Confessions of a Former Bully
kleptotophat, thank you for writing this brave, fascinating article. –Sparkitors
Hey there, Sparklers and Manklers. Many of you have been through the turmoil and heartache that can only be caused by being the victim of bullying. As for me, I'm on the other side of the fence, and feeling just as crappy. Yep: I was once a bully and a grade-A jerk. Though I'm not expecting forgiveness, I do want to tell you about what goes on behind the smoke and mirrors of a bully's behavior—a girl bully's.
1. How it happened: I don't come from a troubled household, I didn't have low self esteem, and I didn't have any social issues. When I started being a bully (around age 11), I wasn't aware I was one. I honestly thought I was joking around: poking fun at a classmate, shoving someone around for a laugh. I started getting serious about the abuse when others got serious about it, which wasn't that long after it began. It grew to consume me, and I didn't know what to do besides hurt others. I wasn't particularly muscular or tall, but I had an air of confidence (the bad kind) around me that people feared.
2. The abuse I dished out: No, I didn't demand lunch money or hang kids on the flagpole by their underwear. I was the more familiar kind of bully: I never cared for spreading rumors, instead I would belittle you and prey on your greatest insecurities to your face. I would force people to respect me, and ruin their lives if they disobeyed. I was a b-word and everyone knew it.
3. How I came to realize what was wrong. Eventually, I had to stop. And I did. How, you ask? No, there wasn't some brave kid taking me out for coffee and patting my back—some tried, but I usually laughed at them. Teachers never seemed to know, though looking back I think that's total bull. Tell your teachers if someone is cruel to you, so that they don't have the option of ignoring it. What really did it for me was when everyone just stopped putting up with me. They wouldn't obey my orders, would scoff at anything I told them, and would basically ignore me. I know your mother has been chanting to just "ignore them" for your entire life, and sometimes it actually works.
4. The results: Here's something that will please all of the bullied: Eventually, all the jerks and d-bags will be lonely. They will have no friends, no one to support or listen to them, and it will feel horrendous. That's what happened to me. I was achingly lonely, and I decided I needed to change. It took a long time (more than a year) and about a million apologies. I meant it, I regret everything. I remembered the tears I'd caused, the rage I had started, and the abuse I had dished out to everyone, including myself. Hurting others sucks. I know this whole thing seems clichéd, but it's true.
5. Advice for the bullied: Keep your head up. I rarely chose the confident for my wrath, because they intimidated me. And if you're shy and nervous, identify others who can help you: teachers will help, principals will help. You are never alone, please know that. If you have any questions, ask me in the comments. I'm actually pretty nice now.
6. Advice for the bully: You may not think it, but everything you say and do has consequences. If you think you spread false rumors a bit too much, or let a snide remark slip out too often, take a step back. A big step back. Bigger. BIGGER. Okay, good. Now look at that person you just insulted, and imagine them going home and contemplating suicide because of what you just said, and what others have said. It may seem dramatic, but trust me, it happens. You may not like everyone, but hold your tongue once in a while. You'll be surprised how people seem to stop stabbing you in the back.
Wow. Anyone else want to speak up about their bullying? Or about being bullied?
Related post: Bully Avoidance 101
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