*WARNING* this blog post is about childhood domestic violence and bullying.
I could say that my timing was off or maybe it’s ironic that I would have to suffer domestic violence and bullying at the same time. The truth of the matter is that I had to fight for my voice somewhere and in hindsight I chose the wrong place. It was my first day riding the school bus, EVER. I didn’t know that there were ‘assigned seats’ or that I had stumbled in to a hornets’ nest. I unknowingly sat in the three alpha male’s seat. When I was asked to move I felt this immense amount of power and control. I wasn’t moving and there was nothing they could do to make me move.
I needed to find control in one small aspect of my life and I stood up for myself for the first time in my life. I had as much of a right to sit in the seat as they had. Contrary to their belief, there were no assigned seats. As they say, “First come, first serve.” What probably started off, as I recall it, as playful flirting would quickly escalate to severe bullying. I’m fortunate that the ‘nursery rhymes’ they sang about me day after day have no place in my memory banks. I can’t recall a single fat shaming chant. The message though isn’t lost over time, I was ‘fat’ and if it was hurtful and rhymed it was said.
Before I met my three bullies, Jacob, Matt, and Eric I had always felt safe at school. School was my sanctuary. I couldn’t tell you what I learned or who I played with. I can barely recall my friend’s faces I had at that time. I, thankfully, have a major memory lapse of that time period. Unfortunately though I only get brief glimpses in that time frame and most of them are filled with pain.
I remember having to rotate which bus stop I got off at hoping to divert and confuse my bullies. They would literally chase me through the neighborhood and woods threatening physical violence. As ‘fat’ girl I’m not sure how I managed to out run three boys every day. I haven’t a single memory of them catching up to me. The threat was imminent every day but thankfully, it was never physical, though it was a daily fear.
The bullying didn’t end until I was forced to call the cops on them. I don’t recall which boy it was, it was likely Eric, who pulled a gun on me. Now, I may be a southern girl, but I was not raised around guns, (YAY! Imagine what might have happened if I was) so I didn’t know the difference from a shot gun and BB gun. This fact was amusing to the cop who was dispatched to my house. He was unimpressed with my fear. He chuckled as he informed me it was only a BB gun. My heart shattered. It took a lot of courage to call the police, I never called them on my step dad but I also had never feared for my life before.
The cop did have a friendly talk with the boy’s parents and that was the end of my bullying. I’m sure some words were said here or there that were hurtful but no more running through the woods and getting off at various bus stops to avoid them. I recall vividly that Jacob and I became friendly later on. He showed me kindness that the other boys never did. I ran in to Jacob a few years after High School and had one of those. “OMG!! YOU LOOK HOT!” moments. It felt really good to watch him droll. I’ve never seen Eric or Matt again.
Eric was the ring leader and I often wonder what kind of man he is today. Does he have kids? Does he raise them to be a kinder person than he was to me? Are they victims of domestic violence? My guess is he has remained cocky & arrogant who neither raises his kids to be kind nor mean. I sincerely hope that he has put his bullying days to the side and become a better person. More often than not people like him never see the harm they cause their victims so why would they stop?
Of course none of my bullies knew what kind of torment I was facing at home. What would I have said? “Hey stop being a dick to me and knock it off with the fat jokes! It’s bad enough that my step dad makes me run in front of his car to motivate me to lose weight.” No, those words couldn’t come out. I didn’t want to be weak; I had to be as strong as their alpha male egos. Perhaps if they had known they would have shown me some kindness. I will never know what could have been but I do know that they made an already miserable point in my life reach a very dark low.
We don’t know what is going on with other people. It’s never okay to bully anyone. I’ve never studied it but I’m sure victims of domestic violence often have a similar story as mine where they also had to fight off bullies. As domestic violence victims we are just looking for a small amount of control something as simple as a seat maybe the strength we needed to hold on to our sanity that day. After a 3am beating retaining your seat on the bus feels more important then watching what little bit of self respect you have left dissipate. You never know what someone is battling at home, treat each other with kindness and don’t let something so simple escalate into bullying.
If you or someone you know needs help please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Sometimes we aren’t strong enough or old enough to fight for ourselves. One person standing up for the victim and making a call could save a life.
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Bullying & Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)