Experiences with Bullies

One of the gents I follow at Bullying Prevention had a post up that really touched me. I’d left the following comment, expecting only a reply;

With so many cases of bullying going on, I wonder if I should share my story as well…But I am unsure. Does reading about others who were bullied help to create a sense of care and community…or does it make those being bullied right now feel even worse to see that it has always been going on? I don’t want to make anyone upset, I want to let themknow they’re not alone”.

Little did I know that the reply would take the form of  no less than FIVE posts by various authors, entitled “Will we Speak Up or Be Silent”. If you haven’t read any of them yet, may I suggest visiting Terrkin.wordpress.com? You won’t be disappointed, I’m sure.

Now, as promised, I will share some of my stories of being bullied, in the hopes that others will take comfort in knowing they are not alone. Perhaps readers will take strength from these past tribulations, and realize that life really can get better if you hold on long enough.

Verbal Bullying: Probably the most well known, verbal bullying includes name-calling, threats, teasing and inappropriate comments. In my younger days, there was no shortage of this. As my readers know, I live with Gender Dysphoria. While I no longer try to dress as a male, I had tried very hard to present myself as a boy when I was in middle school and early high school. I wore clothes from the male sections of clothing stores, kept my hair shorter than my parents wanted, refused to wear jewelry other than my pentacle necklace, and to this day have no piercings whatsoever. Until 11th grade when they grew to size 36DD and it hurt too much, I bound my breasts with cloth bandages in an attempt to flatten my chest. I’m still a size 7 just as I was back then, but I’d always worn bulky clothing to hide my curves. I spurned the Yoga and Home Ec classes in favor of Tech and Weights. And while doing so made me feel the masculinity I so desperately desired, it caused no end to the grief visited upon me in school.

Taunts were constant fare, and were freely given out by boys and girls alike. I was called a lesbian even though I’m (mostly) heterosexual. I was very pointedly not invited to parties, and had other girls shy away from me in the locker room and give me dirty looks, like I was scum on the bottom of their shoe. The one time I was invited to a girl sleepover, the mother had a discussion with me in the kitchen about how I had better act feminine in her house…I ended up calling my mother to take me home, feigning a stomach ache. From that point on I only went to male sleepovers.

It only got worse in Health class. Me, in my naive mind, had yet to truly figure out just how different I was from “other” females. So, in 7th grade, my questions about various things I’d noticed went unanswered or were given strange looks. The fact that I was visually aroused…my questions regarding wet dreams and “morning wood”…my confusion about why we were being taught that our menstrual cycles were supposed to hurt and cause mood swings…None of the female teachers validated my experiences, and in some cases I was told that I was lying or trying to “be special”. I ended up having to use some of my lunch periods to talk to the male Health teacher to learn about what I felt and experienced. I began to avoid using the restroom after that, since girls would open the door on me and corner me, saying that if I was really a guy, then I should show my penis to them, or get out of the ladies room. Combine that with the constant calls of “transvestite”, “bitch”, and “gay/homo/lesbian”…You can imagine why I began dreading going to school. In spite of this, I had my group of close male friends and graduated high school in the top 5% of my 900 person class and in the National Honors Society.

It got extremely bad when in 11th grade, people found out I was still a virgin, and that I hadn’t even been kissed yet. I hear the media say that only boys are teased for this, and I want to scream. The torment that I had to go through was horrendous and painful…but it “doesn’t happen”. More cat-calling, being groped in the hallways, having both boys and girls try to put their hands down my shirt, the cold fear that overtook me when a group of 4 jocks cornered me coming in late one day and threatened to “cure me” of my virginity whether I wanted it or not…How is this any worse than what boys go through? My answer would be that it’s not, especially since male virgins don’t usually get threatened with rape by their female peers (though they do *get* raped, and thus should have increased access to support groups). Luckily, I made it to age 22 with my virginity intact and was able to painlessly share it with my current lover of 7+ years. I only wish I’d been able to share my sexual innocence as well, but my readers know THAT was a ship long since sailed due to my stepfather.

Physical Bullying: Another aspect of bullying that is no stranger to me is that of being physically harmed. This includes shoving, hitting, tripping and the like. In some cases, one bully will trip you and another will steal your textbooks as they fly out of your hands. Playing “Keep-Away” with my lunch or glasses was another favorite pastime, as was trying to steal my homework answers when I refused to do it for them. While in middle school I suffered a sprained ankle, broken finger, and numerous bruises/scrapes from being tripped down the stairs or pushed against lockers.

One of my worst memories was in 9th grade, when I was “punished” by a 12th grade boy for doing my job. You see, I was an Office Cadet, which meant I volunteered to do “go-fer” tasks like photocopying, mailroom deliveries, and bringing memos and detention slips to teachers to hand out. One day, I completed my rounds and was on my way back when a large boy stopped me and slammed me up against the lockers, holding me in place by my throat. Apparently I’d given an in-school suspension slip to his teacher for him from the principal…and he decided to take it out on me, the messenger. He asked if I was the “girl who thought she was a boy”, and I answered truthfully. He grinned sadistically and said “In that case, you should take your punishment like a boy”. I braced myself for the punches, but instead he used his knee to slam my groin 3 times, then let me fall. I collapsed to the ground, curled into a fetal position unable to move or breathe for what seemed like eternity. My entire pelvic region felt like it was on fire, and I was convinced my clit was damaged beyond repair.

For those of you who have never been the victim of a groin kick, I’ll tell you this: I got a dislocated arm from falling out of a tree when I was 14. I’d take another 20 of those before having an assault to my pelvis again. Luckily no permanent damage was done, and the bruising on my clit and labia went away in about a week so I could touch myself without flinching again. I regret not reporting what happened…but how could I? Girls knee boys, not the other way around. My fear of further rumors about my sexuality and body being spread stilled my tongue. Even now, I wonder if I’d have made the same choice.

As you might have guessed, these are only some very specific examples of the bullying I endured. I was a magnet for cruelty ever since 2nd grade, at the hands of male and female peers. Each has a special brand of torment, boys being more physical and girls preferring subtlety. Each hurts. Each harms.

But I am also going to tell you that life gets better. If you are currently dealing with bullies at school or work, do NOT back down. Do not allow them to see your weakness, but instead prove your strength. This does not mean harming them in return…violence only begets more violence, and innocents may be hurt in the process. Take pride from the fact that you are superior in your tolerance and empathy. Be aware of your conscience and your patience. Work hard, be diligent in your studies, PROSPER.

Know that you will bend rather than break, and will emerge all the stronger for it. Combine forces with other like-minded people and create the changes that you wish to see in your environment. Report actions that are unseemly and harmful…call out those that believe that pain is power. Look them in the eye, and allow their words to wash over you without taking them in.

You are precious.

You are worthy of love.

You are unique and special.

If you ever doubt this, and feel like ending your life, know that in doing so you will be extinguishing a light brighter than anything one can see with mortal eyes. It may be the most difficult thing to believe right now, but I am here as proof that life improves.

You just have to be around to see it.

As always, comments are welcome and encouraged. If any reader wants to talk privately, my door is always open. I can be reached at tarnishedsophia@hotmail.com, and I promise to answer any email within 24 hours of receiving it. Remember that you are not alone, and that someone cares about you.

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39 thoughts on “Experiences with Bullies

  1. Rohan wrote an amazing chapter on bullying in one of his books. People tend to target what they are jealous of or don’t understand. I was bullied constantly in school and always defended myself. However, people are so cowardly, they have to act like sheep — and when one bully turns into several, you can’t help but wonder if something is wrong with you — and it ISN’T! It’s so hard to say, but it’s THEM, not you. A normal, well rounded person doesn’t bully (nor does a normal person act passive/aggressively in order to get out their anger — this still happens to me as an adult that many people are jealous of because I’m happy and have everything I want in life!)

    Interesting, I see the former bullies on Face Book, now either boring, or preaching God, or whatever .. it’s like they still need that clutch. I feel bad for them. But, yes, I say, let others know you were bullied — as there is comfort in knowing. When I was young and bullied back in the 1970s, we didn’t have internet but I was thrilled to learn that Runaways singer, Cherie Currie, was bullied for being different because she was one of my idols back then.

    It was like, wow, she’s so cool and beautiful, and SHE is being bullied?! Then it made sense, yeah, it’s people who are jealous and unstable that are doing the bullying and SHOULD CHANGE — NOT ME! Hope this helps 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. Most people have been bullied at some point in their lives, but we all feel like we are alone. And that aloneness makes it that much worse.

    Bullies are often fear driven – and I guess you have to feel a bit sorry for them for that. And you have to feel sorry for people who have filled themselves with hatred, so that that is how they experience their lives. Other bullies have to put other people down to bring themselves up. Too bad they don’t have more natural self-esteem.

    So over time I have come to pity bullies. Probably the last thing that they would want.

  3. Hey Sophia, you mention your pentacle necklace and that reminds me, are you part of any group or anything? I would love to meet some pagan girls but really have no idea where to start, so I am just out there solo.

  4. It took me a long time to overcome my disgust towards bullies, but now I pity them as well. I used to dream of getting back at those who harmed me so much…but that would drop me down to their level. I care about my own moral integrity too much to debase myself like that.

  5. Wow, thank you!
    I never thought so many people would be interested in this topic, but it has become my most viewed one to date.

    Don’t worry about me though, they can’t threaten me anymore…and from what I’ve seen on FB and hearing from former classmates…my bullies aren’t leading very successful/happy lives as it is. Just makes me pity them more, honestly.

  6. Lol, I think you’ll be looking for the Gardnerian Wiccans if you’re THAT into being skyclad. But you know it is usually only the High Priestess and Priest who take part in the Great Rite…right?

  7. I was genuinely confused when I started reading this post. It took me a while to get a grip on what you were going through. As if that wasn’t troublesome enough, a load of dorks just made it worse. I was horrified.

  8. Thanks, FedUp. I’ll stop by and see!

    To me, it wasn’t bravery. It was just what I had to go through to complete my day. I wanted to succeed in school and feed my hunger for knowledge…this was the price.

  9. It wasn’t clear to me whether you had two x chromosomes, or an x and a y. Once I had that clear in my head, the whole thing just became even more bloody horrific

  10. Having been bullied at school and the workplace, I absolutely loathe the bastards and i have to bite down the fury that wells up inside me when i witness it, either first hand or with others.

    I particularly balk at male aggression or threatening behaviour and have actively ‘fronted up’ when encountering it.

    Once in traffic some guy cut me up so I gave him the finger. He came storming out of his car and up to my window, but instead of cringing and crying (as he no doubt expected me to do) I got out of mine and went toe to toe with him screaming into his face, daring him to do what he thought he was going to do. Before his balls disappeared into his perineum that is. 😉

    I can laugh about this now, but am painfully aware that I could have gotten myself killed, so work hard to control my fury nowadays, but it’s never too far from the surface where aggression of any kind is concerned….

    Sorry to hear what happened to you, people are so fucking vile sometimes….

  11. Wow, I’m really glad that you didn’t get hurt. I had a guy do that to me when I wouldn’t turn right on red (there was a sign saying not to). Then again, I stayed in my car since he came up to my window waving a baseball bat! Luckily the light turned green and I hightailed it out of there! 😛

    But yeah, our species kinda sucks with the whole Golden Rule thing. Not all of us, of course…but in my personal experience it is a substantial amount. I almost wonder if our schools should have an Ethics or Morality class?

  12. Hmmmm ,

    You know tarnz I am a today until the coca cola high wears off a cynic We talk about bullying in school and then let the Cops go to town on Innocent minorities, or dont prosecute parents or priest or other people who abuse children. Im not sure if life gets better or we just grow a thicker hide and eventually die. I read this blog post before and didnt comment because at the moment I had nothing but vitriol, now I have coca cola and misplace nostalgia

    MrMArY

  13. It really great to see all the stories and people that have been touched by Bullying and it’s very sad, but we must be strong and Brave and think of what is to be, rather than what was..lotsa luv…..cheers 🙂

  14. So very true! Our past experiences certainly shape who we are, but it’s still important to remember that life goes on…and even gets better in most cases!

    By the way, has anyone else visited this site yet? It’s pretty awesome, in my opinion. If I had any pictures of myself from after age 10, I’d send some in too. 🙂

    http://awkwardyearsproject.tumblr.com/

  15. Ugh, I understand that. I’ve not had any flashbacks (of bullying) for years now…Hopefully yours will pass soon as well.

    Being proud of oneself and growing confidence is a great step towards kicking flashbacks to the curb! 😀

  16. This is astonishing, Sophia. You are amazingly resilient and to be admired your endurance. I salute you absolutely. Magnificent post.

  17. I have, Sophia, Though I think it is somewhere deep and unreachable in me. I kept diaries as a teen, naming the books 1, 2, 3 etc, and one of those exercise books is gone. I have vague memory of destroying it as I never wanted anyone to read what was in it, & I have open recall of a few incidences, yes.

    It deeply, deeply saddens me this happens, when if we were to choice, life could be so much more hopeful, fulsome, live & let live. To choose happy, truly is a choice.

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