#IAmASurvivor are stories from women of all walks of life, telling their stories of survival. Everybody is a survivor and all stories deserve to be told. These stories are all in their own words.
I Survived Being Bullied At School
I’ve never written this story down before although I have mentioned the effects it had on me to friends and family over the years. I’ve also discussed it with a counsellor, but it took me a long time to realise how much of an impact it had on me.
Not only was I bullied, but some of the worst bullies were supposed to be my friends.
I was always a sensitive child I suppose.
This made me vulnerable to being teased, particularly as I cried easily. (I've recently discovered that I have all the traits of a ‘highly sensitive person’ so this is something that has stayed with me to this day).
I’m from the United Kingdom and I've got pretty good memories of attending my first primary school, although I was teased a bit there.
When I was 7 years old we moved and I went to a new primary school. Again, I made some good friends but the teasing continued.
In my primary school years I don’t recall that it had a major impact on me as I was always outside, playing games with my friends so could escape those who chose to pick on me.
It did upset me at times though. This photo was taken at the opening of a local play park. Thankfully I was there with some good friends of my family, but I distinctly remember the local children being mean to me at this event.
Things got much worse when I moved up to senior school.
Some of my friends from primary school went off to other schools so my allies were depleted. The teasing got worse and became quite nasty. Pretty soon it developed into bullying.
I got friendly with a couple of girls. But they picked on me as well. I suppose now when I look back, they probably did it to look ‘big’ in front of others. On a one-to-one basis, they were generally lovely to me. But as soon as we were in a group, it was a different story.
Mainly it was psychological bullying. There would be name calling, catty remarks or my ‘friends’ would decide to completely ignore me and leave me standing on my own in the playground.
I was always picked last in sports. "Do we have to have HER on our team. She’s useless…."
Sometimes, there was psychical abuse too.
I recall an occasion when it felt like the whole school turned against me one break time.
I was literally set upon. My shoes were pulled from me and filled with sand then thrown on the roof. I had cartons of orange juice tipped over my head and food was thrown at me.
The teachers did nothing. I had to sit through the afternoon’s lessons covered in orange juice and dried food.
I tried to seek help from my parents.
They just told me that I should stand up for myself. Believe me, I tried, but it was very difficult when it felt like the whole school was against you and when every word you said would be twisted to make you look and feel stupid.
I used to feel so lonely, it felt like there was nowhere I could find a friend.
The worst thing from all of this was the bullying was from those who were supposed to be my friends.
To this day, this has left me with a deep-rooted need for the approval of others.
I’ve worked on this to an extent with counselling, but it is still part of who I am and something I struggle with.
I also struggle with speaking up in groups. I have to do this in my job so have had plenty of practice, but still find it hard!
I’m always waiting for someone to jump in and make me look stupid. Of course, this generally doesn’t happen, but if I feel like I’ve said the wrong thing or haven’t answered a question well, I feel stupid anyway!
You might think I would hate those who bullied me at school, but I don't.
With the benefit of maturity and adulthood, I can see that they probably had issues with insecurity and lack of confidence themselves.
Maybe they had difficult family lives or were subject to some kind of abuse themselves. Perhaps they were jealous of my achievements at school.
I actually feel a bit sorry for them now.
At the age of 15, I moved away with my family and finished up my school career elsewhere. That was the best thing that could have happened.
I was no longer bullied at school and began to build my confidence.
In some ways, I think the experience made me stronger.
I survived it. It was temporary (although it felt like it went on for ages at the time) and life did get better. If I’m going through a bad time, I remind myself of what I’ve gone through and survived in my life.
It also taught me to choose my friends very carefully. I have dropped people along the way who didn’t treat me as well as I deserve.
The bullies might have called me ugly and weird. Well, guess what, the ugly duckling became a swan! I’m still ‘weird’ but I love my weirdness and so do all my friends!
Over time I have built my confidence, although I’m still not the most confident person in the world. (But then I don’t think there is anyone who is 100% confident all the time).
I also love to help other people who are struggling, Whether this is with toxic relationships or a lack of confidence (or both). I enjoy helping others to see that there is a different way and that life can improve.
The bullies also taught me to be open-minded and tolerant of others. I don't follow the crowd. If a group doesn’t like a person, this does not influence me. I will get to know that person, take them as I find them and make up my own mind.
I've chosen to be kind and show empathy and understanding to others. I will always seek out the person who looks like they are feeling left out or nervous and try to help them.
I do forgive those who bullied me at school. In fact, in some ways I thank them. They made me who I am today and I wouldn't change that for a minute!
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