A Mom Who Was Bullied As A Kid
When I was in high school, I too was bullied. This was a long time ago, when bullying was more ok than it is today - it was the 80s. Teachers and school administrators, didn't step in as they do today. However, I am telling my story, because it is as relevant today as it was some 30 years ago.
Who was the bully? Well, it was one of my supposed good friends. I was friends with this girl for "3 very long" years. When I first met this girl, she seemed friendly and outgoing toward me. I was cute, but very shy. She invited me to go everywhere with her, and she was fun to be around. Other adults and other kids seemed to think a lot of this "friendly" girl. However, a few months into my friendship with her, I saw a darker side in her - her Ms. Hyde side. She would put me down, she would say negative things about my family, etc. When she was "off" in her Ms. Hyde mode, her color looked odd, her eyes were more tense, her behavior and voice were even different. When she would stand next to me at my locker in school, the hair on the back of my neck would stand up, because I knew something was coming to someone (and I hoped it wasn't me...).
I witnessed her bullying other girls. She would "select" her target (someone who she was jealous of generally… like a girl her boyfriend liked for example) and she would spread around a rumor about that girl (she was a slut, that she said mean stuff about other people) and she would spread around say that her target was a liar. She would look at me and say, let her defend herself, no one will believe her, and she would smile. She would make a point of schmoozing adults in front of her target… almost with a taunt… they like me and they won't believe you, if you go to them for help. She would also build her case with me, that this girl deserved this somehow. When the girl would try to defend herself, she had already positioned her as someone that was not to be believed. My Hyde friend would make every effort to get her targets into trouble with adults and other kids - to discredit them too. Teachers thought she was a sweet kid, they didn't see the Hyde side, and they didn't realize they supported a bully's antics. It bothered me that she seemed to like hurting people, she would smile and seem to be in an uplifted mood as she got away with it. I sometimes would stay away from her when she was doing this. I didn't do anything to verbally support her, but I took no responsibility to stop her either.
By this time, I started to notice that I was a little isolated from other kids too, and my self esteem was at an all time low. This girl verbally abused me too whenever an adult wasn't around. This girl also liked to shoplift. I noticed that she got the same "buzz" off of shoplifting that she did off of bullying. She was getting a "high" or a relief from depression from hurting others or getting away with doing something wrong. I distanced myself from this friend, but I would still hang out with her. She would show her nice side, lure me back in and then bam - Ms. Hyde.
My brother finally confronted me, after he saw a bullying incident. He came to pick me up from the movies, and she didn't know who he was - he stepped back and watched as I stood there and did nothing. My friend was verbally threatening to punch a stranger for looking in her direction. He confronted me in the car on the way home, and I told him about this girl. He pointed out that I was in an abusive relationship. He also felt that I was the "nice" girl luring others into a relationship with the bully. He said I was bait, like the bait an abuser uses to lure unsuspecting victim in order to abuse them. He clearly told me "to get away from her" - period, and in his opinion she was not well. He warned me that it wasn't going to be easy, especially since she was well liked. She would likely target me... this I knew already. This was one of the reasons why I pretended to be friendly to this girl. I did not want to be a target. He told me that I would be better off alone than to be in a friendship like that one.
Sure enough, this girl knew that I was done with hanging out with her. I think she became afraid that I would "out" her. She of course started spreading around rumors about me and used her classics, "she is a liar, she is a slut, she likes your boyfriend" and whatever she could to discredit me - to isolate me. Other girls… "new ones" that didn't see the extent of the Hyde side, yet went along with her. One day, she asked me to sign her into the nurse's office, so she could cut class. I knew she had gotten other kids in trouble before doing things like this, so I didn't do this for her. She cut class, and got detention for it. Her behavior escalated to threats of violence against me. She finally pushed me in class after degrading me in front of everyone, calling me a slut, a liar, a loser etc. I finally turned around and pushed her back and pinned her against a wall. I then outed her. I announced to the class and the horrified teacher who was watching what a sick bully she was truly. I told everyone watching about all of things that she did to others. I looked right at the teacher too, and let her know that she fooled all of them when she got other kids in trouble. I said she was fooling them with the nice act and was bullying a lot of people when an adult wasn't around. The class was never so quiet than after I did that.
Of course, I was asked to speak to a guidance counselor after this event. My assigned counselor was not available. Another guidance counselor spoke to me, and I basically sat down and cried telling him about this girl. I told him about how abusive she was, and that she targeted me because I was trying to get away from her. This man really listened to me (my normal guidance counselor didn't really care he was a paperwork guy). Someone at my school finally knew that there was something up with this girl. Did she get in trouble, no... but they looked at her differently. She had to cut down on her bullying.
After that event, she bullied me terribly. She would drive by in her car and scream out that I was a slut. Of course, she would do this when she had a car full of people. At this point, I didn't care. I just simply announced to kids in the car that they were hanging out with someone who is messed up. I told them it took me several years to get a way from her, but I was glad that I did. Kids started to come up to me (quietly… they were afraid of her) and tell me that they were glad I had gotten away from her... they knew she was messed up. They were glad that I had the courage to speak up.
I noticed over the months that followed, she didn't look well. I noticed her color was "off" and she looked stressed. I found out soon after that, she was arrested for shoplifting and ordered into a counseling program by a judge that saw troubling behavior in her. Apparently, her shoplifting got worse. She had to get her "high" off of getting away with something wrong somewhere... and this time she got caught.
It is unfortunate for this girl, for me and for many others who were abused by her that her problems weren't caught sooner. She may have just needed medication, or maybe counseling could have helped her.
This bully is out there somewhere. She is someone's wife, mother, employee, (someone's boss - an aweful thought) or friend. I hope for the sake of the people around her that she has gotten help and changed. This Ms. Hyde (Mr. Hyde too) type is a personality type that is out there so be aware. If you are a bully, please understand that real friendship is letting your friends shine… it is not controlling and abusing them for amusement. If you do this to those around you, get help… please.
I hope none of you experience what I had to go through. My advice as a parent and as a former kid myself is simple, talk to other adults (parents, guidance counselors, teachers, older siblings), if the behavior of a "friend" doesn't seem right. My parents didn't help me, they felt bullying was part of life and something you should handle alone, and it isn't. I am grateful that my brother stepped in to start me down the right road. Keep reaching out until you find an adult to guide you. They are out there, and someone will care. Don't go through this alone, and love yourself enough to be healthy in relationships and to choose healthy relationships. You are better off alone than abused.
To protect yourself from bullying my advise is simple. Try to make a lot of friends with all different types of people, get involved in clubs doing things you love to do, focus on your school work and dream a future that is unique to you. If you do these esteem building things, you will feel good about yourself, and you'll meet people with whom you have common interests.
I am reaching out with the wisdom of an adult to let you know, I have been there. I talk to my son and daughter all of the time, and I can't stress enough for them to choose healthy relationships. They are awesome as are you and are worth being treated with kindness, as a friend and with love.