It was so great to hear someone else's story about being bullied. Here is my story. I live in western Canada, where I attended nine years of elementary school, then four years of high school . I was always a very shy, quiet, sensitive girl. While I didn't cry when I was taunted, I believe I must have exhibited some emotion that others must have picked up on as easy to tease. The teasing/bullying began when I was six and had just started in a new school. It started out with name calling, etc., with girls pulling friends away from me, so that I felt alone, that no one liked me or was on my side, especially later on. They would say mean, hurtful and untrue things about me loud enough so that I could hear. They would remove clothing, etc. of mine from my locker and leave it strewn around the room. They would make fun of me when I couldn't play certain sports well. It got to the point where I didn't want to play any sports or even be around during recess (class break). They would sometimes steal things that belonged to me or vandalize my artwork that a teacher had placed up on the wall.

My parents felt that I should just ignore them and when that didn't work, they told me things that I should say back in response to them (no swearing, words to show them that I was better than them), but that didn't work either. It is my honest opinion that ignoring bullies or coming up with responses does not work. I know that after all the speaking done to schoolteachers and administrators did not do anything. What my suggestion to other victims would be that they take some classes in self-defense, or something that will help them to feel more self-confidence and more self-esteem, which is what parents must be made aware of. And while I know it is not correct in some ways, sometimes I do believe that if I had hit my bullies back, that they and their followers might have given me more respect - I always wish that I had fought back, but there must be a better alternative than violence.

The worst year began when I was ten years old (grade five) and a new student arrived at school. From the day she arrived, I knew it would be bad news - she rudely insisted that we change seats so she could sit next to her friend and from that day forward; my life of "hell" began. She would belittle me in any way she could, rallying all the girls in class against me. She would try and make me appear stupid because I didn't know much about sexual relations. She constantly made cruel, untrue remarks about me, my looks, anything. Students told me I was overweight (I wasn't, but it has caused a lifetime of worrying about my weight). She would deliberately try and do things to make my life a living hell. She began kicking me, chasing me around at recess, and then the last straw was one winter day, when she threw off my toque, threw me on the ground and pulled my scarf so tight around my neck, trying to strangle me until I thought I would pass out.

I used to have nightmares which actually ended up making me happy, where I would find myself on top of my victim (really, my bully), jumping up and down on top of her while the other students begged me to stop, but I wanted to keep hurting her until she stopped hurting me in my real life. Plus, she was the teacher's pet and best friends with the school principal, so when my mother tried endlessly to get support, it was brushed off and not taken seriously - she spoke on the phone several times for two years before the school division superintendent FINALLY allowed me to change schools when I was thirteen. Do you know that the very year I left that school, four more students left for the same reason, something of which I had been oblivious? By that time so much damage had been done, that for years, I was so defensive about anything negative said about me (even if it was constructive criticism) that I would overreact and not understand why and then hate myself, think I had severe problems and think that I needed a psychiatrist, then I would cry for the longest time, feeling very ashamed.

My parents told me that I should learn to get over what happened, not dwell on it, that I shouldn't be affected by it anymore. Though the bullying did stop when I was thirteen and changed schools, I have always had difficulty in approaching people to make friends and not always had a lot of self-esteem. Another life-long effect the bullying has had on me is that I have always found it much easier to befriend guys than girls. I find that girls and women are so competitive and jealous. Guys never said or did anything as cruel and hateful as the girls did. And when friends or acquaintances stop communicating with me for a while, I wonder what I have done wrong to keep them from being friends with me (I'm sure it's my imagination). In addition, I have been in two workplaces where my employers took advantage of me, and with a few other traumatic events in my life, I had enough stress to make myself very sick with depression for a few months.

Thankfully with counselling, a co-dependency support group and a very supportive boyfriend and family, I worked out some of the bad things in my life, things that I continue to work on daily. The only thing that I have the greatest difficulty with is forgiving my one big bully from elementary school. I often have dreams/desires of hitting her just once to get out all my frustrations against her, so that she would truly understand all the pain she caused in my life. Things that have helped me to feel better about myself are gardening (which I didn't know I was talented at until I was thirty), writing, and acting (which I was always afraid to try in case I wasn't any good). Also, I have recently joined our Community Action Team, an active member of the Not Just Fun & Games (bullying prevention) section. I have met and married the most caring, wonderful husband (married two years) and have given birth to the most loving, sweet baby girl. They are the best things that have happened to me and I know that life is never going to be easy, but it is extremely rewarding!

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