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Guest Post: Bullying and moving forward

welleyeneverwelleyenever ConnectedPosts: 13Member Connected
edited July 2017 in Guest blogs

My first school was a local mainstream school, where I learned what seemed a very clear lesson - that I was inferior and abnormal due to my visual impairment. I couldn't read the blackboard or do my work properly, I was bullied by some of the other kids (they called me names, placed my hands on stinging nettles, locked me in a shed, etc), and none of the teachers were capable or willing to help. So naturally, it shattered my confidence. As far as the 5-year-old me knew, this is what all people are like away from my family. And it's all my fault. And I can't stop it.

Thankfully my parents saw that things were going badly, and discovered a boarding school for visually impaired children, which I was soon transferred to. As a result, I was no longer bullied for my sight, as we were all in the same boat. However, due to my previous experiences, I had become extremely quiet and shy, and thus didn't stand up for myself. So I was now bullied for that instead - mainly name-calling and general teasing, as that was enough to upset me, but once or twice my things were hidden or messed up. And around the teachers, I was very reluctant to put my hand up in class to answer questions or ask for help, fearing I might be wrong and make a fool of myself, or that others would do it better.

Young person leaning against a wall - close up on their red shoes and blue jeans

So it was still a struggle. This time though, I had a support network of encouraging teachers and the more friendly children around me. Plus I was now able to see and understand what we were learning, which was a great help. So the foundations were there for me to build on. And I did. But it was a very gradual process, and for some time I had no comprehension of the way I was developing. But as time went on, I had the increased benefit of hindsight, and by looking back, I was able to see that the strides I took were considerable. Most often these were made up of lots of little steps, like learning new things, talking to new people, trying new foods, having a go at new games, etc. But there were bigger things too, like swimming competitions, school trips, joining the cubs and scouts, getting good parts in school plays, and even winning a mock election one year.

Many of those things were really out of my comfort zone at the time. And when they're actually going on, and you're getting nervous or scared about what may or may not happen, you don't consider anything beyond it. Yet in looking at the bigger picture afterwards, I can see I actually did quite a lot, and that it all made a difference. I just didn't realise it at the time.

In addition, one of the most significant things was that I became friends with the kids who had been bullying me. As they came to realise that I was doing better than them, with better grades and perks and so on, the more they came to respect me, knowing that I could be of help to them if they took the time to befriend me. And through that, I grew to understand why they behaved the way they did. It didn't justify their behaviour, but it did put it into context, and that lifted a weight off.

A group of chess pieces on the floor, with one a little bit further away to the right and distanced

I now knew that I was never the problem. And neither were they really. There were other factors at play, and had they received the help and support they themselves needed, things would have been different. This was illustrated all too clearly when one of them sadly took his own life in his teens. Being one of a select few invited to his funeral was an honour, if a distressing one. So if bullying is to be combated, I do feel everyone on all sides needs help, both the victims and the bullies.

My school years didn't cure me of my shyness completely - it will always be a trait of mine to a degree - but I was a very different person when I left. It gave me solid foundations, and the momentum to build on them, and I've done my best to keep that going. Since graduating from university, I've had a good job for 11 years, and my experiences there have changed me even further. And since moving to London at Christmas, I've had the confidence to join a social club and go to events with complete strangers, pretty much all of whom aren't disabled, and I'm loving it.

So if I have any advice regarding confidence, it's simply not to get disheartened if it happens slowly. It can be difficult, and you might think nothing is happening at first. But lots of small steps will combine to make bigger ones. And those big footprints might not be obvious until you've left them in the earth and turned back to look at the path you've trodden. You'll have come further than you think, and that in itself will give you a boost. 
So don't give up, and don't compare yourself to others. Just do what's best for you, and don't be afraid to ask for help along the way. It will pay off.

You can read more from Glen at www.welleyenever.com

Do you have any experience of bullying? How did you move forward from it? What advice would you give to someone who is being bullied?

Replies

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Listener Posts: 689 Listener
    edited February 2017
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • welleyeneverwelleyenever Connected Posts: 13Member Connected
    Thanks for responding Danny, I'm sorry to hear that you've had such bad experiences, and I can understand the temptation to punish those who have hurt you in return. Hurting them wouldn't solve the issue of course, but the desire is natural. So I hope you are able to get the support you need to help you deal with those feelings, and deal with those who are bullying you (if anybody still is). I would certainly encourage you to seek it out, as it's not healthy to let things eat away at you without people to talk to and shoulders to lean on.
  • Zec RichardsonZec Richardson Pioneering Posts: 147Member Pioneering
    I was bullied badly in senior school, I had been waiting to start and couldn't wait because I love to learn. I'm the sort of person who has to know how everything works and why and I couldn't wait to start chemistry, physics, biology etc

    However because imwas bullied, I bunker off school and as a result my education was ruined and I left school with very few grades.

    But I went on to work for the MoD, I trained as firefighter and later worked as an aircraft engineer. I didn't let it hold me back and working for the MoD with the military was a tough environment and I loved every minute of it and was taught how to make a stand and it's not about physical toughness, it's about confidence and taking no s##t.

    Bullying will never be stopped, there will always be some kid who has to choose a weaker victim because thats all they can do to make themselves feel good. There will always be people who are weaker mentally and physically and unfortunately it's not like the films where the bullied finally stands up to the bully.

    The problem is that technology has allowed bullies more power, when I went home I was safe. Now kids and adults are attacked via social media, their bullies film the abuse and post it to further their fun and taunts and hatred is spread further than ever.

    I actually became very good friends with my bully, we worked together at the MoD and I was at his wedding and there when his newborn daughter was dying in the NICU. I cried at his funeral a couple of years ago and miss the guy so much, life is strange, life is unfair and it will never be any different.
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Scope community team Posts: 7,647Administrator Scope community team
    Thanks for sharing @Zec Richardson I agree that social media has brought the bullying into the home.  I am glad that you overcame your bullying and that you became friends.

    Often, we forget that the bullies themselves are probably going through their own problems.  In my experience, happy, loved and safe children don't bully others, they tend to be reacting to something bad in their own lives.
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Listener Posts: 689 Listener
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • welleyeneverwelleyenever Connected Posts: 13Member Connected
    Great points all round. :smile: Zec, I'm glad, like me, you found you could make friends with one of your bullies. It's a great shame it ended so sadly, but at least you were on such good and close terms with him by that time.

    And Danny, I hope your interview goes well tomorrow, it's such an important discussion to be had and a vital issue to be dealt with. As you say, a lot of it is based on envy. A disability is an easy thing to attack someone for, and to feel superior in comparison to. When it becomes apparent the disabled person is being more successful than, or is capable of doing certain things better than, the bully, then that superiority can be punctured. But actually gaining the confidence to prove the bullies wrong is tough in itself.

    I also agree that one of the big downsides of the internet is that it allows bullies to get to people right at their own homes - and indeed everywhere else they go through mobile technology. Often it's the same people that are bullying the victims in real life, but it also opens the door for trolls in general to target disabled people as well, hiding behind anonymity to cowardly taunt them for cruel amusement. It seems completely nonsensical when people behave like that, but they must have issues in their own lives to sink to that level. And, just like offline abuse, it can be hard to get people to report it, if they don't feel safe speaking up, and don't feel that anything can be done about it.

    On the flipside, though, the internet has also allowed disabled people to support each other, raise awareness and educate others in a way that was never possible before. It's been fascinating looking around the blogging community to see that in action. It's not going to cure the issue of bullying in itself, and indeed can attract some trolls and abusive comments in itself. But it is a step in the right direction, and any difference it makes is worthwhile. The internet can be a force for good as well as bad, so it's vital to try and tip the scales in favour of the former where we can.
  • quinrahquinrah Courageous Posts: 24Member Courageous
    I think it's great that people are willing to talk so openly and honestly about their experiences. Putting these issues out in the open is an important way to help dealing with them and I'm sure there will be so many people who read this who take comfort or find it helpful. Thank you to you all.
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