Like one too many people on this planet, I have had the unfortunate luxury of being bullied. Across the vastness of human history people have been picked on, abused even killed because they were different. Were they evil? Did they commit heinous acts of violence, have reprehensibly depraved behavior, or commit deeds so morally despicable you wouldn’t have thought it possible?
The short answer is no. They have been bullied for the simple uncontrollable fact; they were different…
Because they had been born with a different set of parameters from the rest of society such as: Having a physical abnormality, suffering from a mentally impairing condition, having a difference in their sexually or they were born with a different set of reproductive organs. Even because they had a different religion (which has been the ultimate cause of many of these misguided acts.), having a difference in belief isn’t a good enough reason.
Reasons that can seem so insignificant, yet are blown out of proportion and treated like a wart that needs to be lanced off, a contagious disease that needs isolating for fear of infecting millions with out so much as a thought for the individual. Individual who has done nothing wrong except being born in the wrong place, in the wrong time, and with the slightness of differences that were out of their control.
First hand experience
I remember back to when I was 6 years old when it first happened, the first time I would be bullied. The reason for my early torment wasn’t because of any of the aforementioned reasons. I wasn’t, from the generalization of everyone of my class, different in anyway. Apart from of my height.
For years I was the shortest in the class, the runt of the playground pack. I often look back and think why did I let this happen? Blaming myself for being so weak in the first place. Height in comparison to most of the reasons for discrimination is so trivial it’s almost funny, although at that age it feels less important of the reason but the general fact of you are being singled out. Feeling isolated, like your family may not believe you or care what your going through (in hind sight they did, when I had told them), that can be a lot to take in at that age and probably still affects me to this day. Pangs of paranoia creep into the back of my mind when I am around people of whom I don’t know, nor have never seen before.
The bulling would start to decline in my later years of my school career. When after a few physical altercations the physically felt pain I felt became dull, it wasn’t as crippling as I had first experienced. From the odd playfully caused dead leg to the intense punch in the spine, none of it would stop unless I made it. In my late teens I started to stand up for myself, I felt a shift in the attitude towards me. The look on the faces of my oppressors wasn’t just funny but pathetically funny. I actually laughed in one persons face as he grabbed my throat and pushed me against a wall as I attempted to walk into the class room.
Mouthing words I couldn’t make out, over the noise emanating from my own head. The angrier he got, the louder I laughed. This wasn’t a nervous laughter, something you do when confronted with a bad situation that someone else is experiencing.
It was the same laughter you get from a well constructed joke, from a professional comedian. You were meant to laugh at because it was genuinely funny, the deep belly laugh that has you in tears from the semi pain of strained stomach muscles. Something to which I have become addicted too ever since…laughing I mean, not being bullied.
Their power over me was finally lost. I wish I could have known what they were thinking, to be confronted by my manic hysterics. The on looker, a friend of the brute grasping me was wearing a bemused face which only added to the hilarity. I have since then felt that this is my general attitude when I’m picked on. A natural defense to a predator stalking it’s prey, you won’t see that on the discovery channel however. I will admit giving your location away is a big no-no, in self perseverance, I may have been a hyena in a different life.
Living with out fear
Now that I am on my second journey of my life time, having now come out as both a trans-woman and bisexual ,I now face self given reason for others to pick on me for being different. I have proverbially given ammunition to the gun wielding manics to free fire at my direction. Am I scared…no. I have learnt to not live in fear, not let my anxieties and insecurities to get the best of me.
How? I’m not sure, I wish I could tell everyone how, it would make it so much easier for others as it has been for me. Either it’s because of my previous experience of being bullied or because I am lucky to be in a country more accepting of others because of their sexuality and transgenderism. I may never know. All I know is I am living my life the way I chose and have not only the law on my side with regards to discrimination but the mass of friends and family I now have for support, an array of human shields to deflect and absorb the bullets of abuse from others…I don’t actually seen them this way, it’s just a metaphor. If your family can’t be used, use children…joking. There’s always someone out there that will gladly help those in need, with out second motives or hidden agendas. People who will always treat you as a person first.
At any rate the best thing I learnt was to stand up for my self given the situation. Not allow others to bully you, not just physically but mentally and emotionally. No one deserves to be abused, in any shape or form. We are all equally different and that is what makes us special. It’s arguable what makes us as a species stronger, but not everyone will see it that way.
If you find yourself being abused please seek help. There are others who can both empathize and sympathize to what you are going through. There are hordes of self help guides and means to contact someone to help you stop the abuse.
If you suspect someone of being bullied don’t ignore it!
Laura Steel © 2014
Looking for more information on the subject then check out these links:
https://www.gov.uk/equality-act-2010-guidance – The official UK governments website.
http://www.bullying.co.uk/ – Doesn’t just have information on bullying but on a wide range of topics.
http://www.wikihow.com/Deal-with-Workplace-Bullying-and-Harassment – A step by step guide to dealing with bullying in the workplace.
NHS websites dedicated to bullying in the workplace and in schools respectively.