How bullying and abuse can prevent people from being themselves

I think one of the cruelest sides of bullying and abuse are the way they can prevent a person from simply being her or himself.

Because when you’re suffering one, or both, all you want is to stop it. You can only think of how life would be without it. That’s when some people start blaming themselves for it. It sure must be their fault; there must be something seriously wrong within them…otherwise it wouldn’t happen, right? Nope! But it’s easy to think like that when your surroundings give you that impression. It’s hard to believe it’s okay being who you are when people around you are incessantly picking on you because of that.

Take my example. I’m not a very sociable person, never was. Of course it might have been because of all the abuse I suffered in my own home, but still… I always preferred to read in a good corner than to go to a party, for instance. Actually, I don’t like parties. Never know what to do in one, where to put my hands, what others are finding so funny… It’s more like torture to me. I LOVE to socialize on the internet, but not so much face to face.

Well, it’s okay now. I can say that and, even though most people still don’t understand my preferences, they respect it. But when I was at school, it was reason to mock me. To despise me. To write things about how much of a freak I was on the walls. To whisper, point and laugh when I was sitting on my chair during breaks, reading. In some cases, it was even reason to destroy my books when I wasn’t there and to assault me outside school one day…

It was also reason at home for having to hear things like: “You should go out, you’re young, can’t be reading all the time”, or “You look weird reading so much, go out, make some friends”; “What’s wrong with you, can’t you be like the other girls?”.

If it weren’t once in a while, okay, but it was repeated to me EVERY SINGLE DAY.

So tell me, please, how can a child or a teenager, believes there’s nothing wrong with the way he or she wants to spend their free time (as long as they don’t want to do anything dangerous or illegal, of course), when even your mother keeps screaming at you because of that?

It’s impossible.

That’s when this little person starts thinking people must be right. So, if they change, if they try to act more like others, the incessant ranting, the constant mocking, the hell would stop, right?

I believed that, and tried so hard to be a ‘party-girl’ like everyone told me I should be, that I got into a lot of trouble. The shiny nerd I was soon was dating anyone. Drinking, smoking, coming home just the next day without even calling.

It almost destroyed me. All because I couldn’t be the person I really was. And the saddest part is that it didn’t work. Of course not. Bullies just love to bully, it’s what they do. They will find any reason to pick on you, no matter what you do. So don’t change to please them. I learned it the hard way.

Back then we didn’t call it bullying, nor abuse. At least not here in Brazil. It was just the daily hell, no one talked about it, no one thought about it. Except the ones suffering, of course.

It still happens everyday, but at least we are talking about it now. We are worried about it and trying to find solutions.

But meanwhile, teenagers, and even children, dread so much going to school and facing the bullies that some of them start skipping classes. If they have a not so good environment at home, they may as well just runaway. Or they will try to change their behaviors to better fit. Some can’t cope at all with it and think of harming themselves as an escape.

So please, I beg all parents and caregivers… Pay attention to your children. Talk to them. Be sure they are okay. Be sure to tell them they can be who they are, that they don’t have to change to please anyone. Make them feel safe enough to talk to you if they need help. Listen to them when they talk about bullying.

Oh, and also, pay attention if they are the bullies. Make them understand that it’s never okay, it’s never funny, it’s never the answer.

I firmly believe that we can change the world by better educating our children. Let’s try!

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4 responses to “How bullying and abuse can prevent people from being themselves

  1. Not only is this a heartbreaking piece to read it’s also uplifting in that we have a survivor of such bullying. Often we only hear about such nastiness because it’s cost us the life of another child. If that doesn’t happen, all to often we see mental health problems in adults who have suffered a constant barrage of abuse and bullying. It leads to tremendous problems with self worth.

    Sometimes parents and schools don’t take bullying seriously because they see it as a normal part of growing up. Believe me it isn’t. Bullying in the workplace is taken very seriously by employers now and there’s no difference. Schools who are aware of bullying should clamp down hard on it and offer real help to the victims or soon they may find themselves in court charged with a lack of care.
    Thanks Renata for sharing this. I fully confess I felt like your twin when I read some of it having suffered bullying in my childhood both in and out of school. I had great pleasure in tweeting this and hoping to prick the consciences of those who watch and do nothing while it happens.
    Hugs to you. x

    • Hi David,

      It’s possible to survive it all, but it sure is difficult, specially alone, and it will always leave scars.

      I, for example, have to fight the desire of overprotecting my daughter. I guess since no one really taught me how to educate a child, I try to do for her what no one did for me. And sometimes (well, maybe lots of times 🙂 ) I exaggerate. It’s a daily battle.

      Sad to know you suffered it too. I agree, most people don’t think it’s a big deal. I believe Hollywood is to blame too, with movies showing bullying as a funny thing, as if it were hilarious to be locked in your locker… Or, in other movies, showing how the nerds overpower it all in some contest or with a single lucky punch one day. It gives the wrong impression that we are, finally, trying to revert.

      Talking about it may sound weak, but it’s a start.

      Thank you so much for commenting and spreading the word about the post! Hugs from Brazil!! 😀

      Sent from my Windows Phone

  2. Hi Renata, great post today! Like you and David I was abused as a child. My abuser was a relative, a cousin. Luckily, I had a great family, a strong family, one willing to stand behind me when I came of age and confronted my attacker. Most people never get that opportunity or even have the courage to attempt such a task. For me personally, I find it freeing and helpful in the healing process. For I believe, the more we talk, the more we stand up for ourselves and others, the less hold our abusers have over us. I’m grateful for people like you and David, those willingly to come forward and share experiences because it gives others hope. It shows them that they are not alone and that they can face things that seem insurmountable and overcome them. Appreciate you, your struggles and your courage! God bless you and your journey to improve the world in which we live. Hugs

    • Hi Kim, thank you so much for commenting and sharing your story!

      You know, what really impresses me is how many people have suffered abuse and bullying during their early years! So many more than one would like to believe…

      I’m really happy for the support you had from your family, and how you got to to confront your attacker. That’s what I want to make people aware – it can happen anywhere, to anyone…but if the family is there to support, the story will be so different!

      All I try is to make people think about the problem. It’s the first step.

      Thanks again for your kind words. Hugs! 🙂

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