Many of my readers have asked me why I didn’t fight back against my bullies. It’s the same question a woman is asked when she is being abused by her spouse. Since my book has come out, people have told me their stories of being bullied. A few have told me how they stood up to their bully and the bully never bugged them again. One lady told me how her husband beat up a kid who was harassing him. She said he couldn’t just take it and do nothing. But not everyone is able to fight back.
I couldn’t fight back. I was called a retard by a teacher in first grade. Teachers are supposed to support, encourage, and protect their students not put them down. By her calling me that name, I was instantly labeled for the rest of my school years by my classmates. I thought my first-grade teacher would be helpful and kind, but she was mean. Her words tore me apart inside and humiliated me in front of my peers.
Each day I went to school I was put down and called names such as retard, dummy, and stupid. Teachers assigned students to give me answers on tests. My parents told me I was smart, but after hearing I was dumb daily, I began to believe I was. I lost my self-esteem. All my classmates said I was stupid, and even the teachers were saying I wasn’t intelligent, and if an adult was saying it, then it had to be true.
We are all taught the saying, “Stick and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” but it is untrue. Words do hurt. They cause wounds no one can see, wounds that can’t be healed with a band aid and antibiotic. It isn’t as simple as fighting back when you lose who you are. Bullying is abuse. Unkind words tear apart self-esteem, cause mental health problems, leads to suicide, instill fear, and much worse.
A woman doesn’t fight back when her abusive husband puts her down daily because his words rip apart her strength, her self-esteem, her courage, and her mental wellbeing. It’s the same with a person being bullied. My classmates and teachers nearly destroyed me. I couldn’t fight back. I was beaten down like a wild animal. In time I learned that the less I talked, the safer I was. I hid inside myself, inside an imaginary world I created to protect myself.
It was like I was beaten until I lay on the ground bleeding. I was bleeding inside, and my strength seeped from each of the wounds on my soul and heart. I slowly slipped into mental illness and began to imagine my death. I wasn’t a wimp, but a battered child. Each word spoken to me was like fists pounding me until I couldn’t move or speak. I struggled to sleep at night because I had nightmares about the abuse and because I was afraid to go to school.
The wounds of the heart and soul take years to heal, but even though you are healed, you still have the scars that remind you of the abuse. I fear talking to people of authority like managers, I’m afraid to confront people, it takes me time to trust people, and I am protective of myself.
Kelly Clarkson’s song, “Because of you,” describes it well, “Because of you I learned to play on the safe side, so I don’t get hurt. Because of you I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me. Because of you, I am afraid.”
It’s our job to speak up for those who can’t fight back. Let’s fight against bullying for those who are so beaten down they can’t stand up, let’s fight to keep another child from taking his or her life, and let’s fight to save a person from living in fear from this kind of abuse.
With my book and speaking events, I am speaking up and fighting against bullying for those who can’t. I struggled so I can use my story to help others and to bring awareness. Fighting against bullying helps me stand tall in the light of recovery.
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