On Bullying: 2013-06-03
I was bullied in school, and it really sucked. Junior high was the worst for me, by high school everyone had grown up a little, and I was in a new school with all new people. Elementary I was in the TLC program for my anger problems, so I was always protected and sheltered, I didn't really have a chance to interact with the other kids besides the ones in the program, who were all friends to me. I was also in the program in junior high (7-9), but by then I had worked out my anger problems and they decided I didn't need a para with me all the time, there are only so many paras to go around, they should be busy watching the children who really can't control themselves. Bullies don't need paras of course, they control themselves, they push you to get you out of control, but they are careful and never angry, they never throw tantrums, they just push all of your buttons until they find the ones that get the most reaction and keep pushing those.
The TLC program was important and good to me. When I entered it in grade four I had no idea how to control myself. If I saw something I thought was unfair I would stand up and say something. This got me in the most trouble in grade one as the teacher I had and I didn't agree on much. More suspensions that year than any other. None in kindergarten, grade one was a bad year for me though and it was hard to break out of that mould. By grade four I was diagnosed with aspergers and put in the TLC program with the other children (all male, though in junior high we had one girl) who couldn't control themselves and still threw fits. There was always the threat of Knolls, a school for troubled kids, and one kid actually did sent there. Grade four I was pretty bad, throwing chairs, my keys (lost them there too), whatever. Don't think I got into any fights there, I never really got into fights. I still had trouble with dealing with liars, when we play four square and someone is out but says they are in I'd throw a fit, to me lying was the worst thing you could ever do. You could kill someone, but at least be honest about it. Going into grade 5 I would have Friday lunches at pizza hut with someone I could talk to, and by then I was in a lot more control. Grade 6 was even better but they decided to keep me in the program anyway, as I still had the occasional fit, like when I was in scouts and we were playing dodgeball.
I would hit someone and they would keep playing. They would get hit several times and stay in the game and I got very angry at that. I was told it was a self regulated game just for fun, don't take it seriously. But how can I have fun if they were lying? If they weren't going to play properly it ruined the game for me, it wasn't just for fun if I couldn't have fun. I always hated the most when people would tell me it's just a game, or it's just for fun, they never understood it's not a game if people don't play by the rules, it's no fun if you can do whatever. What if I was playing chess and I just started moving my pawns like rooks? It's just a game, but it's not fun if I'm cheating or not playing by the rules. That would always get me angrier, because they didn't understand why I was angry, the adults would just brush me off and tell me to have fun, something I couldn't do. They would tell me go back to dodgeball and play some more, but playing would just get me angrier if they didn't stop lying and cheating. I just wanted them to understand how angry I was, which is why I think I would make such big shows of my fits, to let them know to me it's not just a game, it could be a game but the way the others were playing made it no longer a game.
Being in program was good, but bad. I missed out on a lot of social interactions, I wasn't allowed to do a lot of things the regular kids got to do, like dances, because they couldn't have a para attend, or it was just too much of a risk. I never learned French. I was in full French until grade 4, when I was put into English as I didn't really like it. Once in the middle of grade 4 I was put into the TLC program all French classes ended. None of the paras knew French so it wasn't taught. By the time I was integrated into regular classes again It was deemed I was too far behind to continue in French, as I was ahead in my other subjects they were never a big problem until junior high. I may have been doing well academically, but socially I was falling even further behind than I already was.
I remember there was one science project in grade 7 that was worth 20% of the grade which was a group project, as my group wouldn't let me help, and then at the end said I didn't help at all, I got a 0 on it which was the first time I ever got a D on a report card. Mom was so angry and told me I had to try harder. 8th grade came around and the bullying got worse, I missed a lot of classes, and it was harder and harder to pay attention in class when I had so many people trying to distract me. It was not an environment conductive to education at all for me and that is when my grades started to really slip. In grade 10 I brought them back up to A and B's, but by 11 social interactions got the best of me and I didn't really care about school anymore. All I wanted to do was have friends as I was denied that for so long, so I would do anything to keep friends, and I missed a lot of classes as a result. I stopped doing homework just to be with friends, for once I wasn't being bullied or an outcast, and school just didn't matter anymore.
In junior high kids used to use rubber bands and fold paper into a strip and bend it to be able to shoot it around. More often than not I was the target. One time they decided to use paperclips instead of paper, causing me to have a large welt on the back of my neck for a while. I've told the teachers what was happening, so they move me to the front so they can keep an eye on me (how about moving the bullies to the front to watch them). This only made it worse because now they could throw things at me much more easily. Sometimes I'd stand up for myself and I would over react I suppose and start a fight and get suspended. I believed if I used more force than they used on me they would stop, it wouldn't be worth dealing with me. But I would always get punished worse than them, they would get a talking to and told to stop throwing things and I would get suspended. Of course they started up again the second I came back from my suspension so that didn't really help. I hated school and being in class because I never felt safe, and whenever I'd stand up for myself I'd get punished worse than the bullies, thus making the bullies think it's fine to keep bullying me. Sure I over reacted to them throwing one item at me, but I wasn't reacting to the one item, I was reacting to everything they were doing to me for weeks. Schools are horrible the way they are currently structured and are a very conductive environment to bullying.
All the kids knew I used to have anger issues so I think that's why they went after me, they were always trying to get me angry again. The more I ignored them the harder they would try, until they would really start hurting me at which point I would freak out just to start the cycle over again, who knows how far they'd take it if I never reacted, what they would do to finally get a reaction out of me. At least when I came back from my suspension they would be nice for a week or so, they that would lead into the verbal abuse, making fun of me for not knowing things, or the way I behaved before. They would say wouldn't it be funny if you just freaked out right now, got angry right now and flipped tables or whatever (I almost never went after people, I hated hurting people, I would just throw things, like throwing my anger away). Then it would start to get physical, pinches here, hurts donuts, "playful" punches, and the longer I manage to stay calm and not react the more rough they would get, starting to bruise me, leaving welts on my body, say really mean and nasty things about me, start destroying my school work, and for those three years there was never a way out. It would get worse and worse until once a month or so I would explode, throw things around, maybe shove the ringleader, yell and scream so I could get a week out of there; suspensions always had a five day maximum at my junior high.
I would like to sit in the back because then I would have my back to the wall and there was only so many angles they could attack from. You sit in the front people can throw things at you and you don't know who it was. I'd go for a corner as there was even less places for them to come at me from, looking back I guess in a way I was like a trapped animal. There was always 5 or 10 minutes between classes and that was the worst time. Teachers would use that time for a break, washroom, coffee whatever, so there was no supervision, it was even worse than lunch time. They would come at me in the hallways between classes, the stairwells, the bathrooms. If I got to the next class early they would tease me and harass me until the bell rang and the teacher walked in, though sometimes the teacher was late and the bell wouldn't save me.
I was taught they hit you, you hit back harder, but all that ever got me was in trouble. I don't hit back they keep hitting me, and that's no fun. I tell a teacher and they'll just get me after school, or in the playground or in between classes. Just crowd around you in between classes, a lot of quick shots, it's a lot like prison, and there is no escape. There really is no way out once they decide you're a victim besides switching schools, but now with the internet the way it is that doesn't even help, it can follow you from school to school. I can see why a lot of victims kill themselves, only two ways out; serving your term until you're 18 or ending your life.
One time I actually seemed to get rewarded by my peers for standing up for myself. These two girls always came to our class during breaks and the time inbetween classes. They were a nuisance and they would bug other people besides me. One day around Christmas time they were being extra annoying. They would usually push me around, throw me into walls or slap me. This time one girl pushed me hard into the white wall and I could feel it right in my back. Then the other girl slapped me really hard across the face, this was my breaking point and I kicked her right in the shin. I'm lucky it didn't escalate into a fight, but the bell rang, the other girl left and she limped away. I was told by my main bully, who of course always sat beside me, that "I did good", and those two never bothered me again. This is where I learned force can scare bullies away, though that doesn't seem to work all, or even half the time.
Most desks were in rows, or circles, and the one guy would always follow me wherever I sat, he got the most fun out of me. He always acted like my friend, but that was a facade, he would get others to go after me, egg them on, he would always start the teasing sessions. In grade 9 it wasn't so bad because a friend of mine was in the TLC program started going to all the same regular classes I did. He would look after me a lot, and whenever he was there he would stop the others from bullying me. Plus he wasn't as in control as I was, so he always had a para with him, which meant there was now a para in my room too, a set of eyes that didn't care about teaching, just protecting. The problem also was he was never in control, so he got suspended a lot, so he wasn't there I lost him and the para, and it was always worse those weeks than normal.
One time there was this girl who was after me for at least a month, she would destroy my notes, throw things at me, call me names, make fun of me for my innocence; I didn't know what blowjobs or handjobs were, I wouldn't swear, I was young and naive. She would push me, trying to provoke me. She would hurt me most of all, and I was scared of her most of all. Her I was terrified of, the others I always thought would only go so far (though they always pushed that), she would always just seem like she wanted to hurt me just to hurt me, not to see my reaction, but just because she like tormenting me. The others were calm and controlling their harassment, they were doing it to get laughs, they thought it was funny to get me mad, even the guy who bullied me the most, I avoided him, but he never really hurt me, he would punch me or pinch or kick but the girls were always the worst. They were the meanest, they would hit me the hardest, they were much more relentless. It was another girl who threw paperclips at me instead of paper (that got me pulled out of regular classes for a bit when a para saw it). She was mean though and she would hurt me, after the other girl started shooting paper clips at me this girl never stopped. She seemed wild and dangerous to me, and for some reason I was her target in every class.
One day, at the last class, she did something to me, now lost to my memory that set me off. She was shooting things at me all class, paper and paperclips, hitting me, verbally abusing me, and I finally had enough. This was the last time I really snapped, as I learned that violence never really fixes things, it usually just leads to more violence. Not always, sometimes it can scare them away, but living with it as a policy you just bring new violence to you. I confronted her in the hall, pushed her up against the wall by her throat and told her to leave me alone. The vice principal saw me and took me to the office. I got suspended, and a stern talking to. I of course over reacted, when he asks what she did I just said threw things at me in class, hardly something worthy of a suspension. The months of abuse don't count, the only thing that matters is what was her last action to provoke my next reaction. In hindsight months of abuse don't even deserve attacking her.
I was sent home and told to take the transit bus home. Usually as part of the TLC program I would take the school bus home, part of their protection and a way of keeping an eye on me. My TLC homeroom teacher was gone as were all the paras. I made my way to the bus stop by McDonalds, where a bunch of guys must have been waiting for me. As I am standing waiting for the bus one of them kicks me from behind in the side. Another one punches me in the face, then another one. They tell me it's wrong to hit girls, they'll teach me a lesson for doing what I did. This is contrary to the lesson I learned a while ago that it was okay if I was defending myself. In hindsight I think it was because the really mean girl was popular, especially with the boys, while the other two who bullied me were not. They circled me and attacked, I stumbled away and they followed. I made my way into a bar close by, where I hid for about thirty minutes to an hour. I came out and they were gone. I started walking home for a bit and finally stop at a bus shack to sit down. An old Irish lady took care of me, she had some tissues and wiped the blood away, and when I told her what happened she scolded me and told me boys should know better to ever hit a girl. I got home and my mom gave me the same lesson, it doesn't matter what she does to me, I can't fight a girl because I could get killed or whatever. After that I never attacked anyone when I got angry again, I would stick to just throwing objects around. A month later she got expelled or transferred or something and I never saw here again. After she left the bullying got better and grade 9 was better than the previous two by far.
Even years later I still don't know what I could have done differently. I tell the teachers, they give them a talking to and it continues, only now it escalates because I'm a tattle tale, and there are too many zones void of teachers to protect me all through school. I stand up and fight and that gets me into trouble, I fall behind in school as well as socially; and I can get seriously hurt. I ignore them and they just keep escalating things until I break and let my anger out. If I try telling them to leave me alone that only eggs them on more because they know it's getting to me. I can yell at them to leave me alone, but that gets me taken out of the class for the day or period, and they know they are affecting me and continue, only worse. I never tried talking to people during the course of the bullying, I had my friends in the program, and in ninth grade I had a close friend whom I could confide in, and that was a help. He would stand by me and help stop the others from bullying me, there was a safety in numbers. I was a victim and my words didn't matter, but when he would speak people would stop and realize what they are doing. Perhaps in grade 9 we were a little older too, but he was a big help I believe. He would tease me a little, but as a friend who knew what anger was like. Perhaps that is the solution, no matter what I do it would never get better, only when others would stand up with me would the situation improve. When the victim says stop nothing happens, but when others stand up for the victim and realize this shouldn't be happening, this isn't what we're here for, then there's a chance things can get better. I was powerless, no action I took could save me, but others had the power to take power away from the bully. If they didn't go along with the bullies and join in on the teasing, or if they didn't sit by and say nothing and just hide in the crowd. Maybe if more people stood up beside me and told the bullies "No. Stop. Leave him alone." then things could have improved. Not the will of the one, but the will of the many.