What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

My Own Bullying Experience

by Amanda

Growing up I was a happy kid with a bunch of friends. I started dancing when I was three years old. I loved to dance and my older cousin was on the middle school kickline team. Since our school's kickline has a reputation of being national champions I decided to try out. I ended up making it in sixth grade, which is really difficult to accomplish since a lot of people don’t make the team. I had a great time on kickline. I developed new friendships, and ended up becoming captain in eighth grade. Kickline became a really big part in my life and as my middle school years ended, I wanted to try out for the high school varsity kickline team. When I entered high school I became part of the Varsity Kickline team, but difficulties soon followed.

Everything was going well; I was really excited for the kickline season, making new friends, and just being in high school until the third day of my freshman year. The older girls on kickline decided to tell my coach I sent boys naked pictures of myself, just to get me kicked off the team. There were never any pictures and I was humiliated. The older girls were spreading it around school and everyone was talking about it. A few weeks later, these two boys told me they liked me more than just friends and the second I told them I didn’t like either of them they both spread around school that I slept with them, just to ruin my reputation. Kids were threatening me, calling me mean things, following me into the school bathroom to harass me, and taking pictures of mean text messages that they sent to me or about me and posted them on Facebook, which I was then tagged in. And most recently, some girl on kickline, let’s call her Jamie, was telling me for weeks the older girls on the team were making fun of her and making her cry constantly. The mean girl, let’s call her Rebecca, that started the rumor about me was the girl who was picking on Jamie. After weeks of Jamie calling me and texting me I grew really concerned. I told my coach to try to talk to Jamie because someone was being really mean to her and I felt really bad since it was not stopping and that I been through it before. My coach told me she knew it was Rebecca and I didn’t even have to tell her the name because seven other girls were getting bullied on the team by Rebecca. I became the next victim. Rebecca got everyone against me, even the people who I thought were really my true friends, but I was wrong. I didn’t go to kickline practice or school for a while. When I came back to school my teammates were saying horrible things to me as I passed them in the hallway or they just ignored me. When I returned to practice, no one was talking to me and I was getting laughed at, even by Jamie, who I was actually concerned about. My own cousin wouldn’t even talk to me because the influence of Rebecca, who she became close with. The kickline girls wouldn’t leave me alone at all. My house was getting paint balled. I would go to the bathroom during school and cry because of what these kids were doing to me from the start of freshman year to the beginning of sophomore year. I felt really stabbed in the back. I had not one friend left, no one to turn to, and I was all alone. I would walk through the hallways in school humiliated, scared, hopeless, depressed, and embarrassed. Kids were continuously whispering about me, laughing at me, and throwing stuff at me. I didn’t even go to lunch since the beginning of ninth grade so I wouldn’t be around peers.

People have called me things you couldn’t even imagine and it makes me sick to my stomach to even think about it. From all these rumors that have gone around about me, it is really hard to make friends and open up to people. I ended up quitting kickline. It was one of the hardest thing for me to do. I really loved and enjoyed kickline, but going to practice and being around all those girls was really killing me. The school psychologist said, “I was like a guppy swimming in a tank full of sharks.” I couldn’t help to feel alone from all this and I started to question if I should stay alive or not after losing all of my friends and constantly having people bad talk me. I couldn’t even look myself in the mirror because I was so ashamed to be who I am. I would lock myself in my room and hide under my bed everyday, I wouldn’t eat and I would just cry myself to sleep. I felt like it would just be better for me and everyone else if I was just gone. It was like no one could ever understand how I felt through all this.

When I thought all hope was gone and like the world was crashing down on me, things really turned around and I started to believe everything really does happen for a reason. My mom put me in therapy and my therapist put me on anti-depression medicine. I realize how lucky I am to have my mom and dad to support me and help me through everything. I developed a better and stronger relationship with my mom because I realized I can go to her for anything. Attending therapy and being on medicine really helps me open up to people and not be so anxious. My brother, Michael, and I never really talked much but since people used to make fun of him, we really reached out to each other and grew a closer bond. I realize how far my brother got and now he is on top so I really look up to him for that. He is my inspiration. Talking to someone and having the support of my family really helped me out.

I developed a lot of fears but honestly, even though our tendency might be to shrink away, to run and hide, we should try to find the courage to move on. You can experience life and with a little push it really helps. It really helped me because I pushed myself to build up the courage to join A World of Difference Club and Fighting Against Bullying Club at school, youth group on Sunday nights, and ushering at 6pm mass. I developed new friendships from joining these activities and I am happy I built up the courage to do so. I also, built up the courage to return to lunch in school just a few weeks ago. I realized who my true friends really are and what really matters. What really matters to me is that in a sense, I am actually happy this all happened to me. It helped me find my place in life and grow to be a better person. My favorite inspirational quote is, “Don’t judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes.” Everyday someone somewhere is getting judged for numerous amounts of reasons. Whether it be by the way they look, act, talk, dress, or anything of that matter. People can be a certain way because of situations they have been through. So therefore you can’t really judge someone until you truly know every single detail about them and experienced their experiences.

I know how much people's words can really effect someone. It really hurts when rumors go around, people laugh at you, and treat you poorly. Even if you don’t actually make fun of someone or do hurtful things just by not saying anything or laughing with the crowd really hurts to.

Therefore every time I see someone who is upset I try to reach my hand out to them. From going through all this it really changed me as a person. It opened my eyes how much words really effect people. So next time when someone is being made fun of or even ignored try to put your hand out and help and even just smiling at someone can really change a persons day. For instance, be the change you wish to see in the word. In other words, don’t be a follower and treat others how you would like to be treated.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the lord your god goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” This scripture from the bible really helped me when I was facing my bad times and it helped me build up courage to be happy with who I really am. The Serenity Prayer has also helped me. When everything was happening to me, my mom told me to say this prayer every night before I go to sleep and it really helped me. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. “ I relate this to my own situation because I learned I can’t change the way people treat me. I built the courage to remove myself from kickline, even though I loved doing it and moved on to surrounding myself with a nicer group of people. As it turns out, many of the kickline girls were reprimanded because of all their nonsense. If I had become friends with them, then I might have been brought down by their bad behavior. I grew the wisdom to know I can’t change the way people treat me, but I have the ability and most importantly, the courage to do what makes me happy in the long run.

I went from wanting to crawl up in the corner and run away from everything, to developing the courage to try new things and make new friends. I can finally say I am proud to be who I am today.

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Making a difference
by: Trinity

Dear Amanda,
Your experience at school was similar to my own. I was at boarding school so there was no way of escaping the bullies, I had to put up with some fairly serious stuff. I also found that others shunned me, one day a girl told me that she was afraid to be my friend because she didn't want to be bullied like I was.

I am 44 years old now, there wasn't the antidepressant therapy that there is today. I had nobody but my own inner resources to deal with it and i don't know if that made me stronger or weaker, i can't remember.

I had about 15 years between school and working where I studied at University and I wasn't bullied at all. I felt safe at university, like it was a sheltered workshop, my confidence improved along with my academic acheivements.

When I started working I found that the bullies in the workplace used the same passive agressive bullying tactics that the girls at school did. I did not have the resources to deal with that. Eventually though the bullying became so serious that my professional reputation and career was on the line and I succummed to depression and anxiety which is standard and normal for victims of bullying.

The result of being bullied for me is a sadder story than yours, i wont go into the details but lets say that after several academic qualifications and 10 years of extensive experience in my field I am now considered permanently, totally and seriously psychiatrically disabled due to chronic major depression with PTSD-like symptoms.

Amanda, I have hope that the bulling that begins at high-school will stop one day, because those bullies grow up to be psychopathic bullies who destroy people entirely, financially, psychologically, their families, they destroy everything. With your experiences I hope that one day you can make a difference in this world. I am way too damaged to even re-enter the world where I may fall prey. Stay strong, you have a good soul. xox

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