Visual impairment and bullying
My name is Elin, I’m a 20-year-old blogger and Open University student. I write the blog My Blurred World which covers a range of topics from beauty, fashion, lifestyle to life with a disability. I’m passionate about raising awareness of vision impairment and tackling the stigmas that surround it, I hope by writing my blog, I can help others who might be in a similar situation.
I was bullied. This was something I used to be terrified of admitting because I thought it made me seem weak, fragile and defenceless. Little did I know that admitting this was one of the bravest things I could ever do.
By no means did I have the worst bullying experience but no matter how severe the case of bullying might be, it can still affect a person’s confidence and self-esteem and this was the case for me.
The first vivid memory I have when it comes to being bullied was a summers day at primary school and because of the glare and the brightness of the sun, I had to wear sunglasses due to the sensitivity of my eyes. I had prescription sunglasses and it’s safe to say that they weren’t the most fashionable but there wasn’t anything else on offer at the time. I remember a couple of girls coming up to me on the schoolyard, pointing out the glasses, I explained that I had to have different ones because of my vision impairment to which they took no notice and when they turned away, they said: ‘Doesn’t she look horrible in those?’
That comment stayed with me for a while because it made me feel like I was different and it triggered a feeling within me that I didn’t belong and, in a way, I thought people considered my vision impairment to be something ‘ugly’.
That feeling lingered throughout my time in high-school due to people making comments about me behind my back, spreading rumours, stealing my chair when I walked into class because they knew that I wouldn’t be able to see where another one was and they thought that was hilarious.
Maybe it was harmless fun to them but it affected me in so many ways and it hurt to think that people thought it was acceptable to pick on me because of my disability and because of how shy I was.
All those incessant attempts to trip me up in the corridor, even by people who didn’t know me but they knew I couldn’t see and they played that to their advantage to try to have a laugh. Something I never understood.
Another incident I remember is being sat in class one day and the teacher asked us to write down what we’d want to be different if we could start our lives again. I completed all of my work on a laptop and I always felt wary of what I wrote because people behind me could see the screen.
Because of the way I was being treated, I was very unhappy about my vision impairment at the time and I found it difficult to accept it so as an answer to the question, I wrote that I’d want a life without my disability.
Once I wrote it, I heard a couple of people who were sat behind me say: “Look at what Elin’s written, how pathetic is that?”
What they didn’t realise was that I wanted to change that aspect of my life back then due to the way they were treating me because of it.
Because of all the things which were being said about me, I felt like i didn’t have the right to walk into a room with my head held high so I never did, I never had any confidence in myself and I found it difficult to rise above the rumours and comments.
When I was at sixth form, the line between friends and strangers began to blur. Separate friendships were being created within the group and I was the one being left behind. It triggered all
sorts of questions in my mind about where I belonged and I started wondering if the distance between my friends and me was becoming larger because of my disability. I now know that overall, that wasn’t the case but, at the time, I couldn’t pull myself away from that mindset.
My story with bullying goes much deeper than what I’ve mentioned today but I’ll leave that for another time.
I don’t hold a grudge against those who bullied me or said things about me behind my back. At the end of the day, this was all petty school behaviour which eventually helped me to grow stronger as a person. I guess people saw me as an easy target because of my vision impairment and since I was also really shy, people knew that I wouldn’t say anything back.
Bullying someone because of their disability or for any other reason is not ok and I hope as a result of posts like this, people realise the impact bullying can have on others.
Although it can be extremely difficult to stand up and say something, I can’t stress the importance of it enough. We all have a voice and I think we should use it to raise awareness and make a change.
No one should suffer in silence. Don’t underestimate yourself or the importance of speaking out.
Have you got your own experiences with bullying to share? Although it can be difficult, I think it’s important to share your story with others if you feel comfortable in doing so, it makes you realise that you’re not alone.