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Back May 31st, 2011 Forward
Bullying: It's Not Just For Primary School

Parents welcome ruling on bullying victim's suicide

The article I link to above is about a determination by a coroner in Victoria that a young man who killed himself had done so as a result of being bullied. It's an interesting enough article, and it raises some interesting issues about bully culture as it surrounds people.

It ends with a note that "If you are experiencing difficulties with bullying contact Lifeline on 13 11 14."

And I started to weep, because I'm a bullying survivor.

I was bullied by my peers, socially and emotionally, for twelve years. I was taunted, teased, degraded, abused, stalked, and pushed constantly throughout primary school and high school. I survived it, but mainly because I grew up in a family which had a strong history of chronic depression, and thus had a strong intra-family cultural taboo on suicide, self-harm, or any other form of behaviour which might bring the family to the attention of the authorities. Keep your head down, suck it up, and see whether you can fly under their radar; that's the family mantra.

I grew up thinking there had to be something inherently wrong with me, something which made those other children pick on me, something which made me a target. I grew up learning from my age peers the "normal" response to my existence was either outright aggression, masked aggression, or just outright denial of my humanity. If I had any friends at all, they were mistakes, errors, only putting up with me because they were outcasts too. If someone was being friendly to me, it wasn't going to last. If someone had my back, it was only so they could stick a knife in it more effectively. I grew up knowing this had to be the case, because if it wasn't... well, if it wasn't this meant that people were getting away with being deliberately cruel to me, for no other reason than "because they could". Easier to believe in my own inappropriateness than to believe in generalised acceptance of malice.

Bullying broke me.

I don't trust people even now. I particularly don't trust other women (and if you're a "popular" woman, you're going to have a lot of trouble winning even the slightest particle of trust from me, because I spent too many years being the target of the malice of the popular girls in school), I don't trust good-looking men, I don't trust people who have any sort of power over me, and I don't trust people who say they're my peers. I live my life on the lookout for the next knife in my back, the next attack out of the dark. I shadowbox my way through relationships. The closer a person gets to me, the more danger I'm in.

I expect to be bullied as a default state these days. It was the cause of a near-breakdown in my second year of university study, because I was so strung-out waiting for the other shoe to drop... prior to starting uni I'd never been in any educational environment where I hadn't been subject to some form of bullying, where picking on me because I was there hadn't been just an accepted part of the day.

I still wear the target on my soul. I found that out when I got my first full-time job in the public service, and was put in the charge of a manager who proceeded to play mind games, most likely with the deliberate intent of breaking me down. That job brought me as close as I've ever been to actual suicide, and I can still recall the absolute despair I felt at the thought of having to endure something like that all day, every day, for the rest of my life. The only reason I'm still here now is because my instinct for self-preservation overrode my lower-middle class upbringing (and led me to quit the job with no idea at all what I was going to do next). What that experience did for me was reinforced the half-understood lesson of my university days - that what had happened to me for twelve years of schooling wasn't a result of "kids being kids".

This is important: children don't bully because they're children. Bullies bully because they're allowed to get away with it, and they don't "grow out of" their bullying behaviours. They keep at it for as long as they're able, and they'll leave a trail of victims behind them. Oh, and they generally don't see themselves as doing anything harmful, either. They were "just having a bit of a joke" or "taking care" of their victim, or carrying out their actions "in the interests" of their victim.

I've never actually called Lifeline. I don't think they'd be interested in what I have to say. I doubt calling them would change anything, and it won't make the pain I still carry go away. I'm broken, and I doubt I'll ever be able to be fixed. I can paper over the cracks, I can pretend I'm functional, but underneath, there's still the little girl who doesn't understand why people are being so nasty to her without any reason. She's crying, and she's probably going to keep crying for the rest of my life.

My name is Meg, and I'm a bullying survivor.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/15261.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

location: In tears
Current Mood: triggered triggered
Back May 31st, 2011 Forward