Graduation was bittersweet. Although I was happy to graduate high school, I was sad because I would miss my classmates and teachers from Roseburg High. I felt that it ended too soon.
My first five years post-graduation was full of ups and downs. I struggled with bouts of depression and didn’t know why. I was on the rollercoaster again and desperately wanted to get off but didn’t know how.
I lived, and I worked. I was a mother of two small children but only going through the motions and surviving- existing. It felt as if I was living on autopilot. But then, something amazing happened!
In 1995, I came across a magazine article while on my lunch break at work. The article was about a kid severely bullied at school. Like me, his bullies had tormented him so horrifically that he thought about suicide and eventually transferred to another school. Also, like me, his life changed for the better. He, too, had made a complete turnaround and finally gotten the chance to experience the friends, fun, and excitement that high school was supposed to be.
Reading this article was a turning point for me, and finding it was one of the best things that happened. This piece in the magazine answered so many questions and confirmed that none of the abuse I’d suffered at my classmates’ hands was my fault. The article was also validation that there was never anything wrong with me. It only cemented the truth I’d always known deep down inside- I wasn’t to blame for their abuse.
They were the perpetrators.
They had the issues.
I was being held responsible for problems that were theirs, not mine.
With this confirmation came my empowerment!
During those years, many people, including a few well-meaning family members, had often told me that the bullying I suffered was all in my imagination or wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be. Many more had said to me that I brought it all on myself. Deep down, I knew better.
In my heart, I had known the truth years before I found this article and held on to it. Maybe this personal knowledge was why I resisted my bullies and fought back, even if it meant getting hurt. And perhaps it was why I suffered so many physical assaults. Nevertheless, I needed confirmation- a second opinion of sorts, and the article was exactly what I needed.
At that moment, everything fit together like a perfect puzzle! I cannot express the relief I felt. It was as if the article had lifted an enormous weight off my shoulders. My heart began to soar!
For the first time, I was able to see the bullying for what it was- abuse!
I began to thirst for even more knowledge of bullying and the human predator/prey dynamic. From then on, I read everything I could get my hands on- magazine articles, essays, books, online articles, everything that pertained to bullying and peer abuse.
There were so many unanswered questions:
“What was it about me that made me a target?”
“How had my bullies been allowed to get away with their brutality?”
“What was it about my bullies that made them so charming and good to everyone else?”
“What were the ingredients to their charm and allure?”
“Where had their intense hate, mean-spiritedness, and sadistic natures come from? What had precipitated it?”
“Had they too been abused, or were they just spoiled, coddled narcissists infected with schadenfreude?”
So many questions haunted me and increased my curiosity. So, I continued digging for information, like a police detective eager to solve a case.
During the late nineties, I came across Tim Field’s BullyOnline.org and hungrily read every one of his articles. The website was massive, and it took a while to read. I went through it with a fine-toothed comb. If I had questions, I emailed Tim, and he would always reply in a timely and courteous manner.
Sadly, Mr. Field is no longer with us. He passed away from cancer years ago.
It’s been 25 years since I found the article that changed my life, and I cannot tell you how many sources of information I’ve poured through. I can’t measure the truckloads of knowledge attained and how much just the knowing has empowered me.
Between experience and two and a half decades of reading, research, and study, I’ve gained insights that have empowered me even more. That article back in 1995 set me on a path to greater knowledge and a passion for helping other bullying targets through writing and advocacy.
I’ve found what I love to do, and it is so rewarding!
I thank God for placing that article in front of me that day at work. Otherwise, I might still be wandering in the dark and trying to find my way.
That magazine article truly changed my outlook on the bullying I suffered. I no longer see it as something that ruined my life. No.
I see the bullying as an event that gave me a fiery passion for speaking out about my own experiences and sharing the knowledge I’ve gained to help people who endure bullying today. It showed me my life’s work and, through that, gave me eventual confidence and happiness.
I do not need to hate my bullies, nor to take revenge. Turning abuse around to the benefit of others is how I turn victimization into power! And that, my friends, is the best revenge a person can ever take!
If you’re a target of bullying, know this:
What’s happening to you is wrong and it isn’t your fault. You never asked to be brutalized, you do matter, and you are enough!