School Bullies All Grown Up

Greetings, everyone. Many people are under the misguided impression that bullying stops once we toss our graduation caps high into the air and began navigating the “real world”.

Not so. Sadly, most bullies do not stop bullying others once they are out of school. They grow to be bigger bullies, yet less obvious. I’ll use an experience I had about two years post high school as an example:

After having moved about fifty miles away, I would often drive into town, on the weekends to visit family, whom still resided there. I was eight months pregnant with my second child and my toddler, who had just turned two earlier that month, would always accompany me. Because my due date was drawing near, this would be the last trip I would make before the baby came. I was already taking a huge risk as it was, with delivery being only a few weeks away. I had watched Rescue 911 the night before and remembered the episode in which a woman had gone into full-blown labor while driving and ended up delivering her baby in the car with the aid of a police officer. How I prayed that wouldn’t be ME!

I visited my grandmother. During the visit, Grandma and I decided to have a good dinner but needed a few ingredients. So, I took my purse and my two-year-old son and drove to the grocery store.

Once we arrived at the supermarket, I sat my son in the child seat in the shopping cart and made my way down each aisle, in search of the items we needed for our meal and marking them off on my shopping list. Then I turned a corner and almost ran into whom were three girls whom had tormented me during school…the last three people I ever wanted to see.

They stopped dead, looking at me as their eyes narrowed into tiny slits, revealing very hostile facial expressions. As they all leered at me, I noticed fist clinching and feet wide apart. Their faces seemed frozen and their eyes dropped and seemed to settle on my bulging abdomen. Being heavily pregnant, the last thing I wanted was drama.

“What are YOU doing back here?” One of the women asked hatefully.
“…and having a baby so soon after your first?” The second she-bully asked, raising her voice, “Boy you must love being pregnant!”

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t shocked… and intimidated because I didn’t know what they were going to do next. Because my son was hearing every word, I turned around and walked the other direction, hearing them shout behind me, “Yeah, that’s what we THOUGHT, you pregnant SLUT! You’ll probably have six kids, divorces and living on FOOD STAMPS before it’s over! That’s all you’re good for! And that kid won’t ever amount to anything either!”

Bewildered was what I was. Weren’t we supposed to be adults? Weren’t we supposed to be out of high school? I didn’t dignify any of it with a response. I just went to the checkout line to pay for my groceries.

Once I arrived at my car, I sat my son in his safety seat, then loaded the groceries while noticing the same three women walking right past, making it a point to get too close.

“I’ll bet you’re a lousy mother! People like you shouldn’t be allowed to even HAVE children!” were their last words.

Now this was a unique case. Most adult bullies are not that obvious. However, there are a few who are very overt, just like the women in the grocery store and overt bullies are only open with their assaults because they have absolutely zero fear of consequences.

If you have an adult bully on your tail, know that they basically use the same tactics as high school bullies, they are just better at going undetected than teenage bullies. Know that you still must hold on to the belief that you are better than what they tell you. Know that the issue and the guilt is always on their (the bullies’)shoulders, not yours. And know that in most cases, people of this caliber never get far. I say this because the three women who bullied me that day in the parking lot ended up in very bad situations. One has since passed away and the other two are horribly addicted to drugs…situations that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, not even my worst enemy.

There will always be people who will unjustly hate you. That’s life. But you don’t have to let their hatred define who you are or affect your life. You are still awesome in your own right and you are so worth fighting for!

bullyingstupid

Being a Victim of Bullying Impacts Grades

It’s no secret that victims of bullying suffer from low self-esteem. After so long having been told that they aren’t good enough, victims begin to believe it themselves. A condition, known as “Learned Helplessness” develops…victims simply give up on everything, including their studies, and either stop trying altogether or they do just enough to pass their classes by the skin of their teeth.

This was me when I was in school and a victim of relentless bullying: I did just enough to get by.

I did not make plans to go to college like most kids my age did. Instead, my only goal was to marry the first guy who made me laugh and settle down to start a family after high school. Because my self-esteem had been battered and bruised, being a wife and mother were the only things I thought I would be good at.

Yeah, I know…pathetic huh?

What’s worse is that in most cases, this happens on a subconscious level, without the victim even being aware of it.

Another reason is that a target of bullying is in a constant state of alert. Because of the threat of attack, the victim’s mind is continuously flooded with ways to protect themselves and hyper-vigilance keeps the body in a state of panic, taking away the ability to concentrate on schoolwork. Success can never be reached in a vacuum!

Here is an excerpt from my book, giving an example of how my grades skyrocketed once I transferred schools and escaped my tormentors:

“…By the end of the week, report cards went out. Ever since I had arrived at Roseburg High School, my schoolwork seemed to have magically, almost overnight, gotten easier and I noticed an instant change in my grades since I had left Oakley High School. In the past, while attending school in Oakley, a typical report card for me would be mostly B’s, C’s, and a few D’s. Miraculously, starting the very day I arrived at Roseburg High School, my grades took a dramatic jump from B’s, C’s and D’s to mostly A’s with a B or two. For the first time in five years, I made the honor roll and it felt so amazing!
I look back now and I realize that because I had gotten out of that poisonous environment which was Oakley, my grades had taken such a tremendous boost it was almost unbelievable. And they continued to soar for the remainder of the school year. How I wished I had moved much sooner than I had!
It was nothing short of incredible, how quickly everything…and I mean everything took a turn for the better! My grades, social life, physical and mental well-being, everything just totally flipped! Things took a complete one hundred and eighty degree turn around and were entirely opposite of the way they had been in Oakley. I cannot begin to describe the happiness and peace I felt at Roseburg High…”

There are ways that parents can help their children become more successful in school. Our environments do affect our outlooks, which then affects our levels of success. Although not always feasible, I believe that the best thing to do for your child is either a transfer or home school. Also, give them constant praise at home to make up for and counter the vicious attacks your son/daughter gets at school and it will keep their confidence from completely tanking.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Victims of Bullying Should Always Keep a Daily Journal

Greetings everyone. As we all know, Bullying can have devastating effects in the lives of victims and sadly, school officials, parents and even law enforcement have yet to realize the daily horrors that victims endure. And bullies are slick! They are experts at deceiving authority and making their victims looks like the guilty party.

It takes more than simply reporting incidences of bullying to school staff and authorities because in most cases, the victim is either rebuffed or blamed for the torment. These are only a few reasons why it is so important that you keep a daily journal if you are ever targeted by bullies.

Write down what happened in full detail, the names of those who are present when the attack takes place…the names of bullies, bystanders, teachers, EVERYONE! Also jot down the time, date and place the altercation occurred. Do this with every incident that takes place. Leave nothing out! Even if the attacks are minor, you must still record it in your journal. I can’t stress this enough- keep very detailed records of any taunts, threats and altercations no matter how small they may seem.

Journals are the best way for victims to protect themselves and have a record to present to a judge in the event that the bullying escalates and you are forced to take legal action.

When I was in school, I kept a journal many times of the bullying I suffered and I still have some of the material today, which helped me to write my book, “From Victim to Victor” and tell the story of how I was bullied by my classmates. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 11 about how I kept my own journal during a time when bullying was accepted as a normal part of growing up.

“…Before school had started I had decided that this year, I would keep a journal of each school day. I wanted some sort of record in case we needed evidence for a possible future lawsuit. This had been suggested by three different people who were friends of my aunt and grandmother.
“Write down EVERYTHING!” Grandma’s friends advised, “What, when, why, where and who. You need some sort of record in case one of them hurt you so bad that you have to go to the hospital…or worse.”
Grandma gasped before speaking up.
“Or WORSE??? Surely, they wouldn’t kill her!” She said in shock.
“You never know, Francesca. Kids get killed at school in Memphis. Don’t think that just because this is a small town, it couldn’t happen here too.” Little Mama, one of her friends, warned.
“God, forbid it!” Grandma sighed before turning back to me.
“That’s right, baby. You like to write stories? Well, darling write about how they treat you at school. Treat it like a story. Record. Everything.” She urged.
Even though I was sure that neither of my bullies had the nerve, nor the stomach to kill anyone, I did not think that keeping a journal was necessarily a bad idea. It might even be a safety precaution. How I wished I had been told this a year before…”

I would advise writing everything down just as soon as the altercation is over and it is still fresh in your mind, but do it covertly, if possible. This should go without saying, you certainly wouldn’t want anyone to see your journal as bullies are known to destroy property and rummage through their target’s belongings. Keep your journal in a very safe place. Here are a few excerpts from my book, which tells what happened to me after my journal was accidentally discovered:

“…Therefore, that afternoon in last period Math, I decided to write about it in my journal since we were in the last thirty minutes of the school day and had completed all assignments.
Before I knew it, Mrs. Caraway, whose teaching schedule had been changed to eighth grade math, swiped my journal from under my nose without a word. She took it to her desk, and read it. Once she had read the first ten pages, she called Mr. Willard on the intercom.
When he arrived, I sat there and watched her hand my journal over to him as my stomach sank. Mr. Willard stood in front of the entire class, turning each page to give it a quick look over, and paused to glare at me. He then walked out of the classroom, flipping the pages.
The following weekend, when I told Grandma and Aunt Vicky about it, they became furious.
“That fat BASTARD!” Aunt Vicky chided. “How could he? How DARE he?”
“Looks to me like they have something to hide, don’t it?” Grandma asked.
“Why else would he have taken it from her, Mom? That was wrong! That journal was like a DIARY and she kept it to herself, for God’s sake! But somebody just had to be nosey, didn’t they? How dare they??? Those sorry pieces of crap!” Aunt Vicky thundered.
I never saw that journal again…”

“…It was politics. Mr. Willard was only furthering his own interests, protecting the school’s reputation and that of the entire school system as well. The last thing he wanted was for Oakley Junior High to be shown in a bad light while on his watch. I also believe this was the reason my journal had been taken away.

I now know that these people considered me to be a major threat. Even thirty years ago, when this occurred, all I had to have was the right evidence and enough of it. My journal, which had been taken from me by the principal, was the evidence I would have needed. These people were scared! I could just see Mr. Willard’s eyes widen upon finding that I actually had enough good sense to keep my own record of the bullying and that is why he took it from me. He knew that with that journal, I could have possibly had the proof needed to sue the living hell out of him, the school and the entire school system…”

Although keeping a journal may be risky, I still urge victims of bullying to keep one. If you risk being caught with it or the wrong person snooping through it, I would suggest keeping it at home and writing the days events in it just as soon as you get home, while your memory of the days events are still fresh. The sooner you record, the better.

Have a wonderful day!

How I Turned A Fierce Bully Into One of the Greatest of Friends

Shelly(not her real name) had been one of my most vicious of bullies during school. Every time we passed one another in the halls, at a ballgame, anywhere and we would not hesitate to exchange nasty sentiments as we passed, “Bitch!”, “Whore!”, “Skank!”. Thinking up ways to degrade and slut-shame each other was always top priority during these little meetings.

Fast-forward twenty years, in late 2007, I went to a karaoke show, which was held in the Moose Lodge club on the outskirts of town to celebrate my recently having the courage to break off what had been a 2 1/2 year long abusive relationship. I truly had not known my own strength until this point and I was ready for a fun girl’s night out.

When I arrived at the Moose Lodge with a few friends in tow, the first word I heard was, “Oh my God! Not that bitch!” Honestly, I thought the verbal assault was directed at someone else until I looked up and saw her. There Shelly stood, pool cue in one hand, the other hand resting on her boyfriend’s back as her eyes and brows narrowed into little slits in her face and bore into me like a sharp object. I had not seen her in so many years and wondered how it was that she’d managed to drag around so much hate for so many years when I had completely forgotten about her amid juggling bills, a job and family and other adult priorities. It seemed that on her part, even twenty years, marriages and children hadn’t been enough to erase the teenage animosity she still held. We lived in a small Southern town and in small Southern towns, very few people ever forget the past and it’s very easy for the reputation you once had in your teens to follow you for the rest of your life. Sadly, this is how it is in a small town.

Having always loved music and had vocal talent, I got up and sang one of my favorite songs and everyone cheered once I was finished. After I sat down, Shelly sat down beside me and was very impressed with my performance. She told me that she admired my voice and that she’d always known I could sing but didn’t know I was that good. At first, I was flabbergasted. This was the first positive remark I’d heard from her but nevertheless, I was grateful. I smiled and gave her a gracious “Thank you. It’s good to see you again after all these years.”

We continued to talk and she took some pictures out of her purse to show me. Pictures of what was her talent- woodwork and paintings, the most beautiful work I’d ever seen. This lady was very talented and I couldn’t or wouldn’t deny it. I truly loved her work and could not stop looking at those pictures and complimenting her. She truly was and still is an expert at wood working and oil painting.

It was at that point that the dynamics of our relationship changed for the better. We exchanged phone numbers and soon began calling each other and texting cute little funnies back and forth. Then we began to invite each other to family outings, cookouts and meetings in town for lunch. Now, we are the greatest of friends and I truly love this lady. We often talk about how we missed out on what could have been a wonderful friendship years ago. But since the past cannot be changed, we are content to go from the present and make our friendship as fun and drama-free as possible.

The moral of this story is this: It is always possible to turn a bully or enemy into a friend. Nothing is impossible. All it takes is to break down that wall and show the other person genuine interest. Everybody loves it when you are interested in them, their likes, and how things are going in their lives. Even the coldest and meanest of people. As humans, we all have a certain degree of selfishness. We all want the same things- to be loved, appreciated and respected. Everybody also has a void, waiting to be filled and if we can fill the void- whether it’s by making the person feel loved and respected or giving the person some sense of who they are and where they belong, it can be the difference between gaining a friend or keeping an enemy.

Through our many talks, I found out that this poor young girl, whom I thought was so cruel, yet totally in control and didn’t need anyone was really a girl who didn’t feel loved by anyone. She was just as sad as I was but had put on a tough exterior. Also, she had suffered incidences of bullying herself, though not as severe as I did, it still hurt her immensely. Today, we continue to be friends and value each other almost like sisters.

By showing her genuine interest, without fakery, I was able to turn one of my worst bullies into one of my best friends!