We don’t see a lot of facts about childhood bullying but a recent report estimated that over 60% of children have been bullied either verbally, mentally or physically during their school life. Approximately 16,000 children miss school per year because of bullying or fear of being bullied. 10% of children attempt suicide and 30% have self harmed because of being bullied. When children are bullied their self-esteem is affected. A lot of children don’t talk about being bullied because quite often they are scared, so they hold it in due to shame and embarrassment. They very often feel inadequate and weak about not being able to deal with the bully. Shockingly, very often parents are oblivious to the fact that their children are being bullied due to lack of communication and not understanding the changes that can happen to a child’s behaviour during the time of being bullied.
I recently watched a documentary about people being trolled and bullied , it was something that really hit home for me. It opened up old wounds as being bullied can really affect you in life, especially if you don’t deal with how it makes you feel and accept that it was not your fault and you are not alone.
I have been bullied most of my life and it started happening to me aged five. The difference between then and now is that when I was bullied it was psychological and physical abuse. Now there is also internet cyber abuse over social media. Children now find it is even harder to escape the terrorism of bullies as it continues for them in the safety of their own home, the only place that should be their sanctuary. After having children of my own it is something that I am very worried about as my daughter continues to grow up.
When people meet me and I speak to them, they would never assume that I have been bullied. I come across as a very confident outgoing strong woman who won’t take any crap from anyone, but what a lot of people don’t know is that quite often it is a shield and front to protect myself after many years of people trying to destroy me.
It all started for me when I was five years old. I was always brought up very happy and courteous to all. When I started school at 5. I was nervous but excited to be at the big girl’s school. I made friends and one day during break time, I was approached by some of the older girls aged between 9 and 10.
They were talking to me and being very nice. I was proud and felt grown up that they were interacting with me. They asked if I would like to have one of their chocolate biscuits. I said yes please and ate it. Once I had eaten the biscuit the girls all began to laugh and point at me saying that they had put the biscuit in a puddle and trodden on it before they had given it to me and that i was disgusting for eating it. I was devastated and began to cry. When I told the teacher she said that it must have been a mistake but at lunchtime the girls continued calling me disgusting and dirty. I went home that evening so upset and told my mother that i did not want to go to school any more. She was in shock that the older girls would come up and bully a child half their age. The next morning she went to the school to speak to the head mistress to resolve the situation. The girl’s parents were called to the school and they were made to apologise, they said we were only having a laugh. It was the fact that they would do this to a girl nearly half their age that disgusted my parents as it would to most that read this. It was the first time that I learnt not to trust people, that people were not all nice. A little bit of innocence lost that day at only five years old.
The second time it happened was at senior school aged 11 years old. It was a mixed comprehensive school. The children came from mixed upbringings and social standings. I was good at most sports and a confident happy girl when I first started at the school, soon this changed. It was my first week at the school and some of the older boys of 15 and 16 were interested in talking to me as I had always looked and acted older than my age. I soon found out that it was a big mistake talking to them as the older girls did not like me because of this and they decided to make my life hell by bullying me. They would wait in groups for me at any break and lunch times, they spat at me beat me up and verbally abused me daily for a year.
I tried to take as many lunch and after school classes as possible to prevent them seeing me, but they always managed to find me. If i got new school shoes they would take them of me and put them in water or mud and destroy them. They would rip my school uniform, break in to my locker and steal my stuff they would make me give them my lunch money. They made me feel weak worthless. My parents attended the school on so many occasions and escalated it to the head teacher and the girls in question would be suspended from school but their parents did not care about what the did so they came back and did it to me again and again and again. At weekends if they found out where I would be going they would be there. My mum and dad wanted me out of the school but there was a waiting list for most state schools. The breaking point for me was when I was in a school play. The bullies had broken me and I was so ashamed and embarrassed of being myself. I could not look up when we sang a song or when I had my speaking part, I just looked at the ground with my shoulders hunched as I was scared they were laughing at me. It was so sad that as a happy good person these girls had tried to destroy me. I had an eating disorder as my weight seemed the only form of control for me in my life. I also self harmed as I was so angry with the bullies but took the anger out on myself that I had towards them to try to justify the pain. I was lucky enough to leave the school eventually and get a place in another school that no one knew my past and I began to try and rebuild myself esteem and become happier again.
I have since been bullied in the work place for over fifteen years on and off. The question I always ask myself is why me, what’s wrong with me. You can be bullied for so many reasons, because you are happy, you smile, you come from a loving family, you are a nice person, you have funny dress sense, you have money, you have a have a brace, you are fat or thin whatever the reason. It normally comes down to the fact that the bully sees something in you that makes them aware of how bad and unhappy their lives are, and by bullying you and trying to destroy you and make you feel worthless it somehow makes them feel slightly less worthless about their own sad miserable lives.
The bullying I had when I was younger did change me as I became more aggressive and harder towards people as I was scared that if I let them get to close they could hurt me again. I never let the bullies win though. I continued to fight to be successful in my life. When I wanted to give up because something bad was happening to me, I would think of the bullies laughing at me and the anger would make me get through the situation.
I became very successful in my career, worked as a senior FX trader in some of the biggest banks of the world. I got married to a wonderful man who understood me and had a child that I love very much.. After having my child I started my own businesses and became very successful. Most recently I made it on to the BBC Apprentice over thousands of applicants to be on the show. Some of the bullies from the school contacted me when they found out I was on the show to congratulate me. They said that they knew I would be successful and well done. It left a bitter taste in my mouth as I felt hate and anger towards them. Maybe that was why they tried to destroy me over the years as they saw my potential. It made me smile though as I never let them win. I was the winner in life because as hard as it was at times I stayed strong to my goals and did not let them destroy my life.
You must always have self worth and belief as hard as it may be. When you are at your lowest and don’t want to go on, you need to find the strength. Don’t keep it bottled up to yourself as you are not alone. Talk to someone about it and ask for help. There will always be a solution. You can and will beat the bullies in the end and hopefully look back one day and be able to talk about it freely to others as I am. To be able to say it was not right, It was not my fault, it affected me but I did not let it stop me. Always remember – Love yourself.
Your views and experiences of bullies would be very welcomed. It is nice not to feel alone.