My Bullying ExperienceMany people ask me how I survived the bullying. People have asked me questions such as: “Who are the bullies [are they friends]?”, “Where did the bullying occur?”, “What would you do when you were bullied?”, “How did you deal with the bullying?”, or “Did you think of committing suicide?” I knew who the bullies were. They were my best friends. I was bullied from 8th grade to my freshman year, and every day they picked on me for my race. And for a bit one person made comments implying that I’m gay. They would make jokes and call me names like “Gandhi” and others who are the same race as me. During PE, one person in particular would make comments while we were changing in the locker room, implying that I was gay. That person would say that I was staring at people of the same sex while they were dressing. I am not gay, and I am accepting of those who are. But, when this person labeled me as gay, I felt, in a way, violated and disrespected. I did not like how people would label me with names, such as gay and Gandhi, even if I were to do absolutely nothing or appear as “different” to them. I feel that people most commonly use the words “gay” or “******” to describe people who are different from them and who they feel don’t belong. They felt that it was all a joke, but it was torture and abuse to me.
I repeatedly asked them to stop, but they ignored me every time. It took them over a year, but they finally stopped when an SOS student offering support jumped in. My school therapist/counselor, who’s in charge of SOS, arranged mediation with herself, a few student conflict mediators, the students, one at a time, and me to discuss the racial comments. I remember one of them saying, “I wanted him to explode in anger. I wanted him to start screaming and have a meltdown.” I can’t tell you how angry I was to hear that from someone who I thought was my friend. When I heard that, I felt like my life ended because I felt like all of my friends were trying to do the same. I felt abused. I felt tortured. I felt that I was used for their entertainment. Some of them felt and still feel that I “snitched,” “ratted,” or “tattled” on them, but I know that I do not deserve to be bullied. And most of all, I felt that I was used by my friends for them to gain popularity. They don’t and didn’t know how the bullying affected me. I tried so hard to get them to stop and understand that enough was enough, but none of them listened. There were so many silent witnesses who I wished would’ve spoken up or at least said something positive to me.
From my experience, I felt that I needed to take action to prevent this from happening to others. But never once did I think of committing suicide. I knew deep down that there was a way out, and suicide was not an option for dealing with bullying. I knew that the only way out without transferring schools and having the bullying continue was to tell an adult on campus. I can honestly tell you that I still have anxiety and depression, and I always will. But, the feeling of talking to peers, sharing my story, and having the opportunity to help someone in need is exceedingly good. I am not thankful that I was bullied, which made me get involved in SOS, but I am thankful for the outcome of the bullying. I have actually helped so many people, and it’s the best feeling. I helped one of my old friends, for a year straight via text message, overcome four years of bullying from school, problems with friends and family and family members’ life-threatening illnesses. Now he is better than ever, and he is now openly gay. I’ve helped friends with relationship issues, coping from sexual harassment, sports-related issues, etc. I am thankful that my school has zero tolerance for any form of bullying and for the support from my teachers, school administrators, and SOS members, who are now my good friends.
At my high school we have a program called SOS, students offering support, which is a group run by our school’s therapist/counselor and core members. Our SOS group has a program within the larger program called “Freshman Transition,” through which SOS members teach freshman students about their group - my group is “Sticks and Stones: Bullying Prevention.” Since the rise of homophobia in high school, I am trying to incorporate it with my presentation. In the program, we have other groups such as “Suicide/Depression,” “Better Safe than Pregnant,” “Academic Stress,” and more. During the presentations, the presenter(s) shows their PowerPoint, video clips, and games and shares their personal story. By sharing my personal story, I feel that it takes the pain away knowing that my story will inspire, at least one student to stand up to bullying. As long as I can help one person, I feel that I am making a difference.
Bullying happens in the classroom and through phone calls, letters/notes, text messaging, Facebook, and even behind people’s back. It’s hard to stop bullying because most bullies are able to cover up their tracks. Bullies bully where people can’t see or hear them. Bullies bully when teachers aren’t looking, and bullies bully when the victim isn’t looking. My experience with bullying was tremendous, and my story goes on and on. But all I want to do now is help others who are being bullied and prevent bullying from happening.