Warning: some readers might find some or all of this content distressing.
Article by Togira_Ikonoka
Recently, I did a review of a book of poems called Wicked Words and although in my review I mentioned I have been bullied and that I’ve also been a bully, I chose not to go into details. I was asked by our very own Sub-Editor Tom, if I’d like to write about my story and I so here we are…now bear with me because this is going to be a rough ride and by the end of it you might not like the person you’ll be reading about; but then again you may nod your head and think to yourself “I’ve been there to” so here goes nothing.
From as early as I can remember I’ve always been the ‘strange one’ or the ‘outsider’. I am an only child and I never really felt a problem with that. I grew up in a house with my mum, dad and nan. Not only that, but every weekend my cousins, all five of them, would all come over to my house to visit. Basically, it was like I had loads of younger (and sometimes older!) brothers and sisters to play with.
All of us used to pair off; my two male cousins paired off, the older girls did, the younger ones to; and then there was me and my one cousin. We were nearly the same age (she’s a few months older than me) and we were thick as thieves. We were always causing trouble (Well I was, she was ‘the good one’). There were times when the boys picked on us. They used to try and dare us to do naughty things; or they just mainly picked on us (they usually picked on me), so with that, I went to school and it started there too.
I always got on with the younger kids in school because the girls in my class picked on me. I had some problems as a child; I had an immature bladder which meant when I needed to go to the toilet, I really needed to go. I had this one teacher who basically gave the kids a reason to pick on me. I used to have a lot of accidents in my younger days (when I was in year 3 or 4) and because of that, my teacher Mrs B, stuck a piece of paper on the back of a chair with the words ‘*Angharad’s Chair‘ in big and bold writing. From then on in, I know all the kids treated me differently; to a point where they would all call me names. I can’t remember them all and I don’t think I need to repeat them. Because of this and the impact it had on me, I had to go to a behavioural therapist as they thought I was acting out. From there they found out it wasn’t a behavioural issue, it was something worse. Something had happened to me when I was much younger. A woman, who babysat me, called me a ‘dirty girl’ if I messed my nappies (which babies do, we all know) and so that was the start of the ‘snowball effect’.
Through primary school, I took a lot of ‘bullying hits’; whether that being called ‘four eyes‘ because of my glasses or (one of my favourites) ‘goofy‘, like Disney. I thought I may be able to escape the bullying going to high school but oh no, it got worse. My two best friends joined the school a year or two after me but very soon the lads in the class got my attention again with ‘four eyes’, ‘buck tooth’, ‘donkey’ (because I kicked out at them), ‘goofy’, ‘stupid‘ (just because I wasn’t very good with height measurement) and then ‘the red rag to a bull‘ comment; because when I had enough, I would start crying and run out of the classroom, refusing to come back.
When my two friends came to the school, they were younger than me. I was with them as often as I could be; either that or I was hiding out in the library. We became a trio and got picked on together. We were called stuff like ‘the cat‘, ‘the rat’ and ‘the beaver’ (who makes up these names, really?). However, my two friends soon made friends of their own and although I was really happy for them, I found I was on my own again.
Now, this is the interesting part… I became friends with the then ‘special needs’ kids because I felt more at home with them and they were more accepting of me. They were friendly; but this is where the becoming the bully started. Sometimes the girls would have fights and one suggested it would be ‘fun’ to gang up on the other. We’d call her names to make her feel bad because she would do something crazy and run off. We thought it was funny, (yeah, I don’t know why I would find that funny after having it done to me) but it happened and for quite while I seemed to enjoy picking on the girl. I even got to a point where I started acting up with the teachers. I took a disliking to one in particular because she basically let the boys pick on me. I made her cry once and I was quite proud of myself for it. I remember sitting in the head teachers office, with a smug smile on my face, with him asking me ‘Why did you do it? it’s not nice!‘, I just replied ‘Well I thought it was justice since she let me be bullied. Isn’t it funny that she doesn’t like it either?’ Needless to say, I was put on report for that and kept an eye on for a few years.
By the end of high school, I had a mental breakdown from all the bullying. I actually failed one GCSE deliberately to spite a teacher who let me get bullied every-time I went to a certain class, which is very sad. It was the subject I loved the most before I found my other passion; english.
I then went on to college and I made more friends again, but with that, I found more bullies. I coped better but I did find myself bullying people again. I’d sit in the dining room with ‘the guys‘ and we would make nasty comments about some of the students who would walk in the room (not loud enough for them to hear but we’d giggle to ourselves). I have to admit, to this day, I still have moments where I still have those type of thoughts and I’m not proud of it because I know how harmful those nasty words can be. There’s no real way to disarm something once the attack hits your brain.
After being in a relationship for 3 years where I was told a lot of the time I was stupid or crazy, I do feel I have paid more penance for the bullying I have done. I will never forget it and it still haunts me even now. I found myself tracking down some of the kids I used to pick on to apologise. To some extent, I have even tried to help them out in their lives, even now, because I feel I owe it to them.
So to finish off my personal story, I was bullied and because I was bullied, it shaped me into a bully. But the difference for me is? I never truly felt happy about it and even when I was laughing over the fact I had chased one of the girls off by calling her names on the outside, inside my head, the voice was screaming for me to stop because I was just as bad as the boys who were always picking on me.
If you would like to talk to anyone about any of the issues raised in this article, please contact Meic, the national information, advice and advocacy helpline for 0-25’s in Wales. You can contact Meic for free by phone (080880 23456), text (84001), instant message (www.meic.cymru) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) between 8am and midnight.
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