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Bullied: Your stories of bullying and its lasting effects

We asked and you told us. Here are your stories about how the pain of childhood bullying can live on.

Christina Finn

A number of tragic incidents in Ireland over the past number of months has pushed the subject of bullying into the headlines. This week (4 – 10 March) the ISPCC is running Anti-Bullying Awareness Week to highlight the issue of bullying and discuss solutions to the problem from the point of view of children, parents, teachers and bystanders.

We asked you to tell us your experiences and we were inundated with responses. Here are your experiences, in your words, of bullying and how its affects live on.

John

I am 32-years-old and I was a victim of bullying from about the age of nine until almost my last day of secondary school. While primary school was manageable, for almost five years one girl made my life in secondary school hell. I just hated school and wondered every day what she would do. While mine was not cyber-bullying, it has the same affect. I wanted to write this, not to moan about what happened, but to educate people about the effects of bullying and how it shapes your life as child or teenager, never leaves you and I can say that for sure at 32 years of age. There are things from that time that you take with you forever, both good and bad. Luckily for me it made me tougher and I am now a determined successful person, but the self-esteem issue never leaves you and pops up every now and then, especially when you visit home and see the bully or when you come across a person with those same traits in your adult life.

Shapes life experiences

What I want to say to people who are bullies is, you have no idea what you are doing to a person and how you are playing a hand in shaping their life and personal experiences. And to the victims, all I have to say is, and I know this for sure now as an adult, the bully is jealous of you. You have something, whether it is a great mind, a great personality, a great family or a great smile, you have something that makes them feel inadequate. You probably don’t believe me now, just as I did not believe my mother at 15, but it’s the truth. There needs to be education in schools on this matter immediately.

Mary

I was the victim of severe psychological bullying in primary school. The school, after catching the guilty party in the act, did not punish the person, but took the view that the bully needed more help than the victim and started to reward her. By the time I arrived at secondary school, the damage had been done, and my teenage years passed in a haze of self-harm and anorexia. Nobody helped, and my college years were a train-wreck. A sitting target for a certain kind of man, at the age of nineteen I fell in love with a controlling and misogynistic college tutor, who convinced me to leave university. By the time I was twenty-two, the relationship ended. And I found myself in a psychiatric unit.

Lose trust
I am harder now. I made a vow that nobody would ever hurt me again. I returned to college, with a new boyfriend who it has taken me over three years to learn to love. Where others are concerned, I guard myself carefully and have learnt how to manipulate people so that I can never be hurt again. My arms and legs are heavily scarred and I take a small cocktail of psychiatric drugs every day so I can’t drink. I have lost my youth, and I will never get it back.

(Image via Shutterstock/Lesley Rigg)

Lisa

I was verbally bullied in school as a child - Fatty, Fatso, Chubby, Greedy, Chubby Checker, Pink Elephant and Fat Heap of S***. From the age of nine, I heard these names without respite. Break times were the worst – I often hid in the toilets to avoid the taunts. I’ll never forget the shame, humiliation and isolation – all I desperately wanted was to fit in.

Apart from being angry at those who did this (what was so wrong with me?) I am angry at myself, for not having had the tools to stand up for myself, for not confiding in people who could have helped, for not being someone else.  I am angry at my teachers, for not noticing or not bothering to do anything. I am angry at my parents, for not picking up on the signals of my sadness.

Paul

Watching the Bullyproof documentary on RTE  brought so many painful memories back.  I was bullied severely at school to the point that I had zero friends. It started when I was ten years old and carried on straight through to sixth year in secondary school. My parents knew but never knew how bad it was, this was between 1991- 1998, when bullying was seen as a rite of passage, something everyone must go through. From the minute I got on the bus in the morning until I was pushed off in the evening, the incessant bullying just chipped, chipped and chipped away at my confidence and what should have been great years of my life.

Taunting everyday

I wasn’t allowed sit on the bus, everyone, (and I mean EVERYONE) was being controlled by seven lads bullying me, they wouldn’t allow anyone share their seat with me or else they’d get a trashing as well, I would have to stand while they threw stuff at me such as lit cigarette butts, sandwiches, apple cores and they also spat on me and thumped me as they passed me getting off bus. Sometimes my jacket would be covered from people spitting on my back as they passed me. School itself was as bad and in class I had to sit alone and if I had to take part in anything with the desk behind me for group work the two guys would repeatedly say ‘we hate you, everyone hates you, your family hate you, why don’t you just die’ over and over again.

I tried ending it all several times taking tablets and loads of alcohol and cutting myself. The first time was in first year, after a guy in the bus had flicked a lit cigarette in my eye and the whole bus was cheering and clapping as I was crying in agony and still no one helped not even the bus driver.

Damaging

Horrendous is a mild word but the damage it has done to me in every aspect of my life since then is astonishing. I suffered severe anxiety attacks for years in college where there was no bullying, but my body was hard-wired to expect it. I find it impossible to trust anyone and found it very difficult to make lasting friendships, until the last few years. When you see how bad people can treat you, why the hell would you make any effort with anyone?

My life is great now – I have a job that I adore and fantastic friends, but not a scrap of confidence once you scratch beneath the surface. I can give a presentation to 100 people but don’t ask me sit in a canteen or a bus as I would feel physically sick. No one can ever understand the power of the mental torment that sick twisted bullies inflict on innocent victims, that have become victims, more often than not, through no fault of their own.

(Image via Shutterstock/O Driscoll Imaging)

Mike

I cracked up in the end and if I’m honest, the anxiety, fear and depression hasn’t left me. I’m 30 now and would say that I have done well enough in life but the bullying has stopped me from doing a lot of things because I have so little confidence. I ended up stopping the bullies by myself but it ruined two years of my life. At least I still have a life though. Others do not.

Joy

Yes I was bullied, I am now 42 and still live with the scars every day. I tried to take my life, maybe as a cry for help, but even then it never helped. Everything in you wanted to scream help but you could never speak. Why? Because you believed the bullies who said what they said and you felt you would never be believed. It’s hard to tell this story but if it stops one more young person dying needlessly I will tell my story.

(Image via Shutterstock/O Driscoll Imaging)

Karl

I was bullied from about third class right through to sixth year. In primary school it was more name calling than anything else. In sixth class it stopped as the bullies had moved on to secondary school and I came out of my shell. I was confident and I felt liked, school was finally a place I wanted to be. It didn’t take long for that feeling to fade away once I started secondary school. I was singled out pretty much straight away. This time it was physical as well as verbal. Every so often I’d be dragged around by the scruff of my neck, my jumper pulled over my head and school bag emptied. My hair, my glasses, my teeth, my school bag, my walk, I could do nothing right. Did it end when the school bell went? No. The main culprit was on my bus home. When he left in sixth year I thought I was free again, but it seemed the torch was passed to people in my class. It was in transition year year I was considered suicide and one day when I went on the mitch with a neighbour, my friends thought I actually did it. I could never go through with it. The emotional scars have faded away mostly and my confidence is still growing slowly. I’m nearly 30.

Emma

I’m 29 now, and was bullied from a young age in school, on and off until I was around 17, just before leaving secondary school. It was all verbal, never once was I physically bullied, but even so, it made me incredibly shy and reserved and left me withvery low self esteem, which I still am trying to overcome. I never told anyone. I was sure it would make things worse. I just waited it out, for all those years. I held an awful hatred for my bullies, and still do today, to some extent. Thankfully, I don’t have that problem any more, but I can’t bear to hear of, or see anyone being bullied, as I know how it can make you feel.

All names have been changed for anonymity reasons.

If you have been effected by any of the issues mentioned and would like to talk to someone please call Console on the service’s 24-hour helpline at freephone 1800 201 890. People can also access the charity’s services by texting ‘HELP’ to 51444, or at its website: www.console.ie. The charity has full-time centres in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Wexford, and also offers services in other counties. Its services are open to people of any age.

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