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I Realised I Was Bullied After It Was Over!

MeandCPMeandCP Posts: 3Member Listener

My name is Chris, I’m 30 and based in the West Midlands. I’m currently studying to become a counsellor. I also sing in 2 choirs, follow several sports and love writing and reading history. I am interested in disability, mental health and identity – my blog can be found at www.memyselfanddisability.wordpress.com, I can also be found on twitter  -anything else just ask!

It was December 2006, I was sat in a pub with some schoolfriends catching up from our first completed terms at universities all over the UK. Suddenly, one friend turned to me, and as if seeing me for the first time said quietly “Chris, you put up with a lot of stuff in school!”

It was a genuinely arresting moment, this was not only something that he was just waking up to, but something that I was also just starting to realise. I didn’t realise that I was bullied in high school until I left, because it was so normal that I didn’t notice. I knew that having my wheelchair moved when I left it somewhere, constant verbal barbs about my physio, my walk, and mocking my supposed lack of masculinity were awful experiences. Feeling excluded from even the concept of dating and having my sexuality as a disabled person mocked left me with many mental scars, some of which I’ve only recently started to look at. But what I didn’t know was that it was bullying.

man with beard brown hair and glasses wearing a purple jumper sat on a bus

I was raised with a strong independent streak, a sense that my cerebral palsy wasn’t going to hold me back from my ambitions and that where problems were encountered, solutions would be found. My parents didn’t know what the social model of disability was, but my upbringing encapsulated it. This gave me a strong drive to ‘just get on with it’ and play the cards that life dealt me. If that meant being bullied and ostracised in many subtle ways, then I would get on with it and not let it get me down. This was my normal. I’ve often said that when you have a disability, you know who your true friends are, I was lucky to have a core group that seldom wavered and were always in my corner. Looking back you realise that it shouldn’t have to be that way.

This also meant that because I was raised in an environment where my disability was not a problem, it meant that I didn’t realise until much later that that was really a key reason why I took so much hostility in my teens. It’s not that I didn’t know I had CP, it just didn’t matter to me very much. I was much more likely to identify first as a sports fan, a singer, a horse rider, someone who wanted to go into theatre, with a budding interest in politics before I even mentioned my disability – indeed, I never considered disability a strong part of my identity, largely because I had no peers going through similar things. Nothing to compare my experiences against. And that, looking back, is key.

boy sat covering his face leaning against a brick wall

One of the major changes between then and now that I see is that disabled young people are networking and connecting in a way that we didn’t before so even those in mainstream schools where they may be the only disabled pupils, are more likely to have a network of support and shared experience. The conversations around disability identity, experience, bullying and acceptance from ourselves and from others, are starting to happen now among young people in a way I’m happily jealous of. It also seems to me that disabled adults and young people are sharing experiences much more now, it is striking to me that I didn’t know any disabled adults until I was one! I’m happy to say that such things are much less likely (though not impossible) now.

We may not have reached the point where bullying of disabled people is an anomaly, but hopefully it won’t take friends realising it in the pub long after it happens for us to know it’s happening. And that way, we can address it in the moment.

Have you ever faced bullying? How did you deal with it? What effect did it have on you?


Replies

  • tamidavistamidavis Posts: 13Member Whisperer
    Gosh what a read. I'm so sorry that you had this school experience :( There really needs to be more things in place to help those in these kinds of situations! Did you have a school counsellor you could speak to?
  • MeandCPMeandCP Posts: 3Member Listener
    tamidavis said:
    Gosh what a read. I'm so sorry that you had this school experience :( There really needs to be more things in place to help those in these kinds of situations! Did you have a school counsellor you could speak to?
    This was the mid 2000s, if such things were in place I was unaware, and in any case as I say, I was so normalised I probably wouldn't have sought any help in that regard.
  • SuewithlupustooSuewithlupustoo Posts: 5Member Whisperer
    First thing Chris, you are an inspiration, second thing is you highlight that attitudes within schools and society still need to change. Bullying of any sort shouldn't be tolerated. It isn't character building to be on the receiving end, sadly I have heard tutors, teachers and parents endorsing it. 
    My experience of bullying is a fairly recent one. I have complex conditions but my mobility was ok until my late 50s. Since having to use mobility aids I have been subjected to unpleasant comments and even physical pushes for going too slowly. Deciding to not to tolerate such behaviour I politely and publicly denounced it. It was amazing just how quickly their bravado and sense of entitlement vanished, Never an apology but frequently a rapid retreat. I wanted them to understand that I am a person with feelings, not an object to be prodded. They were taken by surprise when I had something to say. Tackling a bully face on isn't always possible or advisable but in schools there should be someone there to listen and take it seriously, sadly that is not always the case. Bullying often has it's roots in earlier experience. It is good that you have friends and a positive outlook. The more you are influencing others around you in a positive way, the more attitudes change for the better. 
  • Gwendoline1Gwendoline1 Posts: 135Member Chatterbox
    Hiya MeandCP,
    I completely agree with Suewithlupustoo, you truly are an inspiration. 
    I also had no issues with mobility until my 50s.
    As well as being a retail manager, I’d previously been a care manager in residential homes over many years. Taking care of people of all ages/illnesses/ disabilities, you get my drift.
    To me, the person came first and the rest followed. I loved my job and I loved looking after people.
    Always encouraging them to be confident, if they wanted to do something but was scared or worried they always had my support. 
    Never ever did I think of anyone lesser than myself. I would defend a person if I ever heard or witnessed bullying.
    My goodness have I been shocked over the last few years. 
    I must have grown 2 heads, people stare at me most of the time when I’m out with my family. They push past or try to run in front of me. Usually I am spoken over as though I’m not there. The best one ‘ hellooo howww are youuuu’ . 
    You must by now be wondering well what’s the cause of this . Da da I’m in a wheelchair, yes a wheelchair.
    You take care of yourself and keep being  proud. Thank you for letting me read about you 😀😀😀
  • the_velvet_girlthe_velvet_girl Posts: 101Member Talkative
    I'm a similar age to Chris & went to a mainstream school. I had the odd comment about my slow walking speed & no one ever wanted me on their team for PE when I was at primary school but nothing prepared me for the abuse I got at secondary school. Name calling, people speaking slowly to me and deliberately triggering my startle reflex were just part of the normal school day.  I was very upset about this in my 1st year & remember being told by my guidance teacher that the world wasn't going to change for me just because I had a disability and I had to toughen up! I still don't understand why the teachers didn't step in. They saw me being abused in the class & did nothing! My nickname was Spastic & I often wonder if there was a child with a racist term as a nickname if this would have been tolerated?
    There was a boy in my year who had CP who I would chat to if we met waiting for Physio but apart from him I didn't know anyone that was disabled. I just accepted that the abuse was part of growing up & was going to be part of the rest of my life. 
    I now don't tell people about my disability & just say I have a temporary injury for fear of being bullied again. I find it hard to make friends & have relationships as I am always suspicious about the intentions of others. 
  • Gwendoline1Gwendoline1 Posts: 135Member Chatterbox
    Hiya the-velvet-girl,
    My goodness, yet again I’m lost for words.
    How vile those teacher were to you. I shouldn’t be shocked but I am.
    My heart goes out to you.
    I cannot get my head around why one human being would want to treat another human being, in such a disgusting way.
    What as happened to you, makes mine trivial in comparison. Not that I’d ever want to make comparisons.
    It’s a shocking world out there, how can we help people understand that everyone is the same. 
    I can’t get my head around why anyone would want to make fun, abuse another person. I’m finding it hard to express how I feel, I’m totally shocked how you’ve been treated and are continually have to disguise your disability.
    You sound like a wonderful person. Thank for allowing me into your life. Take care of yourself and again thank you 😀😀😀

  • vysvadervysvader Posts: 59Member Whisperer
    edited November 19
    In the same manner, e.g. also the race discrimination and offenses, or attacks on any other kind of a minority used to be absolutely normal. That's why I like aspies

    Dunning-Kruger Effect isn't banal, also, I don't have the time for all and can't detach or defend against all aggressors because I try to integrate, but I learned that while I ignored the behavior, some of them started to think that they are for me invisible when spraying themselves with a lemon juice and I don't remember/understand it, or they just thoughts that it's "normal" and so none persecuted. It made it all even worse because everything that looked weak attracted them as a honeypot.

    The trolley problem makes it great because statistics say clearly, the attackers all the time come in a group against an individual. Almost all psychopaths or just politically thinking people will tend to help them. Psychopaths are normal people and it's not a crime to be a psychopath. Perhaps, you'll prefer a psychopathic medic without a handshake when holds a scalpel, doesn't run/vomit when seeing a blood. However, otherwise, the chances are, you can finish as a dirt instead of the attacker and it doesn't have to be because of a movie-like "psychopath". In fact, we can think about any crime, however, the bullying is the most common implementation of the trolley problem because any criminals will argue to throw the responsibility, however, e.g. killers can't say that they're dead (the victims), meantime, the bullies can exchange the roles.  
    Gwendoline1 said: I can’t get my head around why anyone would want to make fun, abuse another person. 
    The principle's used as a 2nd class unofficial psycho test and base of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis. While a telepathy isn't possible, none's able to think, feel, see the world, and find the same motives as a different personality or experience because it produces different results. You can recognize e.g. a crime but not to think like a criminal if you don't. Also, criminals can explain your motives only as their own. They don't think about you anything nice. For example: 
    This person took a vehicle similar to a tractor into the 1st class natural reserve without any roads (even in a normal forest with huge roads it's prohibited) and took down carnivorous plants (if there's still any), possibly killed tortures heating on the sun in the wetland, put it on her Facebook wall and gets likes from the local police's family and 1 local Slovakian Greenpeace ex-volunteer (her ex-classmate). Why none else does the same (destroy the plants, animals, and breach the laws)? She didn't find other motives than a fear from the unstable wetland ("and the police"). The person has been having the zero ability to guess others' thoughts, yet still, is furthermore confident in her guesses. 

    I used to be bullied by my ex-classmates (their recidivist friends) and my family (incomplete, stepfamily and my father was all the time drunk), then they called whoever could. 
    Also, I was receiving negative comments about my man-like features but I would see it very objectively in neither yours nor my case. Nowadays, I'm the same as you (none has got any comments) but perhaps, I was once or twice in a gym. I used to lift 85kg above my head and 130kg on benchpress, poorer later after my 23, thereafter further less. Nothing extra but it was enough that I didn't have to fight because none really wanted... My photo from 24 (the sun isn't the best) from 11 years ago when I was already down, lost a lot of muscles:
     
    Perhaps, I don't feel bad for calling a police, especially, when they call anybody they can (they tried to persuade all whoever they might get on one). It's such primitive that it even bother me to speak (lose my time) about their favorite topics about "fear"... and similar intellectually stimulating goodnesses. Of course, I don't have any reason to fight with anybody (because it's a job of the police to take care of them) and don't see any reason to fear because of them even now when I don't have the muscles because, at any time, the police is paid to get rid of them. If you'll ask the people spreading the comments, they say that 8 years ago, I moved from the village and later from the country because of someone they call a "boxer" what was a 30kg and 1.5m kid visiting a primary school (it doesn't matter what he's now) and other "boys" (adult or not). Another, they're recidivists (so it was absolutely safe because they're still in a prison : ))))... 
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