Authors Against Bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Join the Movement – Help Us Spread The Word

Bullying is an interesting term. It’s thrown around so casually these days, I sometimes wonder if people may have become a bit desensitized to what it means and how it feels.

It’s never something to take lightly. Bullying is the use of force or a threat to intimidate another in a verbal, physical, or emotionally abusive manner. People get bullied over their height, weight, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, political beliefs–you name it.

I’ve been on the receiving end. It’s not something I talk about often, if at all, because it’s never been something I’ve been comfortable about discussing.

Being bullied means you’re the victim. Someone else was bigger, badder, tougher, stronger than you.

It means you were weak. You caved. You let them hurt you.

I’ve been in fistfights. I’ve had an entire bus full of my fellow classmates laughing at me and calling me names over the course of a twenty minute ride home from school. Hell, I once had coworkers make fun of me because I admitted I didn’t shave my nether bits and then proceed to tease me about it for weeks after, often in front of other coworkers.

You know something?

It doesn’t matter. Not anymore. It was a long time ago, and the people who hurt me are long behind me.

For a long time, it made me a bitter person. I withdrew from all but my closest friends. Books were my sanctuary. The only human interaction I felt comfortable with was the time I spent in chatrooms online.

It wasn’t healthy. It didn’t have to be that way–but it felt like there was no escape from the people who had nothing better to do than taunt me. Even after I left the school and the jobs where people called me things like “lower than snail shit on the totem pole,” the memories only reinforced that feeling like I couldn’t do anything about it, that it was all I was ever going to get out of life. The more I withdrew, the worse it became.

Being constantly stressed, alternating between depression and anxiety over knowing what was waiting for me the next time I showed up at school or work–that’s the result of bullying.

It took a long time for me to get myself in a position where I found a job where the people valued me and my work, a long time to realize who my friends really were, and an even longer time to build up the confidence to put myself in the public eye. Being an author is something of a buffer from the hard words and the hurt, but it leaves one open to those things in other ways.

The difference is, I know what to expect from those who aim to hurt me, now. I’ve got years of experience recognizing them, and they are not the kinds of people I let into my life anymore.

It does get better. You don’t have to live with that fear and pain and depression. There are people out there who care, organizations and individuals you can turn to for help or advice:

Don’t be afraid to speak about your experiences here, either. If you need someone to talk to, and you don’t feel comfortable discussing it on the blog, you can always talk to me privately.

It isn’t always easy. Sometimes standing up for yourself is one of the hardest things in the world. Sometimes just telling someone else that something is wrong and you need help is more than you think you can bear. Believe me, I know.

You can do better. You don’t need people like that in your life.

You are not helpless. You are not alone.

You can be loved.

Be sure to visit the blogs of the other authors participating in the Authors Against Bullying Blog Hop:

Join us on Twitter using hashtag: #AuthorsAgainstBullying

Mandy M. Roth
Yasmine Galenorn
Lauren Dane
Michelle M. Pillow
Kate Douglas
Shawntelle Madison
Leah Braemel
Aaron Crocco
NJ Walters
Jax Garren
Shelli Stevens
Melissa Schroeder
Jaycee Clark
Shawna Thomas
Ella Drake
E.J. Stevens
Ashley Shaw
Jeaniene Frost
Rachel Caine
Kate Rothwell
Jackie Morse Kessler
Jaye Wells
Kate Angell
Melissa Cutler
PT Michelle
Patrice Michelle
Julie Leto
Kaz Mahoney
Cynthia D’Alba
Jesse L. Cairns
TJ Michaels
Jess Haines
Phoebe Conn
Jessa Slade
Kate Davies
Lynne Silver
Taryn Blackthorne
Margaret Daley
Alyssa Day
Aaron Dries
Lisa Whitefern
Rhyannon Byrd
Carly Phillips
Leslie Kelly
Janelle Denison
Graylin Fox
Lee McKenzie
Barbara Winkes
Harmony Evans
Mary Eason
Ann Aguirre
Lucy Monroe
Nikki Duncan
Kerry Schafer
Ruth Frances Long
Julie Chicklitasaurus

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  • http://www.ismellsheep.com/ SharonS

    Canadian YA author Sean Cummings started a website for the same thing…he made a button and wrote a post on it. I am going to let him know about this too!

    http://sean-cummings.ca/?p=683#more-683

    https://www.facebook.com/AllyAgainstBullying

  • http://www.facebook.com/holly.rutan Holly Rutan

    I was bullied in middle school. It started, I think, in fifth grade – before then the other kids didn’t really care all that much about particulars. In fourth grade, I wasn’t actively excluded from friendships, I just wasn’t all that good at making friends. After fourth grade – from fifth to seventh grade, in particular – I might as well have been a leper. To be teased and ridiculed would have meant I was worth spending time on. I wasn’t. Ostracism isn’t pretty, folks.

    Bullying takes many different forms.

    I would rather have been beaten up. Maybe then, my parents would have seen the marks. Instead, I spent the better part of four years of my childhood with -one- friend – a friend that was just as awkward and ignored as me, who didn’t know how to treat her friendship well, who was also bullied. I am so grateful, even now, that there was someone else to be there. Would I have made it to adulthood without her? I don’t know. It was that bad. I wanted to die. I was a cutter, and the only reason I didn’t go all the way was because something – the fear of pain? an animal deep sense of self-preservation? held me back.

    At the end of eighth grade, I did something different. I gathered up my bravery (which was in short supply, by that point), and I asked my mother if I could switch schools. She shrugged and obliged – no skin off her nose!

    Things got better at that point. I ended up with a clean slate, and absolutely no idea how to make friends. It took a full semester before I started opening up and talking to other people, because I’d been so afraid of being ignored or ridiculed that I was constantly waiting for the emotional blow.

    It never came. Taking control of my own circumstances made the difference.

    Sometimes it’s hard to talk, to ask for help, or to come up with a solution. Just remember though – if you’re unhappy with the status quo, what do you have to lose?

  • http://pouffia.blogspot.com Sabrina

    It’s funny what you say about the word bullying. That it’s thrown around so much people have become desensitized to its meaning. It’s exactly what I said in the beginning of my blog post about Amanda Todd. When I heard she had committed suicide because of bullying, I basically thought: “And another anti-bullying hype commences.” As I also say in that post, not that I don’t feel for the victims and not that I approve of bullying. It’s just that the words used to describe bullying and the consequences often fail to grasp the true impact of it. They appeal to our intellectual understanding, not to our emotional understanding.

    Like you, I also was bullied but I don’t like to talk about it. And so I don’t do it often. I’m not comfortable discussing it either. I know it’s silly and misplaced but I am a little ashamed of it. As if being a bully victim would somehow make people think less of me. As if they would think of me as less strong, a walking problem, someone you should pity. So when I did my two posts about bullying, I didn’t once mention I used to be a bully victim myself. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. To me it’s fine. In any case I did take a stand against bullying, and that must be worth something.

  • Jess

    Before I respond to you guys, I want to point out that Allison Pang wasn’t able to officially make it onto the hop, but she has a post, too: http://www.heartofthedreaming.com/2012/10/19/authors-against-bullying-i-have-no-fucks-left-to-give

    @Sharon — Thanks, I’ll check that out when I get home tonight. Appreciate you spreading the word. :)

    @ Holly — I had no idea things had reached that point for you. *hugs* I’m so sorry. I know those words aren’t much, but you are one of my dearest friends, and the thought of having lost you before ever getting to know you over something so horrible makes me literally sick with rage. That anyone should ever be made to feel that way is so wrong on so many levels, I hardly have the words to express how much I want to do something to change it and make it better.

    @Sabrina — Yes, exactly. It’s almost been trivialized by some of the people who have used the term. It’s not that they’re wrong, per se, it’s just that it’s thrown around so much that I don’t think it holds the impact that it should anymore. Thank you for stopping by–and don’t ever believe that being bullied was a good thing. Not that I am throwing a pity party here, but no one should EVER have to experience it, and I’m hoping that by taking part in this hop and showing we aren’t alone, and by giving people a safe place to talk about it, and resources to deal with the aftermath, maybe it can effect a change somewhere. Even if only for one person.

    It is important. And your words mean a lot to me. Taking a stand is one of the most important things we can do to fight bullying. Standing aside and doing nothing doesn’t help anyone.

    Really, thank you all. And please, if you need to, don’t be afraid to talk about it.

    <3,
    -J

  • http://www.heartofthedreaming.com Allison Pang

    Thanks for the shout out, chica. And yeah – some days I really weep for humanity. But really, the only thing we can do is try to push forward and make sure things are better for future generations.

  • http://jessaslade.com Jessa Slade

    The ability to get away is so important to a bullied kid. Maybe that’s what is so unnatural about our society. Most of the time we can’t flee our tormentors. As kids, we are trapped in the school. As adults, we are often trapped in the job. I guess that’s why so many people find release in books: It’s the only way to escape.

  • http://www.mandyroth.com/blog Mandy M. Roth

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Sullivan McPig

    @Jess: *hugs* Thanks for sharing your story.

    I myself have been bullied by several people between the age of 6 to 18. After that I think people have tried, but by then I had learned to tune insults out, close myself off to everyone and not give a damn.
    It took me years to learn how to open up again to the people who deserved it.

    I just wish that there had been adults who would have listened to me back then, but no one wanted to have to deal with it and they always belittled the bullying.

    A big thank you to you and the other authors for telling bullied people they’re not alone and that what’s being done to them is wrong!

  • http://www.michellepillow.com/blog/2012/10/authors-against-bullying/ Michelle M. Pillow (@MichellePillow)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

  • Jess

    @Allison — Anytime, darlin’.

    @Jessa — A very succinct way of saying exactly what I was hoping to express. <3 Thank you for stopping by and being part of the hop, hun.

    @Mandy — A big thank YOU for putting this together!

    @Sullie — Getting adults to listen and understand is yet another uphill battle, methinks. I was in the same boat.

    <3,
    -J

  • Jess

    Just a quick update with more links. Author Melissa Cutler noted an organization I haven’t heard of before now:

    http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/home/index.html

    Also, when I was checking out their page, I saw this website, which also looks like a great resource:

    http://www.thinkb4youspeak.com/

    <3,
    -J

  • Izzy

    Thanks for sharing your story. Like you, I was bullied. I had a really bad time during school and I’m still struggling. When I finished High school, just after I turned 16, the bullying stopped but the damage was already done.

    I found it very difficult to make friends because I was always bullied of the way I looked and that I managed to hurt myself very easily. My classmates thought I was an attention seeker and so the bullying escalated. But you know what the worst part was? I told people what was going on, even about how I thought I was depressed but they didn’t do anything. I even went to a GP about my depression and the bullying but his answer was, “Yeah, so? What do you want me to do about it?” So I stopped talking about it. I even went through periods where I just stopped talking altogether. It was obvious nobody cared so I left it at that.
    At 13, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which explained why I looked the way I did and why I was feeling so much pain. But I kept feeling worse and worse about myself.

    I wish something had been done sooner about my depression because in my final year at college, I went into total meltdown. Since then, I’ve had a year of counselling and lots of anti-depressants and I’ve got through the worst of it. It still scares me how bad I was and yet I slipped through so many times. I actually had to tell someone that I was going to kill myself before someone intervened, and even then the correct procedures weren’t carried out.

  • http://megancashmanbooks.wordpress.com Megan

    I was bullied too, at home, at school and at work. It left me bitter and angry at the world for a long time. While I am more at peace and getting stronger in dealing with insults, I still find it hard to trust others and I am often suspicious of their motives.

    As much as I despise bullying, I think its too complex of an issue to go away. You can’t just tell people to be nice to each other; bullies will laugh at you. At the same time, there’s office politics and people who don’t like drama, which adds fuel to bullying. In order for bullying to fully go away, society as a whole will have to look hard at themselves and ask what really matters: Money? Reputation? Or compassion?

  • Jess

    @Izzy — I am so sorry to hear about that. The impact bullying has on people is beyond measure. Even more so when you finally turn to somebody you trust and they choose not to listen or help. I’m glad you’re still here, though–suicide is such a final and devastating answer to those problems. It’s breaking my heart to know that you considered it as an option–but I’m very glad you’re still here today. Please don’t ever take that route.

    @Megan — Thank you for stopping by. I agree, it’s not the kind of issue where you can just say “knock it off” and that ends it right there. There’s got to be some bigger steps we can take to end this epidemic. Kids shouldn’t be left feeling like there is no one to talk to and no way out but to withdraw from everything or hurt themselves. It’s such a complex and difficult issue, and I wish I had an answer for how to make it stop. You would think people should know by now why something like bullying is so hurtful.

    <3,
    -J