2013.01.09-blog

internet-hate, part 3: “bully”, a story by anthony.

hola wonderful comrades.

thank you for continuing to be amazing, godAAAMN it’s been beautiful to watch this shit blow up.

spurred on by the many stories here, i wanted to share something a little risky.

it’s a story called “bully” from anthony (yes, my friend-with-cancer anthony)’s book.
since this conversation about bullying started, i’ve been thinking about this particular piece.
a lot of you loved the video i posted of him reading “swamp” when i announced my tour cancellation. and i know a handful of you have since read his book and loved it. i know because you’ve been telling me (and you’ve been telling anthony, via his facebook). i’m very grateful.

this one is risky because…well, you’ll read. i don’t really agree with it, on some levels. but it’ll no doubt provoke some conversation.

anthony and i are different. i was born in 1976. he was born in 1948. different upbringing. different points of view.
he is my mentor, and yet, when he sent me this story, it rattled me. i consider myself a full-on pacifist. i don’t hit back.

but – honestly – i don’t get hit very often. never, in fact. i’ve never had people actually beat me up (he has), didn’t grow up abused (he did) and i’ve never, honestly, been in a real fist-fight in my adult life. if i had, maybe i’d feel differently. i’d like to think i wouldn’t, but i don’t ever want to know.

i remember when he first emailed me this story. he’d just written it…it was right after the death of phoebe prince, the teenage daughter of irish immigrants who’d taken her own life after being bullied mercilessly at school. this was right down the street from us, relatively, in massachusetts. i remember talking to him on the phone…he related the whole news story to me, i must have been on tour somewhere far away. i remember crying. we related to that girl. we’d both been bullied, we knew what it was like to be the weird kid.

this is phoebe prince.

from wiki:
“Having recently moved to the U.S. from Ireland, Prince was taunted and bullied for several months by at least two groups of students at South Hadley High School, reportedly because of disputes with other girls over her brief relationships with their boyfriends, a senior high school football player and another male student. Her aunt allegedly warned school officials in August 2009, prior to Prince’s enrollment at the school, to watch after Prince, as she was “susceptible” to bullying. Moore told the school that Prince was both bullied and a participant in bullying others in Ireland.
On January 14, 2010, after a day of harassment and taunting, followed by a final incident in which a student threw a can at her from a passing car as she walked home from school, Prince committed suicide by hanging herself in the stairwell leading to the second floor of the family apartment. Her body was discovered by her 12-year-old sister. After her death, many crude comments about her were posted on her Facebook memorial page, most of which were removed. Her parents chose to have Prince buried in Ireland.”

putting this story out there also risky because…well, because he’s my (say it loud!!) FRIEND WITH CANCER. everyone always reads and responds differently to people – and their work – when they’re in morbid territory.

i’d like you to form your own opinion regardless of the fact that (say it loud!!) HE HAS CANCER. have i mentioned HE HAS CANCER? hooray for cancer. ok, now that that’s out of the way. trust me: anthony will give no shit if you agree or disagree with his feelings.

all he’ll probably care about is that you’re….feeling anything at all.

which is exactly why i love him so much.

so, without further ado….


Bully

I was appalled and saddened by the events in South Hadley, Massachusetts in 2010.  Fifteen-year-old Phoebe Prince had been so tormented by a group of girls that she eventually hanged herself in the school clothes she’d been wearing on the last day in hell, unable to bear that cross any longer.  She chose no life at all over the one she was living.  Her body was found hanging at home, in a stairwell, by her twelve-year-old sister.  Phoebe’s family had been to the school a number of times to complain, to no avail.  On the final day, the group of girls followed Phoebe, verbally abusing and threatening her in the school hallways as they had been for months, as well as in the library, classrooms, lunchroom and bathrooms, and finally, once again, on the street, on the way home, calling her “Irish Slut” and “Irish Whore” while pelting her with open soda cans from a passing car.  The scene is ferociously cruel.  Her family, in this country for less than a year, went through the appropriate channels at the school, and for their efforts they got a box with their child inside.  Many vicious comments were posted on the Facebook memorial page her family set up following her death and it had to be taken down.

They decided to bury her in Ireland, wanting, I imagine, to surround her in soil which still had some heart left in it. There have always been people who threaten and bully others, and if you think about it, you realize they will always be with us.  And, if you look closely, you see that sometimes, we are they.  Phoebe Prince did not have the benefit of my father.  Neither did her tormentors.  I got pushed around, and terribly frightened by a giant in the sixth grade.  I was ten years old, a year younger than the other kids in my class at the Lincoln School.  The giant was called Stossel.  (I don’t know if that was his last name, or if he was called that because it sounded big, like “Colossal.”)  He was thirteen and was reported to be six feet tall and 200 pounds.  He had a stack of blond hair atop his mammoth head and a vast chest.  To me, he was a walking Alp. Stossel himself was probably a good kid who had been warped by hormones gone wrong, then emotionally twisted from the burden of being viewed as a freak by both children and adults.  He was likely full of rage, and so took it out on the most vulnerable of his peers.  I was the smallest in the class as well as the youngest, and to see us side by side must have created a fairy tale picture of giant and dwarf. This Colossus, this thirteen-year-old mountain (who was also considered to be a mental midget for being thirteen in the sixth grade), beat me like a drum one Friday afternoon, and dragged me through the woods, to the Old Reservoir, where I thought for sure he’d kill me and leave my body floating for the police and my parents to find on Saturday morning.  I survived the ordeal, but waited fretfully till Sunday night, after Disney, before telling my parents what had happened to bring me home so dirty and skittish on Friday afternoon.  I only brought it up then because I was scared to go back to school the next day. Had the mauling I endured occurred today, it would have eventually involved a committee, therapists, and conferences between concerned parents, teachers, lawyers and law enforcement officials.  It would have included medications and diagnoses for the involved parties, as well as neighborhood conversation spanning the remainder of the school year.

That Sunday night, twitching in my pajamas, I told my father how Stossel had manhandled me; my mother was listening from the kitchen where she was making popcorn and hot chocolate.  The specifics were that he got me into the woods behind the school and dragged me around by the collar of my jacket towards the Old Res, and when I tried to escape or fight back, he’d punch me in the head with the same hand he was using to drag me.  This should give you some idea of how strong he was, and how utterly grim the situation was for me.  As my tale unfolded, I could see that my father was getting more and more disturbed, because when he was in such a mood he’d fold his tongue in half and bite it so the thick center of it was protruding between his teeth.  As he listened, tongue on display, he nodded his head in sympathetic understanding.

My parents were both upset, and when I finished, my father paused for a second, released his tongue and said, “GET A BAT!  J’a hear me?  GET A BAT!”

“JOE-OH,” my mother squealed in disbelief from behind the stovetop.

“Never mind,” he snapped at her, then turned back to me and said, “Take a bat to school tomorrow and hide it in the yard, then later you stand near a corner of the building and call him over.  When he comes around the corner, swing the bat as hard as you can right for his head.  You understand me?” I stood frozen in the face of this prescription.

“JOE-OH,” my mother shrieked, “I could croak that kid myself, but you can’t tell Sonny to do that.  What are you crazy?” Never mind crazy.  What?  You want to fight his battles for him?  You want him to be a mark all his life?  He’s gotta do it!” At this point, I was shaken by everything: the experience of Friday afternoon itself still reverberating in my mind, having to tell my parents, the argument it was causing between them; but mostly, I was rocked by the anxiety, fear and thrill of getting revenge on Stossel.  Even with my pajamas clinging cold against my damp flesh, I knew, in the very moment of my father’s proclamation, that I would do it.  I knew that with my father’s guidance and permission, I was like my hero, Bond, James Bond.  I had a license to kill.  My father and I went to the garage to choose the weapon.  Within minutes my mother was totally on board with the plan.  How could I lose?  Clearly, I had been raised by wolves and here was one of the great benefits of being in the pack.  My father determined that the best tool for the job was one which he referred to as a “fungo” bat.  He said it would be easier for me to handle and would do just as much damage.  He reviewed the plan with me a number of times before bed, quizzing me on exactly what to do when the deal went down.  I was to get to school a few minutes early and hide the bat at the rear corner of the building facing the huge schoolyard.  At recess I was to spot Stossel and call him over to me while peering around the corner with the bat behind my back.  When he rounded the building I was to have it cocked to unload at his face, which I wondered if I could even reach.  My father assured me that landing on his collarbone or neck would be good enough.  He made me swing with an upward arc a number of times gauging the relative height of Stossel’s head with the ideal impact point being at the end of the bat.  I didn’t sleep much that night. In the morning the plan was activated.  After an especially hearty breakfast, which I only dabbled with, and an anxious look from my mother while she touched my cheek, my father drove me to school.  On the way there, he squeezed the top of my head a couple of times and said, “Don’t worry.”  Once we got there, he looked me in the eye and said, “Get him,” like he was talking to a Doberman.  I left the car, books and bat in hand, and my father watched till I disappeared around the building where I’d planned to hide Exhibit A. I was a distracted, mumbling hunchback for the morning classes.  Not that this was so unusual for me, but today I had been conversing with more than the typical demons.  My insides were churning with anxious fear.  I was no longer thrilled with the prospect of revenge, nor was I as convinced that dad’s sanction to carry out the act would be as indemnifying as a 007 license to kill.  Faced with the actual mission, I did not feel like James Bond.  No lucky number 7.  At this point I only felt like the double zero.  I felt alone, inept and afraid.  Afraid to do it and afraid to tell my father I didn’t. The school day was a nervous blur until lunch, the thought of which made me gag.  Then, recess.  What had been a welcome break from the miserable drudgery of school had, on this day, become a zombie trek toward the killing fields.  Whose head would roll, I did not know.  But I knew something was about to change. I walked, with my feet in a syrup of fear, to the corner of the school where the bat was hidden, and when I saw it was still there I felt nauseous.  Facing the wall, I took hold of it and stood there out of view of the playground for a few minutes.  Then, with the weapon in my right hand, I grabbed the corner of the building with my left and peered around until I located Stossel with his pint-sized entourage revolving around him.  Somehow, I rescued courage from the jaws of terror and shouted his name.  He heard me and spun his watermelon-sized head in my direction.  Seeing me, he stood still, with a look on his face which said, “This midget is shouting at me with an attitude?”

Knowing I was in the battle now, I yelled, “Come ‘ere!”

I saw him run in my direction like a mountain with oak trees for legs.  I only had a few seconds, and disappeared behind the building, but before I was completely ready, he came skidding around it.  I swung up at his head in a mighty arc, as instructed, but never quite got my left hand securely on the bat handle.  Nonetheless, it was a fierce threat of a swath I cut.  Stossel reared back, raised his arms to shield himself and somehow saved his face with his massive forearms, just as I turned to run like a lamb from a lion.  I zigged and zagged until I was around the building at the front entrance of the school.  There wasn’t a sign of Stossel behind me.  My heart was pounding to beat the band.  I could feel the blood flowing in my eyes and hear it thudding in my ears.  I didn’t know what would happen next, but I knew that I had done it.  I had swung the bat at his head.  Whatever was going to happen would happen.  I also knew my father had my back, and with that I could bear anything.  I ran into the school building and hung around the administration office until recess ended.  When Stossel saw me in the hall later he said, “You’re dead, asshole.”  One of his miniature friends said, “Yeah.”  I looked at them mute, worried, and witless, and stayed near teachers all the rest of the day, until my ride came to take me home.

My mother was in the kitchen when I arrived, happy that I was uninjured and undrowned.  She was also happy that she hadn’t gotten a call from the school about a murder.  She asked me what happened and I told her that I had done it.  She was radiant with pride.  My mother, bless her, she was one tough dame.  I was exhausted and quiet until my father came home and when he heard the story said, “Good.  Atta boy.”  I was afraid to go to school the next day but my father assured me, “He’s not going to do anything.  If he was, he’d a gotten you right away.  He knows you could get him eventually with that bat.  Watch what I tell you.”

I was totally unpersuaded.  My father didn’t know Stossel, he didn’t know how vulnerable I was, how afraid.  He didn’t know my little life really.  But, as it turned out, he knew the world, and he knew that kid would never touch me again.  Stossel was too proud to go to the teachers or tell his parents that some little kid tried to smash his face in, and stupid as he was, he was too smart to mess with a maniac.  I only had a couple more months at the Lincoln School before I transferred to St. Sebastian’s Country Day School in Newton for the seventh grade.  The entire lesson didn’t take at that time, but I learned something about life and bullies after that day.  I learned you have to stand up.  Had Phoebe Prince been my sister, my father would have equipped her with a small canister of pepper spray.  He would have had her go to school and find a good moment to spray one of the girls in the face who had been tormenting her, kick her once in the stomach, while she lay on the ground screaming about her burning eyes, then leave the scene calmly and quietly.  She would be told to keep the weapon at hand in case the girl, or any of her posse, were stupid enough to try something funny again.  Had they, she would have been instructed to repeat the scenario with each of her tormentors.  Phoebe would have felt empowered.  She would have been respected, or at least feared.  She would likely have been arrested and expelled and she would be alive.  In the bargain, the mean girls would have learned the valuable lesson that it’s neither right, nor safe, to fuck with anybody that way. This story is about old-school methods.  By many standards it’s not right, and might be seen as more of the same, solving nothing.  It might even be seen as the recommendation of an irresponsible father, perhaps an abuse victim himself in denial about what happened to him.  It would be seen as illegal, unconscionable, and a sign of dysfunction.  But there are some, and I almost hate to admit that I am one, who think . . . YES!  Good old righteous revenge. Though I know full well that compassion, care, non-violence and peace are the better ways, I also know that if Phoebe were my girl, I’d want to make her oppressors learn a life lesson, one that cannot be mitigated by lawyers, media or money.  If suffering happened to be a part of that lesson, so be it.  I wish I could have been there with her, for her.  I wish she could have known that I had her back.  But this is the best I can manage for her now. My advice to the bullied: Learn to relax in the face of stupidity, fear, jealousy and anger; there will be ample opportunities for practice.  Learn to listen to those whose opinions you deem ridiculous.  They really do feel what they say they feel.  Do not participate in stupid, aggressive activities.  Learn to view the fire and ice being spewed at you as signs of pain.  And try to remember what that famous Jewish peasant said of those who were executing him, “Forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing,” while his bullies sold his clothes as he hung there dying. Implement these things, and, while you’re at it, learn martial arts, take boxing lessons, carry pepper spray or,

GET A BAT!


the whole collection of stories, “lunatic heroes”, is HERE on amazon. and yes, there are other ways to get it, some of which are listed in my big anthony-blog from a few months back (HERE). the ISBN is 9780988230002 if you want to try and order it to your local independent bookstore.

and for those who’ve been asking and caring….he’s doing really well, as well as he can be doing. me, his wife laura, and our circle of friends have been chauffeuring him to and fro the hospital three times a week. he’s on infusion/treatment #23 on 36 today and dizzy all the time, but the doctors say he’s having the best reaction possible to the chemicals that are washing out the leukemia. on friday he gets a spinal tap to see if the leukemia has spread to his spinal cord and brain.

for everyone who’s been keeping him in your prayers, you’re in mine.

as i left anthony at the hospital on monday afternoon, i yelled “GET A BOOK” at him.
that’s my new answer to threats of violence.

i will hit people, but only with heavy tomes of literature.

he laughed.

LOVE,
afp
porter square bookstore, cambridge, MA.

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  • http://twitter.com/asavagejourney Emily Bergmann

    the things that you are doing make me want to stand up and DO SOMETHING, even though I am luckily no longer in the bullying or bullied position. thank you for reminding me that the darkness still exists even though i’m in a lighter place. THANK YOU FOR OPENING THE CURTAINS. trolls turn to stone once they are hit by sunlight. they may not be stone yet, but we are slowing them in their tracks.

  • watchmeboogie

    I related a lot to that story. I was abused (physically as well as emotionally and mentally) and was also beat up at and after school. Only once did I hit back physically (I told the story in the Pt. 1 comments) and even though it didn’t solve my pain, it did solve that particular situation – and more importantly, I felt incredibly empowered. It was just the once, though.

  • MrsArkban

    Huh. I consider myself generally a pacifist. I’m also female, 5″3 and 89 pounds. I have an 18 month old son. I was bullied in school, enough to make me relatively unhappy and leave a lasting impression. I was really smart and had a mouth to match, so I wasn’t completely defenseless, plus they knew if they pushed me too far, I wouldn’t help with homework. Never any physical violence. But, my child is a boy. The stories my husband has told me about what boys do to each other terrifies me. Utterly terrifies me. I plan to get my son in martial arts as soon as he’s old enough, so he will hopefully be able to defend himself. In my husband’s childhood, if a kid picked on you, the fathers sorted it out, but these days I have no idea how that would work. I don’t want anyone to hurt my son. I don’t want him to hurt other kids either. I’d happily keep him home for the rest of his life if I could.

  • @msfwebdude

    ““Nonviolence” does not merely mean to refrain
    from violence. Violence erupts when one person blames another for a
    problem or conflict. Conversely, nonviolence is a way of life in which
    one resolves, “Let me be the one to change first.” If this spirit were
    to be embraced, how much more at peace would our families and society
    itself be.”
    -Daisaku Ikeda

    That’s my mentor :)

  • http://twitter.com/lovefortified Riley Johnson

    Love to you and Anthony. Like you, I haven’t been actually hit (consensual “fight club” notwithstanding) and I’m the sort of guy who moves spiders outdoors rather than kill them. But I like Anthony’s work – like “Swamp,” it’s equal parts vibrant and unsettling. I doubt I could take a bat or pepper spray to someone, but I could and would throw any number of great books at a would-be assailant – though only hardcovers, the paperbacks might get damaged.

  • http://twitter.com/lastwordy lastwordy

    When I was a teenager, I wanted the respect of my peers. As the weird girl, I didn’t get it. So I learned to work with fear instead. It wasn’t the same, but it kept me from getting beaten up, and eventually it protected my friends as well. Letting them be afraid of me — encouraging it from time to time — made it possible to get through every fucked-up day until I left. Sometime, you work with what you’ve got, whether it’s a baseball bat or a reputation.

  • http://twitter.com/Rachellie242 Rachellie242

    Wow. That was intense. Thanks for sharing. Maybe I am biased, but this seems to be something of a Massachusetts story, in that the logic of standing up for yourself or get eaten alive. I abide by his philosophy of embodying some kind of defensive bat, while bombing around Mass. as a driver/ on a bike/ as a pedestrian/ on the bus or train, and learned long ago my polite Midwestern upbringing got me chumped & how–you really do have to stand up for yourself here & it’s a ballsy tough way to be. It translates well in NYC! Ultimately, I don’t know the right answer to bullying, and went through domestic violence in my own home growing up, so I go w/ disengagement usually (oh disassociation you old friend!) Massachusetts can make ppl moxie beasts sometimes, as intolerant of fools as the saltiest & crustiest of them- this story so perfectly embodies that. But of course, I’m a pacifist too & studied Aikido, so I’ll just take the negative energy & twist its flow elsewhere :DD Thanks for the story, Anthony! Many blessings…

  • deeza13666

    Sometimes you do have to stand up for yourself. If I hadn’t I would probably still be with my abusive ex husband and possibly dead. I don’t really agree with violence but sometimes if you back down and don’t fight for yourself things can often become worse and you can be treated as a door mat for the rest of your life. Mental abuse stays with you forever. Cuts, bruises and black eyes heal and fade.

    • watchmeboogie

      This. I feel like while complete pacifism is a noble ideal, it is not the ideal solution for every single situation in life. There are times when you actually do have to fight with fists instead of words.

    • Pogley

      Yes! There’s nothing wrong with defending yourself if you’re in danger. And in many of these bullying stories, the victims were in danger.

  • RMGilby

    After being bullied by neighborhood kids, my mother brought me into the laundry room and taught me to say ‘Fuck you, Jimmy.’ She said it was a way to fight back, even if he couldn’t hear it under my breath.
    I can see the appeal of a bat or a book, but I’ll stick to my words.

  • Morticia

    Oh, ‘A tale of two cities’! I have read that a while ago. It’s awesome although it was partly difficult for me to read it as a non native speaker. Yes ‘Get a book!’ as books feed your head. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/pelle.kuipers Pelle Kuipers

    I was always the one being picked on at primary school. I was weak, thin, tall, had no friends and wore glasses, which are more than enough reasons for bullies to pick me as their target.

    I think I was ten years old, when a so called friend of mine kept on picking on me. I had a teacher who was a very nice woman, but she would look the other way when something happened to me. I didn’t feel particularly happy being bullied. I never told anyone my parents about the bullying, although I did run away from school a few times. My dad was mad at the principle because they didn’t even search for me.

    In the end I couldn’t take the bullying anymore and I just went crazy. I can’t remember what happened, all I knew was that I directed all my anger unto one bully, and hit him as hard as I could. No one had ever used fists before, they taunted me but they only used words. I think it really scared them to see that I wasn’t as weak as they thought. In the end the bully stopped bullying me, and I never talked to him again :-).

    So yeah, violence does help sometimes, but it only helps when you’re at a certain age. If you’re older they might get you back and then it’s 8 on 1, and you’re not going home with just a few scratches.

  • http://twitter.com/Tonebutch Toni Palmer

    I have often considered the past and wish I would’ve really fought back. Sometimes I felt I didn’t have the right to fight back. After all, what they were saying was true; I was/am fat, I did have (still have) crooked teeth. I should fight back when what they are saying is true and all I’m hearing is the negative about myself? I questioned if I was worth fighting for. I had NO self-esteem at all. I imagined/fantasized about punching a particular tormentor in the face. Finally fucking punching the piece of shit to shut him up. I felt I’d be the one in trouble. If I punched him for calling me fat, I thought, the school would say “well you are” and then I’d be in trouble, while he laughed. I never effectively stood up for myself. That lack of self-esteem (while improved now) has affected the rest of my life negatively.

    I’m not saying I encourage violence, just relaying my own childhood/teen frustration. I don’t know if punching this particular guy (cuz there were more to take his place) would’ve done anything to help, But I just wish I wouldn’t felt empowered and supported to do SOMETHING. I wish that the adults who sometimes witnessed some of this abuse, would’ve stepped up and fucking Helped!

    • http://twitter.com/Tonebutch Toni Palmer

      Let me add something more: I will help other I feel are being bullied/abused. I now want to be the person that Did help.

  • http://twitter.com/QefatHethert Hope Tway

    I’ve taken martial arts, and was bullied horribly, but I’ve only hit anyone twice in my life. But I don’t regret either time. Both times were boys trying to grope me. The first one was brazenly in the school hall, with teachers watching. I put his dumb ass on the ground and was nearly suspended for it (he didn’t get in the least bit of trouble, for sexually assaulting someone. Yay baptist school, boys will be boys). The major upshot was I got to threaten the school with lawyers and media attention, so I wasn’t suspended, and I was never touched again, AND the teasing took a huge step back. No one made fun of my “cow udders” (I’m big busted) ever again.

    Second was in a club, some random asshole tried to put his hand up my skirt. He got a black eye and teasing from his friends.

    I actually thought about this when you posted the Steubenville blog, which broke my heart into so many little pieces. My situations were admittedly different, vastly so, but I kept thinking, you know, what if she had training, and wasn’t so incapacitated? What if I DIDN’T have the training and sand in my craw enough to fight back? What might have happened TO ME if I didn’t hit, scream, shout, and make sure those skeezy motherfuckers didn’t leave me the hell alone? I can’t be pacifist, or understanding that “he is me” when some shithead is trying to have his way with my body. I will end a motherfucker.

    Words hurt, and I know that too, most of my bullying has been from mean girls teasing me about my weight, my bookishness, anything else they found wrong that day. There were times I wanted to beat the daylights out of them, I’ll admit it. I didn’t though, and sometimes just hurled some $10 words at them until they were too confused to answer. Most of the time, I crawled into somewhere dark and cried. I’m actually hurt more, to this day, by those girls and their words. And I don’t have a real answer for that. I want to get on board with Anthony and get physical, but part of me says that’s inappropriate. Yet, I could have. Honestly. But for what it’s worth, my fists have only flown to protect my physical person, and I fully believe that was right.

  • http://twitter.com/ZJSimon Zachary Simon

    I’m not sure if I hate bullies or pacifist more, but I love that you shared this.

  • Thomas Marsden

    This certainly isn’t an easy place to pick one side of the fence. I believe the parable that violence begets violence, but to hear of the torment that girl suffered when everyone around her would do nothing but watch and ignore makes ME want to put bat to brain. I ran and hid for years from bullies until I found peace and solace in a dojo. Eventually a day came that I looked him in the eye and said ‘no’ in a way that let him know I was done with him. No punches were thrown. No names were called. He and his cronies went away knowing I was no longer prey. I got lucky it never turned violent. And I feel sadness that we need violent reactions to push back the violence that confronts us.

  • http://twitter.com/TheReddestRose So Red the Rose

    I love you both so much right now. And again, I find myself crying – in gratitude, for I am still here to read this & share this moment – & mourning, for all that we have collectively endured. Anthony’s story (which was brilliantly written, buying book right now) could have been my own. I fought back against my rapist & all the bullies to follow & survived. I let my beautiful, righteous anger fuel me & keep me alive. And I have burned with it now for 30 years.

    After reading all of the stories this past week I have never been more grateful for that anger or more clear that it saved my fucking LIFE. But through them I have also begun to realize that it must be alchemized into righteous *love* to keep on surviving. Anger can be a weapon, can be a lifeline, can be a poison…too hot to hold on to the fire will eventually consume you. I wonder what it will be to burn with love instead of fury? To react with compassion instead of rage? I long to find out. There are really not enough words to thank all of you for helping me to heal. Just know I love you & have overwhelming gratitude for who you are. I’m so glad you survived with me. <3

  • fenhueisen

    If I hadn’t had my books when I was younger, I don’t know what I would’ve done. They were my escape, my shelter, my friends, my lovers, my confidants when I felt that nothing I had to say was worth listening to.

    About bullies and retaliation, the one time I tried to stand up for myself all it did was get picked on more, so I just tried to fade into the walls of school and shield myself with my tiny group of friends for the next three years. I still have trouble standing up for myself when I feel wronged (15 fucking years later!) but, baby steps, maybe?

    • timberwolf

      yes, books can be great friends! ;) and they tell you a lot about friendship.

      I too find it hard to stand up for myself, even when I know I’m absolutely in the right. Some things you just can’t shake off that easily…

  • Lunggwai

    My dad sounds a little like Anthony’s dad. My dad was a boxer in the Army. He taught me and my brothers that we had a duty to stand up for ourselves, for each other, and for anybody weaker or smaller than us. He also taught us that you never start a fight but you always finish it. So, although I generally believe in passive resistence, asking for help, and wits over fists, I also believe that sometimes you just need to get a fucking bat.

  • plussie galore

    My husband grew up in a home where he was bullied by his asshole step-father. Imagine being 12 and being told by said to shovel the driveway in the middle of January in Minnesota only “hey, shit-fer-brains, you can’t use my shovel because I don’t want you to wreck it.” What was he supposed to do? Use his damn hands? My ever creative husband used a hockey stick. Imagine being taken to family counseling with step-dad and mom and being told by the therapist that you needed to say what was on your mind and be willing to be vulnerable otherwise therapy wouldn’t heal your family and on the car ride home step-dad mocks your feelings and calls you a loser. Imagine Christmastime rolls around and your step-sister shows up and opens 3 times as many presents as you do and waves her new roller skates in your face and says “my dad doesn’t love you but he sure loves me!” Imagine coming home late one night because you can’t bear to see this man and listen to his bullshit yet again and when you walk in the door he throws a drunken punch at you because he’s such a fucking positive addition to society. So you do what you’ve been terrified to do. You do what your 14 year old brain thinks you cannot do. You drop the sonofabitch on the floor with two hits. Step-dad never becomes a decent, loving person but at least after this he leaves you alone. Yeah, for as much as I hate to say it–my husband did the right thing.

    • SarahJane

      Too right he did the right thing!

  • Snaaa

    I often feel like hitting back at the people who have hurt me over the years, and I often have done, but I’m not sure that approach can ever be positive. My Mom learned to be violent from her father, who would beat her mother and brother. She’s nowhere near as bad, but she has taught me to be violent as well. My boyfriend is a very angry, unhappy person, who sees violence as the only answer to most situations (luckily not violence against me). He was taught this by his Dad, who is violent and unhappy because he was surrounded by violent, unhappy people as a child, and the abuse trickles down through the years. I worry that we will pass the violence down to another generation, and I wouldn’t wish the unhappiness that accompanies it on anyone. There must be more constructive ways of dealing with anger than creating more of it. Using violence to protect yourself from violence only exposes you to it in a new way.

  • MsRoss

    while i do not usually believe in violent response i cannot deny the valor in some cases of a little bit of physical retaliation, while for me its not preferable ( i am a MAJOR pacifist) I’ve had to use it before.

    at my school there was a student two years my senior that knew some of my older friends. he saw his connection to them and his seniority over me as a green light to cat call me and grope me whenever he got the chance. he would even go as far as to pick me up (he was a good three feet taller than me and twice my weight) and carry me off kicking and screaming to other locations just to cop a feel “all in the name of good fun”. i told him it wasn’t fun, it was offensive and violating and it upset me alot. he just called me a kill joy. i tried going to my school about it on numerous occasions but he was the son of a woman who worked in the office and they wouldn’t hear of it. he couldn’t possibly be acting like that! i must be making a cry for attention. each time i raised the fact with the school that i was feeling violated and even scared he might try to take his assault to the next level they ejected me from the office essentially telling me that lying is a bad habit and maybe i should take up knitting instead. after about six months of continued harassment i couldn’t take it any more, one day after school he came over to me in front of the school with a sly look on his face. as he approached me i backed onto a bench (for height) and socked him in the jaw screaming “stop groping me you pig!” he got a nosebleed and looked like an idiot, he never bothered me again, from my other older friends i have been told his mother in the office still has no idea i hit him, he was too embarrassed to tell her.

    it was a last resort but i’m glad i used it. the harassment was seriously fucking with me and i needed it to STOP.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danirat Danielle Ryan

    I was taught that you never hit first, but that you are absolutely allowed to hit back.

    Unfortunately, I had a terrible temper in high school and after several weeks of being taunted by one particular girl, I snapped. I punched her in the forehead (she was sitting and I was standing) and then threatened to beat up her boyfriend when he got between us. She punched me over his shoulder and hit me in the jaw. By then adults had arrived and we got pulled apart. While I got suspended and I felt sort of bad about starting a fight, it ended any and all bullying pretty effectively. This was senior year, and for the rest of the year people treated me with a weird sort of respect instead of calling me names behind my back and spreading rumors about me.

    The schoolyard is a vicious dog-eat-dog world and sometimes you have to get a little nasty to survive. I try to be non-violent and understanding as an adult, but you can’t entirely expect that out of kids. A part of me almost wishes I had started that fight freshman year, if only to save myself from the endless nights of lying in bed and hearing the voices of my tormentors on repeat until I finally passed out from exhaustion.

  • cdap

    I think back on public school with horrible memories, not too much because of what was done to me (generally ignored), but just the awfulness of everything going on around me. I have two kids I worry about. We spend pretty much all of our money to keep them in a private Montessori school where the kids are really pretty decent to each other. We are very fortunate to have that option. My daughter, who is now 7, is in class with a kid who has dwarfism. Right now he is the class heartthrob because he is so smart and fun. When does it all go so wrong for people?

    When I look at my kids, the world out there makes me sad. Not to trivialize things, but sometimes you just need a unicorn chaser to keep you on track http://youtu.be/YLO7tCdBVrA

    • http://twitter.com/LittleJanelleS Janelle Sheetz

      Unfortunately for me and my peers, Montessori school was a part of the problem–all of the teachers were awful, strict nuns. I got stomachaches every day on the way to school, but I’m glad for your kids it’s a safe space.

  • MsRoss

    while i don’t generally believe in violent response i cannot deny the valor in some cases of a little bit of physical retaliation, while for me its not preferable ( i am a MAJOR pacifist) I’ve had to use it before.

    at my school there was a student two years my senior that knew some of my older friends. he saw his connection to them and his seniority over me as a green light to cat call me and grope me whenever he got the chance. he would even go as far as to pick me up (he was a good three feet taller than me and twice my weight) and carry me off kicking and screaming to other locations just to cop a feel “all in the name of good fun”. i told him it wasn’t fun, it was offensive and violating and it upset me alot. he just called me a kill joy. i tried going to my school about it on numerous occasions but he was the son of a woman who worked in the office and they wouldn’t hear of it. he couldn’t possibly be acting like that! i must be making a cry for attention. each time i raised the fact with the school that i was feeling violated and even scared he might try to take his assault to the next level they ejected me from the office essentially telling me that lying is a bad habit and maybe i should take up knitting instead. after about six months of continued harassment i couldn’t take it any more, one day after school he came over to me in front of the school with a sly look on his face. as he approached me i backed onto a bench (for height) and socked him in the jaw screaming “stop groping me you pig!” he got a nosebleed and looked like an idiot, he never bothered me again, from my other older friends i have been told his mother in the office still has no idea i hit him, he was too embarrassed to tell her.

    it was a last resort but im glad i did. the situation was really fucking me up mentally and i needed it to STOP.

    • MrsArkban

      It sucks being smaller doesn’t it? I went mostly to all girls school/camps so I didn’t have to worry about groping, but they used to put me in a trash can on wheels and roll me down the hall.

      • MsRoss

        oh fuck man thats horrible D:

    • Pogley

      There’s a big difference between retaliation (violence) and simply defending yourself. Sounds like that’s all you did.

  • Ellie

    Speaking of books, have you ever read “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card?

    This idea of one major, frightening, almost crazy act of violence as a way to prevent further violence on either side is a major motif of the book, especially relating to bullies. Ender (the main character) is forced into situations where he must beat the bully, and then finish him completely in order to ensure that he will never be hurt by them again, and this finally becomes the way in which he is expected ***SPOILER ALERT** to defeat the main adversary of the human race, an invading alien species, seen as another kind of “bully”. His utter defeat, through extreme physical violence, of the first, human bullies is what shows the observing adults (he is a child turned into a soldier, turned into a commander) that he is ready for the next phase of his “training”, leading to the ultimate test against the invading aliens.

    It sounds very science-fiction, but the ideas of nurturing violence in children ( It’s been a while, but I think all of the students at “Battle School” are under 14 years old) and then valuing the step of destroying one’s enemy completely in order to end the conflict, again in children, is fascinating. I highly recommend it.

    And even if you never read it, it is interesting to consider the “need” for violence in children when they are faced with it. Thoughts?

    (Also, so much love to you and to Anthony. This is one of my first comments EVER on a blog (I’m 22) and only in a conversation started by you have I ever felt comfortable enough to do so. I am constantly in awe of your positive power on the world, so for someone to be your mentor they must be rather amazing as well. Sending positive vibes and strength your way!)

  • Lisa

    I agree with the premise that, generally speaking, more violence doesn’t solve violent problems. As someone who was bullied physically and emotionally I can say that it only ever stopped when answered with violence and aggression, either my own or from my friends. However, what I have found is that once it does work it is so much more difficult to break the habit and the cycle of aggression. Aggression and physical dominance are very often easy, direct routes to want you want even when they’re not necessary. It’s often empowering but with that power comes a responsibility and balancing power with responsibility is exceptionally challenging.

  • http://twitter.com/olpmcg om

    I like that. GET A BOOK! It inspires intellectual revenge rather than physical. I was the king of the island of misfit toys in my High School. I had the freshmen and other younger (or smaller) kids nipping at my heels for help constantly. I always preached ambivalence and swearing. I wish I had thought of the book thing. :P Say hi to Anthony! Tell him cancer is a good bully to find a batt for!

  • Pogley

    I actually do think fighting back can deter bullying. It can escalate it too, but I think the chief reasons bullies pick certain victims is because they know they can get away with it. And I have to admit: I do feel a certain amount of fist-raising satisfaction in reading Anthony’s father’s reaction.

  • http://twitter.com/mslongjr Marvin S. Long, Jr.

    Love to you and Anthony both. I think this might be a case where the need for physical self-defense can be likened to other unpleasant but necessary physical things, like lancing a boil or desperately needing to take a crap in a sub-optimal environment. It’s an artifact of the ways in which human beings are still animals, and although we recoil from violence I’m not sure we should be ashamed of self-defense in the face of bullying. Enlightenment is possible, but we will always be animals, and on the school yard enlightenment is nearly impossible. Living in fear and humiliation and self-hatred helps nobody; teaching a bully a lesson helps you, and it might even help the bully.

    • watchmeboogie

      Thank you for articulating what I was unable to express!

  • Shaeon

    Well, speaking of hitting people with books:
    A very good friend of mine told me once how he was tormented daily in high school. Nobody lifted a finger to stop the verbal and physical abuse. So one day in class, he savagely attacked one of his tormentors with his math book. All abuse stopped that day – and the teacher who witnessed the attack didn’t help his tormentor out, either.
    I’m not sure how I feel about this story. I’m not sure how I feel about violence being a solution.
    But, related: I went through an emotionally devastating break up last year. I came to the realization in that “hindsight is a bitch” sort of way that I gave my ex all kinds of leeway while in the relationship. I would excuse her every bad behavior. Why? Because she had a messed up childhood, and continued to have a messed up adulthood because of it. So she couldn’t help it, right? It got to where I wasn’t allowed to have certain feelings in this relationship. I was told by her to not ever be angry, because anger was scary. No compromise where we worked out how to deal with that – it was just my job to try and figure out how to not have an emotion (she was still allowed to get angry – and though her rages were brief and seldom, they were intense and scary).
    It took my therapist noting that murderers frequently have messed up childhoods for me to get the point – which is that yes, someone else’s tragedy is very sad. But it isn’t my fault. And it is exceptionally not ok for it to be made my fault. Not through bullying, murder, or even being a shitty girlfriend.
    It seems to me the point is that empathy need not be free from accountability. And sometimes, in extreme situations, we just have to do what we have to do to survive.

    • http://twitter.com/QefatHethert Hope Tway

      This. A million times. Other people’s pain isn’t an excuse to lay down and take horrible treatment.

      • shaeon

        Yeah, and I can’t fix her pain either. Would have been better for both of us maybe if I’d just gotten out of the relationship. Ah well. Live and learn.

  • Keith

    I was also bullied. I am short to start out with, plus I had skipped a grade, and beyond that am kinda prone to spacing out. Plus, I am very emotional and bad at hiding it. I was a bully’s ideal target. When it was verbal abuse, I would come home crying, and my mother would call these other kids’ parents and say “Keith’s so sensitive. Can you talk to your son?” That worked on precisely one kid. The others would use it as ammunition. “Can’t even handle being teased, ya pussy?”

    However, teasing didn’t stop at teasing. Eventually, each of my bullies would shove me or hit me, and I would hit back. Most of them only had one fight with me, because I fought dirty. I fought “like a girl.” Scratching, biting, and, most effectively, ball-kicking. There was only one who came back for seconds. The first one, of course. He was twice my size and during our first fight (which was also my first fight), he kicked me in the face. I responded by kicking him in the nuts. Being a second grader, I didn’t know more than “That will hurt him.” And besides, that was as high as I could reach!

    His mom took me aside and explained to me that I “mustn’t kick boys in the testicles.” She would draw out each “s” in the word. “Tessssticlessss.” I tried to reason with her. “Why don’t you tell your son he shouldn’t kick people in the face?”

    “Well, yes, but the tessssticlesss are very important. If a boy’s tessssticlesss are hurt, he might not be able to have babies.”

    To me, that was perfect. I didn’t want another person like him to ever happen! He made the mistake of assuming that his mother’s lecture had tamed me, and began bullying me again at school the following week. I reminded him that I won the last fight, and tried to sound tough. To be perfectly honest, I was terrified. My dad had warned me against getting into another fight, and even still, I didn’t want to lose. But, sure enough, it happened again. And again. And again. For years. I lost count of how many fights I had with this one idiot who couldn’t leave the small, sensitive, smart boy alone. But I remember how many I lost.

    NONE.

    I realized later that I never started a fight. Never. But I always ended them. Personally, I think violence is a terrible way to solve things–other than violence. If someone is rude to you, talk to them. Try to understand them, outwit them, make them laugh, avoid them, or whatever. But if someone hits you, kicks you, throws a can at you–or at someone else!–I think you have free reign to kick that motherfucker in the balls.

    • http://twitter.com/HlnVnPtrsnPttn Tonia Scoville

      That’s what I have told my son – I don’t want you to ever start a fight, but if you get hit, you damn well better finish it. <3

    • Spiffer

      That last sentence is almost exactly what I told my son.

  • mischiani

    I once survived a murder attempt, losing my mobility for over a year in the process. It wasn’t a case of bullying but I mention it because it’s the reason I carry knives now. The police who responded refused to acknowledge a murder had been attempted, regarding it as a “simple cat fight” because my attacker had been female. Fleeing a dangerous situation is generally a good idea but I learned that you can’t go through legal channels to have that danger removed. I’d rather lose a few years of my life in prison than in a hospital bed so I’ll never flee without defending myself first again.

    Here’s a case in which a youtube video actually helped an investigation, leading to charges against the bullies:

    http://www1.whdh.com/news/articles/local/south/12007055261989/young-ri-girl-s-beating-captured-in-youtube-video/

    Unfortunately, the man who took the video did so for entertainment purposes. He allowed the attack to go on but didn’t face charges of any kind because his video was inadvertently helpful. Go figure.

  • Vallie in Portland

    My father and I had this odd relationship growing up where it was ok for him to be verbally abusive towards me, but the second anyone else messed with me, he would beat them down with quickness. I still don’t understand why he thinks it’s ok for him to bully me, but no one else can.

    I left my parents house 12 years ago, and moved 2,300 miles away. It was the best decision I ever made for myself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thewriteonecs Deb Kelley

    With people like those on here from your last three blog posts – compassionate, understanding, full of love – I have hope. I’m not a kid anymore; yet, the bullying from junior high and high school has haunted me. I was tall, thin, bespectacled, and under-developed, and I endured daily teasing and taunts, classmates tripping me, and rude comments walking to class and the lovely experience of eating lunch in the library because there was no one to sit with. I was blessed to be in school before the age of the internet. I can’t imagine how awful an internet attack could be. I don’t actually know if I could have handled it.

    Reading responses to post comments, I think it’s wonderful that kids and adults are finally standing up and saying it’s not cool to pick on someone because they are different from you. Bullying has been going on probably as long as there has been schooling; however, it’s about damn time that it ends. It’s not okay to make a person feel ashamed because of skin color, sexual orientation, religion, height, weight, intellect, hobbies, etc. It’s not acceptable to bully, judge, and dehumanize a person and make them the punchline of your jokes. It’s not funny. It’s not cool. It a tragedy when a child or adult ends his life because of the debilitating power of words that should never have been said.

    Amanda, thank you for using your celebrity to bring together like-minded people who are sick of bullying, and want to make a change. If you are interested we have a STOPH8 anti-bullying community on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/STOPH8. We are asking people what they doing to stop bullying in their schools and communities. Thank you for getting people to talk about such an important topic.

  • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

    My most memorable instance of “fighting back” was an accident. In 6th grade, I sat in front of a Stossel type. He was 16 and still in 6th grade, partly because he kept flunking out and partly because he’d missed a lot of school due to legal trouble. During class he would poke me with sharp objects or hit me. His favorite thing to do was to pull my hair out, one hair at a time, and then lean over to dangle the hair in my face.

    I’d asked the teacher to move me away from him, but she wanted to keep us together because she liked to pair us up whenever we did partner work. She openly admitted it was so he could get credit for my A+ work, because she was desperate to finally move him up to 7th grade. (This was the same teacher who would have me take tests with him so I could “narrow down” the answers… Yeah.) By making me his grade servant, my teacher had sent the message that I was his to do with as he pleased.

    One day, just minutes before the final bell, he was pulling my hair out as usual. I finally turned around and slammed my fist down on his hand. I honestly had only intended to stay his hand, to pin it down so he would finally stop pulling out my hair, only in my haste I forgot that I was still holding my pen. The pen went right through his hand. He immediately started bleeding. We both froze, neither of us quite believing what happened, and then the bell rang and school was over. I walked into class the next day fully expecting to immediately be in trouble, but he’d been too embarrassed that the freaky girl with a limp had hurt him to report what happened.

    He stopped pulling out my hair. He even started making halfhearted attempts to participate when we were assigned to work together. But I’m not happy with the result. Children should not be put in positions where they must physically defend themselves. A student who needs to use violence to defend him/herself against a bully is a student who has been failed by adults. It’s been nearly 20 years, and I still feel bad about what I did.

    • http://twitter.com/LittleJanelleS Janelle Sheetz

      Here’s something very telling about the hair-pulling–my little brother used to do that to me…when he was two.

    • EllenAnon

      Mine was accidental too! I didn’t ever feel about it though. . . .
      In primary school I got bullied, not as savagely as some of the people here, but it was bad. It was a couple of guys in my class, it used to be much worse when I was younger but by my last year of primary school I actually ended up being rather good friends with one of them who had sat next to me for the whole year.
      One guy was still pretty nasty though. I used to ask the teachers to put me on the opposite team during PE because he fancied himself a bit of a Wayne Rooney at the time and would scream at me and push me away from the ball so he could score.
      One day anyway, we were out in the yard for lunch and he was at me. I don’t even remember what he was saying but I just remember getting mad. I was walking away from him, and he was shouting and laughing at me. I swung around to yell LEAVE ME ALONE and somehow my arm swung out as I turned and I basicly backhanded him across the face by accident. I just remember everyone staring at us, and he was staring at me in shock, and once I got over the shock of what I’d done IT FELT SO DAMN GOOD. He never bothered me again.
      I don’t like hitting people. I did enough of it when fighting with my sisters as a kid, but standing up for myself like that, even accidentally, felt brilliant.

      ALSO! Hitting people with books: The Lord of The Rings is an excellent book to hit people with. I threw it across the car at my sister when I was nine and gave her a nosebleed! I definitely feel bad about that one now

  • http://twitter.com/LittleJanelleS Janelle Sheetz

    When my brother and I were growing up, he always used to tell us not to hit–but if we were hit first, fight back, and he’d defend us all the way. Ironically, we only ever hit or were hit by each other.

    My dad was born in the ’60s, had two older brothers, came from a military family, and enlisted himself at 17 or 18. All of those things probably contributed to his advice.

    Now, I’m torn because I don’t see violence as the answer, yet I completely understand why Anthony’s dad and my dad suggested and supported it (don’t think my dad would’ve gone for a baseball bat, but hey).

  • Bex

    My parents brought me up with their phrase ‘Never start a fight, but always finish one.’ I was told to always hit back if someone picked on me physically, and the one time I was punched at school, I gave back as good as I got until a teacher separated us. I was shaking with nerves for ages afterwards, but she never touched me again. I actually found that experience easier than the months of verbal bullying that I went through with another group of girls.

    Hitting back does work – the whole reason my mum was so adamant about it was that she used to actually bully a girl when she was at school. She was abused as a child and angry, and the girl was just an easy target to smack daily. She regrets it a lot now, but luckily, the girl turned around one day and hit my mum in the face – that made her back off in a hurry!

  • Rick

    Yeah, no. Sometimes fighting back works. Sometimes you end up with a dipshit kid that doesn’t care and then you spend the rest of 8th grade fighting the same dipshit kid every two weeks because pain doesn’t faze him and he doesn’t care how many bruises he gets, so long as you get yours.

    Sometimes you just have to hope they move away or you move on, because the next escalation is fucking assault, and that certainly doesn’t make it better for anyone. And there are a hell of a lot more ramifications when you grow up and still have to deal with assholes using whatever intimidation or leverage they have against you.

    I find it interesting that a blog that’s been so civil and passively resistant jumps on the violence route as soon as there’s blood in the water. We’re human beings for fuck’s sake, let’s act like it.

  • Allie E

    I just saw you in Porter Sq and said, “big fan.” I am really a fan, too, of your writing, how you put yourself out here on the web the way you do, with all of your soul, blood, sweat, and art. You are an inspiration for all of us to be true to ourselves.
    What drives others to taunt, bully, cyber stalk, and emotionally beat another being is coming from a feeling of deep unworthiness inside – that is pretty obvious. Directing it at someone else seems to be a typical mode of unconscious behavior. As in, let me stuff my angst anywhere but here, at the source. It takes lots of courage to look at this stuff in oneself, rather than put it elsewhere. Amanda Todd appeared very vulnerable, looking for love in all the wrong places.
    I recently met a woman who began an organization called BenSpeaks.org after her 18 year old son, Ben, committed suicide. It has a Facebook page, too. Maybe connecting your web savviness with her message will help someone else in need, before they end themselves in a fleeting moment of despair. I watched Amanda Todd’s video from your blog, and was so saddened by what she was going through, how she didn’t have enough resources internally or externally to get her through. The video you made with similar Bob Dylan-like cards as Amanda Todd, had a totally different energy: you’re owning your stuff, full of grit, love, defiance, and mad energy. Keep up the good work. It’s amazing and authentic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000426658184 Jean Mishra

    While I’m not an advocate of violence as the answer to our problems, in this case you have to consider we’re talking not only about kids but bullies. There are whole different dynamics involved in a peer group of children than there are adults. Again, I reiterate I don’t think it’s cool or okay to teach your kids to beat up on other kids. However, in a case like this, the author knew it was wrong. He knew it wasn’t the ideal answer. I doubt it was a behavior he resorted to again, and if so, with at least a little remorse. Bullies don’t feel remorse. Think of the lessons learned for both parties… painful ones, unpleasant ones, but those are the lessons that STICK. Life isn’t fair. It isn’t ideal. And as any writer knows, if you want to reach your audience, you have to speak their language. That bat spoke the bully’s language loud and clear. I remember life in public school and it could be terrifying at times. If you taddle to a teacher you’re marked and set squarely in the middle of unending hell. You do have to stand up for yourself. You do have to go a little psycho. Beautifully written.

  • Who R U R U nobody 2?

    No matter how old i get i still feel like that girl hiding under the stairs during lunch period trying to stop the blood of fresh wounds from forming a puddle on the ground while i prayed i would just disappear.Everyday of high school for me was one battle after another trying like hell not to get beat to death by dyke screaming football assholes.i made it….so will you. Thank you so much for sharing this and other stories.together we are never alone.i do not know any of you who posted or the wonderful amanda palmer but i love you all forever. -e

  • Sofia Ortiz

    I’m lucky, because, while I was bullied my entire school life, I have never been short, and being a smart and very (very!) stubborn tomboy, I don’t take shit easily. I tend to fight back when I get abuse from someone I dislike (I wish the same were true of people I like; but that’s another story). While I realize now it would have been good to have more control over it, it’s true that sometimes, the bullies only stopped when I went out of my way to put a stop to it – either for myself, or for my friends. The reason I didn’t die, even though I was depressed for years and had no friends, was because I was too angry to bow down to it. I never myself went out of my way to pick on anybody. But if someone went out of their way to pick on me, they came out smarting.
    I will give you my favorite example. I am still very proud of this story.
    I was in France. For summer boarding school. My mom had sent me with a group of girls I didn’t get along with, supposedly to learn French. I kept away from them, and this was fine. (They weren’t mean, just superficial; rich girls with more interest in Prada than in the language). I didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to learn French. But even this was okay – I mean, free trip to France, and all. The *problem* was that there were these huge Spanish jocks at this school, who bullied both me and my closest (male) friend. We are both Mexican, and thus, much shorter than they. I heard from someone else that at night they would put toothpaste on my friend’s face and hide his mattress in the bathroom. They pushed him around in private. Being a girl, I was in a different dorm, so they could not do the same to me.
    During the day, they would follow us around, in a pack, and call us names. Racist things, and sexist things. And they would make fun of us for supposedly being a “couple”. Our relationship was a little closer than a friendship, but no romance developed between us. Mostly we stuck together in solidarity as Mexicans, and as friends.
    So one day this one lone jock follows us around, and calls us names. Finally my male friend gets fed up and I get fed up and we walk up to him and I call him some name. I don’t remember what. His reaction is to push me – to the ground. Now, the ground in this part of the school was all gravel, so it was very painful to fall down. Being a girl, I had never in my life (as is the case with you, Amanda) gotten into a physical fight with anyone other than my sister (who, when she was younger, would bite and pull hair). And I was angry.
    My male friend was paralyzed with fear, likely because the jock was twice his size and had a pack of friends who shared his living space. But Hell if I was going to take it. I stood up, and before I could think straight, I had kicked the jock in the groin, hard, and grabbed my friend and walked away quickly. I looked back about a hundred yards away and saw him on his knees, holding his crotch, in pain.
    Well, I gotta tell you, that was the last any of those guys made our collective lives difficult. My friend and I didn’t discuss it afterwards; and I only hoped things were better for him, too. But I’m pretty sure they stopped bothering him, too. Spanish jock guy was probably too embarrassed to try it again.

    • http://twitter.com/Isabelyourself Isabel Jones

      You are right to be proud. I don’t see how being a pacifist has anything to do with defending yourself or others. When they hurt you with words, you defend yourself with words. When they hurt your body, you hurt theirs. Not out of revenge, just to make them stop. Even though there’s nothing wrong with righteous anger at the same time. It’s all very well to be grown up about it and preferring a conversation to violence. But (especially as a kid) you don’t always have that option. So be proud that you gave back what you got, and nothing more.

  • lentower

    I had hoped to get my copy of “Lunatic Heros” at one of the book launch parties in Lexington, but didn’t have the energy for either bus trek.

    So I had Porter Square Bookstore order it for me. A great read so far.

  • http://www.facebook.com/R3iR3iChan Rachel Harris

    I loved this, he is an excellent writer. I felt nervous for him in that story lol Not sure what I would’ve done but pepper spray is a lot safer than a gun.

  • Rumplestiltskin

    Bullying In various degrees( all of them abhorent) seems to be as much about power as it is about fear,I’m not going to talk about being bullied, any more than I’m comfortable talking about being raped ( there is a similarity I think) Trouble is I honestly believe the way to get rid of it is the same way we seem to be eradicating homophobia, it has to become a generational thing, we have to all be aware of it, and tell our friends, our kids/grandkids etc, that “we don’t do that shit here, we all see it, and we want everyone to know it’s un-acceptable. with that comes courage, it’s a slow process, I accept, but a VERY thorough one ,

  • Guest

    I’ve never been one for confrontation. When I was bullied at school, to the point where I would have such regular panic attacks in class even the teacher got bored and would ignore me, instead of attacking my attackers I would take it out on myself. I’d go into a blind panic, and before I even knew what I was doing I’d be hitting my head against a wall repeatedly, slapping myself round the face, or in one of my lowest moments, sitting in a bathroom cubicle trying to drag a pair of safety scissors through my thigh. In fact, I only remember lashing out at a bully once, swinging my schoolbag around in the hope it would hit her (she ducked). But I never felt the need to hurt them as much as I hurt myself.

    When you came and played in London in October, you read out my ‘in my room’ story about hurting myself, and for a moment, I could feel all the pain from all those years leave my body. I came to the show alone, and stood in the crowd weeping openly. Nobody judged me. They let me have my moment, my release. At that point, I hadn’t self-harmed since 20th June 2010.

    Just before Christmas, I slipped up, after being branded a ‘gothic slut’ and a ‘idiotic whore’ by a friend (I don’t know why. I have never wronged her in any way). I didn’t fight back at her. I went home, had a panic attack at 3am and in an attempt to calm myself down in a moment of hysteria, bit my own shoulder so hard I left a bruise which could be convieniently hidden beneath this season’s Christmas jumpers.

    I haven’t self-harmed since 16th December 2012. I haven’t had a panic attack since 3rd January 2013. I left school four years ago. I’d always imagined I’d be over it and be a fully-functioning human being by now. But here I am, still taking life one day at a time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pelle.kuipers Pelle Kuipers

      I’m curious what the reason is behind the panic attack. Do you feel helpless? Are you mad at yourself? And why does hurting yourself calm you?

      • Jo

        They occur when I’m under a lot of stress. It feels like the inside of my head is screaming louder and louder, and the only way I can get it to stop is by hurting myself to relieve that tension. Though I have a HUGE guilt complex, very rarely am I actually mad at myself, I guess you’re right about feeling helpless, really… I don’t know what else to do to make it go away, so I hurt myself and it stops. I guess the pain acts as a distraction.

        • http://www.facebook.com/pelle.kuipers Pelle Kuipers

          I have panic attacks when I feel bad. I am afraid of death. I scream at the top of my lungs and then it’s over. But I never hurt myself. It’s a shame you do that to yourself. Why would you feel guilty, and for what? For being you? For being different?

          My little brother caves in to peer pressure. He wears expensive clothing, goes to parties, and does everything to stay in the group. I feel sorry for him because he’s growing into someone else. He has talents but they are wasted because he wants to conform, and I notice that he’s drifting away from people that are most important to him.

          You’re still you luckily, and you don’t have any reason to feel guilty. I feel helpless when it comes to being a social human being. I don’t make friends easily, and nothing ever goes the way it should. For me, the thing that stops me from feeling helpless and/or useless, is making music. I have this one passion where I can spend all my time on.

          I don’t know if you have something like that, but it helps me a tremendous amount. I still have trouble coping with who I am, but it sure keeps me going.

          And where does the stress come from?

          Ps. Kudos for you for going to Amanda’s show on your own. I wouldn’t be able to do such a thing :-)

          • Jo

            I’ve come to find over the years that going to gigs on my own allows me to behave a little free-er – I can dance and cry and be a goofy fan as much as I like without any of my friends getting embarassed by me :D

            I’ve always felt guilty about the most ridiculous things. One of my most vivid memories as a child was being so angry after an argument with my sister, I left the room and sat on the stairs. In my temper I punched the stairs really hard. Then I suddenly felt awful and sat there crying and apologising to the stairs for hurting them.

            I didn’t like myself much until the last year or so. At school I was told I was worthless/ugly/a freak (take your pick) and I believed it. Like you, I loved (and still do!) making music. It was an obsession. (I was actually put into counselling because the school was concerned that I was too passionate about music, and I should have been using that energy on my schoolwork instead). Music was my love, my escape and pretty much my entire life. I stopped hanging out with my friends at lunch and played piano instead. Luckily for me, they understood! But the other girls didn’t. I didn’t have time for fashion or make-up during those years, I was too busy trying to learn whatever my new favourite song was by ear. Besides, every day I was told I was ugly, so what was the point in even trying? It wasn’t til one night when I was seventeen and I tried on my mother’s lipstick on a whim, I wept in the mirror when I realised that actually, I was pretty cute when I pulled the hair away from my face and smiled. It was the first time I’d looked at myself properly in years. So I made myself over. A re-invention. Since then I’ve put more time into my image. But my music is no less important (in fact, I’m recording an album this year with some friends, and I can’t wait to get started).

            As for stress, that ranges from uni (my course is based at a television studios and days often start early and end very late) to my relationship with my boyfriend (he’s doing a year abroad on the opposite side of the world, and long-distance is just awful). And like my father before me, I struggle with black dog moods where I get gripped by depression for no real reason for weeks on end.

            I’m so sorry that you have trouble coping with who you are. But the fact that you’ve reached out to me this evening to talk me through my problems shows that you have a wonderful heart.

          • http://www.facebook.com/pelle.kuipers Pelle Kuipers

            You have a boyfriend, doesn’t that mean you are beautiful? :-) Although I understand that a long distance relationship is difficult. I just broke up with my girlfriend, and I spent 1,5 years of those 3,5 away from her (internship, Finland and my graduation project which was at the other side of the country), so I know how difficult that is. I hope that it goes well!

            Can I listen to your music somewhere? I’m really curious, and really want to hear it :-)

            I’m writing a song a week, and posting it here: http://www.youtube.com/sorrybunchband

            And the coping with myself, well I’ve had a rough year. My drummer quit, my relationship ended, and my sister (who’s living in the same house as I am) is moving to another city this Monday. I feel really alone and confined to my room. I don’t know how to break free, which is really frustrating. There are days I feel good, but there are also a increasing amount of days that I feel lonely. And winter isn’t helping.

            But thanks for the compliment! :-)

          • Jo

            I’m sorry to hear about you and your girlfriend. Distance is so hard, isn’t it. And thank you – it’s been an interesting ride so far! When he’s at home he’s 200 miles away, which is still difficult, but that seems like a luxury now he’s in a different country!! I probably won’t see him til next August now.

            I don’t have any music online at the moment but I’m hoping to start recording really soon! I found a link to your Twitter on your YouTube profile so once I get recording, I’ll send you a link :) I really like your music! The piano is my favourite instrument, so your music is a winner with me!

            That’s a really horrible combination of things going on in your life right now. I hope things improve for you. 2012 was a bad year for a lot of people I know. My sister and I live apart now after living under the same roof our whole lives. It was really weird at first, but it’s actually made our relationship a lot better. We used to argue a lot, because that’s what sisters do! But now we’re more like friends, and we make the most of the time that we do get to see each other.

            And I hate that lonely feeling. I took a gap year before I started university, and for a year all my friends were wrapped up in their new lives with new friends and the only people I saw day in day out were the people at my job and my parents. It felt very claustrophobic! It wasn’t until the very end of my gap year I found a local show choir which I joined so I could make some new friends through my love of music. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made :) You’ve mentioned before that you find it hard to make friends, but I hope you find a way to get out and meet people who you can share your love of music with!

          • http://www.facebook.com/pelle.kuipers Pelle Kuipers

            200 miles is quite a distance as well. I lived a 2 hour drive away from my girlfriend, which worked for me (I saw her only in the weekends). But you’re right about it being better in comparison to him living in another country.

            Yay, I’m looking forward to your music. Really curious what kind of music you make :-)

            Well I had the same thing with my sister. Once she moved out she completely changed, she was friendlier and nicer to everyone. By sheer coïncidence I lived with her in two different cities. She’s a 30 minute train ride away, so I can visit her but it’s just a lot different. You can’t swing by for a cup of tea. Do you see your sister often?

            I was forced to take a gap year because I didn’t sign up for a new training (is that how you call it?). My last project took one whole year instead of six months. I think I will do the same and join a choir (been looking around me and with some googling I found out that there are quite a few here).

            Btw, I forget to ask you this: Why do you feel sorry for an inanimate object? And if you feel guilty, why do you feel guilty?

            And a final question: How does boyfriend react to your panic attacks?

          • Jo

            My sister only lives 45 minutes away on the bus, but we don’t see each other that often. Sometimes I’ll see her a couple of times in a month then I won’t see her for months and months at all! We have schedules that clash a lot. But it’s always good when we do get together.

            I don’t know why I feel sorry for objects, really. I’ve always been hyper-sensitive to the feelings of others, even when I know things don’t have feelings! For example, where I work, we sell little teddy bears. And after Christmas, there was just one teddy bear left. And I felt really bad for this bear! He was alone at Christmas! I just want everyone to be happy, I guess, even if they can’t feel happiness. I realise how weird that must sound! And when I punched the stairs, I thought I was hurting them when I was younger, so I felt terrible. I’m not quite that bad anymore!

            And my boyfriend is really good with me. If we’re together, he knows that there’s nothing he can say to calm me down so he just holds me whilst I cry and thrash it out. Then when I calm down, we talk abou it. I’ve broken down a couple of times on Skype since we’ve been apart but he’s very patient and lets me get it out of my system. If he knows I’m going through a hard time but he can’t be there to support me, then he sends me little goofy texts to try and make me laugh and keep me grounded. He’s really nice.

          • http://www.facebook.com/pelle.kuipers Pelle Kuipers

            I reckon it will be the same with my sister, now that she’s moving away.

            I think it’s actually really sweet that you care so much about everything! I have a hard time figuring out feelings (of my own and especially of others). I don’t think it’s weird, you just look at everything in a different than most people do.

            Good to hear he understands you and that he is very patient. And maybe he can teach you some karate so the next time someone bullies you you can kick em in the nuts ;-)

          • http://www.facebook.com/pelle.kuipers Pelle Kuipers

            You have a boyfriend, doesn’t that mean you are beautiful? :-) Although I understand that a long distance relationship is difficult. I just broke up with my girlfriend, and I spent 1,5 years of those 3,5 away from her (internship, Finland and my graduation project which was at the other side of the country), so I know how difficult that is. I hope that it goes well!

            Can I listen to your music somewhere? I’m really curious, and really want to hear it :-)

            I’m writing a song a week, and posting it here: http://www.youtube.com/sorrybunchband

            And the coping with myself, well I’ve had a rough year. My drummer quit, my relationship ended, and my sister (who’s living in the same house as I am) is moving to another city this Monday. I feel really alone and confined to my room. I don’t know how to break free, which is really frustrating. There are days I feel good, but there are also a increasing amount of days that I feel lonely. And winter isn’t helping.

            But thanks for the compliment! :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephanie.pinegar.3 Stephanie Pinegar

    When I was five years old, my mother started dating someone new. At first, he seemed very nice. He took me to see Disney on Ice and played games with me. He stopped seeming nice when my mother found a place with him.

    I had very long blond hair that people used to tell me was beautiful. When I was too loud and woke him up in the morning, he dragged me back to my room by it. He started threatening to shave my head if I misbehaved. I became terrified of him. When he and mom started fighting, I would sit by my door and pray that he would leave. My prayers went unanswered. They married. I was eight.

    During this time, the boys at school teased me often. When I complained to the teachers, they told me that it meant that the boys liked me. I wished they didn’t.

    When my mother was heavily pregnant, they had a fight in the middle of the night that woke me up. My doorknob had been removed years before, so I was able to watch as he took their wedding pictures and threw them against the wall and the doors, one of which was mine. He left. Mom cried. I hated him even more. I was ten.

    She took him back, and became pregnant again. He pressured her for an abortion, but she refused. My brother accumulated bruises, not of my mother’s husband’s doing, but gained through general rough housing and bike riding and the like. I was pulled aside at school and asked if there was abuse at home. I denied everything. He had in fact been hitting us, but I’d read too many stories about girls who had turned in their step-fathers only to have their mother take his side instead of theirs. I didn’t want to risk it.

    I did something to make him angry one day (I honestly don’t remember what it was), and mom insisted that I copy out the Bible verses that say to honor thy mother and father. I refused. That man was not my father, and I would not treat him as such. If that was what God wanted from me, then I would no longer follow him. I had prayed and begged for years, tried to do what He wanted, and I gotten no help of any kind. The Bible was full of stories about how God had helped his people in need. Why wasn’t I one of them? I stopped being a Christian.

    My mother announced the plan to move to Oregon at the end of the school year. I didn’t take it well. I had grown a dreadful temper, and I unleashed it by throwing shoes at the bedroom wall and screaming. He stormed into my room, pinned me to the bed and began hitting me. I was twelve.

    We moved. Things became worse. He hated where we lived. So did I. After the end of my Christianity, I had converted to Paganism. The students at my old school were aware and accepting of this religion. The ones at my new school weren’t. I was bullied constantly. Complaints were made about me to the office for doing absolutely nothing. My mother hated my “devil worshiping”. He started moving on to hitting with belts. I had three emotional breakdowns at my school within two months. I hit the boys who were calling me names. The principal told me I shouldn’t have hit them, that I should have told someone. I informed him that I had been telling the office ladies every day for two weeks. I was suspended. I was thirteen.

    I called the police on him once. The police chose to ignore my plight. I was a thirteen year old on drugs to treat ADHD, depression, and bipolar disorder. My testimony was not to be trusted.

    My mother snuck me and my brother out of the house one night and took us to the police department. She told an officer that he had been hitting her, and she had had to sneak out while he was sleeping. She was asked why she was so afraid of a sleeping man. He was arrested for assault in the fourth degree. It was only considered a felony because it had been in the presence of my youngest brother. I was fourteen.

    She took him back again after he got out of jail. I wanted to kill him. I seriously considered going into their room while they were sleeping and stabbing him. I would go to juvie, but my family would be safe. He started finding out of state work and was gone for months at a time. The months when he was gone were the happiest I’d had in a long time. During one of his visits back home, he called my mother a stupid fucking bitch. She threw him out. They became legally separated. When I was seventeen, it became divorce.

    Many years later, I got a boyfriend. He called me embarrassing nicknames, and wouldn’t listen to pretty much anything I told him. He asked me to marry him, and the very next day asked me how he could trust me? How was he to know that three black guys weren’t coming through my window every night? He told me that he would never leave me, but if I broke up with him, I would never find anyone else. No one else would put up with how screwed up I was.

    He tried to have sex with me one night, but I didn’t feel like it. I told him, but he ignored me and managed to remove me of my shirt and pants and get his hand down my underwear while I cried and tried to push him away. I was too scared to try anything more drastic. I had learned that if you make the guy you’re with angry, he will hit you. He hadn’t hit me before, but I didn’t want to push it. Eventually he stopped, and told me off for not fighting back. He told me if I really hated it, I would have fought. I just cried more.

    I didn’t go to the police because I was afraid that they would dismiss my story for the same reasons my boyfriend had given. I have never forgotten that the police asked my mother why she was so afraid of a sleeping man.

    It has been two years since then, and I have only told a few people, and not a single member of the police force. I know what happened was not my fault, but I am still ashamed that I didn’t fight back, and for agreeing to go out with him in the first place. The fact that he makes me feel like this makes me hate him even more.

    I think that the biggest problem with bullying is that so often, the bullies and the abusers know they can get away with it. The school system and the police force have both been known to victim blame, while at the same time telling the victims and survivors to come to them for help. This has to stop.

    • Jones

      Just .. love. Lots of love to you xxxx

  • Jones

    I could add alot to the post you just wrote, the whole debate in regards to bullying and the essential nature of man, culture, society.. but I’d be here all month.

    Anthony’s story shares struck a very strong chord in me and I’d like to share my story about bullying with you:

    I grew up in a small community in Europe. I can’t say where because the place is so small that eventually this will be traced back to people, peers and – more importantly – my family.

    I stood out like sore thumb when I was growing up. My pale, freckled skin against raven black hair somewhat drew attention from my peers both favourable and unfavourable. I was confident, opinionated and I did well academically. My mother was a school teacher and the entire teachers union knew who I was. This made life difficult at times.

    I started being bullied from an early age.. say age of 7. At school, extra curricular activities. Then suddenly it became physical bullying. From calling me a bitch who had ‘shit on her face’ (thanks to my freckles) to spitting in my eyes, I endured such torture as: having my hair set alight, having my stuff stolen and defaced, physically pushed into concrete playground and walked on by senior students… the list goes on.

    Puberty was not kind to me and as a result I became chubby overnight. This made matters a hell of alot worse. Everytime I spoke to my mother she would tell me to stand up for myself and everytime I did I was put in detention, given a note to send home or named a troublemaker. The teachers refused to help me, but rather encouraged the bullying I endured. I tried to kill myself on 3 separate occasions, each time I wept as I realised that even if I truly wanted to – no one would have realised, no one would have cared and no one would remember me. There was no love, no conscience in these people and they were getting away with murder. I schemed; I decided I would stick it out until I was 18 and with glowing A level results leave for Uni in England never EVER to return.

    Except one day I snapped. Sitting in the sixth form common room, life a little less volatile in those days because the students who stayed on were keen to succeed academically, some girl hauled me up by the scruff of my neck and put a knife to me throat. Little bit taller than I, not much bigger… certainly stronger. She wanted to prove to her new cool friends that she was cool too and I was the target of her attention powerplay. She said she was going to cut me if I didnt give her all the money I had.

    I flipped. I kicked her across the room in my black DM imitation boots … but I couldn’t stop there. I couldn’t. I grabbed her by her hair, slammed her head into the wall then pushed her into the ground face down. She was screaming, swearing and her friends were screaming for a teacher to help. I grabbed the knife she had put to my throat, a tiny swiss army knife say a 3 inch blade – and I cut into her cheek. Not deep. Hard. I knew she had entered into a local beauty pageant and this would ruin her chances. That would fuck her up. Pulled off by some students, the teachers intervened screaming, yelling at me. I was sent to the headmasters office where my opponent milked her wound as the poor victim and I was asked for my parents phone number.

    “Her mother works at [name of] school…’
    ‘She’s sick. Call my dad. Here’s the number”

    And I dialled it, held the phone to the headmasters hands and stared at him, calm in a meditative wrath that consumed me. Surreptitiously, he took the phone and explained to my father who he was and why he was calling.

    My father came to the school straight away. My opponents parents had also come into school and it was here that I realised how miserable some people’s lives can be. Her father, a brute and upon reminiscing, a bully, was yelling at his daughter about how he was going to kill me, cut up my body, put it into his speed boat and dump it with several tons of cocaine he had acquired on his last laundering trip. He called me names I didn’t even recognise.

    My father arrived at about the same time as this man launched into the office almost physically attacking me. My father, a few feet down the hall sped up and as he entered slammed the door shut.

    The man now turned to my father and started to hurl the same vain of abuse and threats. My father grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, put him against the wall and in a loud, authoritative voice announced,

    “You gave your daughter a knife. You let her try to kill my girl. What the FUCK is wrong with you?!”

    He then dropped the man and stated loudly “Your daughter is going to be suspended for bringing and using a weapon into the school,”

    The headmaster interrupted “But {me} was the one who used the knife..”

    “In SELF DEFENCE because SHE[pointing at my opponent] brought a WEAPON into a SCHOOL. This is a place where parents put trust in teachers and today you have FAILED. If my daughter did anything it was in self defence because everytime something happens to her; she is kicked, she is beaten, she is verbally attacked.. you are all of a sudden powerless. But when she defends herself in the face of a class mate who PHYSICALLY ASSAULTS her with a WEAPON – you have the authority to punish,”

    He slammed his fist onto the table “This is the LAW. The law says you can use self defence to protect yourself – because the question becomes WHY was this girl ALLOWED to come to school with a WEAPON and WHY did YOU allow it?!”

    He reminded all present that the telephone call he undertook where they described how I had cut into the cheek of a girl who had, by her admission, put me up against a wall – with her own knife – was recorded and how he was happy to advise his lawyer and the chief justice of what had happened with immediate effect on the premise that non of the children in the school were safe. And how because of their negligence, their jobs would come under question.

    I’ll never forget that day because my father stuck up for me when I could have been expelled for standing up for myself. His words sent such fear into the very teachers who encouraged the bullying that the girl was expelled with immediate effect and the 2 members of staff who were supposed to be supervising the common room were forced to take unleave pay under suspended investigation.

    Her friends hated me. They would grumble as they walked past me. But none of them, NONE of them tried to hurt me ever again. Infact, from that day forth … people left me alone. Because the only thing that scared them more than the fact that they could be kicked out of school for bullying me was the fact that I had cut someone with their own knife.

    Get a bat. Dont get a bat. But if someone tries to hurt you, defend yourself. I don’t condone cutting into her cheek.. but I can’t say I feel bad for that girl at all. After everything I went through in school, after what her father’s reaction was to someone stopping his daughters illegal actions of GBH, I feel grateful that I had my father to learn from – to support me and to teach me about human rights and the law…

    … always stand up for yourself. No-one, adult or otherwise, should get away with hurting you just because they have some sense of power. Take the power back.

    And, honestly, if someone picks on my daughter to the point that she is physically hurt – and all pacifist avenues have been exhausted – I will tell her my story. I will show her my scars. I will put her in a martial arts class. I will tell her about my suicidal feelings and my loneliness, and I will support her actions in self defence.

    Because no one has the right to make you feel that you are less than human, especially in the country you were born into.

    Fuck the bat. Use the book.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pelle.kuipers Pelle Kuipers

      Your dad is awesome!

      And your story gave me goosebumps.

    • Jessica Malitoris

      Your dad deserves one resounding round of applause. Way to refocus the situation on the real problem dad. You are awesome.

      I will hang on to this story.

      Hugs for you, and props for both you and your dad.

    • Mary Jane

      Self-defense is a right, and sometimes you have to defend yourself with violence.

      I’ve never used a bat. I’ve used keys, sticks, knives. My “knife fetish,” coined by siblings who were completely confused about the definition of that word, was (I think) the reason I wasn’t raped by a male family member like my cousin. He knew I would cut him.

      As a teenager, a male co-worker harassed me for weeks, touching me — AT WORK — my breasts, my groin. The most I could get from management was a three-day-suspension for him which only made things more toxic when he came back. One night, I left late and he was waiting for me — hiding in the bushes outside my car. He attacked me, but I’d been taking Self-Defense classes for a few weeks. I was gripping my key in my hand on the walk through the parking lot, and when we fought I was able to hit him in the testicles multiple times. In the end, he gave me a concussion, and I burst both his balls.

      I say it like I’m bragging, and I am, but it’s show. Violence is traumatic, whether you’re waging it or having it waged on you. I still smell his blood, sometimes. It fucks me up. I wonder, if I had to, if I could do it again; but, I don’t regret defending myself, and I’m glad he can’t breed.

      When there is a legal option to harassment, take the legal option. When there is procedural options, take the procedural option. If you can switch schools or jobs, switch schools or jobs, but if that motherfucker goes beyond words and actually lays a hand on you, then cut him down. You have law, procedure, and sense on your side.

    • Mary Jane

      Self-defense is a right, and sometimes you have to defend yourself with violence.

      I’ve never used a bat. I’ve used keys, sticks, knives. My “knife fetish,” coined by siblings who were completely confused about the definition of that word, was (I think) the reason I wasn’t raped by a male family member like my cousin. He knew I would cut him.

      As a teenager, a male co-worker harassed me for weeks, touching me — AT WORK — my breasts, my groin. The most I could get from management was a three-day-suspension for him which only made things more toxic when he came back. One night, I left late and he was waiting for me — hiding in the bushes outside my car. He attacked me, but I’d been taking Self-Defense classes for a few weeks. I was gripping my key in my hand on the walk through the parking lot, and when we fought I was able to hit him in the testicles multiple times. In the end, he gave me a concussion, and I burst both his balls.

      I say it like I’m bragging, and I am, but it’s show. Violence is traumatic, whether you’re waging it or having it waged on you. I still smell his blood, sometimes. It fucks me up. I wonder, if I had to, if I could do it again; but, I don’t regret defending myself, and I’m glad he can’t breed.

      When there is a legal option to harassment, take the legal option. When there is procedural options, take the procedural option. If you can switch schools or jobs, switch schools or jobs, but if that motherfucker goes beyond words and actually lays a hand on you, then cut him down. You have law, procedure, and sense on your side.

    • nom de plume

      This is a really incredible story. Had I done the same, my parents would have left me sitting in that office to face the consequences of my actions. Even in self defense, they would have believed I was in the wrong. You are a lucky girl to have such a strong and wise parental figure in your life you know has you back.

  • Katja

    i guess it’s either suffer, or inflict some suffering. whichever you feel you can live with the consequences of.

  • Marionette26

    I think this story has a good point. I don’t think you always need to physically injure your bullies.. although there is a time and place for that, and if you’re being physically bullied then you should defend yourself. Even if you don’t know martial arts or have pepper spray (or a bat).
    But there are other ways to fight back, you know? My bullying went from 6th grade to 9th grade. In 9th grade, it mostly petered out. I’m sure there were a number of reasons for that – I was at a large highschool, I didn’t go to school half the time (can’t bully what isn’t there), etc.. but I like to think I scared the hell out of them, too.
    I was unstable when I was younger. I don’t know how other girls react to bullying. But after years of bullying, there came a point where I just.. snapped. I was ready to fight, I imagined them jumping me – just so I would have an excuse to try to hurt them. They yelled at me, and I yelled back. If this was at lunch, or walking home, or even in the hallways I think it would have been standard. But when someone calls you a goth whore (or something like that) in your Algebra class, and you start screaming at them, you get a reputation (I had an amazing teacher who had been watching the escalation and thankfully, didn’t write either of us up). I wasn’t a pacifist back then. I hated them, and I was at a point where I wasn’t taking it. Anthony says of Stossel that “he was too smart to mess with a maniac”. I think, my bullies, were at least as smart as Stossel. When someone is as unstable as I was, you’re not going to fuck with them. There’s no fun in abusing someone else when you’re scared of that person, when you’re really scared they’ll hurt you.
    Obviously, in some cases, this wouldn’t work. Some girls wouldn’t back down – verbally fighting back to such an extent might make it physical. But I really do believe that you should fight back. You shouldn’t believe the shit they say, you shouldn’t take their bullshit, you should cuss them out and if they hit you – hit back. When you’re in that situation, all you can do is fight fire with fire.
    At least, fight fire with fire until you can get out of that situation (like, by transferring to another school).

  • http://www.facebook.com/viviane.leao.guimaraes Viviane Leão

    Well, i loved Anthony’s Bully. It made me laugh and reminded me of my own stories.

    I’ve been bullied like hell all my school life here in Brazil. Different forms for
    different ages.

    The first bullying I faced when I was six: I was this tall slim blonde that was incapable
    of physical violence. I was punched like crazy by kids half my size and used to
    get home with purple bruises all over my face and arms till my mom got tired and threatened to punch me at home too. She was tired of talking to the kid’s moms and tired of patching her kid every time
    I came up from the playground or school. She never hit me but that night she threatened
    to do it if I came bruised again. I tried to reason with her: But Mom, they are
    smaller than me!!!! But she was merciless: I don’t care, You are going to hit
    them and hit them hard cause They got to respect you.

    So, there I was, a pacifist, with a terrible quest: to defend myself by all means
    necessary. The opportunity soon came and three of my usual torturers had The
    Beating of all beatings as I call it : I remember of beating them at the same
    time and I was so mad that I thought I was blind. When I eventually stopped,
    they were at the ground.

    I remember beating all my brother’s bullies. I remember calmly going to one of the bullies’
    house, knocking the door, greeting his mom and asking politely for the boy. I
    remember beating the boy like a psychopath in front of his home door. I remember
    threating him. He had beaten my younger brother (who was a lot younger than him
    and another hardcore pacifist as I once was). I felt outraged by that bully
    cowardice: my brother was so much smaller than him and the kind of boy that
    quietly plays on his own without bothering anyone. Every time I punched a bully
    hard, I felt avenged. I felt a warrior.

    But I got older and when I was 11, the bullies and I had changed. The girls of my school
    hated me because I was a kind of Tom Boy that didn’t look exactly like one.
    They already were interested in boys while I was interested in books, swimming
    and skating with my brother (and his friends). I didn’t care for boys but they
    seemed to care for me even though they would never say it to my face. They
    would say to the girls. And the girls would make my life miserable: they would
    invent a lot of awful stories about me and they would destroy every single girl
    friendship that I tried to have. I remember that I cried a lot and that I had
    many asthma episodes due to all the distress I had to endure. When my family
    moved to other city, I thought that I was going to be free from it.

    I thought wrong. I was 16. New city, new catholic school and new mean girls (and boys). I
    put a very brave face and I still had a ferocious tongue to defend myself but I
    never wish to no one the things I had to listen on corridors. I remember being
    called a slut a lot particularly because I was NOT one. I remember the kind of
    nasty stories girls would invent to prevent guys from approaching me. I
    remember how some guys would talk to me or try to grab me and how I would react
    violently to them in a way that would scare them and prevent from happening again.
    I remember that I felt lucky cause I could put a good show: I had a quick response, a bad ass attitude when necessary, although at home I would cry like crazy and start a relenting case of eating disorder that I’m still treating ( after years of ups and downs).

    In my case, the violence ( or fierce self-defense as I prefer to call it) and the attitude
    had save me many times. I shared some of my stories but I had many more. I don’t
    know if it happens because I’m a girl and a kind that is considered attractive,
    but I have faced some pretty dark stuff (even being beaten by a burglar that
    wanted to abuse me but facing my strong negative, got so mad that started to
    punch me and only stopped because I could fight back to get to my car). I’m not
    defending people that shoot others because they were bullied but I defend those
    who can eventually make a stand.

    Anthony, I’m
    with you. All my strength, all my positivity for you, my fellow warrior. :)

    Lots of Love for all of you that comment here, share so much that made me comfortable
    enough to write.

    Lots of Love for you, Amanda Fucking Heavenly Palmer for everything, darling.

  • Ray

    Hello, afp. We’ve never met, and if we passed on the street and you noticed me at all, you would likely be surprised to think we had much in common. My unabashed lifelong enjoyment of music brought you to my attention, but my respect for your humanity is what encourages me to write this. After reading some of your earlier musings from your latest Kickstarter project, I came here to thank you for the perspective and awareness you bring to those both inside and outside the artistic community. Reading today’s post suggests that my initial impressions of you were correct, and reading the responses is even more telling.

    The discussion here is simple, honest, and human, seemingly mirroring what I perceive to be a quiet strength and belief in yourself that we should all be endowed with. Personally, I struggle with living in a world which seems so broken, where bad behavior is so often rewarded, so thank you for the opportunity to spend a few minutes in a different world, where differences can exist without the paralyzing result of polarizing people to the point where intelligent communication cannot even take place.

    (And laughter is always allowed: I did not intend such alliteration, but those were the words that sprang to mind, so I won’t back down from it, even if it does seem mildly pretentious.)

    Thank you, good luck, and keep being yourself.

  • Albedo

    When I was at school, I was almost the youngest & almost the shortest in my year. I sucked at every sport, and aced every maths test. I spoke like I was being trained as a BBC newsreader. About the only thing in my favour was I didn’t wear glasses. I should have got bullied waaaay more than I did, and this had made me reluctant to post my own story before, but I’m gonna do it anyway now we’re looking at fighting back.

    In retrospect, I think I had an easier time, paradoxically because I was over-sensitive – really thin-skinned. I vastly overreacted to the slightest of bullying that came my way. If you freak them out while they are still testing the waters, they don’t want to take it up a level because they have no idea how you will react if they do.

    3 examples, from mild to maniacal:
    A bully ‘pranked’ me by stuffing my locker with porn so it cascaded out
    onto the floor in front of everyone. Seeking revenge, I found he had, in
    anticipation, put a monstrous, expensive padlock on his own locker. I
    stuffed it with paper & glue. They needed bolt-cutters to retrieve
    his possessions. When he demanded I pay for a new lock, I casually remarked that I knew where he parked his fancy bike. No more trouble from him.
    Another bully snatched up my shiny new metal ruler and bent it double to show it was not as ‘indestructible’ as I thought. As he leaned in to laugh in my face, I grabbed his glasses off his nose and gave them the same treatment. (yeah, kids with glasses can be terrible asses).
    One guy favoured the old classic of kicking people in the shins any time you were sat the same table. Repeated small taps to annoy you, then a swift hard one to make you yelp in class. Once day it was just too much. Suddenly, I was yelling and screaming like a lunatic, and the fingers of my right hand were in his mouth, my thumb pressing into the underside of his chin. I was actually trying to pull him across the table by his lower jaw when the teacher intervened.

    As I say, extreme (and embarrassing) over-reactions to trivial acts of bullying – but these guys were doing much worse to other kids, and perhaps I was reacting to what I imagined would come next.

    (A friend of mine explored a similar strategy. He really had it bad –
    name calling and bottles thrown at his head and god knows what else, just because he was
    goofy-looking. He took up martial arts, a popular option going by
    other posts in this thread. Suddenly, he was breaking noses and being left well alone.)

    The downside to all this, of course, is once you have a reputation as a frothing psycho it keeps the girls away too, but that was a small price to pay to get me through school.

    The day I started at University, hundreds of miles from my home town, I had the joyous revelation that 99% of the bullies had now been filtered out of the education system, a high percentage of other nerds filtered in, and none of them knew me. I could finally relax, knowing that I was no longer an outlier, just another unremarkable face in the crowd.

    And that’s the thing – if you move on in your life, away from the past, it can be over, and it will be better. To the kids who are suffering right now, I say I hope these are the worst days of your life – because you have so much more life to live, and one day all you have been through up to now will be a tiny, poorly-remembered fragment of your past. I had to dig back 25 years for these memories, and they’re pretty fuzzy round the edges. I’m not that frightened, angry teenager anymore, and neither will you be one day, probably sooner than you think.

    • EllenAnon

      What you did to that kids lock is hilarious :D and yes, bespectacled kids can be asses too!

  • Albedo

    When I was at school, I was almost the youngest & almost the shortest in my year. I sucked at every sport, and aced every maths test. I spoke like I was being trained as a BBC newsreader. About the only thing in my favour was I didn’t wear glasses. I should have got bullied waaaay more than I did, and this had made me reluctant to post my own story before, but I’m gonna do it anyway now we’re looking at fighting back.

    In retrospect, I think I had an easier time, paradoxically because I was over-sensitive – really thin-skinned. I vastly overreacted to the slightest of bullying that came my way. If you freak them out while they are still testing the waters, they don’t want to take it up a level because they have no idea how you will react if they do.

    3 examples, from mild to maniacal:
    A bully ‘pranked’ me by stuffing my locker with porn so it cascaded out
    onto the floor in front of everyone. Seeking revenge, I found he had, in
    anticipation, put a monstrous, expensive padlock on his own locker. I
    stuffed it with paper & glue. They needed bolt-cutters to retrieve
    his possessions. When he demanded I pay for a new lock, I casually remarked that I knew where he parked his fancy bike. No more trouble from him.
    Another bully snatched up my shiny new metal ruler and bent it double to show it was not as ‘indestructible’ as I thought. As he leaned in to laugh in my face, I grabbed his glasses off his nose and gave them the same treatment. (yeah, kids with glasses can be terrible asses).
    One guy favoured the old classic of kicking people in the shins any time you were sat the same table. Repeated small taps to annoy you, then a swift hard one to make you yelp in class. Once day it was just too much. Suddenly, I was yelling and screaming like a lunatic, and the fingers of my right hand were in his mouth, my thumb pressing into the underside of his chin. I was actually trying to pull him across the table by his lower jaw when the teacher intervened.

    As I say, extreme (and embarrassing) over-reactions to trivial acts of bullying – but these guys were doing much worse to other kids, and perhaps I was reacting to what I imagined would come next.

    (A friend of mine explored a similar strategy. He really had it bad –
    name calling and bottles thrown at his head and god knows what else, just because he was
    goofy-looking. He took up martial arts, a popular option going by
    other posts in this thread. Suddenly, he was breaking noses and being left well alone.)

    The downside to all this, of course, is once you have a reputation as a frothing psycho it keeps the girls away too, but that was a small price to pay to get me through school.

    The day I started at University, hundreds of miles from my home town, I had the joyous revelation that 99% of the bullies had now been filtered out of the education system, a high percentage of other nerds filtered in, and none of them knew me. I could finally relax, knowing that I was no longer an outlier, just another unremarkable face in the crowd.

    And that’s the thing – if you move on in your life, away from the past, it can be over, and it will be better. To the kids who are suffering right now, I say I hope these are the worst days of your life – because you have so much more life to live, and one day all you have been through up to now will be a tiny, poorly-remembered fragment of your past. I had to dig back 25 years for these memories, and they’re pretty fuzzy round the edges. I’m not that frightened, angry teenager anymore, and neither will you be one day, probably sooner than you think.

  • Randomgit

    I always felt I was luck enough that I was so big at school that people were never quite sure if they could beat me up unscathed or not. Or maybe their lives weren’t really all that painful. Though I was relentlessly teased verbally and socially, I always liked my own company so they never got the better of me.

    It seems this is no longer the case. These days I would have to get a bat.

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sydney-news/bullied-boy-at-chifley-college-dunheved-campus-suspended-after-fighting-back/story-e6freuzi-1226022076411

  • Randomgit

    I always felt I was luck enough that I was so big at school that people were never quite sure if they could beat me up unscathed or not. Or maybe their lives weren’t really all that painful. Though I was relentlessly teased verbally and socially, I always liked my own company so they never got the better of me.

    It seems this is no longer the case. These days I would have to get a bat.

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sydney-news/bullied-boy-at-chifley-college-dunheved-campus-suspended-after-fighting-back/story-e6freuzi-1226022076411

  • MVM

    One of the girls who bullied me at school eventually became a friend of sorts, as I had befriended her best friend. Then I found out the reason she was so angry in general was because her parents were divorcing, which in a Catholic family can be an especially difficult thing. She had developed an eating disorder and was quite down on herself, even though she was quite capable and pretty. I grew to quite like her, we found each other funny.

    Then one day a year or so on, her dad stabbed her mum in a fight as she tried to leave him. She died in front of the friend and her younger sister. Shortly after that they moved away and I have rarely seen her since (10+ years on). Puts life in perspective, we’re all just suffering and some people cope differently.

    Actually, most of the people who ever treated me badly had it worse than me in most ways. They were just blowing off some steam, I suppose.

    I’m more likely to verbally fight someone than physically, but I quite enjoyed Anthony’s story. My family, myself included, are not exactly strong or sporty people so anytime we’ve been physically assaulted we’ve had to simply try to escape as quickly as possible. Whether it was having rocks thrown at me for wearing socks with sandals (???) or pushed against a wall by someone twice my age for wearing platform boots and black nail polish (again ???) I just escape as fast as I can (which is not very, as it turns out).

    These posts are really getting me thinking, AFP. Please keep them coming!

    xx

  • MVM

    One of the girls who bullied me at school eventually became a friend of sorts, as I had befriended her best friend. Then I found out the reason she was so angry in general was because her parents were divorcing, which in a Catholic family can be an especially difficult thing. She had developed an eating disorder and was quite down on herself, even though she was quite capable and pretty. I grew to quite like her, we found each other funny.

    Then one day a year or so on, her dad stabbed her mum in a fight as she tried to leave him. She died in front of the friend and her younger sister. Shortly after that they moved away and I have rarely seen her since (10+ years on). Puts life in perspective, we’re all just suffering and some people cope differently.

    Actually, most of the people who ever treated me badly had it worse than me in most ways. They were just blowing off some steam, I suppose.

    I’m more likely to verbally fight someone than physically, but I quite enjoyed Anthony’s story. My family, myself included, are not exactly strong or sporty people so anytime we’ve been physically assaulted we’ve had to simply try to escape as quickly as possible. Whether it was having rocks thrown at me for wearing socks with sandals (???) or pushed against a wall by someone twice my age for wearing platform boots and black nail polish (again ???) I just escape as fast as I can (which is not very, as it turns out).

    These posts are really getting me thinking, AFP. Please keep them coming!

    xx

  • miserichik

    Hey, heavy tomes of literature may weight MORE than a standard bat. And what a story you could tell later……”yeah. I bullied this kid, and he came at me with a copy of Ayn Rand’s Figurehead in one hand, and Clive Barker’s Imajica in the other. That’s a LOT of book! I was skeered”

    Still, I am heartbroken at these stories, and I wish we, as an internet community, could be there for all of these kids. I have never been bullied but I want so badly to be a mentor to those who have.

    Amanda, your internet community is the most amazing place I’ve ever been to online. And my thoughts and heart are with Anthony. May he “GET A BAT” to the leukemia, and swing true

  • lunatunes

    There was a pair of girls who used to walk past me as I walked home from the bus stop in high school. I’m not the type of person that looks strangers in the face on the street (maybe due to growing up in New York? Maybe because I just like dogs and they tend to be on the ground?), so I can honestly say I have no fucking idea who they were. All I know is I would walk past them and one or the other of them would mutter, “bitch,” “slut,” “whore,” just in the audible range. Every time. At first I was baffled and eventually I was sick of it. So one warm night, I walked inside, selected a small heavy length of metal about the size and shape of a roll of quarters from the workshop in the pantry, balled it into my fist and went back out, fully intending to pummel her. She was on skates so I stood on the corner in the dark and yelled some not-very-nice-words at her and told her that if she had something to say to me, she should come over and say it to my face, and ended it with, “you spineless cunt.” She skated away into the dark, never to be seen or heard from again (or maybe she was, like I said, no idea who she was… but I never heard her muttering to me anyway).

    Sometimes they can’t even take being called out, I guess. Showing them you’re willing to defend yourself and your self-worth is sometimes enough. I never told anyone about it, but I’m confident that if I had actually beaten her up, my mother would have applauded my efforts. She was raised in state homes and was forced on many occasions to beat respect into people, and told me to “always go for the biggest one.”

    I have to admit though, I sometimes still imagine how the fight would have gone if she hadn’t punked out.

  • Me

    Other than his wedding day, the only time I remember my big brother crying is when we were little and I hit him with a book. And it was only a paperback! So be careful with those things… ;-) (He’s one of those highly-evolved, sensitive boys, and he got all choked up trying to recite the vows he’d written.)

    If I ever meet Anthony I will tell him about the time 13-year-old-girl me snapped and jumped up in the middle of history class and started furiously punching the huge football player sitting next to me who had been bothering me for so long. Never heard a peep out of him for the rest of high school except when he sheepishly told me a few days later that I have a nice right hook. I think that was his way of apologizing…

  • http://twitter.com/Sangrebloom Sangrebloom

    It’s what I did, I fought more than once and varied degrees of violence. Innocence isn’t some pane of glass that shatters; for me it felt like it was worn away leaving me perfectly smooth and cynical. I hurt people and it made me cry late at night because I just wanted to be left alone and not hurt anymore. My parents worried, I became hard and bitter, because as much as my head told me the horrible things that were said and done to me weren’t fair or right, my heart didn’t believe it at all. I became someone that I didn’t like, but I wouldn’t have the understanding I have if it hadn’t happened. It was my life, it is my past and my lesson was that closing my mouth as tightly as I shut my heart didn’t save me any pains.

  • disqus_3W7ap8qXM3

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog lately, everyone’s stories… My story… Wondering how many children have cut themselves because someone thought it would be funny to start a “cut4bieber” trend, Jesus. Started to freak out – all too much. Then I thought of Amanda’s photo from the last blog – the “listening” photo. So… I listened. A song had shuffled its way into my headphones without me even noticing; Nina Simone’s “It Be’s That Way Sometime”:

    Don’t let the problems of this world
    Drive you slowly out of your mind
    Just smile, look at the problem
    And say it be’s that way, be’s that way sometime

    Baby, yes it does

    I will be, also be that way sometime
    Can also be that way, it also be’s that way
    Be’s that way sometime

    Thanks to everyone for being part of that experience.

  • http://twitter.com/imjeskidding Jes

    I, like Anthony, grew up in a house where we were taught to hit back if someone hit us first. Being spanked or getting the wooden spoon hard across your skin wasn’t a weird or unexpected thing in my house.

    And I’m much younger than both of you.

    I love the last bit of this story though. I have it highlighted in my own copy, “Learn to view the fire and ice being spewed at you as signs of pain.”

    It’s an excellent way to look at it. I’ve been in fist fights before(I try 100% to avoid them but when a fist is going full force at your face, I think it’s human instinct to make it stop any way you can) but later I heard that my oppressors were going through a lot of shit.
    That’s not an excuse or a justification for them to beat the shit out of me.
    But I think if the world had more empathy towards one another we would all live a much more peaceful life.

  • Jessi

    My father (b. 1946) once told me a story about a kid who bullied him. This kid would sit behind my dad on the bus and burn his neck and his arms with a cigarette. One day my dad got so mad that he took the briefcase he carried and swung it at the kid’s head, hitting him. Plenty of people saw him do it, but he never got in trouble for it and the kid with the cigarettes never touched him again.

    Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself.

  • http://twitter.com/balive2love Meagan Elizabeth

    Oh, what to write, what to write–right? Every human emotion stems from love or fear. After reading your blog about the incident in Stubenville OH, and then reading 2 more hours of bad news (google will get ya!).
    I was up all night with memories teasing my mind and I just had to write. Inserts blog post here:
    http://balive2love.blogspot.com/

    One year at Christmastime (my daughter was around 5), a haggard man was standing just outside the mall doors and as we walked passed he shouted, “You fucking BITCH”.

    My cheeks instantly flush and he is behind us now–is he going to whack me over the head and run off with my precious angel?!

    I turned around and blurted out, “Jesus loves you”.

    This was a good teaching experience for my daughter. So, in a way, I am thankful that person called me (us?) a bad name.

    Thank you and Anthony for stirring up my pot o’ motivation, to write again or to right again.

    Today, that is my answer.

    Oh and flowers, beat that cancer with a flower. No. You beat it with a Stossel-sized bat!

    Maybe, the next day, you pick a dandelion and give it to ‘em as a peace offering.

    Peace, Love, Dove, Crash Pads and Incense (In Sense)…Me-Again

  • PsychopathBunny

    Truth to be told, I used to beat up any boy who would dare to harm one of my friends or myself since I was in primary school until preparatory, so I totally understand Anthony’s point, and while I don’t think everyone should go and start a fight club and kick each other’s arses, I think I get Anthony’s point.

    There is a point where things have gone far enough that you need to stand up for yourself and fight back, but again this doesn’t apply for everyone. Every person is different and has a different situation. For me, most of the bullying I endured was psychological, so my weapons of choice eventually became a clever mind, a spiteful tongue and try to stay strong by any means, and when all of this failed, violence was my last resort. Eventually I noticed that my tactics were harming myself and trapping me in a continuous state of misery, so now I’m some sort of zen master and can easily don’t give a fuck about many things.

    Violence against bullies has become a taboo topic, and the general advice nowadays in schools are go tell an adult, but they never mention that sometimes there isn’t a trustworthy adult or that it won’t make a difference by telling them, so for my standards violence can be a legitimate option when fighting for your life. But in all cases what does apply is that among all the freaking people coexisting on this planet, there’s at least one bound to care about what happens to you, and remembering you don’t have to face it alone can be the best thing you can do for yourself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eve.condon Eve Wartenberg Condon

    as long as we’re sharing: my family moved to the suburbs when I was twelve. The neighborhood we moved from was working class and diverse, and our synagogue was a mile from our house. The stuck-up town we moved to was affluent, white, and Christian. Besides one other girl, my younger sister and I were the only Jewish kids in school.

    My parents had moved us here so that we could have a better life, but within weeks of us starting school, the neighborhood kids had us in their sights. They taunted us at the bus stop in the morning and the afternoon, calling us “dirty Jews” and throwing pennies at us.

    My parents instructed me to keep my head down and ignore them. One day, while we were trying to walk home, the line of neighborhood kids walking slowly ahead of us and taunting us while throwing change overhand at our heads, I noticed that my sister was crying. And I remembered that my parents had also told me, from the day she was born, to protect her.

    I charged up to one of the boys (the smallest, I’ll confess). While the words “Dirty Jew” left his lips, I whipped my backpack around and knocked him to the ground. Then I jumped on top of him, pulled his head up by his hair, and raked my fingernails across his face. He screamed. When I let him go, he ran towards his friends, who had gone silent with shock. I looked at them. I was shaking with rage. And they ran away.

    They never threw the pennies again. They never called us dirty Jews again. And I have absolutely no regrets.

  • http://twitter.com/starryeyes88 Call me Starry

    This is the first time I’ve ever commented here, but Anthony’s story was just so moving.

    Like many other commenters, I was bullied in school. A school, in fact, not too far from the one that Phoebe attended, five years later. I was an easy target–small and young-looking for my age, hadn’t really grown into myself yet, had no self-preservational instinct to fit in.

    Teachers turned a blind eye, or worse, fed into it. My parents told me to stop thinking about everyone else and just worry about my own business. No one stood up for me, except one girl. I never really even knew her, but she seemed to have figured out what my schedule was, and just kind of showed up after the class I had with the most bullies.

    I was lucky to have her. I was lucky to have theater as a safe outlet. I count myself lucky to have survived the middle/high school gauntlet with no worse injury than crippling social anxiety and fear of large groups. Some kids don’t make it. Phoebe didn’t, and it breaks my heart.

    I am the last person to advocate violence, and I would be far more likely to fight with books than bats…but all the same, I wish someone had told me to get a bat. I wish I’d fought back.

  • andi

    One of my friends (who, by the way, is a super fan of yours and insisted my partner and I come to your concert in Vancouver!) told me that you were writing about bullying on your blog and that I should check it out. Thank you for opening up a dialogue about bullying. Thank you for using your celebrity status for “good”.

    I feel privileged to manage an amazing group of young people who deliver anti-bullying workshops to other students in schools using interactive theatre as a teaching method. When I sat down at my computer to write the funding proposal for this project, I knew that it would have an impact, but as with all youth projects, I wasn’t exactly certain how it would go. I was pretty sure it would work, but you just never know if youth will respond in a positive way to something an adult designed!

    I am happy to report that the young people who are in our troupe are simply astounding human beings who volunteer their time every single week to promote messages of inclusion, kindness, empathy and what to do in a bullying situation as a target or a witness. Some started in our project as early as age 14. I get teary eyed when I see the troupe in action these days. They are truly brave to speak out in front of their peers. They are fearless in the creation of their “art”. They are leaders.

    We made a documentary about them so that educators and youth workers could show it and inspire other youth to speak out, take a stand and create their own initiatives. We had an amazing premiere screening event and are working on getting the documentary out to teachers and educators.

    Amanda Todd’s mother came to our screening. She has focused her energies into anti-bullying awareness and projects. I am grateful that she has the attention of the media right now to bring awareness to an issue that is so painful.

    I am not a celebrity. I am just a regular person, but I am SO proud and grateful that, in my own little way, I have created a “container” for rich “content” to unfold, for changes in attitudes to happen, to possibly save someone. My reach isn’t huge, but it can have a ripple effect.

    I respect and admire people who speak out and aren’t afraid to tackle tough topics. Again, thank you for using your celebrity to create positive social change. Thank you for providing inspiration for others to take a stand.

    • http://www.facebook.com/eve.condon Eve Wartenberg Condon

      Can you tell me where I could find your documentary
      ?

  • watchmeboogie

    Whoa, I had forgotten, and have Learned Something about, a bully I had.

    I walked to school, maybe 3/4 of a mile? There weren’t many kids in my neighborhood. One of them was this girl who was 2 or 3 grades ahead, and lived a few houses away. I’d frequently pass her and her shorter, meaner-looking friend going to or from school. They ignored me, which was fine (like a poster above mentioned, I’ve always avoided eye contact/looking at faces of strangers out of fear).

    One day, out of nowhere, Mean Shorty screamed “CUNT!!!” at me. I had to have been maybe 12? I’m not sure I’d even heard the word before. And from thereon, every single time she saw me she would scream “CUNT!!!” at me. I can’t believe I’d forgotten because it went on for more than a year, maybe two years (long enough that even I started getting bored). Alone, with a group of friends, didn’t matter, same thing. Sometimes I didn’t even hear her before I heard it. “CUNT!!!” She’d scream it into the phone after prank-calling my house during dinner, pretending to be from class.

    I wanted so badly to know – what did I DO? It was endlessly frustrating and made no sense. I didn’t know her or any of her friends at all. Why did she hate me so much? But now I understand… it wasn’t about me at all, I was just a handy target who never fought back. She obviously saw/overheard mistreatment or was mistreated herself to behave that way. She needed to scream at someone else for a change. She was just a kid, too.

    Fuck me, this whole 3-part blog has been just… an experience, right? And now we’re out of tissues.

    • http://twitter.com/LittleJanelleS Janelle Sheetz

      SERIOUSLY. I’m still reeling.

  • http://twitter.com/revsean revsean

    I think the take away is not necessarily about returning violence with violence, but about doing *something.* Using courage and surprise to show the bully that you value your own life, and you’re not going to just shut up and take it. What bullies understand and secretly fear is strength.

  • Guest

    The last time I was “bullied” (I was harassed and insulted by some random young strangers in the street, they couldn’t have been more than 15 years old) I felt almost sorry for them, worried for them. At first I was just hurt and confused and angered by what they’d said and done (like I said, it was completely random, three kids I’d never seen before stopped me in the street, spat and insulted me, then walked off laughing).The thing was, at the time they did that, I was only just out of hospital. Maybe a month (?) out of the psych ward. So, while I was hurt and angry and disappointed in these kids for their random act of in-the-street bullying, a new thought occurred to me almost immediately after. That thought was “god, those kids are stupid. They had no idea who I was. I could’ve been that woman I was in the psych ward with who carried a kitchen knife with her whenever she left the house. I could’ve been that other woman who bit and punched and kicked anyone who challenged her. For fucks sake, I could’ve been anyone.”

    I thought how incredibly dangerous what those kids had done was. I thought to myself “has it never occurred to them, has no-one ever told them, what could happen to them? What the consequences of their picking on random people could be?” Or even kids at school. They picked out a stranger who happened to be walking towards them. I could’ve easily been that harmless-looking knife-in-her-pocket lady. She looked a bit like me. She was local enough to be in the same psych ward as me. SHE, off her meds (or just having a bad day) I’ve no doubt in my mind, would have stabbed them for what they did. She probably wouldn’t have stopped. And in her mind it would’ve been totally justifiable. They attacked her. She fought back. She wouldn’t have felt an ounce of guilt.

    I just couldn’t get it out of my mind for ages after. What stupidity! What risk! To bully someone for no reason. You really have no way of knowing who you’re dealing with, how that person might react.. with a bat, with a knife. I thought to myself, someone should ask those kids if they’ve ever thought about that. If they’ve ever considered what could happen to THEM as a result of their behaviour. The repercussions for THEM of their cruelty and thoughtlessness. I’m certain it never even crossed their minds. They probably did it because they wanted to feel big, because they thought it was funny, whatever. But since that incident I’ve flinched somewhat for arrogant bullies.. kids or adults.. who are stupid enough to believe that everyone will simply cower and cry. That their actions won’t provoke an equal or much worse reaction. Part of me (not a part I’m particularly proud of) hopes that someday each bully DOES pick on the wrong person. It’s not a noble hope, I know, but FUCK the lessons they could learn…

  • http://twitter.com/astarynight Crystal Michelle

    or, get a bat! haha, gotta like the quirky ending to this.

    anthony, your dear friend from childhood, really hit the nail on the head. there are times when the only real solution to certain situations of bullying, despite not solving anything at all, is revenge. i mean, i’ve known numerous peers throughout my pre-teens and teens who’d even try to tell an authority figure, or, an adult, at any rate, about being bullied, but it didn’t stop it from happening. if someone is out to get you, no one can stop them.

    i’d also like to note, how you react to to bullying, as with most instances of human interaction, is amost completely situational. it all goes back to that fundamental lesson in social psychology called the “fundamental attribution error.” while i believe most people are able to control their behavior to a certain extent, i think various underlying factors control the situation. there are certain cases of violence in which people can’t just let things slide, it’s an innate reaction to fight back. and i believe if a person is being unjustifiably harmed (physically wounded for no good reason), than they should stand up for themselves and fight back.
    i truly believe pacificism is the best route to go, but sometimes, sadly, bullying can be taken too far. that’s when i think it’s necessary to fight to protect yourself.

  • http://twitter.com/astarynight Crystal Michelle

    or, get a bat! haha, gotta like the quirky ending to this.

    anthony, your dear friend from childhood, really hit the nail on the head. there are times when the only real solution to certain situations of bullying, despite not solving anything at all, is fighting back. by the same token, i think some bullies, will never learn their lesson. i mean, i’ve known numerous peers throughout my pre-teens and teens who’d even try to tell an authority figure, or, an adult, at any rate, about being bullied, but it didn’t stop it from happening. if someone is out to get you, no one can stop them.

    i’d also like to note, how you react to to bullying, as with most instances of human interaction, is amost completely situational. it all goes back to that fundamental lesson in social psychology called the “fundamental attribution error.” while i believe most people are able to control their behavior to a certain extent, i think various underlying factors control the situation. there are certain cases of violence in which people can’t just let things slide, it’s an innate reaction to fight back. and i believe if a person is being unjustifiably harmed (physically wounded for no good reason), than they should stand up for themselves and fight back.
    i truly believe pacificism is the best route to go, but sometimes, sadly, bullying can be taken too far. that’s when i think it’s necessary to fight to protect yourself.

  • Guest

    I once punched a boy who was bullying my little brother. It was a strange feeling. And, frankly, an amazing one. I don’t regret it. I’d never stood up to the people who bullied me and I’d never had anyone stand up for me. But maybe I always wished I had. Because when I saw this boy (in my year, three years older than my little brother) pick up my brother by the neck with both hands.. I thumped him, HARD, without thinking. This boy did not know I was standing right behind him (or that the boy he was throttling had a big sister). I’d been half watching something go on behind me, nonchalant, cool girl, but the moment the boy picked up my little brother, I turned, raised my fist and punched the boy as hard as I could in the back. I remember the sound of the punch reverberating through the boys torso and around the school corridor like BOOM. He dropped my brother immediately and turned around, his mouth hanging open in shock. I hissed at him, like a demon, through gritted teeth ‘Leave. Him. Alone.” The boy (and all his friends who had been standing around laughing while this bully picked on my brother) was totally silent. I glared at him and his friends as they shuffled away, shocked and cowed. Everyone was shocked. My little brother, my friends (when I turned back to them, they were looking at me, slack-jawed, like I’d just transformed into She-Hulk and back in the space of 20 seconds). Everyone. My little brother was a/ thrilled and b/ never bothered again. And when I mentioned to my Mum, years later, what I’d done.. her eyes shined and she grinned big. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her look so proud of me. And that’s the truth.

  • Grace

    When I was 13 I went to School for the first time, I had been Home schooled up to that point and was Completely unprepared for 9th Grade.
    In one class this guy always made fun of me an since I would be almost certainly reading a large hardback work of Fiction I used to hit him on the head with it not hard just in a leave me alone sort of way. He eventually got the message that I would not stand to be made fun of and I stopped hitting him with books.
    I know its not the best thing to do but I always find that Large books like the complete works of Jane Austen, the Lord of the Rings, any Harry potter, or most Stephan Kings work make either a good shield, weapon, excellent read or all three.
    I Have hit people with heavy tomes of literature.

    • http://twitter.com/GlizzerCat Glizzer

      Not condoning the violence, but I got a chuckle over this, especially the last line!

  • damaia

    Most of the time, there’s something else you can do. Talk to someone, talk to the bully/attacker, cause a massive, embarrassing scene, leave and never come back, what have you.

    Other times, the only thing you can do is kick a carefully calculated amount of ass. There was this guy in high school who simply could not get over grabbing my ass in the hallway. I didn’t even know him that well, but for whatever reason he decided he had the right to help himself to a handful whenever he felt like it. I yelled at him. Teachers yelled at him. He was threatened with suspension. He simply would not stop. I told him if he did it again, I’d hurt him. He laughed. Soon after, he decided to grab my (then) green belt ass when we were halfway up a short flight of stairs. They call it a “flight” of stairs for a reason, as it turns out. I kicked him in the chest and he flew down the stairs, smashed into the wall, and landed in a heap. After that, he took to calling me a bitch loudly and often, but he never quite dared to touch me again.

    That’s the thing about schools in general, I think. You’re just stuck with the people around you for at least a year (and often much longer), and if you don’t establish how interactions with the problem people are going to go, things just keep getting worse. And, at least where I went to school back in the late Cretaceous, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, administrators feel it’s best to stick kids who don’t get along together as often as possible (especially bullies and the bullied), so that they “learn to work it out”. Um, no. Some people are crazy and/or dangerous and you need to stay the fuck away from them, even at a youngish age. If you can’t/aren’t allowed to stay the fuck away from them, you need to establish that they’re not allowed to insult or injure you. Occasionally, this can only be conveyed by physical force.

    This is also where I take a moment to encourage anyone and everyone on here to study a martial art. Not only will you (probably) learn to kick people down flights of stairs, I’ve found that martial arts schools generally are populated with kind, interesting people who make good friends. (Also, for my two cents, try to pick a school that doesn’t care about going to/winning tournaments. Your education will likely be better and less rushed for it. Unless, of course, tournaments are your thing.) Kicking people down flights of stairs has admittedly limited applications, but more friends (who, as an added bonus, can probably also kick people down flights of stairs) are good pretty much across the board.

  • C Frey

    I did that once! I was in… Grade Twelve? I was out walking around town with a friend in winter. And one of the little twerps, a kid my younger brother’s age, was walking behind us with his friend and he started yelling personal insults at me. So I decided to deal with it. I pushed him down, sat on him and gave him a motherfuckin’ face wash (for non-snow people, that means you rub snow in their face). He was yelling about daddy’s lawyers and I was all, yeah? Go ahead!

    It felt GREAT.

  • Michael Dow

    The most basic function of living in society is protection from random violence. If you aren’t reasonably safe, you aren’t living in society. Thus, Phoebe Prince wasn’t living in society. Neither was Trayvon Martin. In a civilized culture, going to the authorities for help is a sensible thing to do. If there are no authorities, or none who can be bothered to help you, getting a bat is all you’ve got left.

    thanks for sharing your friend’s story.

    And, as I said at Stav’s party in New York, I love you and your bravery in this blog.

    LLAP

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=332601009 Stephanie RaincloudAxberg

    I, like almost everyone who has already commented, grew up being bullied. It started in elementary school, when I started hitting puberty in third grade. I read a lot as a kid, and was taller than everyone else since I hit puberty super early. Thankfully for me it was all verbal teasing, really stupid things that kids call each other, but I had no emotional coping mechanisms to deal with the really hurtful, terrible things they said to me. I had a lot of trauma in my childhood, and the teasing made it worse. I would come home crying every day. My mother was a strong Christian, and told me to “turn the other cheek”, and would tell me that the other kids only bullied me because they didn’t like themselves. Understanding that at a young age didn’t really help the situation at all. I was in fifth grade when my parents divorced, and my mother’s mental illness, which was undiagnosed at the time, was getting increasingly out of hand. Most of my trauma stems from experiences I had with my mother’s mental illness, and that’s around the time I started cutting myself. None of the school administrators or teachers would listen to me about the bullying, and if they did they would drag the other kids in and give them a talking-to, but that only made things worse. In sixth grade I started middle school, and it escalated. There was an eight grade boy who came to the same bus stop as me, and he made it his life’s mission to torment me. He would call me a dyke, a whore, a slut, stupid. He tried to body-check me into on-coming traffic several times, he would throw things at me on the bus. It was terrible. I had a friend who didn’t go to the same school as I did who lived on the same court as the kid who would pick on me. One day after getting off of the bus I decided to walk over to her house, and the kid tried to block my path through the alley-way. All of his eighth grade buddies were standing around in a circle laughing at me, so I told him to move. He said, “What are you going to do, you fat bitch?” and something inside of me snapped. I grabbed him by his shirt and threw him down on the ground and started kicking the crap out of him. I gave him a bloody nose and ripped his shirt, and his “friends” just stood around in a circle and laughed as this eighth-grade guy got his ass handed to him by a sixth-grade girl.

    Later that night the kid’s mom came to our house to complain to my dad that I had beat up her son. She wanted him to replace the shirt I had torn. My dad told her about the things that her son had been doing to me every day, and she just turned around and left. That kid never messed with me again. I actually think that is one of the defining moments of my young life, finally standing up for myself. It was exhilarating. I haven’t been in any physical altercations since then. I really don’t like violence, and I think that if a situation can be handled without it, then it should be. The thing is, if I ever have kids and they are getting bullied to that same extreme, and all of the pacifist ways of dealing with the situation have been exhausted, I will probably tell them to fight back. I will also try to teach them to see the wounded heart in each of those bullies, like my mom did, so that they can understand that violence isn’t always the answer.

    There was another kid who bullied me a lot when I was in 5th grade, and him and I had gotten into a physical altercation after he called my mom a “water buffalo” (in 5th grade, that was a bad insult), and all that stuff with my mom was going on right around that time so I picked him up and told him if he ever talked about my mom again I was going to hurt him, and then threw him down on the ground. We both got in-school suspension, and we were moved to separate classes. The difference is, this kid ended up becoming one of my best friends later in life. He later told me about how his parents were getting divorced at the time, and it was easier for him to lash out at me than deal with what was happening at home. He apologized for bullying me, and to this day I consider him the brother of my heart.

    The thing is, for every mean thing some kid said to me, I internalized it and said way worse things to myself. I was my own worst bully. No one could hate me as much as I hated myself, so in a way I thought that I deserved it. All the years of teasing, of self-injury, of suicidal ideation, it was all such a waste, and for the most part I did it to myself. I had to take ownership of that before I could put the bullying away. It still haunts me, wondering what people really think about me, wondering if they are talking about me behind my back, trying to not get super-defensive at slight criticism. I didn’t grow up on facebook; I was a teenager when myspace and livejournal were just becoming popular, and I don’t know if I could have handled internet bullying. My heart goes out to any kids who have to deal with that now.

    Amanda, thank you for sparking this dialogue. It’s amazing that we can all come together and share our stories in this safe space. I think many of us have found a lot of emotional healing in the last couple of days through the comments of your blog. I’ve made at least one new friend. I can literally feel the love and warmth reaching out to me through the words of the people below. It’s a beacon of light in an otherwise dark and fucked up world. I hope someday I can meet you in person and give you a hug, because, as I’ve said in almost every other comment on your blog, your music has shaped the woman I’ve become, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without you doing what you love to do.

    Also, my prayers are with Anthony and his family and with you. In this past year I’ve lost both my mom and my step-mother to cancer, so I know some of the battle he and his family are going through. I’m sending as much healing energy his was as I can manage. <3 <3 <3

  • SarahJane

    I know people rightly fear violent response, especially these days when guns are so readily available. But having just read loads of advice to a ten year old boy, which tries to explain that these bullies are weak and afraid, and not to worry because things will get better…sod it, mentally and physically equip him for retaliating to put an end to it once and for all. It always works, because these guys are sad cowards, and probably victims themselves. One good bout, shock the shit out of them, the worm turns. Don’t mix up liberal pacifism (I am a pacifist and am lucky enough never to have hit or been hit, but I have been bullied…by children and adults), with the need for good self defence.

  • Jez

    I was bought up in a pacifist family – my dad grew up in a really rough area of Auckland, NZ’s biggest and most violent city, and saw enough fights to turn him off it for good, and Mum grew up a strict Catholic with a firmly instilled belief in turning the other cheek and loving your enemy and doing unto others. physical violence is a totally foreign thing to me – I was never smacked, any physical fights with my siblings were swiftly broken up and rewarded with lectures on using our words, and the idea of hitting someone was associated with an almost tangible revulsion.

    Me and my two brothers have all been exposed to varying degrees of bullying – for me, it was mainly snide comments about being too clever and not good enough in sports, but for them it ranged from having possessions stolen and thrown over fences/in mud/in the toilet to being physically pushed around by boys four years older than them. The fact that they are both on the autistic spectrum made every instance worse and made them clear targets.

    Throughout every instance, Mum’s reaction was the same – she told us never, under any circumstance, to physically retaliate. Mum told us to remember that, no matter what the circumstances of the bullies were, we were better than them. I know it doesn’t sound PC when you put it like that, but what she meant was that we were better than them because we didn’t hurt other people – no matter what their home lives were like, she would say, there is no excuse for treating someone else badly, and because they did and we didn’t we were (morally, at least) superior. ‘You are clever enough,’ she would say, ‘to understand that these people are doing the wrong thing for reasons often rooted in circumstances they cannot control, and you are clever enough to rise above it. If you hit back, you aren’t making yourself better – you are lowering yourself to their level, and you have ceased to be cleverer than them. As soon as you hit back, you are as bad as them. If you never hit back, you are better than they are, because you have done the Right Thing.’ She quoted the same line of Jesus’s that Anthony did – ‘forgive them, they know not what they are doing’. The bullies acted ignorantly, not knowing what they were doing, while we acted with intelligence and ‘maturity’. We were the bigger man for this intelligence and understanding. It resulted in a kind of aloof sympathy for the bullies, and with that mindset we all came through our school years relatively unscathed.

    (Of course, it helped that our mum was a warrior for us, storming into school and demanding to see the dean whenever a complaint of bullying was not sufficiently followed up. I think the office staff were a little bit scared of her.)

    For me, that’s always been the ‘right’ response – seeing violence and bullying as the moral low ground, and learning that as non-retaliatory victims we occupy the high ground. I don’t know whether it would work in cases of severe bullying and I imagine that a lot of victims wouldn’t have the self-belief and constant parental reassurance to take such a stance. But the idea that being the non-violent one makes you the better one has always stuck with me, and even now when I encounter a situation with someone being unpleasant I still take comfort in thinking, ‘their odiousness is due to their ignorance, and my ability to smile and walk away is due to my superiority’.

    (It helps that I did have a kind of bat. For me, getting the highest grades in the class and annual prizes for top student in my year were warning swings, and being the Dux Litterarum (NZ version of the valedictorian) and getting four scholarship awards – a record for the school – at the end of my final year were the teeth-shattering, nose-breaking wallops that finally made any and all nasty girls back off. If you’re lucky enough to have something you can do better than your tormentors, this is the biggest and heaviest bat you could ever possess. use it.)

  • taniasue

    I decided instead of telling my story on a comment to finally make my once private blog public. It’s my truth. To understand it you have to start with the first entry April 1st. I had 2 friends commit suicide (one on twitter) and friends for years hv tried to get me to share. So, I did with invites. You gave me the courage to make it public. I hope it helps someone <3 thank you and for anyone who reads, plz be gentle, comment ask ?'s I'm not scared anymore….. taniasue-mytruth.blogspot.com

    • wishful reader

      Can’t find your blog, taniasue. Did you take it down? Or is there a different address?

  • insignifikunt

    sometimes bullies don’t realise what they’re getting into…

    this is disturbing

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isfn4OxCPQs

  • Jacqueline

    I came from a home where I witnessed violence on a daily basis. Everyone in my family was angry. My mother was angry- she took it out on my father and brothers, My father took it out on us kids and my brothers went out into the world and took it out on others, in school and on strangers. My mother came from an abusive home and she carried that anger to us, and we are another generation carrying it on again. So I am a great believer that violence just creates more violence.
    Growing up that way did one thing for me though. I wasn’t scared of anything at school. The threat of violence didn’t bother me at all, because I knew what to expect. I knew I would fight back, with all the burning rage that existed in me. I knew if that ever happened I would win. And weirdly, just that knowledge prevented me from hitting out.
    Except on two occasions. The first was in the middle of a silent French exam, when the boy next to me was pushing me about, pulling my test paper away from me to copy the answers and just being generally offensive. I lost it. But I can’t tell you what I did- I blacked out for moments, and when I came round I found myself standing, my chair on it’s side against the wall and the entire class staring, open-mouthed, at me. That seriously scared me- whatever I did that boy never touched me again. But a part of me thought- what if I had hurt him and not even known?
    The second time was more satisfying. A girl had been taunting me for months and I had been ignoring it. However one sports lesson I and my best friend, and she and her friend were sent to play tennis on an isolated court behind the school. This court could be seen nowhere except if you stood in a very specific spot in one of the music rooms. The bully thought it a perfect opportunity to taunt me.
    She didn’t lay a finger on me. What she did was say something so offensive that I have never repeated it to anybody.
    I went cold inside, and very calm. I took the tennis ball I was holding it and batted it at her head. Then another, and another. I started ranging about, picking up the loose balls around me, batting them at her, all in total silence, without saying a word. She started screaming and running about trying to avoid the balls. I ran out of balls and started for her with the bat. At this point my best friend grabbed me by the arms and held me back while her friend dragged her off the court.
    She couldn’t even look at me after that, let alone say anything to me.
    I don’t advocate violence. But sometimes it works. And I’m not ashamed of what I did.

  • http://twitter.com/Cara_1969 Cara

    Anthony’s story gave me a flashback to my own childhood. We were 5 sisters in a single income family, I was second youngest. My older sisters were 9, 11 and 12 years older and were all shorter and bigger around the waist than me. Clothes were a luxury and I was 10 before I owned a brand new piece of clothing. The leftover pants I wore were too wide and none of them reach down to my ankles. Belts were for boys only, but my mother made me wear my dad’s old belt, that she made a new hole in, but wouldn’t ruin it by cutting it. With wide pants stopping above my ankles and bulging around my waist where a belt wound 3 times around, or hung down below the pants, kept them up, I was the neighbourhood clown.

    I was constantly picked on and teased by the girls, but since there were a lot of boys, who couldn’t care less how my clothes looked like as long as I could climb trees as well as them, I had friends enough to not be too much bothered. When I was 10-11, things got worse. It was no longer acceptable to have male friends, we were older, the name-calling became uglier and more cruel, it got to me and it really started to change how I felt about myself.

    I mustered up the guts to ask my dad for help. I couldn’t ask my mom, because she was my biggest bully(which is another story I’m not going into here). My dad thought as Anthony’s and told me to fight back. I remember asking him “What if they’re bigger, stronger and know they can win the fight?” He replied, “Well, then you get beaten up and you hurt for a while, but as long as you don’t show fear and don’t give in, they’ll eventually stop and stay away and the rest of the kids will stop calling you names, etc too.” In my warped mind this made sense. I had been beaten up by my ‘biggest bully’ so much I had lost my fear of physical pain. To me, physical pain was something that hurt relatively briefly and then went away and you didn’t think about it. Verbal and mental abuse were a lot worse, because it made you feel bad about yourself and that feeling stuck with you and didn’t ever leave.

    I did as my dad advised and it did help to a certain extent. I got a reputation for being stronger than I looked and for fighting like a boy. I got beaten up a time or two afterwards, but it did eventually make the older girls stop bullying me openly, because they feared I’d punch them in their face. It didn’t give me many friends, though it did give me a kind of confidence. Enough so, that when I was 13, I dared stand up to my ‘biggest bully’ and explain that if she ever laid a hand on me again, I would beat her butt to the end of world and back!” I actually said those words. I had never dared, even thinking of speaking up against my mom, ever before and I don’t know who of us was most shocked, but it did the trick. I never suffered any more fractured bones, or got locked up in the cellar afterwards. It did not stop the verbal abuse, however. I had to learn how to deal with that through my teenage years.

    As revsean said in an earlier comment: “What bullies understand and secretly fear is strength.”

    Calm logic is, in my experience, the best defense against older and/or adult verbal abusers and bullies. It’s difficult, but it can be learned. I schooled myself into acting calm and assertive. When I was told that she hated my guts and wanted me to die in a horrible way, I responded that I understood she was having a bad day, but speaking such words were unacceptable and to please stop it. It didn’t actually stop the abuse, but it did make me feel better about myself. It enabled me to feel I could rise above it, somehow.

    When I was 17 a male friend came running up to me in a state of panic. It was Saturday night and we were gathered in the town square with a bunch of people celebrating some kind of festival – I’ve forgotten which. He had been bullied by some younger boys and had tried standing up to them and it had failed. I knew my friend well and I knew that he was prone to speak without thinking, so I made him tell me the whole story. He had, as I suspected, been calling them names back. This was a tall, thin guy who preferred discussing fashion, rather than fighting. The thought of actually having to fight, had him hyperventilating.

    Suddenly a huge mountain of muscle came running up to us, grabbed my friend’s neck and dragged him off. By the time I reached them, my friend was on the ground screaming and the mountain was sitting on top preparing to start serving blows.

    I knew I had to stop him, or my friend would quite possibly die, because this mountain had actually killed people in his violent anger haze before. I also knew that there was no way I’d get away from a fight with him without permanent injuries. I didn’t have time to work out any prepared or well thought out plan. I acted in pure desperation. My goal was to stop the fight and as I believed at that time, save a life. I bent down and screamed into his ear. One word. “SISSYBOY!”

    He froze in mid punch, turned his glazed eyes around and stared at me. He blinked a bit when he noticed it was a stick-thin young girl calling HIM a sissyboy and I knew(from experience) that he for this small second was baffled out of the killing zone stage and that what I told him next would determine whether this would end in violence or not. I told him in a calm assertive voice that he needed to get off my friend and come with me, because he was making a huge mistake. By this time there were a crowd of people around us and I knew that it was useless to try talking sense to a bully if there were bystanders listening and watching. I waited until I knew he was still ‘with me’ and continued to say that if he still felt the same after I had talked to him, he was free to try beat the crap out of me and my friend both.

    Fortunately it worked. He got up, told the younger bullies who were standing there crying for blood, to watch my friend so he didn’t escape and came along with me around the corner away from the crowd. I told him a bullshit tale of how I had heard of him and that the story in town was that he was a decent enough guy who only went after those who deserved to be beaten, blah, blah, blah, which he agreed upon. Naturally. (It is amazing how far a little flattering can get you when in a tight spot) I then went on to explain the situation with my friend and how he, the mountain, was actually being used as a simple tool for the real bullies, who hadn’t told him the whole story. It ended with him thanking me for stopping him in making a huge mistake and giving me a hug.

    We both learned a valuable lesson, my friend and I. We both learned that thinking before speaking is always smart and staying calm, using cold logic can be effective even when the odds against you seem impossibly large.

  • Betti Boom

    i also keep it the pacifist way – “eye for an eye and soon the world is blind”! i think there are other ways than physical violence to defend bullying. maybe its because i believe in karma (and i guess more people should do so)…. maybe its just my own little world….. at least it works very well for me! over the past years i realized if i treat other people as good as possible, it comes back to me. its like a system of self gratification! and by that i dont mean being nice to people who treat you like shit. its more like you have to ignore them….. sometimes even feel sorry for them…. or trap them in their own selfish thoughts. it only costs my own energy, if i put time and effort in trying to be mean to others and until today i recognized that destiny always had a good go at bullies…. sooner or later, they’re all been hitted back ;-)

    thats it for now. thanks for sharing, amanda! thanks for sharing, every single one! i really love and enjoy reading all different stories and aspects…. love.

  • SafetyPinner

    I love all this. I’m so glad we have this place to drop our stories, where others can lift them and wipe off the dirt and grime and hand them back.

    I was bullied, like most of us here. It never went beyond words. There was usually a kid weirder than me who caught the brunt of the bullies’ attentions– and those kids always seemed to be my friends. I don’t know, looking back now, whether my friendship was out of compassion and understanding or out of the desire to NOT be the weirdest one. The least unpopular girl is the queen of the weirdest kids. Being bullied made me into an angry young woman, but it never burst through my fists.

    There was one girl, I remember, who was diminutive and spoke funny and wore very thick glasses. She was teased relentlessly, and on one particular day they took her glasses from her locker (during swim class) and tossed them into the laundry bin with the dirty towels. I remember trying to help find them, and wishing I knew who’d done it, and feeling guilty because I knew that even if I could pick out the culprit, I’d be too scared to turn attention onto myself.

    Now I’m a mom. I’m 32. I don’t have to deal with that particular lobster pot of assholes anymore.

    But my son does.

    A week ago, some boys emptied his locker (during swim class) and tossed his things all over the place. One of them took him MP3 player, tossed it in a urinal, and pissed on it.

    He’s 12.

    I thought about that near-sighted girl when his principal called to tell me about the “incident.” I thought– “I wasn’t the weirdest one. I was quiet and wore strange clothes and was maybe a little too smart, but I wasn’t the one on the bottom.”

    I’m afraid my son IS. I’m afraid that he’ll be the one– always picked on, always hunted, always waiting for the next terrible thing to happen until he’s had so much that he can’t hold any more. I wonder, sometimes, if I’ll know before he does something terrible. To himself. Or to someone else. I try to talk to him. He knows the kids are, if anything, to be pitied– that they must have some seriously screwed up lives if they get off on hurting someone else. He knows the school wants him to report to a teacher if something is happening. He knows, and just like I knew, he realizes how little good it’ll do.

    I don’t know what to do.

    The angry girl still inside me says: “You walk into that school. You don’t sit quietly and have a respectful meeting with the principal and guidance counselor. You walk in, you pound your fist on the desk, you lean over and you growl, ‘Something is going to change TODAY.’ Then you pick up your son, and you show him how to hit back, and how to stand up so tall that nobody can push him over.”

    The meek, much-bullied, fearful girl says: “You train your boy to keep his head down. You help him to dress more normally and speak like an average kid and take showers and not be weird. You train him to pretend to be someone else long enough to survive school.”

    I usually listen to the frightened girl. Then I hate myself for it, and I know my son must hate me for it too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.k.sams Sarah Kathleen Sams

    once upon a time, I had a world history teacher that was also a wrestling coach. he was like a short Dr Cox from scrubs, and my school had an outbreak of meningitis which gets detected with spinal taps. he had gotten meningitis before, and he must have told every class the story of getting a spinal tap, and how it hurt more than all of his wrestling injuries combined. the needle missed the right spot the first time, and so he got poked twice. I think he probably scared everyone. Anthony is braver than I would ever be with it, after hearing my teacher’s story, I would probably be begging for an alternate way of testing or to be knocked out for it. Good luck guy, and I’ll share this blog trilogy with my bullied-since-6th grade bro.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MissMandala Mandi Blahey

    Rambo. That was what we called her. She was much bigger than the rest of us, with a signature Rambo-style mullet. 2 years older than me. 3 sisters in the school with us, and all just as mean. I, 1 of 3 girls in a 14 person class, was her target. I was smart, chubby, and involved in everything I could be at school, because I needed to escape a life at home that was SO much worse than I ever need to tell anyone. My “mother” cared little about the torture Rambo inflicted on me, and even less about the threats she threw at me on a daily basis, while she chased me home with a patrol flag in her hand, threatening to “spill my brains all over the road so she could dance on them”. 6th grade, after 5 years of her, was when I finally got my moment. It was winter in Manitoba, Canada ( -35c) and I was dreading another cold run home, sliding all the way. My friend (and crush) Chris finally looked at me and said “Look, neither of us got Dads, and neither of us got Mom’s who care. Lets take care of this together”. So, that day, when Rambo walked out to the back of the school, I yelled at her, and she cam running. Chris appears from behind the tetherball poles and grabs her, screaming at me to get to the tetherball poles. He drags her over, and proceeds to wrap the cord around her, tying her to the pole. She struggled, then began screaming obscenities at us. We just stood there, watching. After a few minutes, she got quiet. We proceeded to take the next 10 minutes to tell her how she made us hurt, and all the times she made me puke from crying so hard, and really pouring out all the emotion. A funny thing happened then. Rambo, for the first time in 5 years, cried. Screamed at me “How the fuck do you think it feels when it happens to me every day too? “Cept I’m a lot smaller than my Dad, so you got less to worry about!” I put down the pole I had been brandishing as I screamed at her, and walked over to her slowly. I untied her, and readied myself for the punch. Instead, she simply ran. Hard. That day changed me. That one tiny thing showed me that other people are not here to shoulder my hurt, or take my frustrations out on. We are here to share LOVE. We are here to understand eachother. We are here to connect, however that looks. Some days I wonder what ever happened to Rambo. I hope she found happy. I hope she found love. I wish every one of you to find the peace that I have. <3 #onelife

  • http://twitter.com/sciamachy Sciamachy

    Hehe, that story reminds me so much of my dad. His dad moved their family from Ireland to Warrington in 1924 or thereabouts, & my dad was born in Warrington in 1932, into a country where signs saying “No blacks, no dogs, no Irish” were common on boarding house doors. My granddad was utterly fecking mental, but there was a method to it. He scared the living shit out of his kids – he’d been a blacksmith & farrier back in Newport, co Mayo, & he could hold the anvil straight out on his wrists in front of him, he was that strong. Nobody else could even lift it, that my Dad knew. When the guy came round selling tools, he’d bet the guy that he could smash the pincers with just the grip of his hands, and if he could, they’d give him them free. He did it every time, & then just re-tempered the jaws better than new so it could stand up to his use. When he went senile with Alzheimer’s, he thought he was back in Ireland & wanted to go out of a night on his 20 mile constitutional walks. The orderlies tried to restrain him so he knocked them out & off he went.

    So anyway, when my dad started school, the rule was, if anyone yells racist abuse at you, you batter them. Granddad would ask the lads, “Who’s the hardest in your class?” & then when a name was grudgingly admitted, he’d say “I want to hear by the end of the week that you’ve beaten them, in a fair fight.” – any shirking & he’d thrash the shirker. My dad hates him, even though he’s been dead for over 44 years now, but by the time my dad did his national service, he ended up in the RAF boxing team at RAF Cosford, and when the fair came round to Warrington with the professional boxing tent, he & his 4 brothers would place bets not to see who could go the distance, but to see which of them would knock the pro out quickest. They were kind of a force to be reckoned with – but all the same, they had a decency to them.

    There was one episode I’ve heard about when my dad was a young man, & another chap was bad-mouthing a girl outside a dance-hall. My dad didn’t like this at all, so he offered the guy out, challenged him to a fight. He beat him bloody, but then took him back to his to get him cleaned up, loaned him a fresh shirt & a tie & brought him back to the dance. Weird in this day & age, but that’s how they did things back then. He taught the guy manners, & then treated him with decency & good manners.

    I won’t be to my kids what my granddad was to his kids – I won’t brutalise or scare them, but I try to make sure they know how to handle themselves, and how to behave themselves.

  • ambc

    I was bullied by my mom regularly as a child. I’m grown now, married and have two kids, but she still finds ways to insult me, criticize me, or make passive-agressive remarks. She talks about my weight (even though it’s normal with my age and height), tells me I’m a bad parent, etc. It’s to the point where I barely speak to her. If I have to see her (when I visit my dad), I panic and get ulcers in my mouth from stressing out over it. When I was younger, I was singled out between my four siblings. She made fun of me when I was diagnosed with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, made me take random pregnancy tests or drug tests, and tried to convince me to leave my husband. I’m not even sure for what reason, to be honest.

    I’ve been to therapy, and I’m focusing on positive things. I’m less depressed now, but sometimes the memories drag me down. But for my kids’ sakes, I just want to be a great mom to them and never make them feel the way I felt.

    • http://twitter.com/Cara_1969 Cara

      Sending lots of love. You’re beautiful and there is nothing wrong with you. Recognizing it and not doing this to your own children makes you a whole lot better!

    • jaylynne51

      ambc – your mother sounds like mine – a malignant narcissist – which is now a recognized mental disorder. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! Please try reading “Narcissists Suck” – a blog by a woman who wrote about the malignant narcissists who nearly destroyed her life. She not only has survived, but healed and moved on. Her blog helped me through my own healing and recovery to the point that I am finally – at 61 years old – a whole person, content with my life, and able now to deal with the malignant bullies that I still come across in life.

      Love yourself, love the damaged child-within and find some way to accept that it is not your fault, was never your fault and will never be your fault that your mother is what she is. If you can, get away. Disengage, and cherish your own child-within who was not cherished by the monster who should have been your mother. You are not responsible for her. Too many of us who were/are victimized by malignant narcissists think we could do something to change them. It is a mental disorder – you can’t. Love yourself, love your children, and if your therapist doesn’t believe in the concept of malignant narcissists, get another one who does.

      By the way, consider the fact that your father is most likely your mother’s enabler. It is a common family dynamic. So much of your story rings a bell with me, and with just about every story on the the “Narcissists Suck” blog. You are not alone, there are others like you and you can find love and healing and a healthy life.

      I wish you the best. Don’t just be a survivor – heal, love and live well.

  • K

    As firmly as I believe in non-violence and compassion, and in spite of how I practice it – all the years I was bullied, can spark a terrible flame in me. From peace advocate and Buddhist, to booted, bald bat-wielder.

    Fortunately, I’m since past the bully days. Stronger, more confident and ever closer to rebuilding that which broke inside me over those years. As much as I have grown loving and trusting, my tolerance has worn thin. The wrath of 13 years of abuse, since resolved, looms quietly, says “Make my day.”

    It is very difficult to upset me. It takes intense planning and effort to make my blood boil. But may Odin have mercy, should the day ever come, where someone decides to bully me, or someone I love, again. No doubt, is bullying an expression of underlying problems in the bully, and no doubt do I feel bad, that they are so discontent. But no-one deserves to be victimized in that most dreadful of ways. Like a pacifist monk gone sour, I fear I will find myself wearing black boots, and balaclava adorning my shaved head, a swift kick in the reproductive center of the offender.

    Like a deranged Pavlovian experiment, I shall dispense the displeasure to those miscreants who dare do to mine what they did to me. You may think it sounds harsh, but bruised nuts heal – a crushed spirit may not.

    May Tyr smile upon you, friends.

  • http://twitter.com/VeteranJessica Jessica Bridges

    I am and always have been an awkward girl. I’ve felt for the longest that I was not made proportionally, that I looked different and felt differently than the rest of the people I went to school with or interacted with on a daily basis. I am recklessly emotional and overly sensitive and it always shows.

    As such, I was certainly bullied. I was the chubby kid, the tom-boy, that “weird-girl-who-I-think-is-a-lesbian” and other such monikers. For some time all of these things bothered me endlessly and bullies bothered me endlessly.

    As a child my parent had a tumultuous relationship and it ended up with my siblings and I moving, with my Mother, to a small town in Texas called Miami. This town had 365 people in it. the community was small and there was but one school. In this school children of the age to go to kindergarten mingled with “kids” who were seniors and getting ready to graduate. It was the perfect breeding ground for bullies and the perfect place for the weird or different to stick out even more than they would have in a place that was larger.

    When I started school there, I was young, just starting fourth grade. I had emotional baggage from the, then, separation of my parents. At such a young age I didn’t understand or approve. This led to me being a nervous, brooding and fretful gradeschooler.

    There was a boy, whose name was Casey, that immediately picked up on my discomfert and disdain for the place where I was and the situation I found myself in. It was a bum trip for me. He was merciless. We would play basketball together at school and he would go out of his way to knock me down and skin my knees, or trip me and then “accidentally” kick me wherever he decided was a good place for it.

    This lasted and lasted and lasted. I, being small with a mother who was never home because of work, felt like I had nowhere to turn. My father lived three hours away in another town and he was never the talking type. That had rubbed off on me, because I never bothered to tell my mother. She is a fire-cracker with a short temper and no tolerance for other people hurting her babies. Beyond that, she had taught us to be strong and my level of discomfort in showing my vulnerability to her was unimaginable. I didn’t want her to fight for me. That was unacceptable and I imagined we’d be run out of town by the other people with flaming torches and pitchforks.

    I let the time pass by me at a loss for what to do, a loss for who to talk to. I remember one day, my mother brought home a box of used clothing for we three children. A single parent does the best she can. In this box, there so happened to be a pair of steel toed boots in my size. Who makes steel-toed boots to fit a fourth grader, I do not know, but bless them.

    After I had put the boots on and laced them tightly, I stood up and was struck by an epiphany. I knew what I had to do, better than that, what I wanted to do. I wanted to stop being bullied. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be happy.

    That Monday morning I ended up walking to school, boots laced tightly, and went about my day. At recess Casey started in on me but I didn’t do anything. I simply told him to meet me at four on the sidewalk at school. By that time everyone would have gone home.

    He met me right around four. I remember watching a tarantula crawl along as he walked up. He began insulting me and teasing me. Without hesitation and as calm as a surgeon, I looked directly at my boots and then to him. Shortly, my boot connected with his shins and he went down. I started wailing on him and after I had gotten my fill, I walked home and didn’t look back.

    I didn’t tell my mother, because from then on he left me alone and so did everyone else.

    Years later, as a teenager living in Austin, Texas my younger brother was being bullied and my mother asked me why I had never had the same problem. I simply related to her that I was prone to kicking people, like Casey from fourth grade. She said “Jesicaaaaa,” like she was in disbelief. there’s a part of me though, that knows she knew I was telling the truth. She herself had beaten a boy with a two-by-four for cornering her and dropping his pants.

    Anthony’s story really hits homes. While violence may not be the answer, it does provide a resolution. We’ve developed a culture that is rick averse, consequence avers and truth avers. There is nothing so honest as a good ass-kicking. It teaches valuable lessons. I’m not saying I think it’s right, but I cannot believe it is wrong. Love and compassion and pacifism can only breed so much of the same thing and it does not work on everyone.

    I liken it to shopping for shoes. there are many types of shoes for many types of things. One shoe does not fit everyone. One solution does not resolve all problems. There are many shapes, sizes, styles, fits and designs. It is a matter of finding one that is the best for the situation.

    I am irrevocably changed because of my interaction with Casey. I would not have done it differently. It had a profound impact on me then that allowed me to shape my life in the future. At this current day, at 22 years of age, I am happy with who I am, how I behave and the route my life has taken. I am still a freak. I fly my freak flag high and proud. I get bullied as an adult, but have taken on a more “I don’t give a shit” outlook, because I’ve spent my time in bully-hell. I planned my escape from that prison and I made it out alive. Nothing should bother me anymore and very few things do.

    My life is beautiful. I am beautiful. And, sometimes, someone just needs a good ass-kicking.

  • While I hate violence, and do not condone it, there are situations where we can lose control of ourselves, like a cart careening wildly. It was also the thing that brought me a temporary relief in bullying.

    I’d never started a fight, but I had been involved in a few – and to this day, I remember that feeling of the inner animal taking over. When you’ve been pushed too far, backed up in a corner, and with no way out. One against six.

    I remember things escalating around 8th grade. When push came to shove, threats became real. I was smart, but no athlete. Skinny and pudgy, weak and without confidence. Yet, when the situations were most dire, a scary trancelike state would wash over me, the mental governor limiting physical power be switched off, and a fog seem to cover my vision.

    In that state, there was no emotion, no pain – not even rage. Time would pass both fast and slow, at the same time, and the I was reduced to a mere observer. In this status, my actions were shockingly precise – and just shocking. I remember grabbing one bully by his jacket, pulling him close and throwing him what must have been 30 feet across the floor. I remember the hollow, metallic clang of his head hitting a radiator. His posse ran, and I remember the mild me return as he was crying, punching me – I couldn’t feel it. I cried for the rest of the day myself. I’d done something brutal, and I couldn’t control it.

    Later it would happen again – in a six-on-one retaliation, the cold, calculated trance would return. It was awful. I grabbed the bully right in front of me, and did horrendous acts of violence again, somehow empowered. Again I cried. And as always, being the weakest, teachers would make me the problem. I was easy, malleable – not like the bullies.

    In the end I decided that whatever happened when I was triggered wasn’t me. It was something the bullies had spent year cultivating in me – pent up anger, violence, sadness. The violence victims conduct against their bullies or themselves is not their own – it’s a product of the bully.

  • B-la

    for me, the most important message in this story is not necessarily to fight back. and nor to be mentally or physically prepared for stupid bullies, actually. but it contains the most important thing i have learned about coping with bullying so far: do not keep what they do to you to yourself. find somebody who will support you.

    <3

  • Angel

    Wow, reading all these stories is emotional. Everyone on here is amazing! I don’t know how I would have turned out if I hadn’t had art, books, music and film to turn to when I was bullied as a kid.

    Looking back now I realise I must have been stronger than I felt at the time, I was the new kid in a rough middle school, about 12-13yrs old. I did manage to (weakly) confront my tormentors, but only a couple of them backed down, the tougher ones carried on. I only remember them stopping when, I’m sorry to say, I was sexually assaulted by a stranger at the school during my last year. I guess that shows they had some sort of compassion, I even had to sit next to one of them in high school the following year and she tried to talk to me but couldn’t look me in the face, I took great pleasure in ignoring her.

    And whilst we’re on the subject, I was emailed this link today…http://www.dellchallenge.org/about/tad, which isn’t really related but it’s about solving problems using creativity and innovations and might be of interest to someone here..the first link they put as an example is called The Bully Report http://www.dosomething.org/bullyreport.

    <3

  • http://amythewicked.wordpress.com/ Amelia E. Adler

    As I read through Anthony’s story, I felt conflicted. I don’t believe in revenge; I believe fighting violence with violence will only bring more violence. And as it is, bullies are oftentimes victims of bullying themselves. So maybe not continuing the circle is really the only way to go. Plus, it seemed to me a little like victim-blaming, because it implied she didn’t have courage enough, or wasn’t strong enough, or conscious enough, to get that revenge. And there is just no way in hell I’m going to condone even a little of victim-blaming.
    But then again, I also believe in self defense. And maybe that’s the thing: self defense, but not revenge. Revenge implies premeditated, prepared beforehand act of violence on someone who hurt us. Self defense is all about standing up for yourself and not letting the bully get you. So yeah, get a bat, but do not use it unless you’re assaulted. Get a pepper spray, but do not seek out the girl who bullied you with it, rather be ready to use it the next time she assaults you. Take kickboxing classes not because you want to go to school and kick somebody’s ass for everything they’d done to you. Take kickboxing classes so the next time they shove you into the ground you can shove them back. Don’t let yourself be hurt, but do not seek to hurt others; revenge might feel good, but it doesn’t make it right.

  • Brenna Davis

    I just now read these series of bully blogs, and I’m sorry I didn’t read them sooner– they’r wonderful. This one in particular struck me. It reminded me very much of being bullied in school and of my own little brother’s struggle with bullies.

    It took me awhile to figure out that I should fight back. My parents always preached non-violence, and that is probably a good thing. For the most part I subscribe to non-violence. But I’ll admit…. the day I struck up the courage to say “shut up, you’re being a bitch” to this merciless bully in my choir class. It was a good day, and she didn’t bother me anymore. The day my brother finally took my advice and turned around and struck his bully in the stomach was an equally good day for him. My father was none to proud with that outcome and chastised the both of us. Me for encouraging my brother to hit someone and my brother for actually doing it.

    While telling that girl she was a bitch or punching that boy in the stomach may not have been great solutions– they worked. They worked like Anthony’s story worked. Up until now I guess I never thought much about whether those solutions were good or bad, and I guess I’m still not sure. But we stood up for ourselves and we continued to do so, because those were both turning points in our lives where we realized we had the power to stop that hate. I didn’t learn that until I was 13, whereas my brother was lucky enough to have someone to teach him that. I think more people need to be empowered like that. To realize they are not hopeless victims and that they can do something. Maybe violence or name-calling isn’t the answer, as violence begets violence.

    But I think there’s a comfort in the knowing.

    I hope a lot of people who are being bullied read this blog so they do know.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1016717466 Pablo Romero

    When I think of bullying, I can’t help but think of a quote that helped me a lot in facing the ugliness that some surrender:

    “In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man’s proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.”

    The nature of man is noble and rational, but it isn’t automatic. To be rational, to be civilized requires an exercise of will. There will always be those who will choose to practice ugliness, to be the antithesis of their nature by their own free will— they don’t matter… they never have, they never will. The visionaries, the creators, the weavers of beauty and optimism, those who wish to travel unlimited roads. To fight for the world we want, we must let these people know this truth, and stand with them against the ugliness and render it insignificant, because it is an ugliness born from the hate of the good for being the good. And that isn’t acceptable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/corey.cole.792 Corey Cole

    Great set of posts. I was bullied in Junior High and High School. I wasn’t fat; I was too skinny and too smart. As one of the posters pointed out, bullies go after people who appear vulnerable.

    A few times I broke, the bullying got to me, and I retaliated. Of course, I didn’t go after the bullies; they’d have beaten me to a pulp. So instead I hurt friends and kids even smaller than myself. A few moments of black fury, then wondering what had come over me.

    In 11th grade I spent a year in Germany as an exchange student. I studied judo and karate there, although I was bad at both – skinny and completely unathletic. But when I returned to the U.S. for 12th grade, everything was different. Nobody taunted or attacked me. I’ve never decided for sure if it was my martial arts training – that I carried myself differently; or that I was in a new school in California instead of Pennsylvania; or maybe just that Seniors don’t get hazed as much as Sophomores. But I was no longer a victim.

    Still, it never quite goes away. In my adult life, when people make fun of me, I still feel like that wimpy skinny kid, and I become angry or afraid. When people write hate mail about the computer games I’ve designed, I try not to rise to the bait, but it still makes me feel terrible. Finally, I told myself, “They lash out at you because you have done something with your life, and they have done nothing. They hate because they are afraid and ashamed. Keep making good games, and let them speak for you.”

    Knowing that the hate means nothing is a start. Feeling that emotionally – accepting it without letting it get to (you/me) – is much harder. In the end, we all do the best we can. The haters have power, but much of it is just the power to make themselves miserable.

  • JimmyLost

    I can’t honestly say violence is never the answer, especially when dealing with school aged bullying. The experiences I’ve had with bullying never fit themselves to a violent retaliation. Firstly in grade school when boys liked to poke fun at me because I was a large girl. They liked to poke me and say I had germs and would chase each other around with these “germs”. It all sounds stupidly juvenile describing it now but as a fifth grader it was near devastating. I was one of those children who took an understanding on how to communicate socially slowly and it was that teasing that prompted me to decide that I would never understand “those other kids”. I retreated into my books and into my own stories, which made me even less sociable, and prompted more bullying. This was one of those situations that “just telling an adult” the current anti-bully mantra, would have actually fixed things faster and far easier but I wasn’t blessed with the defending father figure. I knew for a fact that he would not help if I told him what was going on, and if I told my mother she’d just defer to him. The teachers where present when I was being teased and I had come to the conclusion that they must not care either. I resigned myself to being some kind of freak that would just be bullied and that was the way my world worked. I wasn’t happy, I internalized everything they said and believed a lot of it. One day I was writing in my spare time, which is something I often did, that day I was feeling particularly bitter about my situation and wrote a scathing (for an 11-year-old) letter to the ringleader behind my bullying. I think I had heard from somewhere that this action would make me feel better, and it did until one of his friends found what I had written and gave it to him, then in the commotion that followed the teacher read it too.

    We where both sent to the office, a place I’d never been because I never got in trouble and I was terrified. I was afraid my step-dad would find out I was in trouble and he would yell and throw things at me like he always did when I did something “wrong”. I was afraid that I had gotten some kind label in the eyes of my teachers and principal because I was here as the bully, and the boy who’d been tormenting me was shakily describing what I had written and why it had hurt him. This was the way our school dealt with bullying, I can’t imagine it was always effective but in this case it was perfect. Because I had hurt him, I could tell. It had never occurred to me that saying anything directly to him would stop anything, it didn’t work on my step-father why would it work on this boy? The lesson wasn’t over though, because the principal gave me my turn to speak and I told her about the torment I had been getting for the past year, I didn’t get very far before I bust into tears but the reason was clear enough. When the boy got to speak aging he said “but we were just playing, I thought you where playing too”.

    I think that that was the very moment my empathy as it exists today came into being. I got detention, and worse my step-dad did find out but years later another one of the boys who participated in my bullying outright apologized for what he had done. I had slowly come to realize that the way most kids at our school interacted with each other was pretty skewed. The school was situated at the center of several low-income and welfare housing projects and most kids and pretty fucked up lives. I didn’t know every one of there stories but the fact that most of the kids around be where equally clueless as to how normal people communicated.

    The next time I experienced bullying to the level where I wanted to retaliate was in grade 8 when one of my best friends decided that I had only befriended her out of pity and she “didn’t need me trying to be her friend anymore”. That’s not where she stopped though, I was still very awkward around most people and she was one of the few people I actually felt I could connect with. She didn’t just leave me alone and mostly friendless (I still had my best friend in another class) she made it her mission to make sure I stayed that way. Every insecurity and secret I had told her was turned against me and my best friend. This wasn’t just bitchy girls spreading rumors or anything, it was single-minded, near psychotic, personal sabotage from her on a daily basis. She didn’t have a group underlings helping her or anything, she wasn’t popular, she was avoided by the rest of our class because they all thought she was crazy. In retrospect I think she really did have some kind of mental breakdown or something. I never fought back, I even got offers from other classmates to help me confront her, but I just let her continue to ruin my life I don’t even really know why. I think I was too depressed between my school life being shit and my home life being worse that I just gave up on being happy. I dove into my books and schoolwork, joined clubs she wasn’t part of, and clung desperately to the only friend I had left.

    Eventually her actions started getting old me and her other victim had found a new circle of friends completely separate from her (they where in a different grade). We where so distracted with clubs and school and our new friends that we hadn’t payed her any attention in weeks. I don’t know exactly what happened but at some point the people who tolerated our bully as a friend had had enough of her crazy sabotage and told her to stop hanging out with them. This was, in her eyes, my best friends fault and her final act against us was to attack my best friend with a textbook… (get a book indeed)

    Then we graduated middle school and I saw her a couple times at my high school and then she left at some point and I never saw her again. I guess that’s how it happens sometimes though, sometimes these stories don’t end with some kind of giant confrontation, sometimes it’s just one terribly damaged person trying to outlast the other until one of them just fades away.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathryn.day.100 Kathryn Day

    Yup, get a bat :-)
    Born in 1966, I have children who are 6 & 8. I would give them the same advice – and have in past.

    Kathryn

  • amy from germany

    He’s totally right. Yes, you need to be peaceful and my mother always taught me to be nice. But that one day, a boy who was picking on me, hit me etc (I came home with bruises every day) she went to school, grabbed him by his collar and told him very quietly and very calm that if he ever harassed me again, she would break his arm. He never touched me again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=759189628 Karin Antal

    Tears. I read your blog regularly, and love every word you write. This “series” of posts about bullying has hit a nerve with me, as I was bullied as a kid and teen; and as a 36 year old adult, I still have a hard time standing up for myself.
    Andy’s story was powerful. I am one of those people he was hoping for. I said YES! to the idea of revenge; because while I know that compassion and peace are the best way to go as well, they don’t work when you’re dealing with the hatred of bullying. Bullies are pathetic, sad creatures who use the rest of us to make themselves feel big. It’s an age-old cycle that I fear will never be broken.

    I weep whenever I hear of the loss of another young person to bullying. I wonder why they never knew that things do get better and that the pain and sadness are temporary. It pains me to think that I was them once. I thought about death. I thought about self-harm but never had the nerve to do it. Maybe because somehow I knew that things would change someday.

    Things did change, but I am still mentally and emotionally scarred. Depression and anxiety rule my life. Even though I know better than to let them, I still do. It’s not likely I’ll ever kill myself, because I know things always get better; even when all hope seems lost most of the time, there’s always something that reminds me that not everything is bad. Usually, it is the smile of my 6yo son. He is my one true saving grace. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here. True story.

    Thank you, Amanda, for overcoming your odds and becoming a hero to so many. I had no idea we were the same age. I knew it was close, but didn’t know that we struggled with bullying at likely the same time in our lives. Thank you for sharing your life with us. It means so much. You are such an inspiration to me, and I feel incredibly blessed to have stumbled upon your music so late in the game. It was the wonderful internet that brought you to me only last year. Late to the party, but having a great time. You rock my world, and are an ever pertinent reminder for me that not everything is bad.

    Love and light to you. xoxo

  • DeclanMills

    I’m pretty sure that in Neil’s afterword to ‘The Kindly Ones’ he says that it fits his definition of real art: you could use it to knock out a burglar (at least in the hardback edition…)

    On to the point. I was bullied in school, although my experience was more like what Amanda described in her first blog a few days ago than the kind of awful stuff that happened to the late Amanda Todd. I moved to the Mid-West of Ireland from Dublin (and before that England) at the age of 9, and suddenly found that almost everything about me made me a target for mild-to-moderate bullying. My accent, my asthma, the fact that I was an academically-achieving vegetarian atheist, the fact that I was a guy who didn’t have a buzzcut.

    It continued in secondary school. ‘Gay’, ‘fag’, ‘loser’, ‘loner’, etc. Plus about half of the fellow-misfits I befriended ended up addicted to various drugs. I held my head up high,took the view that living well is the best revenge and tried to rise above it. I was lucky – I’m 22 now so I was in my teens at a time when social networking was really only taking off in Ireland, so there was no real peer pressure for me to join MySpace or Bebo (no-one was on Facebook, kids, believe it or not!). Even now, I’m not on Facebook (too much of a distraction). I used music (listening and playing), writing and reading as ways to retreat from my problems and relax (still do). I literally IGNORED my bullies so that they didn’t get a reaction, because the victim reacting is what reinforces the cycle. In by the time I reached 6th year and turned 17, I was a prefect and was mentoring younger students to help them with their difficulties. I was as popular as I wanted to be, in that I had a good solid group of friends and got on well with pretty much all the other students and the teachers. I graduated, went to university and never looked back. Along the way, I’ve encountered more bullies, but I took the same attitude of ignoring as much as possible. On top of that, I learned to fight back. Not physically – I believe in violence as a last resort – but I’ve developed a reputation for being fairly sharp-tongued and sarky when I need to be.

    The thing is, I’m now on pretty friendly terms with many of the people who bullied me in primary school. They’re mostly perfectly nice people who were trying to fit in, didn’t understand why someone would be like me because I was so culturally different, or in many cases quite literally didn’t realise that their behaviour was hurtful. Most bullies are bullied themselves, so the best thing a victim can do is step back, break the cycle and realise that THEY ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. Repeat that to yourself, like a mantra. YOU ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. After that, talk to someone about it. A counsellor, a teacher, family. DO NOT BOTTLE IT UP!

    I can consider myself lucky. I had a supportive, understanding family and wasn’t exposed to cyber-bullying. I was somewhat insecure, and I still am, but that’s not the point. Whether or not you think you’re fat/ugly/stupid/poor/whatever, that doesn’t mean that you should let others bully you about it. You’re not somehow ‘asking for it’ by being different. This is what I’ve seen countless times with friends of mine. “Oh, well, if I wasn’t so fat they wouldn’t be saying it to me. I’ll stop eating.” or – and I kid you not – “I’ll dye my hair” (from a redhead). Again, THE ONLY PROBLEM IS WITH THE BULLY!

    OK, rant over. I think these blog posts have been brilliant. It’s an important conversation that needs to be had as publicly as possible.

  • MJ

    I got bullied a few times in school – teachers being absolutely hopeless! One of them said that they wouldn’t deal with one girl who picked on me all the time because she was good at art. There was a boy when I was about 14 who would grope me all the time, even in front of teachers who did nothing. Then one day, in front of the same group of teachers, he groped me again. I turned round and slapped him hard. Teachers did nothing – and he left me alone.

  • Ruined

    This is my second post in the bullying series. Many of these stories have stuck with me, reminding me of the hardships of being deemed “different” in my youth (as that was a bad thing). This series of blogs reminded me of how I began to (and still do) find solace in music. Specifically, these bullying blogs reminded me of this gem by The Other Ones, “We Are What We Are.” It’s a beautiful song, conveying the simple (yet important) sentiment, “We are what we are…We only want to be ourselves.” With that, I hope all those who write and/or read this post finds the courage, support and strength to be themselves; embracing both their uniqueness and the uniqueness of others. These differences are what make the world interesting and produce the artists and innovators, like Amanda, who inspire us. That is true beauty. Thank you.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2pdAkPmy7Q

  • nom de plume

    I somehow missed this new blog until today. I almost didn’t read it. I did. It scared me, my heart is still pounding, and it’s because it reminded me so much of myself. I agree with Anthony, with his dad, while also disagreeing. Truth is at 24 and almost an entire life of bullying, I have no idea how to handle it.

    The first time I remember being bullied in school was around the end of 4th grade, which I think made me about 10. The majority of my elementary school experience was an absolute nightmare because of my parent’s divorce, which happened around year one of my life. My parents lived an hour away from each other and I was shuffled between them every other weekend. There was never enough time for them to spend with me, never enough child support, it felt like neither of them cared much about me aside from using my existence as a weapon to fire at the other in attempts to take each other down. I struggled through school for these reasons, was diagnosed with depression and ADD around the same time the bullying started. I don’t even remember how I was bullied, just kids were mean. All the time. My best friends turned against me for reasons I didn’t, and still don’t understand. By the end of 5th grade, I had to change schools. I went to a different county entirely, hoping it would be a new start, which pretty much set the tone for my life.

    Sixth grade, the start of middle school. The kids were meaner, for no reason. I was nice to everyone, no matter what. Disabled kids? Nice to them. Kids who didn’t have friends? I was nice to them. Those kids who I know were desperate for someone to be nice to them were downright assholes to me. I shelled up.

    One day a group of girls I’d previously been friendly with were all waiting in the bathroom for me. I walked in alone, almost all the girls in the class were standing there. The biggest one grabbed me by the collar of the shirt and threw me into the door of the bathroom. She was trying to beat me up,…for no reason. She tried to throw me into the floor and drag me, I wasn’t even mad, I just didn’t get it. I stood up with her still attached and punched her in the mouth. She backed up and probably called me some names. I walked out like nothing had happened. Later it got back to my mom who also worked in the same school system and there was a big kerfuffle involving administration and all the girls lying. The principal essentially blamed me, and I had to move on.

    High school. No one had touched me since the bathroom incident, but there was plenty of verbal assaults. It seemed like every year I’d lost a new set of friends because they suddenly decided to betray me. I’d suffered a bout of depression right before I entered 9th grade, so high school came while I was building my emotional wall. I was weird, kids didn’t know how to handle that. The school and community was tiny, one where you sneeze and the entire town hears about it before anyone can say “bless you.” I was the outsider, so they HAD to hate me. I was an artist, I wasn’t like them, I didn’t give one shit about gossip or football, and above all, I was openly not a christian. I didn’t really know what I was, but I just wasn’t religious. This made me a devil worshipper. I think I was called everything I could be called, made fun of for everything I was, they took every shot they could. I remember hating all of them and often trying to find ways out of going to school, as I had since the bullying started in 4th grade. I’d come home crying more frequently than I’d care to remember, and I thought to myself “if I just beat the shit out of them ONCE, they’d leave me alone.” My mother constantly told me I wasn’t allowed. I couldn’t do that, I just had to get through it because I would be in trouble with the school. I could get suspended for fighting, or expelled. It would ruin my life as she knew it. Not to mention her reputation at her workplace.

    I don’t know how I made it through high school without killing myself. I was angry, I was a bitch, I often thought about becoming a stereotype and killing them all. I remember a school shooting happened somewhere and the teacher was reading about it. The kids made comments about the “freak” who did it. I told them I understood how he could take the lives of so many people, because truthfully they probably tormented him day in and day out just as I was. I said I would be lying if I didn’t think about doing the same.

    I’m still not sure how I got away with saying that. It didn’t seem to phase the kids much anyway.

    By some miracle, I made it to graduation. Yet, I was still getting bullied online by the same idiots I’d gone to school with. So I ran away. I dropped everyone and I started a new life in a different state. Which is what I needed, and was good for awhile. As it turns out, about 3 weeks into my new life and 2 of my 3 roommates started bullying me. They didn’t do much in particular, just decided to be huge bitches to me, for reasons I don’t understand. I moved dorms. Next fall, I lived with 3 other friends. It didn’t take long for them to turn on me as well for reasons I don’t fully understand. They would deliberately say hurtful things about me online or outside my bedroom door. If I needed to study they would have a party. I couldn’t even take a shower without them standing outside of the bathroom door harassing me. I fell into a deep depression, yet again, as I had all throughout my life. And again, I don’t know how I made it out without killing myself or someone else just out of torment and sheer frustration.

    Now, here I am, two years later. The only reason I haven’t had too many problems is because I have almost completely isolated myself. I have little to no faith in the human race. I know when I make friends, it is probably only a matter of time before they all decide to turn on me. I will eventually be beaten up physically or emotionally. There is no avoiding it. And I don’t understand, I’m extremely smart, I’m very compassionate, I’m a good friend if people allow me to be. I am also strong willed and have a glare that I’m told intimidates just about everyone…just another method of survival I developed throughout the years. I never stole anyone’s boyfriend. I never bothered anyone. I never did anything to anyone that might justify people’s actions towards me. I don’t think of myself as a particularly easy target, but I suppose I am. I don’t know how to get out of it. Humans can be horrible creatures, and I always hear my mother’s words of “don’t fight back” which makes me feel even more like a target. The only thing I can do is keep running away or keep hiding. Even now, on a part of the internet I know will be compassionate towards me, I am hesitant to post my story because there is a voice that tells me “no one will care” or “they are going to be mean to you.” I’m not used to hearing kindness and when I do, my first response is ALWAYS “they’re really making fun of you.” I truly fear there is no way to break this cycle, and that one day I probably will wind up killing myself. If I did, I know a handful might care, and everyone else, it would probably be like the reaction Phoebe Prince received after her death.

    I keep thinking it will get better the older I get. So far it hasn’t. There are no like-minds for me. There is no shelter. There is only protecting myself, and that only works to an extent. Maybe I am just unlucky, but I’m very sure there are other people out there who feel the same. I can wish for it to stop, because it needs to. I just don’t think I will ever see it.

  • http://twitter.com/revsean revsean

    Here’s where it breaks down for me. “And nowadays it’s worse ’cause kids have automatic handguns…” My son is 21. The world I grew up in had no guns. The one he grew up in included being shot at more than once and one friend in jail at age 17 for homicide. This was not in some inner city, though my son is mixed race and part of why his world is different is because as a young black man, he is constantly exposed to the violence of racism. (We moved from California, where he was in special classes for the gifted and talented, when he was in sixth grade. When he handed in his first book report in the new town he was asked “Who helped you write this?” Why? Because the teacher couldn’t fathom that he would write so well. Needless to say, he didn’t stay in school long after that.)

    It’s all so complicated. I cringe when I hear people go straight to questioning or blaming the parents. I did everything I could to raise my son to be loving and respectful. He still ended up addicted to crack at 15. He still ended up quitting school. He still ended up feeling like he needed to be a thug and a gangsta to have any credibility with his peers. I’m sure, given the circumstances of his life, that he has been a part of violence that I don’t want to know about.

    I have known him since he took his first breath and I know that deep down, he is a tender, compassionate, and gentle soul. He is the kid whose first playground fight was because he was defending the tadpoles that his class had just released into a pond near the school. He is the kid who always let his little sister have the best of everything. This is the man who is a hiphop musician who hides his softer, “world-changing” music because he doesn’t believe it will sell and he thinks he has to “make it” before he can change the world. Complicated.

    I think all of us–every single one–are tender and vulnerable. We’re also strong, but we don’t know that for a long time. The only way I can think to “stop the past” with its centuries of violence and domination is to let our vulnerability show. To acknowledge that we are fragile and the earth is fragile and there is so much at stake.

  • Chloe

    I was mostly homeschooled and was a weird, socially-awkward kid (I would eventually be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in my late teens) and that made me a popular target for bullies during the wretched two years I spent in a sub-par public school. My parents put me back in school to “learn how to get along and interact with other kids” but looking back, all it did was teach me to hate children.

    I never technically got beaten up, thankfully, but basically my whole class bullied me. I was punched in the arm and stomach on three separate occasions, screamed at that I was stupid, pathetic, a crybaby, a freak–whatever. I remember moving a boy’s chair out of the way so I could walk down one of the classroom aisles to get something and the boy came right up to me and screamed in my face that if I ever touched his chair again he was going to pound me into the ground like a nail. Girls threw things at me and once or twice boys threw basketballs or footballs at my head as hard as they could. One boy hit me really hard in the groin with a basketball and the memory of him makes me shudder. I have very little doubt that if I had gone on to highschool with him he would have tried to sexually assault me in some way. Most of these incidents took place in the classroom and the teacher did nothing.

    That’s a common theme I see with many of these stories and just about every other bully story I’ve heard and that’s what makes me truly mad when I look back: that the adults–the ones who are supposed to protect you, teach you, train you how to be a well-functioning adult yourself are just standing by and doing nothing–or if they do anything, it’s to punish the victim, rather than the offenders. Most of those kids who bullied me were from really dysfunctional broken homes and most of them–at fifth and sixth grade—could barely read. Most of them are now probably in prison or in trailer parks or dead from drug overdoses and when I think about them, I mostly just feel sad. They had been failed in various ways by various people just as I was. It’s the thought of teachers and other school officials that make me angry. People like to say, “Oh, the teachers are just overworked and underpaid and there are two many students for one person to manage” and while this is certainly true, shouldn’t you notice when a huge group of your students are repeatedly harassing one kid? Couldn’t you have at least walked over and said “Hey! Stop it! This is not how we treat people in this classroom and I won’t stand for it!” Or something? If just one teacher or aide or someone had stood up for me even a little it might have helped.

    I never really told my parents because what could they do? They’re at home most of the time, not at the school so they can’t protect me. All they can do is talk to the school officials, and they clearly don’t care so why should that change anything?—that was my reasoning at the time. And though a few efforts were made by the educators to group us all together and have lectures on treating each other better, they really felt like they were on the wrong track, to me. I just remember one woman angrily talking to us about racist comments ending with “And I don’t wanna hear the word n*****, sp**, wet**** or anything like that from you kids!” I had never heard any of the kids in that school use racist slurs, and as a matter of fact, I was one of the few white kids in that class and thus a minority. So that little lecture made no sense to me.

    Another one concluded with the teachers just telling us that if someone’s being mean to us, just tell them “Stop it! That hurts my feelings.” Which I thought was BS, because when someone bullies you they either don’t care or they WANT to hurt your feelings, so all you’re doing is confirming to them that they got what they wanted.

    There was one other boy, though, who was even lower on the totem pole than I was who also got bullied mercilessly and on some occasions I also joined in and teased him. The fact that I did that makes me sick now when I think about it, but I was a child and didn’t know any better and all I was thinking subconsciously was “They’re not bullying me. If I join in and bully this kid at least this time it won’t be happening to me.” I think that’s probably the mentality of a lot of the friends or “lackeys” that bullies have. Heck, that’s probably a big part of the bully mentality itself, if they’re getting bullied by an abusive parent at home: “It’s not happening to me, it’s not happening to me–thank GOD it’s not happening to me. I have to make it happen to someone else so it doesn’t happen to me.”

    Hmm. .I kinda rambled there for a while and I’m not sure what else to say, but while I don’t know what the answer is and I don’t know if I’m a pacifist or not, but I definitely believe in self-defense. However, you really need to have the adults–the ones who are supposed to be protecting you–on your side. They need to stop turning a blind eye and stand up for the kids who are victimized. I know that would have helped me so much if anyone had done that for me—if they’d at least made a concentrated informed effort even if the bullying didn’t stop. Looking back, I should have spoken up more, too. I should have told someone what was really happening to me and how it was making me feel. . I just didn’t know how to, and perhaps having the Autism contributed to that alienation—that not knowing how to communicate. I also just didn’t feel strong enough to ask for help.

    In conclusion, I think it’s better to fight back and defend yourself if someone’s attacking you, but you need empowerment from the strong people who are important to you in your life to even start. They need to teach you that true strength doesn’t come from bullying someone else to make them weak.
    But the absolute worst thing a person can do is to stand by watching a child being bullied and do nothing. Adults have the power to stop it. They should know better.

  • Harry

    To My Tortured Friends:
    I’m very moved by all of this. I read here daily and I’m now moved to write something. I’ve never been a talented writer so if I cock it up and you care to understand, I will be happy to explain. Just ask. 

    High school was excruciating. I was a misfit, a very odd musician, seen as a loser by most an that was just fine. The desire to study was a gift I never received. Because of my father’s work and his desire to hide I expect, we moved around a lot. The longest I lived anywhere in my youth was the four, boring, excrutiating, frightening, and wasteful years of high school. I was big. I’m bigger now, but then, a very big boy. Big enough to be laughed at, big enough to feel ugly, big enough to be every girl’s best friend but no girl’s passion and big enough to be bullied. It really doen’t matter why though. I mention my size because it made it difficult for people to beleive or understand that I was being bullied. 

    There was something about me that attracted bullies. Still there I guess. The first time it happened I was walking with my friend Barry who was being abused by his grandmother – no one understood, and therefore noticed that either. Thankfully, I don’t think Barry was as broken as I. We were walking down the sidewalk and we passed two older kids; one starring me in the eyes. I was nine maybe. The one who looked at me turned around and said “Hey, what did you say?” I said that I said nothing. Barry said the same. Then they guy punched me in the eye. Now, I was nine and that guy, much smaller, was maybe fourteen. After Barry said something like “You made your point, Man” (it was the late 70s), my first bully calmly turnedd around and walked away. We walked a little farther than we needed to because I was scared to turn around or stop. Along the way Barry asked, “Why didn’t you hit him back?” Because he knew, thats why. I said nothing.

    And thats the thing that no one could undestand. How could someone as intimidating in stature as I be bullied? Later on, coming home from high school, bloody and bruised, my mother would ask why someone would bully me. They should be terrified of somone like me hitting them, so why? Because they knew. They all knew that I wouldn’t hit them back.
    As I got older things changed a bit. I got  better at hiding that fear and settled into a character that meshed more with my outward appearance. But mostly it was just leaving the smallness of high school and going out into the diluted world where I could disappear a bit. I also discovered that the biggest guy in the room is often a very attractive target for a bully with something to prove.

    All this awareness and introspection does nothing to diminish how affected I am by all of this and how it has damaged and shaped me. And still, today, everyone who knows me would never beleive that I was bullied. 

    What I had however, that you guys don’t have now, was sanctuary. Every day I could go home and be safe for a few hours. Now, the bullying continues at home for you guys. The internet is both a wonderful and terrible thing. The beautiful invention that gives a voice to so many who would otherwise not speak also gives courage and voice to the worst of us. Good people and bad can say anything, things they could never say without fear of repercussion. Where is your sanctuary if you come home to a chorus of disgusting online bullying?

    While those of us now empowered by age do everything we can to fix this I want you to know that I am here for you. I am your friend. I really do understand and I mean it. The world deserves your voice and selfishly, I really need for you to make it.

  • lentower

    Please sign this petition to pardon Aaron after his death. He was bullied into suicide by US prosecutors. http://wh.gov/E3LM

  • d

    all these stories make me feel like i should’ve disfigured the faces of my bullies when i got the chance. 12 years later, the scars still itch… seven years old in a all girls school, stripped of my dress and beaten by other older girls as they laughed.. bullied by teachers as well, beaten by a school system that never understood me.

    why are kids so mean sometimes? i’ll never get it..

    i’ll stand up for my children if they ever have to fight back. and if my bullies ever cross my path again.. well.. good luck to them, i’m getting even.

    godspeed to everyone and kisses to wounds that are fresh. my thoughts are with you.

  • Moriarty Inc

    Oh God… Anthony… THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORDS

    The same ones my father always told me whenever someone crossed me at school or wherever… old school, and he was born in 1965. ^^ Stand up for yourself. And unless you run into a real psycho who’ll kill you anyway (unlikely), they will not come back, not for you anyway. Sadly, they will pick another target… but what if everybody did the same?

    It’s not a popular approach, but hell, is it effective.

    Lots of love *mmmuacks!*

  • http://twitter.com/xmelxbennettx Melody Graves-Hunt.

    It’s funny, I never normally comment on things, but reading these stories, has made me realise that I’m not alone.

    I had a pretty messed up childhood. My parents split up when I was 4 and my mum moved 800km away, with us kids, in the middle of the night.

    I was just getting used to my new surroundings, when a paedophile realised the vulnerability of our family, and made his move. Cue 4 years of sexual abuse and rape on an almost daily basis.

    At school, I was the kid who read books (I was reading novels at 5), was short and skinny and didn’t talk to anyone. Cue verbal bullying.

    At first it was easy to ignore, books were my friends, but as I got older, the bullying got worse. It escalated into physical bullying by the time I hit 5th grade.

    Just after my 12th birthday, I had a massive breakdown and tried to commit suicide. I spent 6 weeks in a psychiatric ward and roughly 3 months later I had my first manic episode.

    I spent a large portion of 8th grade in hospital, due to anorexia,self harm and depression.

    My mum decided to send me to an all girls Catholic school, where I was literally destroyed by bullies. I never once thought of fighting back, no matter how many black eyes, bloody noses and stitches I received. I left school at 14.

    I was diagnosed with Rapid cycling Bipolar Type I at 15.

    As I got older, I had so much rage, I would go out, get drunk and get in to fights with random men (because, for some reason, fighting a woman seemed wrong).
    I never started the fights, I’d just use body language to make them feel threatened (it always worked, even though I’m 5ft and at the time 38kg).

    I also never lost a fight.

    One day I realised (although I think going on a mood stabiliser helped), that I was no better than the bullies, even though I wasn’t attacking anybody first, or anybody in particular.

    I’m now 28, and still suffer from anorexia and self harm. I think they’ve become such a part of me. I still suffer depressive episodes and manic episodes.
    My last suicide attempt was 18 months ago.

    But the bullies haven’t won, just yet!!!

  • Hanna

    It helped me hugely what I once read about turning the other cheek. It is only recommended in the Bible if somebody hits you in your right cheek. While it might look insignificant the difference is huge. The majority of population is right-handed. If you stand opposite your opponent and intend to really HIT and do harm – you will end up hitting the left cheek with your open hand. If you try to hit the right cheek – you end up slapping the opponent using the top of your palm. That way – if your opponent is your equal in size and strength – you won’t be able to induce much physical damage. In biblical time this kind of hit was intended to “offend”, to sort of “humiliate in socially acceptable way, using the official honour code”(the knights in middle ages did the same thing when challenging someone for a duel. This was the way slaves were hit to indicate their lower status. And of course if you were hit that way you were meant to respond equally, to involve yourself in battle, because otherwise you will be humiliated and nobody would respect you. Symbolically speaking this was about vendettas, that often start with something trivial and then go on and on through generations because “we have our honour” “we won’t allow to be treated like this” “we have to have the last word in the quarrel”. It’s difficult to raise above it. But turning the other cheek was never intended as “tolerate any sort of violence towards you”. I must say knowing this helped me, because it is a fact, that allowing this kind of violence you kind of participate in a vicious cycle, sort of feeding the demon in your oppressor, who often feels validated by this. It helps neither of the parties involved. Loving your neighbour never meant to allow the said neighbour to beat us to death. Self-defence, real self-defence is justified.

  • A

    I’d never heard of Amanda Palmer before today, but I’m very glad to make her virtual acquaintance. This has been a deeply heartening experience. I offer love and compassion to all those to have posted and hope that this poem might resonate with some of you in the way it did with me, as I raged against the injustice and hatred spewing forth from every corner.

    We need to look to our own dark corners to know compassion.

    Call Me by My True Names – Thich Nhat Hanh

    Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
    because even today I still arrive.

    Look deeply: I arrive in every second
    to be a bud on a spring branch,
    to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
    learning to sing in my new nest,
    to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
    to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

    I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
    in order to fear and to hope.
    The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
    death of all that are alive.

    I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
    and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
    to eat the mayfly.I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
    and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
    feeds itself on the frog.

    I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
    my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
    and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to
    Uganda.

    I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
    who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
    pirate,
    and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and
    loving.

    I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
    hands,
    and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my
    people,
    dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

    My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
    walks of life.
    My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

    Please call me by my true names,
    so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
    so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

    Please call me by my true names,
    so I can wake up,
    and so the door of my heart can be left open,
    the door of compassion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mycrashlove Andrew Keen

    Is it weird that I’d like to make a comment before even reading the story he wrote? Okay, I didn’t think so. I knew vaguely of that story from the news, and other sources. But this is my first time knowing the full reasoning behind her suicide, and her background, coming from Ireland. Simply, just the manner of how she did it, in the stairway to the second floor made my jaw drop. Myself, coming out of a very depressed, and very, very dark time in my life, just a year ago makes the tears fall from my eyes. Relating to her on that level. Knowing that she didn’t even put to thought (or obviously she did..?) the idea that her Family, the loved ones that we’re so close to her would be the first ones to see her body. I am a Macabre..Grotesque etc. lover so this isn’t so grim to me. But it still makes my heart ache, and that much heavier. I pray she can watch over me, or at the very least live the life that she always wanted to have.

  • http://www.facebook.com/crysthewolf Crystal Wolf

    I would love to say I’m a pacifist, but at the end of the day, I really wish I’d had a father that would have said, “Get a bat.” So I dunno. Maybe fighting violence with violence only creates more violence. If nothing else though, if the moral of the story is, “What we really need is for someone to stand up for us when we’re weak and care enough to try and teach us how to stand up against those we think are stronger than us,” then maybe… maybe sometimes we do need to tell someone to get a bat. Or a book. Or throw an asshole parent against a wall and threaten him with lawyers. Maybe it’s not the revenge. Maybe it’s knowing that someone wants to make it better.

  • BoneslyGrifter

    As a lifelong queer, I’ve had my fair share of teasing thrown at me, but luckily I attended school from Kindergarten through senior year with pretty much the same group of people, so my reputation preceded me. In the first grade, there was a stereotypical bully who decided to make me and my two equally weird friends his personal targets. The difference between me and them, however, was that my dad insisted I learn self defense; I was in various martial arts from age three to fifteen. One day at a Halloween party, the bully decided to flail on us with his foam ninja nunchuks. This is when I adopted my “three strikes” rule, which I still use now, as I consider myself a pacifist but never a target. First is a simple “stop,” second is a “you should definitely stop,” and third is “if you don’t stop I will beat your ass.” Add that to my self defense training where I dodge and parry blows, and he had ample chances to figure it out. But he didn’t; he started to wail on my friends instead. And I kept my word, laid him out, broke his nose, and gave him two black eyes, then broke his nunchuks and threw them on top of him. The next year, he started to tease me again in gym, but another boy reminded him of the thrashing and he left me alone from then on. Through high school, I was known as the slightly weird boyish girl who was incredibly nice but not to be fucked with.

    Two more shorter stories of the “three strikes” rule: at the neighborhood swimming pool, two older boys (14 or 15, I was ten), were dunking my friend’s four year old little brother repeatedly under the water. My friend didn’t know how to handle it. The little kid used up their first two strikes, and I casually swam up and told them if they didn’t stop drowning the helpless kid that they would regret it. They laughed and came at me, and once again I laid double black eyes, broken noses, and an additional knee to the crotch on them both. The lifeguard finally swooped in and kicked them both out for the rest of the year. More recently, I was at a bar supporting my friend, the front woman of an awesome punk band called The Hangouts (not name dropping, just sharing). She’d recently broken her arm playing derby, and was performing vocals like that. There was a rowdy drunk guy who had already tried to pick a fight with various audience members including myself and my friend along for the ride. We had both asked him to stop, along with others in the pit. He went after my vocalist friend, trying to grab her and punching her repeatedly in the sling-ed arm. She shoved him off, and I could tell by the look in his eyes that he wanted to *hurt* her for it. He’d already used up his strikes, so I casually stepped behind him and put him in a grapple, flipping him over my hip and slamming him on the floor. He laid there dazed long enough for the bouncers to make their way through and haul his ass out.

    My point amidst all this ramble is that words are best, but some people can’t be bothered to hear them. There have been times when I have tried my best to avoid a conflict or fight, but others seek them out. Some are school bullies armed with harsh words and the occasional physical pain, and others like the boys at the pool or the guy at the bar are out for real, possibly life-altering hurt. I credit my relatively pain-free junior high and high school years not to my fighting skills, but to learning how to not be the target. I owned the shit out of whatever names were thrown at me. Call me a fag or a dyke, I’d show up the next day dressed the part and stride past. I know that lots of people don’t or can’t handle the teasing and bullying like I did, but that’s where I hope I can help, with my words and my actions, and hopefully soon, my music. Its cliche, but I thrived on The Dresden Dolls, The Distillers, Bikini Kill, and other music that imbued me with messages of not taking shit and owning who I am. I wish that I could take all the people (it doesn’t stop in high school, it just gets better) who get teased, harassed, abused, and bullied, sit them all down, and teach them how to grow mental armor, stand up for themselves and others, and use words and intellect as the first line of defense. Sometimes I worry that in bashing back, I became the bully or the aggressor, but I think about what might have happened and the negativity of my actions is outweighed by the possibilities. The kid could have seriously drowned, my friend could have gotten plowed into a drum kit, nunchuk could have gone on to beat on other kids with something more than a toy. So I hope that I never have to do it again. Oh and by the way, nunchuk kid was in jail for aggravated robbery, last I heard.

  • EllenAnon

    I am reading these amazing stories and I want to laugh at some and cry at others! Amazing!
    I will never forget, in summer camp when I was about 7 or 8, two awful boys who used to grab my bum under the water during swimming lessons and pull at my suit. The pool used to be full of kids so none of the instructors ever saw unfortunately. My sister was in my group too and they would do the same to her. So one day one of them grabbed me from behind and then swam off laughing. I swam after him, grabbed his goggles, pulled them back out from his face let them snap back into his eyes. The snapping sound it made and his girly squeal were very satisfying I must say, and the two of them never touched us again.

  • Wiccabasket

    I fought back against my childhood bullies, and thought that would be the end of it – but no. Bullies exist in every part of our society, and they are damaged, brutal people. It doesn’t make it ok for them to do what they do though, and I firmly believe that you should always, ALWAYS stand up to them – and if the person who is the victim cannot fight back, we have a duty to back them up.

    The last time my ex assaulted me, was the last time I would let anyone use violence against me. I broke his nose, left him with two black eyes, and when that didn’t stop him flinging his fists around, a red hot cup of tea left him with a scalded cock. Sounds bad, yes? I’m not exactly proud of it, but if I hadn’t done what I did, he’d have killed me. He was a bully.

    He never laid a finger on me again. I left him that week. I’ve never let anyone frighten me since.

  • Liz

    It’s a difficult one, isn’t it. After reading your first
    blog post on bullying & how to deal with Internet hate, my thoughts were as
    follows:

    As I’ve got older, I’ve come to realise that no insult or
    hatred hurled your way (as opposed to reasoned criticism) is ever actually
    about you. It is always, 100%, about the hater, because it is their mind that
    the hatred is spewing forth from. This is especially clear when the hater is a
    random stranger; they don’t know you at all, so how could they possibly have
    any opinion on you as a person? Nope, they saw you / heard you / read you &
    some neurons fired in their brain, some erroneous connections were made and
    they decided they needed to lash out. When you look at it like this, it’s sad
    for them and makes the hate a bit easier to deal with. Of course, it is not
    always easy to be this reasoned when faced with hurtful comments – the emotions
    that are evoked can be so strong and if negative voices are all you hear, it is
    almost impossible not to believe them and think that YOU are the problem.

    Which was basically me, in high school. Negativity thrown my
    way every day and no support network to contradict those voices. I kept it all
    to myself, making myself ripe for the emotionally abusive relationship I then
    fell into. It took me years to get out of harmful patterns and if I could go
    back and talk to 13 year old me, I’d tell her to stop being so damn quiet and make
    a fuss in order to get some help. Scream, shout, punch the ringleader, anything.
    Violence is not good, but I should have done something to call attention to what
    I was going through, and which may have made the bullies realise what they were
    doing to me. Instead I did figurative violence to myself, day after day, for years
    afterwards.

  • hoodedhippy

    Ok. This is a momentous occasion for me. I have never commented on this blog. Not because i haven’t wanted to – oh i’ve wanted to: i’ve been a massive fan, and have been reading your new blog every time it comes out for gosh i don’t even know how long. But you are so eloquent, and your life is just so fucking cool. and the people that comment are so eloquent and you are all so brave and bold and weird and wonderful. This is my little corner of reality in a world that makes absolutely no sense to me. “a puddle of sanity in the ocean of dysfunction that is my life”. But oh no, commenting would be like, i dunno talking to God (by which as an atheist, i of course mean Morgan Freeman in Bruce almighty). But i feel really strongly about this topic so here it goes, taking the plunge:

    I was bullied at school day in day out for about 6 years at a tiny all girls school where there was basically nowhere to hide. You were either in or out, this was not an american high school , there was no little haven for all the freaks to hang out. there was one freak – me. that was it. they knew it and boy so did i. i was the weird kid who acctually knew who sylvia plath was, and when you said “elizabeth bennet”… keira knightley did not spring to mind. I was also butch, in that terribly awkward, i can do push ups but haven’t discovered the killer sexy combo of big boots, a leather jacket and eyelash curlers. Plus the love of cult rock didn’t win many points with kids who thought the glee club wrote “imagine” by John lennon. And i was opinionated (and still am). Talking about current political issues that got me As with the teachers and alienation with the students. I ate my lunch alone in the cloak room everyday for 3 years. nobody really noticed. occasionally one of the girls would come in to leave a passive agressive, bitchy comment on my little desk, about me being a “dyke” or whatever. (the inference being that that is a bad thing). One of my best friends was bullied so badly she transferred schools. the internet abuse followed her. People who didn’t even know her when she was at the school, 3 years down the line, were still sending her vile cruel horrible messages over – you guessed it facebook. I stuck up for her – she was one of my best friends in the world at the time, and i was one smart mouthed little bitch that wasn’t going to take this lying down. they were pursuing her now – actively going out of their way to inflict pain on a girl that had bowed out of the fight completely, it was so bad. Which was not like her.

    So i did what any guardian reading, herbal tea drinking bleeding heart liberal would do. i planned. We (the friend and i) had an evening of beans on toast and we gathered information. I printed off screen shots of all the horrible things they had said to her. In my head it went a little like this ” i’ve got you little fuckers, your fucking nixon, and i’ve got you, red-handed”. i went into school the next day to the head of sixth form’s office (equivalent of a guidance counsellor who is also the teacher). On my way down the hall to her office one of the girls shouted after me: “Your a fucking cunt!” which received rapturous applause from the whole of the sixth form – both years. Girls that had never had a conversation with me in my life were cheering whole-heartedly. But it was ok, i had the educational equivalent of a watch dog. These guys were goldman and sachs. They had been immoral, and now they were gunna pay, justice would be done. I walked into the office, explained the situation and got ready to hand over my carefully, chronologically organised wodge of papers detailing their crimes. I was totally rational, and non-petty, i tried my very hardest not to sound bias or let my fierce sense of right and wrong get in the way of calmly asking her to do something. help a girl in need – a former pupil.

    I was so shocked by the response, that i burst into tears, right their in the middle of the office. I hadn’t cried at school since i was four. i don’t cry. I play softball for god’s sake, once you’ve had the wind knocked out of you by a giant russian trying to round thrid, little really gets you anymore. But it did, profoundly and deeply and here’s why:

    She denied any existence of my best friend (who she had taught for years, and had at one point, been form tutor to ). She refused to look at any of my so carefully planned out evidence, that i was so proud of. And suggested that if i had a problem with the way people were behaving on facebook, i should delete my account. I was flabbergasted dumbfounded, or i would have been if i wasn’t so busy sobbing. She was trying to silence me. She knew i knew it and she continued lying any way, trying to convince me it was my fault, that i was the problem. after all there were soo many of them and only one of me.And they were all fine, so i must be the problem. i could never win.

    I had faith, so much faith in the system, in the sheer obviousness of how wrong what they were doing was. She was a grown up for god’s sake, she was suppossed to be a force for good: the mediator, the sorter-outerer- and puter- righter. The righter of playground wrongs. And instead i was confounded with an institutional plot to look the other way, because it was easier, it would piss less people off. I was crying infront of dolorous umbridge. Because shutting me up meant less disciplinary action, and subsequent phone calls from oblivious parents protesting about how “sweet little jessica would never do such a thing”. It meant they didn’t have to admit to and deal with the fact that they had a wide spread problem of bullying. One that i had been fighting, day in and day out for 6 years; all the while promising myself there was nothing wrong with me – it was them not me and the world knew that.

    Something snapped in my that day. My innocent little heart shattered, and i finally learned the harsh lesson: everyone is afraid. Everyone is just covering their ass, and that’s all they’re out to do: make it. Survive. And with some, its by any means necessary. If she had to crush a 17 year old’s spirit then so be it.For a long time this made me incredibly depressed. i continued to be outnumbered and publicly humiliated. My friend continued to be pushed further and further to the edge of sanity, at which she flirted with death more than a few times. But after i got out, i graduated and got into a really good uni full of other smart people. I gained independence and freedom and that let me gain perspective. I know now in my heart of hearts what happened was wrong, and i know that the people who did what they did, genuinely believed it was right. Because i was different. because i looked like what they had been told a lesbian should look like – i.e. tomboy. So i was branded without a choice, and with 6 years of no boys i didn’t really have much room to prove otherwise (not that anyone should bloody have to either way – love is love and gay comes in all varieties – its a rainbow for god’s sake!). The point is i was so obviously different, so obviously who i was that there was really nothing else i could ever be. And that meant i frightened them, and so did my friend. Because i was a smart girl who didn’t need to wear a tight dress to feel female.(not trying to slut shame promise, just can’t think of another way to put it – nothing wrong with tight dresses!)i knew i was female.

    It took me a lot longer to realize that who i was as a woman was OK i wasn’t alone. I discovered feminism and then my life really got good. I discovered AMANDA FUCKING PALMER. a chic who was twice as eloquent, twice as loud, and twice as unapologetic about it – yet twice as open and honest and vulnerable and weird and wonderful. And people liked her…. i mean they really fucking liked her. And more and more people were starting to. I met people through feminism who loved her, love her, as well as other weird and wonderful people. THERE IS WEIRDNESS EVERYWHERE AND ITS BEAUTIFUL AND SAD AND HONEST AND HEART RENDERING, and, and I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE; standing in that room crying on my own; sheer hot, wet, humiliating, tears of betrayal, tears of heartbreak and loss of innocence.

    In the long run, that brutal, life altering moment became a turning point in my life. Because it became pathetically simple. They were just afraid, not of me, but what i reminded them of: their own insecurities, of themselves. So i stand tall now and i sing “Do you swear to tell the whole truth” in the shower as loud as i damn well please because i want you to hear me. And hell yeah, i’m butch, i’m a chic that can listen to metal, and throw harder than you, but i can hug harder too. And i shall hug your pain away, even if your gunna hurl abuse at me. “Cause this world is tough, and if a (wo)man’s gunna make it (s)he’s gotta be tough” – tough enough to let them see you bleed. And let them acknowledge they are bleeding too.

    In conclusion, Amanda Fucking Palmer, i had never heard anything like you. You’re bravery to be who you are, in spite of the frankly oppressive display of “disciplinary power” that is the beauty standard, made me realize there are so many different definitions of what it means to be a “woman”. and that mine was just fine, and so was theirs, they were just different. You made me feel not just ok in my skin, but damn proud to jump out of bed every morning and admit i had been broken, but what is really impressive is not those that have never been broken. But those that have and don’t let that hate consume them. You restored my faith in that elusive creature that wants to “be the change you want to see in the world” and reignited my once burnt out, desire to do so. Lastly, here is a facebook post i was inspired to write by reading these last three blogs i can only hope it does you and all the other wonderfully weird, beautifully broken freaks out there proud:

    been reading a lot about bullying recently through Amanda Palmer’s blog. i wasn’t physically bullied in anyway that was measurable. The deadly beauty of female aggression is its a silent killer, it doesn’t leave any discernible outward traces. However, the combination of institutional isolation and harsh words took their toll after day in day out, year in year out. so for anyone out their who has/ is suffering i kinda feel like its my duty to pass this along: there is a great release in admitting it is affecting you, because when you do you’ll realize you are not alone. There are literally millions of us out here, waiting to help carry you over the finish line when the weight of the world gets too much. However, if i was to pass on one bit of wisdom it would be this: Its actually has nothing to do with you. i know it feels like it, because there is soo much hate coming at you..all the time. But if you listen closely, you will realize its actually fear: fear of the unknown, fear of you and your courage to be who you are, fear of rejection, fear of being alone. fear of the voice inside their head when they look in the mirror. everyone is scared, take that hate and own it. consume it but don’t let it consume you. accept, grow, learn, love, but most importantly LIVE. You are not alone: excerpt from one of the blogs ” My advice to the bullied: Learn to relax in the face of stupidity, fear, jealousy and anger; there will be ample opportunities for practice. Learn to listen to those whose opinions you deem ridiculous. They really do feel what they say they feel. Do not participate in stupid, aggressive activities. Learn to view the fire and ice being spewed at you as signs of pain. And try to remember what that famous Jewish peasant said of those who were executing him, “Forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing,” while his bullies sold his clothes as he hung there dying. ”

    http://www.amandapalmer.net/blog/20130105/
    http://www.amandapalmer.net/blog/20130108/
    http://www.amandapalmer.net/blog/20130109/

    jeeeeesus sorry for the length. i’ll shut the fuck up and stop hero worshipping now – back to watching doctor who… love to everyone: above all else love and honesty.

  • Ferryn

    It’s really interesting to read all the stories from people who hit back. I was bullied and I never did hit back, I still don’t. I regret it. I wish that I had. Not to EVERY bully, just a couple. Same goes with relationships I’ve had since I grew up. I WISH I had stood up for myself. I didn’t and the result is a lot of bitterness that I struggle to let go of, it makes me very angry and the people who bullied and hurt me probably don’t know the damage they did. Lose/lose.

  • Caleb

    I was never really “bullied.” Not very much anyway, and never for very long. I, for some reason, found the worst coping technique imaginable and forced it upon myself.
    I was a smart kid in school, and people generally disliked me for getting good grades without trying very hard. Nobody ever said anything to me or around me though; I was a teacher’s kid, and nearly all of my teachers were fond of me. The bullies learned to attack when the teacher wasn’t around. Never with force, but with words. So I learned with them. I stayed with the teachers even more, decided to stay inside and read instead of going to recess. I lost friends. I got smarter, and closer to my teachers. People hated me even more for it. But I was always away from even the smallest of their taunts.
    Unfortunately, this left me without friends as well.
    And as I went into Jr. High and High School, bullies learned that the teachers didn’t care as much. They were able to keep taunting more and more. I was without friends, alone, circled by people who hated me for things I couldn’t control. So I started to growl at people, glare at them whenever they looked at me. It drove them away, stopped their bullying for fear that I might hurt them (school shootings by people who “snapped” were fresh in their minds.) I got my isolation. But eventually, without anyone to bother me, my anger started to turn inward. I became my own bully, one I could never escape. I hated myself.
    And honestly, those years of self hatred hurt more than any schoolyard punch or kick could. I hated myself, and I wanted someone to notice me. I longed that someone would care about me in some way, even if it /was/ bulling.
    I don’t know why I am saying this.
    Or if people care (I know you do, but whatever.)
    The point is, we do care. People want to be your friend.
    But isolation hurts you, and it hurts us too. I know that it hurts, but you have to be able to let us in, and try to be our friends. You might get hurt. You might feel left out. But you have to keep trying. Don’t give up! We DO care about you!
    Please, reach out to us, speak up, and let us know that we can help you.
    We will, I promise.

  • Jess

    I was a bully growing up. Yes, there were times when I was the one being bullied; times when I was only defending myself. But mostly I was a bully. The guilt hit me hard. It still does sometimes, though I’m in my mid 20s now. For all of you who are bullied I can offer a little bit of insight. Most bullies are going through something horrible. That doesn’t make up for being used as a punching bag, I know. But at the very least you should understand that the bully usually doesn’t pick on you because you’re ugly, fat, nerdy, stupid, and so on; he/she picks on you because it is easier then fixing whatever problem they are dealing with at home.

  • DrNo Nofunclub

    Here is My hero.
    he did what I was to mentally tormented to do when I was a bullied kid.
    after 15 years of being bullied it took me another 15 years to “recover”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQkSnyBotQU

    Casey Haynes, the boy who fought back, interview on ACA (A current Affair)

    He
    is the boy who became a world-wide hero after fighting back against a
    bully. Now, for the first time, find out what really happened as Casey
    tells his story EXCLUSIVELY to A Current Affair.

    n Australia, a
    bullying victim has become an Internet hero after he turned the tables
    on his tormentor. And it was all caught on tape Monday.

    Casey Haynes is seen backed up against a wall, being punched several times by a younger, smaller boy.

    Suddenly, Casey body-slams the alleged bully, sending him scampering off.

    Footage
    of the fight at Chifley College, Dunheved Campus at North St. Mary’s
    has since gone viral, with hundreds of comments garnered on Facebook —
    many in support of Casey.

    According to the Sydney Telegraph, both students were suspended for four days after the incident.

    Casey’s
    father told the Australian publication on Tuesday his son had been the
    victim of bullying for several years and feared for his safety if he
    spoke about the fight.

    “There’ll be reprisals from other kids in the school and he still has to go to school somewhere,” he said.

    “He’s not a violent kid; it’s the first time he’s lashed out and I don’t want him to be victimized over that.

    “He’s always been taught never to hit. Apparently, other people’s parents don’t teach their kids that.”

    One
    student interviewed by the Sydney Telegraph said, “People pick on
    (Casey) every single day, they hit him around and stuff, and he just got
    sick of it and let out the anger.”

    As for the student Casey
    body-slammed, according to New South Wales Department of Education and
    Training spokeswoman, he suffered a grazed knee in the incident.

  • Roger

    I am an avid reader. I’ve devoured books since I was five. I think that’s the right age. I just remember being able to read since I can remember having memories. I’ve always read above my age. I read mostly science fiction and fantasy and I’ve been an avid gamer since the first Dungeons and Dragons game was released in 1974. My career as an adult is writing software, but I draw, paint, take photos, and write as hobbies. I proudly state that I am a nerd and a geek and have been all of my life.

    I went to a small private elementary school until 8th grade and everyone knew each other. If you weren’t friends with someone you just didn’t hang with them. I went to a private parochial high school in Orange County that was small by public school standards, but for me was like moving to the big city. It was also the first time I experienced being bullied and bullies. I’ve been verbally teased, physically assaulted and publicly humiliated. It took me most of my Freshman year to grow skin thick enough to get through the day. Most of that year I was alone after having a falling out with a fair weather friend who ended up being one of my worst tormentors. If I hadn’t found the small group of artists, musicians, and freaks, I wouldn’t have survived. Even still, there were a small group of guys in my class who were just assholes.

    The school was small enough that you just could not avoid them. If they were in your class year, and these guys were, there was a 70 percent chance one of these guys was in at least two of my classes if not all of them. As a result, I lived with a low level of tension in my belly the entire time I attended the school, I never knew when or how or what one of these guys would do. I coped by writing revenge stories that I never shared with anyone and spent many a night fantasizing about beating the living shit out of them, maiming them in very slow and inventive ways. And I coped by hanging with my friends whenever I could.

    For some reason the teachers were ill equipped to deal with these guys. I remember being in my Softmore English class and having to sit directly in front of one of them. I was reading Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara at the time. It was sitting on top of my text book when I got up to sharpen a pencil or get something, I don’t remember, but when I got back to my desk, the asshole was smirking and there were little punch holes scatter about my desk. The fucker had used a hole punch to punch holes in the margins of the paperback. He damaged my property because he thought it would be fun.

    I just lost it. Started yelling at him and calling him every name in the book. The bell rang and we tussled down the row and toward the classroom door. He grabbed my notebook and the contents scattered all over the floor. That was the distraction he needed to leave, laughing. I just seethed, humiliated as I gathered my shit. I remember looking at the teacher, a self-professed god fearing Christian, and being amazed at the dumb-struck look on his face, his frozen inaction in the face of blatant assault. It was then I knew I would never get any help or protection from the faculty.

    I stayed there halfway through my Junior year and transferred to the local public high school in the Spring semester. A school so large the students didn’t have time or inclination to care about or wasting time bullying others. If you weren’t part of their clique, they ignored you.

    Why did I stay so long at a school I hated? My parents were paying good money to send me to a school they thought was academically better than the public schools. To bad the students were so fucking immature.

    Things get better. I got better. I rose above the hatred (though writing this is bringing back memories and making my bile rise, even now 33 years later). I was able to put that behavior in perspective and adopt a philosophy of excluding assholes from my life, which has worked for the most part.

    The best part was what happened when I met two of my worse tormentors at different times years later. The first meeting took place a year after I graduated high school, I went to a birthday party for a friend who attended the parochial school and who was a coworker with my at Disneyland. This fucker was there, he was a little mean dude in school but when I saw him at the party, he had been diagnosed with some degenerative eye disease. Couldn’t drink because of the meds he was on. He was going blind. I can’t say I felt bad for him. It was a clear case of the Karmic boomerang hitting this guy square in the eyes.

    The second time was about ten years after the seeing the first guy. It was at the company Christmas party and this one was married to a coworker. I confronted him and told him how much of an asshole he was and how much he had hurt me. He apologized sincerely. He knew what he had done then and in the years since he told me that he had done what he could to change himself to be a better person. Maybe he was blowing smoke up my ass to appease me, but I doubt it. He genuinely felt remorse for his actions.

  • Jamie

    Thank you. That’s all I have to say.

  • Jamie

    Thank you. That’s all I have to say.

  • Jamie

    Thank you. That’s all I have to say.

  • Jamie

    Thank you. That’s all I have to say.

  • Jamie

    Thank you. That’s all I have to say.

  • Jamie

    Thank you. That’s all I have to say.

  • Jamie

    Thank you. That’s all I have to say.

  • Jamie

    Thank you. That’s all I have to say.

  • Jamie

    Thank you. That’s all I have to say.

  • Jamie

    Thank you. That’s all I have to say.

  • Deborah Ann

    My brain is yelling “Me too! Me too!”. Its like finding so many people with the same heritage as I in an unexpected place. As every one here writes, I also was bullied. What I endured was not as bad as others, and I was lucky in many aspects. I am also exceptionally grateful that growing up in the 70’s and 80’s meant that there were no social media or internet avenues for the bullying to happen in the safety of my home. Because home should be safe. I was followed home physically, to a point, but there was a geographic line that could not be crossed. Kids these days do not have that, and that makes me incredibly sad.
    I grew up in Medford MA, just north of Boston, and school was hell. I was the youngest, by a year, the smallest and one of the smartest in my class. A very easy target. I did not understand it. I did not understand what it was about ME that caused students in my school to harass and hurt me so much. It was not until I was much older that I understood that it was nothing about me. It was them and their own issues and demons.
    I retreated into books. And into my mind. Recess was one of Dante’s circles of hell for me, so I learned very early on to bring a book and climb a tree and I would likely be safe if I could time it right. Until my teacher decided I was being antisocial and needed the confidence building lessons dodge ball instilled in children. I remember trying to explain in my 8 year old way that the tree was much safer and I did not need the lessons dodge ball gave small and slow girls. She insisted and I ended up with a concussion and another trip to the nurse’s office. In one year I had 4 concussions and my dad wanted to know what the hell games they were having us play in gym. After his visit to the principal’s office I was allowed to climb a tree if I wanted during recess.
    Here is where I was lucky, I had parents who loved me and whom I went to when the bullying became too much for me to handle: when I was being followed home from school and terrorized, surrounded and humiliated and taunted, when I had no more cheeks to turn. I told my parents that I did not think I was going to make it to high school. Looking back I realize they thought I was talking about ending my life, but I was talking about THEM ending my life, I really believed it would escalate to that point. When the school refused to help me, and instead took the “Boys will be boys” route, I was moved to another school.
    At my new school I did not reach out to other students, I retreated to my books. I did not make friends in an attempt to protect myself, which did the very opposite. It was same shit, different place. And I went through more years of torment. Then high school happened. Suddenly I was in advanced classes, which my tormentors were not in, and I was surrounded with other nerds and bookish kids and I started to think maybe high school would be different.
    My first week of high school was when absolutely everything changed. My locker was next to this huge kid, Mike, who was a metal head. He wore heavy metal t-shirts, was at least 6 feet tall, and looked scary as fuck to me. As I was getting my books for class, he was hanging out, and one of my tormentors came around the corner and decided to pick up where he left off last year. The kid came up behind me, grabbed my ass and tried to bend me over and push me into my locker. Mike grabbed the kid by the back of the jeans, hauled him across the floor, and pushed him against the wall. All he said was “No.” Then he let him go and stared him down until the kid ran off. I discovered that day that scary looking did not mean scary. I did not learn until a couple of years later that Mike had been abused by his father, and he had a very strong reaction to seeing anyone get bullied.
    Things got better. I discovered that being smart was not something to hide from others, that in fact it was something others liked. I had just not been around the right others before now. The kids that tormented me I almost never saw in my high school of 2000 students. I could be me and create friendships. And Mike was my own Iron Maiden protector, even though I ended up only needing it that one time.
    Getting through the Inferno is something I wish I could tell any bullied child is not impossible, and and in fact will happen. If someone had told me at 11 that I would really like who I am as an adult, and that part of the shaping of who I am was created by the torment of my childhood, I would not have believed them. But it is true. How do we tell kids that they are not alone? That this is not a singular situation and others have gone/are going through this? Give them a “Me too! Me too!” moment? Because if you don’t feel alone, its much easier to face down what you are up against.

  • I-hate-retardeds

    You are bunch of retarded people who don’t know how to cope with your real problems and use this space to vent…. go get a life…

  • FrenchTugboat

    I love this; if only I could have read it eight years ago! I love that the way the generations deal with such things is mentioned, but I think one key thing is missing – schools now don’t want to acknowledge, let alone empower victims of bullying. By acknowledging bullying means they acknowledge they have to do something and intervene and negotiate with kids and parents and hormones and paperwork – how liable for Ms Prince’s death would the school and any school counsellors be if they took the poor young woman’s parents seriously and started, even half-arsedly going through the motions of doing something for her? That’s the problem there – there’s nothing human about anything in the school system (not here in Australia, anyway) least of the way with which problems are dealt.
    In my own experiences, empowering the hopeless ripped-tights-doc-marten wearing (hardly original, I know) intellectual student is a bad idea because they (well I did) learned that once they have even a smidgen of self respect, even out of spite, they can begin to stand up for themselves, and for me it was mostly against the staff who did nothing – making eye contact with me as six students double my height and width held me up against the lockers with my feet off the ground, right in front of said teacher’s office. When that school then shut down and I was forced to another, the students from my previous school had formed a sort of alliance, and we had each others’ backs in this new environment, provided we weren’t enemies in the last. I’m so glad I had that, because that was the closest thing to a support system I had – people who didn’t quite hate me enough to act upon it. We must also mention that staff can be horrendous bullies. I was sexually harassed for an entire year by a homeroom teacher who was so chronically late to class that he illegally copied a set of keys for me so I could run homeroom. Despite making all this clear and going through all the details, the school did nothing – even though I had 25 witnesses to all of it. One instance – this teacher made frequent reference to one boy whose initials were ‘D. D.’ and he was a larger bloke, and so you can imagine all the taunting this kid got – but only from the teacher, and the headmaster would do nothing about it. No one did. My other teachers who became my friends understood, and tried the best they could, but there’s only so much you can do when the social hierarchy is firmly enforced as strong as the male teachers clung to their fragile masculinity. It was horrendous. I did win in the end, though – these staff members were not tortured souls taking it out on me as is often is the case, but simply cunts. I was ferocious when I fought for my right to wear my very neat plain black US issue combat boots (which fit the uniform for literally every other school in the state) and other supposed issues when I took them on in their own way – through rhetoric driven supposed intellectual discourse. The headmaster and vice headmaster stopped talking to me. When I wore my boots, they’d call my father who would say ‘If you have a problem with her, you’ll have to bring it up with her.’ and they never talked to me. It wasn’t worth the effort. None of the rhetoric is. Had I not been empowered out of spite, there would have been none of that rhetoric, so they think it’s best leaving these kids alone, with the dark encircling them quicker than they may even realise, and then they think it’s too late, and they’re just… gone. The school goes on. The school goes on living if they never get the ball rolling in the first place. Imagine though, had Ms Prince had been empowered and had a support system and proper services in place, and had the bullies been dealt with in a manner in which they learned to never do such things to another human being again, maybe Ms. Prince would have been able to fight the darkness and wouldn’t have taken her own life. It’s too late for her now, but not for others, and if the world can’t even learn from what happened to her, then what’s the fucking point of it all? If we can’t get these educational institutions to DO something, hell, Ms Prince even had parents who did the best they fucking could but to no avail; their pleas went ignored and it got a young woman killed. A life IS worth the effort it takes to empower and support someone that is being bullied, but schools will continue to turn a blind eye and it makes me fucking sick; it’s so much harder to come out alive when schools tolerate bullying.

  • http://www.accordingtomike.net/ Mike

    I’d quote MLK but even I understand this need for self defense, there are so many people out there in pain who have decided to share their pain by hurting other people as someone most likely hurt them (not counting sociopaths). Survivor stories are all well and good. I am a survivor as well, but my scars run deep. I was bullied in 2 countries and 5 schools and it didn’t matter whether I fought back (and I did- even to the point of becoming one of the bullies myself- yes that line is very thin and all too easy to cross), I would point out that I lost way more fights than I won and while I am glad that some of you fought back once and it was over for you, it was never over for me. I survived high school only to find the junior college was as bad, the rest of college/university gets better and adulthood usually means that the physical battery should end, then emotional/intellectual/spiritual battery continues and people will dismiss this as “well that’s just life.”
    It does matter how big you are or how many martial arts you take. If you are victimized, it can, it will follow you around. I buried my memories, some so deep that they did not disturb me until I hit my forties. Then it almost killed me to have to remember what was done to me in my youth. The bullies are still there, they just have better jobs or positions or such and they will continue to try to make you afraid, intimidate you.
    It’s true. It’s a fact of life. You can survive it. I do, but my scars still show.
    What I say is this. We have the power and the responsibility to every kid who is not going to survive this, is not going to win that fight, that is going to be killed by a bully or give up and commit suicide. We owe it to ourselves and our children and their children and every child to change our society so that no one has to stand up for themselves, that there is no need for a bat or the continuation of violence in order to survive. That childhood can be about something more than coping and dealing with being different or not fitting in.
    I don’t want another child to have to learn to survive/fight back the way that I did. Most won’t make to adulthood, many of those who do will not make it much past the guilt and shame that comes with that survival.
    I want something more. I want to know that I have done something to change the world, even if it is just one kid who doesn’t have to get a bat and prolong the violence that is destroying our future.