What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Abbie experienced bullying throughout secondary school. In her two part story, find out what she went through and how she’s doing now. Let’s start with part one…
School is never as you imagine it to be!
You imagine it to be a happy, lively place filled with laughter and buzzing with the sound of giggle filled conversations. Full of noise and activity like a flock of geese flying round you. School is often seen as a place where young people should feel safe, comfortable and able to achieve.
But it never really felt like that for me… for me it felt different, daunting and definitely not safe.
I was never really a ‘popular’ type of person. Right from the start of year 7 I struggled to make friends and the few friends I had, I soon realised would turn their back on me when I needed them most. School was in fact a lonely place full of nasty, shallow, plastic people who cared more about being popular than true friendship. Year 7 wasn’t the best of years for me; but it took me a while to realise it was a year I could learn from.
The first day of year 7 really was great, we were all new, enthusiastic and full of questions. We were excited to be in a new environment and felt so grown up but at the same time nervous. We were used to being the big fish in a little pond last year but now suddenly the pond was more like a lake on a stormy day. No-one really knew each other then and it was hard to know who to cling to. But as the weeks turned into months; we were no longer new or wide eyed. We had been allocated tutors but I wouldn’t exactly call us a tutor group. We were more like a room full of individuals with different personalities that were forced to meet every day.
Everyone told me that it just takes time; big school is scary but I’ll get used to it. They didn’t understand. I couldn’t explain I was so unhappy, they wanted reasons, examples, evidence but nothing had happened that I could name, well not exactly but then it began.
It started off with a single name, a horrible one, one so bad that I didn’t even want to repeat it.
As the weeks passed by it became worse, now they would say it every day and many more names as well.
It happened so often it was almost normal but hurt me more than I let people know. I was filled with questions, why were they doing this to me? What had I done wrong? Why did they hate me? Why could no one see what was happening?
The weeks came and went and the poisonous remarks were still continuing even though they had been warned to stop by our year head. They were continuous in their attempts to make me feel isolated, alone and worthless. The insults continued and the attacks got worse. One day a girl from year 11 locked me in my tutor room and wouldn’t let me out. When I tried to leave she blocked the door way and pushed me back. Looking back she was not that tall but to a year 7 she was a giant, she kept having a go at me but I had done nothing wrong. As the tears started to roll down my face, I begged and pleaded with her to let me out. I was so scared I didn’t think about the others in the room and they made no attempt to help me. She kept screaming at me and tormenting me because I was a “snitch”. As the tears rolled down my face and I accepted that I had no power in this situation I looked around for help but all I could see was the smiles on the girls and my forms faces.
How could they do this to me?
I realised then that my whole form was against me. I had no-one. I finally got out and broke down in tears; that was the final straw, I couldn’t be in that form anymore. I couldn’t trust anyone anymore and I felt helpless and broken.
I was moved tutor groups but nothing much changed in there. There was still the constant nasty names; the other girls were popular and they had influence. I had never really had much confidence and had low self-esteem. I guess I was an easy target so that was how year 7 continued.
But one day in year 8, events changed me for the better.
One of the most malicious girls had been making my life a misery for weeks. On this particular day she had shoved me, barged into me and tried to trip me down the stairs. My adrenaline was building she had pushed me too far that day. She carried on, on the way down the road after school. As we approached the end of the street I turned round and hit her in the face with all my strength. I thought of every moment I had felt alone, isolated and small. I had had enough, all of those feelings welled up inside like a ticking bomb, with every step I took I could feel the tension building in my chest and then it just happened. I hadn’t planned to hit her, I had never hit anyone before but there it was. I had hit her so hard that in slow motion I could she her rock backwards as the shock registered on her face. She froze for what seemed like hours and no one spoke. In the glorious silence I turned and walked away. My muscles were shaking but inside it felt good. I was as surprised as she was and I knew I would be in trouble if she came back for me but I didn’t care. In that moment I was no longer the victim.
I was fed up of being walked all over, fed up of not saying anything, fed up of people thinking they could do what they like to me. Gossip about the incident had spread round school and everyone was talking about me but they weren’t saying much to my face. It gave me a sudden boost of confidence and the end of year 8 was better for me because people left me alone.
At the end of year 8 I was asked if I would like to move tutor groups again. This time to a tutor group with 13 students in “a nurture group” so I accepted the offer. It was a lovely small tutor group with a lovely tutor. Everyone seemed to get on and it felt better than before. Year 9 was a better year for me apart from the occasional argument which was quickly resolved. I felt able to learn, occasionally I even enjoyed school. Things were definitely getting better.
So as year 10 arrived I thought it was going to be one of the best years of my school life. I had chosen my options, I had even made some good friends; I was actually looking forward to starting a new phase in my life. The summer holidays passed too quickly but it was fine, school was going to be great this year. The first few weeks were good but the year soon took a turn for the worst. It was nothing like I had hoped. It was the worst year of my life…
The dramas started again when I was unexpectedly verbally assaulted by a stranger outside of school. She was the mother of a ‘friend’ or so I thought. She accused me of things that once again I had not done and compared me to an overweight dog! Like she could talk, what kind of parent goes around assaulting 14 year old girls? I thought that was bad. But the worst was still to come…
Months passed and people seemed to find it entertaining to spread lies and gossip. They liked to wind people up a jack in a box and watch them explode on innocent unsuspecting passers-by. On Tuesday 5th March at precisely 1.15pm just as the bell deafened us all with its annoying voice I was violently assaulted. It was an unprovoked attack. I had said nothing to her she used to be a friend.
She completely flipped at me, pushing me off the table and smashing my head against another table, ragging my hair and whacking my head sideward off the floor. I tried to protect myself but she was on top of me and I couldn’t get her off. All I could do was try to cover my head and protect myself but I felt like I was going to pass out. I don’t know how long it lasted but I can recall every blow every second felt like hours, every minute seemed to last forever. It took my tutor and another two members of staff to get her off me. I was in complete shock, floods of tears and I could not stop shaking.
She had pulled a muscle in my neck, similar to an injury you might get in a car crash, I had bruises all down my face and shoulders and she had ragged clumps of my hair out. The confidence that I had built up over the last year had been viciously destroyed in a matter of moments. I was told if I didn’t want to come in the next few days I didn’t have to. I could stay at home and hide, it would have been easy but I forced myself into school and back into lessons. I was not going to let them destroy me and my life.
My whole form was still in complete shock…
Two weeks passed…
I had given statements and the police had interviewed people. I was summoned to a meeting with the police, the girl and people from school. It was the scariest thing I have ever done. Facing her again remembering how much hatred and anger she had inside her was almost too much to handle. I couldn’t even speak they wanted us to talk but all I could do was cry. I felt paralysed. She apologised, said how “sorry she was, that she knew I trusted her and she was wrong to lose it like that” and I believed her. So the girl was allowed back to school.
She had not changed, she continued to make my life a misery getting her mates to join in and bully me. Everyone said she had difficulties with her temper, and she had not had a good life which was one of the reasons I forgave her but no one could see that, they only wanted to listen to one side of the story. She was eventually removed from school, but this didn’t stop it her mates continued to bully me because they blamed me for her exclusion. Posting vile, nasty comments and statuses about me on Facebook, telling everyone about how they we’re going to put me in hospital. The threats hurt me just as much, more so in some ways because they were always there. Even at home the messages still came through.
It broke my heart how and destroyed my trust the way she had made me suffer was just cold, calculated, cruelty. They completely ruined my confidence and I was haunted by the thought of what she had done to me. I felt like I was entering a deep dark hole I would never be able to escape from. She had made me feel so low I never realised it was possible to feel that low and still be alive. It had an impact so severe it took over my life. I spent the rest of year 10 in PLC and went to hardly any lessons because I was so scared. Coming to school every day was like torture getting out of bed became a struggle never mind the stress of walking through the gates or walking into a class room. I couldn’t face it anymore, I hid away, arrived late, left early, I didn’t go to any lesson for months.
Not only had she ruined my confidence she had affected my education. I missed so much not just lessons but life.
Still now, nearly two years on, the haunting memories of what happened still torment me. I’m a different person now. She’s changed me. I hope that someday I will be that loud, chatty, bubbly girl again that everyone knew me as but she seems like a distant memory to me.
I cannot pin point the moment in which life changed once again but I realised I am not letting anyone make me live in fear anymore. I am strong and I will be happy. The past cannot be changed but the future is mine to control. This never-ending tear of sadness, anxiousness and fear is going to stop because WHAT DOESEN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER!
You can find details on how to deal with bullying on Facebook as part of our Help Centre. If you’re experiencing cyberbullying and want someone to talk to, contact us – find out how on our Total Access Support page.