday, 21 February 2014 | Tags: , , , , ,

Today I'm attending a fundraiser in Vancouver in support of Pink Shirt Day (coming up on February 26th) to raise funds and awareness for anti-bullying campaigns across the country. I am more than happy to lend a hand because bullying can happen to anyone, at any age, including myself.

I am the youngest of 4 children which by definition means I spent my early years getting teased a bit.  Did my birth order make me an easy target for others later on?  I’ve often wondered.  A dark cloud hangs over the years I was in grades 4 and 5, when a boy named Shane tormented me relentlessly.  He loved to tell me I was going to grow up fat and covered in zits.  In those days bullying wasn’t a thing parents and teachers talked about like they do today.

Shane got his kicks by organizing fist fights between other girls and me.  He’d corner me in the hallway and tell me when and where to be later because so-and-so was going to fight me.  And if I didn’t show up he’d find me and “pound my head in”.  I believed him.  When the other girls didn’t show up he always had an excuse.  As well as a promise that he’d have someone else to fight me tomorrow.  It was a stressful way to live though grade 4.  

I never told a soul.   I never stood up for myself and I never let that boy see how scared I was.  I just took it and did whatever he told me to.  Then, hallelujah, one day in grade 5 Shane announced he was moving away. I was free.  But it wasn’t a freedom I’d won on my own.

Later, In first year university I lived in residence.  My girls floor had a boys floor right below and we were encouraged to socialize.  They were supposed to be like our big brothers and watch out for us.  Instead, I became their target.  They would sneak into my room when I was in the bathroom and steal all the lightbulbs or hide a rotting piece of food on my window ledge.  At first it was harmless.  But then one day I came home from class and discovered my room had been broken into and all my underwear had been stolen.  Every last pair.  I was horrified.  I was 17 years old and its not as though I had a fabulous collection of slinky things to show off.  (Not that that would have made it ok.) Shaking, I marched downstairs to investigate.  

All the doors were closed and the place was deserted.  But something didn’t feel right.  I went outside and around the building and pushed through the bushes up to a window and peered into an empty room.  I moved along the brick wall to the next window where I saw another empty room.  And another and another.  Then finally,  at the end of the row of windows I looked in to see about 20 young “men” dancing around with my underwear on their heads.  They were throwing it around, taping it to the walls and behaving like imbeciles.  

I felt so violated, humiliated and embarrassed, I stood in the bushes and vomited.

Later, when they realized how upset I was the leader of the pack returned my personal items along with an apology and a letter of regret signed by all.  I finally got the courage to ask, “why me?”.  His response has stayed with me my entire life:  ”Because you’re the only one who can take it.”

Translation: You’re the only one who won’t cry or tell on us.  You’re the only one who won’t do something about it.

Bullying is rooted in a feeling of superiority.  I have run into it many times since university but at least now I’ve learned that bullies only get their power if we give it to them.

On February 26th, wear a pink shirt and take away a bully’s power.

 

 

 

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  • Bobbi

    Fantastic post! Thank you for sharing your storey with us Anna :)

  • Lindsay

    I agree. Thanks for sharing that difficult story with us. I’ve always thought that you seem like a very brave person and now I know it’s true!

  • Christine

    Reading your story brought back a flood of memories from my childhood and teenage years when I too was bullied and taunted. Not quite to the degree as you were, but enough for me to relate. I was so shy that I could not speak or stand up for myself. Bullying was not a word often brought up and never discussed so I’m so relieved that there is this discussion going on. All these years later the memories from that bullying still brings tears to my eyes, even though I’m now in my forties. Clearly the memories don’t just go away. I’ll definitely be wearing my pink on pink shirt day. I hope no one goes through what you or I went through. We need to all take a stand – not just those being bullied but those who witness this relentless act. No more just taking it – we need to take back their power!

  • Jan

    My daughter started being bullied at the age of 11. Other kids always called her names and they dragged her around by her hair. At the age of 12, she developed an eating disorder. It was once we started seeing a psychologist for her eating disorder that she finally told me about the bullying. It’s so sad that these bullies made her feel so horrible that she decided to starve herself so she would look better thinking that would help. At the age of 13, she was still getting bullied. One of the children in her school pushed her in front of a car during lunch time at school. Luckily the cars were going slow and the driver had time to stop. Other kids told her to slit her wrist. The teachers never did anything. My daughter’s first suicide attempt was at the age of 13. She has probably had 10 or more hospital admissions for suicide attempts. Today, at the age of 19, she can say her eating disorder is a thing of the past at this time, but the depression, suicidal thoughts, and lack of self confidence is still with her. She is still being treated for mental health issues which I attribute in large part to the bullying she went through. It is still a struggle for us. I still have these terrible thoughts that one day my daughter won’t be here any longer because she can’t take it any more. If the people who bullied her could only know what effect their cruelty had on her,