Last week I wrote a guest post for Dr Samantha Thomas over on her blog DISCOURSE. I had planned to post it here straight after it had gone live on her site. However a couple of major things happened to me over the last week (which I’m not ready to blog about, but I will need to soon) and so I didn’t get to posting this.
Samantha is a great friend of mine and she always tells me that my story of being bullied at school has stuck with her. I told it during the Fat Studies Conference last year. She asked me to write a guest post about bullying and my experiences in light of National Anti-Bullying Week and the youtube video doing the rounds of the young Australian boy, Casey.
So, in all its late glory, my post on childhood bullying.
I finally watched the latest YouTube video that has been doing the rounds of the media outlets in Australia over the last two days. Titled “Fat Kid Fights Back”, Edit 12/03/2011 – This has now been removed from YouTube – Nick we see what happens when a kid who is being bullied snaps, loses control, and takes matters into his own hands. The end result is a nasty body slam which resulted in the bully breaking his ankle and both kids being suspended from school.
Since the ‘fat kid’ has a name, or at least a supposed name, I will call him Casey. There is a whole lot of support in the community for Casey and even backlash against him being suspended from school. It is timely that this has come to light with Anti-Bullying Week being in full swing. And yet the only thing I could feel when I was watching it was sadness. Utter sadness, even tears.
Lindsey “The Doctor” McDougal said it best this afternoon on his radio show on Triple J. He had watched the video today and he spoke about how it took him back to his childhood where he was bullied. By his accounts he was (and is) a bit of a nerd and that learning guitar was the only thing that saved him from the bullies. He mentioned that it brought back the feelings of being bullied and punched and kicked. The feeling of being harassed by his girlfriend’s mate, who would call him gay and such stupid stuff that kids do.
All I could think of while watching the video was how awful it is to be bullied. I was bullied at school for a long time. I think it started in year four or year five where I used to get picked on because I was fat and slow and soft. I have never been a hard arse and so I was an easy target for those who needed some way to feel better about themselves. The daily teasing and taunting would eat at me. It just hurt so much to see everyone laughing at you. I didn’t really have friends at school because they didn’t want to have to deal with these people. I used to hang around some of these people because at least it was better than nothing.
Then there were the times that I would snap. One final verbal dig or one final push, punch or kick and I would snap. I would go ballistic. Yet I was a useless fighter so I would end up going rounds with some kid for no reason and end up in a worse position than I was. I was fat, slow and couldn’t defend myself. Awesome.
Sometime in year eight I was being picked on again. I remember two of the three boys clearly and could tell you their names. I was punched and kicked. I was punted square in the gonads by one of the boys and then had a bin, with its full contents, dumped on my head. I was out the front of the school admin building so the teachers and principal were probably somewhere around.
So I’ve just been kicked in the nuts, been punched and kicked some more, called names and had a bin dumped on me. So what did I do? I snapped. I ran after the boys and swore and yelled and hit and whatever else I could. Again I was still a useless fighter but what could you do? And then the principal or a teacher came out and saw it and that was that.
I was called before the principal to explain my actions. I explained and pleaded and begged. Nothing was to be had for it. I retaliated, and therefore I was the one to be punished. I don’t believe they were punished at all, because I think they denied it. The pain in my nuts and the self loathing in my head and my heart couldn’t deny it though.
To this day I have terrible relationships with men. I prefer the company of women and have very few close male friends. I am easily overpowered (mentally and in status) by men. I will avoid situations where I have to be around guys my own age or older. I just feel constantly intimidated.
Do you have any idea how much of my life is made so much harder by the shit I went through as a child? The name calling and the fights and the people who didn’t stick up for me all sit at the back of my mind and come back to haunt me. So much of my childhood was painful and full of tears or just plain self-hate that I have no real fond memories.
I don’t get to look back at all the fun I had when I was growing up. I look back and wish that I could reach out and help that little kid who just needed some support. All he needed was for someone to stand up and say that bullying is not ok. Verbal abuse and physical abuse is not ok. It doesn’t matter what colour, size, shape, socio-economic background someone comes from. It is never ok. Never.
I will live with the memories of my childhood forever and I will have to deal with the consequences of not only my actions but the actions (and inaction) of those who were around in my younger years. Casey will have to deal with the same thing. Let us just hope that now people will support him and help him through this tough time.