“When I went to high school, there was a particular girl who bullied me.
She threatened to flush my head down the toilet (there were more than one, so don’t get confused if it was you). She spread rumors about me. She used to follow me around and make noises. She’d trip me, put crap in my bag. She hated me for no reason.
I did absolutely nothing to her. I’m not innocent, no. But with her, hand on heart, I can honestly say I never said a word. I do remember talking to her once. She asked me what I was looking at because I saw her in the bathroom when I was alone and terrified. I said, ‘Please, if you’re gonna hit me, just get it over and done with.’ Let’s call her Elsa.
She had a sister, let’s call her Anna, who was the complete opposite of her. It was crazy. She was the sweetest girl; you’d hardly believe they were related. She always told me to come over and be her friend and not to worry about her sister, Elsa. I was always too afraid.
But something in me knew if I broke down Elsa’s wall, I’d see a totally different girl.
Years later, after high school, Anna and I bumped into each other, and we hung out.
She told me about her sister Elsa, said she was struggling in life, that she had potential for a diagnosis of schizophrenia. She had been through stuff and had turned to drugs and was pending jail. She has been through hell growing up and these were the repercussions.
But so had this girl. So had Anna.
They’d been through a lot of sh*t. Anna had coped differently, became a people-pleaser — a common response for those being abused (and essentially what I’d say I am). But Elsa, she went the opposite way.
Elsa bullied me because she was hurt. She was abused at home. She didn’t know how to deal with her emotions at school. I was new, and I was a target for her to exercise the control she didn’t have at home.
Anna told me that Elsa didn’t like me because a boy Elsa liked said I was a sweet girl.
Imagine being rejected at home and then coming to school and being rejected like that.
Trauma, bad homes, and abuse come out in different ways.
It comes out as the bully at school.
I’m not excusing Elsa’s behavior. She made my life hell. She gave me the worst anxiety I’d ever had. I feared for my life. But I certainly understand it.
Now, my son, who is at school, is having issues with some kids. He’s only 5 years old. Just 5, and so are his friends. But I know these kids might not have money to buy lunch, might not have hugs when they need them, or might see things that kids shouldn’t see. Their home balance is unsettled. This is why they retaliate; this is why they become bullies.
My only wish is that we understand when we see a bully, we try to help. That teachers try to help. That social workers are in schools and work with families and they try to help. That we report this behavior, and we demand for it to be more than just discipline. That we push action to make life harmonious at home.
Because it’s bullying and following around a girl telling her she’s a cow, then it’s injecting herself in adulthood because she can’t cope with what was done to her. It’s a life ruined. A man in jail. A man hitting his wife. A woman hitting her children. That’s what they grow up to be. Those kids.
Prevention is better than a cure.
It takes a village. We need to be a village for all the Anna’s and Elsa’s and the others who have missed out on a childhood. To make sure no other child does.
Bullying is a behavior that comes from a reason, but it’s never ever an excuse.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Laura Mazza, where it originally appeared. Follow Laura on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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