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Ruthless Wench

So, there were a couple things I found while browsing cheezbuger.com.


As stated in the second link, October, (along with being another National Month that is pretty close to home, Breast Cancer Awareness Month), it has also been declared National Bully Awareness Month.

Bully Awareness is pretty important. After I saw these webpages, I felt compelled to share. In social websites, this is a big deal. There are some people that are not as secure as others in the qualities that make them who they are, and others who are out to make themselves feel better for their own insecurities exploit this.

For me, it made me stronger. I have had an eventful life so far and I have had awesome experiences I can selfishly say that no one will ever have.

For others, it can be a different story. Bullying has been an unfortunate factor in shaping what is socially acceptable. Being popular or feared is being strong, which is expressed by some as being negatively dominant and mean to others. This comes in the form of words and images. Even actions.

      When I was in elementary school, the kids that lived down my road were horrible to me. One day, I shrugged it off and walked away because that was what my parents told me I should do. One of those kids threw a rock that hit me in the head because I walked away. This was about 20 years ago. It's something I packed away in the "Karma will get you" box, but it's still pretty vivid. This is only one of my experiences, but not the worst by far.

      About 3 years later, two girls in my class were so intent on causing problems that they tried to get me to fight them in the school halls. Other kids gathered around, "FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!" rung in the air. I did nothing to them, kept to myself, enjoyed my daydreams, drawing my dragons and dolphins- but I did nothing to them to provoke that kind of mean-spirited conflict. These girls got into a lot a trouble for what they did. One of them threatened me that if they got in any more trouble they would "come and get me".

      I figured, "So be it." Come what may. Nothing happened.

      Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. In high school, I was going to a tech school for art where students with art talents were hand-picked to attend out of the different schools around the county. In my videography class, someone found it a great idea to put hand cream in the VHS tape that contained my final project I was going to turn in. It was my only copy, and I discovered it when I was going to make a copy and opened the hard case to find the tape dripping with a familiarly-scented hand cream. I knew exactly who it was who did it as I know she couldn't tolerate me being in the same tech class as her- she even went to a different school in the county. Luckily, I was asking a lot of questions about the equipment and whatnot so my instructor saw my project and knew what I accomplished before the video was officially turned into the school for archiving and the grade. I did get a 100% on the project, but I do not have that piece for my portfolio and the school doesn’t have a copy because that person attempted to sabotage my final grade.

Alas, I didn't do any campaigning; I didn't do anything special- no rallies, no fundraisers, no inspiration tours. I didn't do campaigning for legislation to make laws or confront the school board. This was at a time when life was ruled by "Sticks and stones will break my bones". In a lackluster performance, I have just kept living my life, loving every moment of it.

I am not a success story like others might be, but in my own little way, I did win. I didn't let what these people did consume me.

For others, this is not possible- and that is down-right scary. Being bullied leads to depression and that leads to other unhappy circumstances. It can cause someone to be fearful of going to school or church, even going to work. It's not enjoyable and they feel trapped, unable to do anything because going to these places can be a necessary evil. Being a teenager is hard today because of the sheer desire to be better and accepted, and being an adult nowadays is just as difficult. We can blame society, the push to be better than anyone else, teachings from parents or entertainment media, or whatever other environmental factors.

Sometimes I wonder what happened in the lives of those who bullied me to cause them to do that. The world can be a cruel place. The more I think about it, the more my heart goes out to them.

I was tortured by more archaic methods, but abuse is still abuse. Luckily for me, I have not had the harsh experience of this kind of harassment over the internet, which is becoming more and more common. A post on a social site can be deleted but the words and the pain remain. I understand how much words can hurt even when they are gone.

The solution is actually really simple if someone chooses to take it. The change starts as an individual. You don't have to be a great public speaker or a super hero to combat bullying. You don’t even have to resort to violence to fight back, or even be labeled as a bully.

Look at what you are saying to others. Read what you type, look at your perspective of someone you dislike. In today's world, it's okay not to like someone else- that's a fact of life. You are not expected to like everyone just as not everyone is expected to like you. Though, to rain insults and language of hate on someone because they are different or not like your group of friends is not okay. That includes personal property vandalism, threats and pranks against them. When that happens between friends it might be all good in fun. For someone or a group of people to do things out of that mean spirit to someone who knows it's not in that "good fun" it can and will hurt.

I implore those who read this as the victims of the world's cruelty; don't let this consume you. Eventually, life will take you on a journey that is your own. Make the most of it, embrace it and do not allow their words and actions shape who you are. They don't and will never have the pleasure of knowing the wonderful person you really are. You are you, and you are amazing.

And to those who are the bullies: We remember. One day, we may be your boss. Your professor. The actor in your favorite movie. The newest hot cover album. The owner of your favorite website. We may save your husband's life after a devastating car accident. We may treat your wife for breast cancer. We may be the president. We may live a quiet, happy life in a house with a white picket fence. We may be a cashier at your local grocery store. We may serve you your favorite burger meal. We may fight for your freedom. We may be the counselor that helps your child through this same thing.

And we will recognize you. We may even give you the brightest, most welcoming genuine smile you ever saw.

But we will remember. People are immortalized by the footprints they leave behind. Don't let bullying be how you are remembered.

A bully is not alone, either. There can be a lot of causes that can turn someone into a bully, including having a rough home life, being bullied elsewhere which is taken out on someone else, having a hard time coping with a loss, or jealousy of what someone has. I believed when I was younger that some people were just born to be malicious, but in my adult years I well know this isn't true. Take the time to talk to someone- you might find a light. Someone is always willing to listen, so I encourage you to do inner-exploration to see if you can help yourself, too.

Take a stand against bullying. Let others be themselves.

In addition, I would like to offer some links:
http://www.stopbullying.gov/ - (U.S.)
http://www.thetrevorproject.org/ - (U.S.)
http://stompoutbullying.org/livechat_portal.php - (U.S.)
http://www.beatbullying.org/index.html - (U.K.)
http://www.mcgruff.org/#/Main - (U.S.)
http://www.bullying.com.au/ - (Australia)
http://www.kidshelp.com.au/teens/get-help/web-counselling/ - (Australia)
http://bullyingcanada.ca/ - (Canada)
http://www.pacer.org/bullying/ - (U.S.)
http://www.lifeafteradultbullying.com/ - Adults are not immune.

I would also recommend taking a peek at the movie Bully (NR). Even if you don’t watch it, its existence a good reminder of what bullying can do.

Some links are courtesy of EllenTV.com citation and general web searches.
siskataya's avatar

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Amongst many other things, October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.

This is a subject that is close to my heart, and which I understand far more deeply than you might imagine.

Let me share with you some of my personal experience with being bullied. I was the "fat girl" growing up. Because of my size, by grade 6 I was the most "hated person" in my junior high. This spilled over into high school. From Grades 6 to Grade 12 I was bullied every single day -everything from verbal abuse to physical attacks, not one day went by that I was no in some way harassed, tormented, or put through the emotional ringer of abuse for my size.

Some of the incidents still haunt me to this day. I remember walking home from school and being followed by a pack of mean girls/guys who would throw rocks at me, all the while yelling "Fatty - look at the rocks bounce off that fat!" then breaking into gales of laughter. Or the time I was riding the bus and someone thought it would be funny to play "Hit Fatty" and threw a sharp metal ruler at my face. That missed my eye by centimeters and cut my face from the corner of my eye all the way down the right side of my face. I could no longer ride the bus after that. They also liked to play "Kick the Fatty" which involved a pack of guys throwing me to the ground and kicking me while chanting "Fatty! Fatty! Fatty!". I could go on - my stories are many and similar in subject matter.

It took me many years to recover from that abuse, and to learn to thrive and come into my own as a person but I did it and am stronger for the lessons. Still, I want everyone to know that the behavior I went through was not alright, and bullying needs to stop. Whether it is in real life or online, being hateful is not acceptable.

If you are being bullied, I want you to know:

  • Bullying is not ok, and you don't have to accept it as "normal" behavior. Recognize it for what it is - hateful behavior. Bullying is a term we use to describe this behavior, but really, it is just hatefulness.
  • I know it is hard, but please tell a trusted adult or friend, law enforcement, your religious leader, call a help line - just let someone know. And don't stop at one person - if that person cannot get you the help you need, keep trying other trusted adults until you find one who can help you.
  • Don't own the hate - I know this is also difficult, but recognize the behavior has nothing to do with you, and who you are, but with the bullies and who they are. Let me ask you this: If you saw someone saying or doing hateful things to someone else, would you say "That person deserved it?". No, you would think "Gosh, that is hate-based attack - that is sexist/sizeist/racist/homophobic/prejudiced". Think about this if you are being bullied - you are no different than another victim of a hate-based attack, so why internalize that hate as a flaw in yourself?
  • Know that, as they say, "living well is the best revenge" and that things truly do get better. I know this sounds cliche and possibly a bit trite, like something adults say which is easy to dismiss, but it also happens to be true. It can take time to heal from the scars of abuse, but it is totally possible and probable. You'll get there, and when you look back, you'll probably discover how amazing your life is compared to those who bullied you.
  • Don't hurt yourself because other people are hurting you - hang in there, keep your chin up, and find positive outlets to overcome the anger, fear, and sadness associated with being bullied. These days I lift weights and box - man I wish I had thought to do this years ago! Channel your emotions into your art, sports, science, and other positive self-expressions - perhaps you might even reach out to other people who being bullied and find strength in support. You are an amazing gift, just as you are in this moment biggrin
  • It is never too late to get help. If you are an adult and struggling with residual issues resulting from abuse, seek help and treatment to heal your life. It's taken me a long time to get to a place of harmony and balance, but I know it is possible. In fact, my life now is so much better than I ever imagined. I have a job I love, a great online community of incredibly talented and creative people to assist, and am stronger and more agile than many people. It's getting better and better - it can get better for you too.

    If you are a bully, I want you to know:

    • Bullying is not ok - in fact, "bullying" is just a nice way of saying "hate-based action". When you abuse people for whatever reason you think is "funny or cool" you are just saying to the world that "I am a hater". Think about it - when you torment someone because of their gender, size, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, etc. you are just committing hate crimes. Is that who you want to be?
    • You always have a choice to stop - choose to stop; do the right thing.
    • If you are feeling pressured by others to bully/hate/harass someone else, know that you do not have to go along with the torment. Anyone pressuring you into committing hateful actions is NOT your friend. Are you willing to get kicked out of school, lose your job, or go to jail to be part of a crowd? Think about it before you do that harm - is possibly ruining your future worth the risk? Walk away from the bad influences.
    • If you want to stop being a bully but don't know how, please tell a trusted adult or friend, your parent or guardian, teach, your religious leader, call a help line, etc. - just let someone know. And don't stop at one person - if that person cannot get you the help you need, keep trying other trusted adults until you find one who can help you. You can change your behavior - you don't HAVE to be a bully, you CHOOSE to be.

      Anyway, thanks for reading and letting me share. I hope this has been helpful. And as for what happened to the people that bullied me? Who knows, and who cares. As for me? I have a family and friends who love me, a beautiful online community called Gaia that has the most creative and wonderful users, and I am pretty fit and lift like a boss - life is good and I am so glad to be me biggrin
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      Finally, I'll leave you with some song lyrics I really love which I feel are applicable for this discussion. This is from a band called "Jimmy Eat World" and the song is called "The Middle":

      The Middle lyrics
      Songwriters: Adkins, James; Burch, Richard; Lind, Zachary; Linton, Thomas;

      Hey, don't write yourself off yet
      It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on
      Just try your best, try everything you can
      And don't you worry what they tell themselves when you're away

      It just takes some time
      Little girl you're in the middle of the ride
      Everything, everything will be just fine
      Everything, everything will be alright, alright

      Hey, you know they're all the same
      You know you're doing better on your own, so don't buy in
      Live right now, yeah, just be yourself
      It doesn't matter if it's good enough for someone else

      It just takes some time
      Little girl you're in the middle of the ride
      Everything, everything will be just fine
      Everything, everything will be alright, alright

      It just takes some time
      Little girl you're in the middle of the ride
      Everything, everything will be just fine
      Everything, everything will be alright, alright

      Hey, don't write yourself off yet
      It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on
      Just do your best, do everything you can
      And don't you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say

      It just takes some time
      Little girl you're in the middle of the ride
      Everything, everything will be just fine
      Everything, everything will be alright, alright

      It just takes some time
      Little girl you're in the middle of the ride
      Everything, everything will be just fine
      Everything, everything will be alright, alright

      ( From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/j/jimmy-eat-world-lyrics/the-middle-lyrics.html )
Zero Omega's avatar

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Bullying is such a malicious act that causes a lot of harm to someone and is something that should not be tolerated. While I was never personally bullied when I was younger, I had friends who faced these issues and I saw the pain they went through and the support they needed. My friends pulled through it though and so can anyone else with the right support.

I did have a situation here on Gaia where, at least I do not believe, those who were involved with some hurtful comments towards myself and someone else really saw how hurtful it was. Gaia Online might construe this as "Flaming", but to someone who is sensitive about it, it can mean something way worse than just a Terms of Service violation. The internet is not a blanket for this negativity and I would like everyone to remember that.

If you're being bullied, know that you're not alone in this world and there is always support for you to turn to. You don't, and shouldn't, tolerate anyone bullying you.

For bullies, remember that you never know what someone could be going through when you decide to bully them, you don't know what kind of hardships they're facing and how you are adding to that. The people you bully may be the people who could be your best friends, a true friend, if you just let them. You make the decision to be a bully. I understand that sometimes your choices may be influenced by what is going on in your life, but remember that you have the power to make your own decisions in how you want to treat people. Respect others, and you will find that you suddenly have a lot of support to help you get through your own issues as well.

At the end of the day we are all human, at a scientific level we are all made up of the same stuff, and we're here sitting on this planet in this vast universe. We should all be working together for a greater good, instead of fighting with one another.

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