Overcoming the Lasting Effects of Bullying.

I’ve been doing some research on the long-term effects of bullying. This is a subject the I have obsessed about for years. You see, I was the subject of bullying for years. As long as I can remember, I’ve lived with the fear of being singled out and persecuted for reasons I had no control over. I was an early “bloomer”. I started developing in the fourth grade. Add in blonde hair, blue eyes, and a shy demeanor, you have a girl walking around with a big bullseye on her back. It was toward the end of sixth grade when I started noticing boys “noticing” me. Asking me to dance at the school dance was the extent of it, but that’s when the rumors started. This shy girl who felt like Cinderella at the ball when a popular guy asked her to dance had no idea what was about to happen. That the next three years would be a living nightmare. For whatever reason, I was labeled a slut and a tease. Really? I was extremely immature sexually at that time. Basically had NO idea what was going on with myself let alone anyone else, and to be labeled like that was heartbreaking. I was threatened on a daily basis. Riding the bus was a nightmare. One instance that I can remember, I was sitting in the front of the bus and three or four girls were behind me. The insults ranged from my shaggy hair, my old clothes, to my perfume. I just kept my head down, each word a dagger in my heart when a crumple piece of paper fell into my lap. It was a photo I’d given to a relative. They had drawn and wrote derogatory comments all over it. As they got off the bus laughing one turned and said “Just wait until you get into High School. We’ll be waiting for you.” I would walk down the grocery store aisle, they would follow whispering all the things that they were going to do. I only had one friend this entire time and even she chose to cave into the bullying and betray me. See, it was easier to do that than be bullied herself. By the end of the eighth grade, I was petrified. I made myself sick trying to figure out what to do. I finally convinced my mother to let me change schools. It was the only solution I could come up with. Since the school was just in the next town, I still had to deal with some “stuff” but it was minimal. But the damage was done. I never really had a best friend again. I kept to myself and tried to blend into the crowd as much as I could. I never wanted to speak up in class and became frozen in fear if called on. When  I started hearing about all the focus that bullying was getting, I began to wonder what the long-term effects would be. I found several wonderful articles that help explain the repercussion of BEING bullied.

“Defining Bullying Down” is a NYTimes article written by Emil Bazelon. In it she states “Bullying is a particular form of harmful aggression, linked to real psychological damage, both short and long-term.” She also states in it that adults need to become more educated in the different types of bullying so they can be supportive.

“10 Indications That Your Child is Being Bullied” by Anna Fleet is an eye-opening look at what bullying really looks like. ( I had 5 of the 10)

Bullying Statistics.org has various articles on different types of bullying and the lasting effects. I particularly liked the one on female bullying.

The Huffington Post article “Long-term effects of Bullying Pain Lasts into Adulthood.” by Stephanie Pappas

One of the most informative articles I found was at the American Academy of Traumatic Stress. “Long-term Effects of Bullying.” by Mark Domburg Ph.D. Dr. Domburg states that “Bullying is an attempt to instill fear and self loathing. Being the repetitive target of bullying damages your ability to view yourself as a desirable, capable, effective individual.” He also states that ” Identity is a social process. Other people contribute to it.”

Wow.. I never realized the things that I am experiencing now could have stemmed from hurtful events so long ago. Funny thing is, there are still certain people from my past who still hold grudges. They still say hurtful things if I am mentioned in conversation, even 30+ years later!! Funny, I wonder if they even remember why they started hating me so much? Maybe they can enlighten me since I never knew why in the first place.