Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bullying, My Story (Vulgar Language Warning)

My years in elementary school were lovely.  It was a small, rural school where everyone knew everyone else.  And, while I was the only wheelchair-user, I had friends I hung out with (though, eventually, I sought out other disabled kids in the district).  Through seven years, only one student ever teased me and, when his mother found out, she went to school with him to watch his apology to me.  I maintained excellent grades and loved school.

Then, I entered junior high...

Oh, it began "lightly" enough with simple insults about my weight and disability.  At first, I cussed them out, spoke up, and even punched one boy in the nose after he referred to me as "Tubby" (he said he'd give me a free hit so I cashed in).  Some boys would even stand by my locker and talk about what it's like to "fuck a gimp" and the different speculations that would proceed a starting remark of that caliber.

Eating in the cafeteria was a torment because of the animal noises as I ate my lunch.  Of course, it escalated to kids throwing food at me, knocking my tray to the floor, spitting in my food, etc.

It wasn't just lunchtime that became hell.  The insults became spitting, hair pulling/cutting, kicking my wheelchair, slamming my hand in my locker, threatening me with bodily harm (stabbing was a favorite of theirs), putting gum in my hair and on my clothes, poking my belly with objects, etc.  Many of my teachers didn't believe me or didn't want to keep an eye on things (including my case manager).

I missed the last quarter of my eighth grade year because my mom decided to homeschool me.  The incident leading to that decision involved a rock and my skull.  The principal never told mom every injury I sustained should have been documented by a doctor and the cops should be called, no one told us.  I had various bruises, hurt wrists, etc.  We worked through the school to attempt resolution.

High school was more of the same, sans the sexual overtones, from my fellow students.  I, however, had a case manager who believed me.  I never ate lunch in the cafeteria, was escorted by someone to my classes as much as possible, and had a crate in her room for my books, making a locker unnecessary.  Even with those precautions, I still suffered from physical and verbal abuse through senior high.  People couldn't guard me the entire time.  (One of my more bitter experiences had to do with two guys and a urine-soaked paper towel.)  My mom took me out of school once in high school, too.
I hated school from seventh grade onward.  My already iffy health was so much worse due to stress.  I had a doctor's note stating, due to anxiety, I needed more absences.  And I did need them, generally a day or two a week.  I was lucky to get my diploma.

The school psychologist, my senior year, met with me for fifteen minutes and determined I was lying about everything I had gone through, made the accusation at the big meeting where we were to discuss my post-high-school life.  I broke down, badly.  I hated myself for crying, something I did way too often back then.
My class reunion is in less than two weeks and, while I understand people grow up and the students who tormented me were but a handful, I can't go.
I still can't tolerate being called a freak, even in a humorous/good way.  And this is why I get enraged when schools watch the victims for potentially violent behavior instead of stomping out bullying.


  1. Oh my goodness. I'm sick just hearing about this. I don't blame you for not going. Who would want to go back to something that was awful and they hated. You are stronger and better now. You don't need to be around people like that, even if they have grown up. Bullying is such an awful tragedy in this world. I'm sorry you were put through such awful things.

    1. I lost who I was in many ways during that time. College was worlds better in regards to how I was treated and I was incredibly grateful.

      Many of the people who did this have probably grown out of it by now.

  2. This makes my heart hurt, Jen. It's absolutely unacceptable. But you know what?? High school is nothing. I know it doesn't seem like it at the time. Trust me, I had rumors and gossip spread about me that was crushing, so I know how it feels to have people you don't wanna see. After high school college was so awesome and everything since that I really don't even care about high school reunions. I went to my 10 year and it was ok... fun seeing old friends. But my 20 year was 2 years ago and I didn't have any desire to go.
    I don't blame you for not going to yours and I hope you don't regret not going. Seriously, missing all those days of school, you didn't miss much. High school was nothing in the big picture of life.

    BTW you won my swag pack! I mentioned it in my email today. So just let me know your mailing address. :)

  3. Oh, wow! I won? Sweet, amazingly sweet. This made my weekend.

    I don't hate the people who did those things, though I have no desire to see most of them again. On a related note: The kid I punched lives upstairs from me and doesn't acknowledge me either way, which is fine with me.

    I never went to my prom or graduation.

  4. This is so outrageous and extreme. I recall bullying occurring when I was in school, but I never witnessed it to the extent you've described. Maybe I just didn't see things to this extremity or maybe it didn't happen that much. Sure there were a lot of mean incidents and probably some of those who were picked on have very bad memories of school and would have no desire to go to any reunions. It's sad that any of it has to happen.

    I was fortunate that I was never picked on very often. I don't have any really bad memories of school days, but nothing great stands out either. Those years were just an obligatory time of my life--something I had to do so I tolerated it. It's a shame that you had such torment inflicted upon you. Kids can sure get mean as they grow older.

    Wrote By Rote

    1. I'm glad you didn't have difficulties in school.
      I did have one incident that was a bit different than the others. In early high school, one of the girls who made fun of me in middle school got expelled because someone found a hit-list she wrote. I was near the top, unsure why. A friend of mine was on it and she was so scared, her mom took her home.