05 Jan I WAS BULLIED AT SCHOOL
I was educated in Sydney. In my younger years I attended Rose Bay Convent but from when I was 12- 16 yrs old my parents transferred me to Kambala which was a private girls Church of England school just next door. Both were very prestigious schools and still are to this day. Yet going to a good school doesn’t protect anyone from the harassment of bullying. It can happen in the best and worst schools anywhere, in any city, in any country.
Unfortunately I was the victim of bullying. It lasted for about eight months and it made my life hell and affected me for years afterwards.
Somehow I knew I was different in school. I wasn’t popular. I was the kind to always be chosen last in sport when leaders chose their teams. I hanged with the uncool crowd, the misfits, the girls that didn’t belong anywhere. We were not the Jewish girls in the A class. We were not the demure and studious Asians. We were not the pretty bitchy ones that thought they were hot shiza, nor the goody goodies with glasses that always finished and prepared their homework on time. We were the ones that could not be named in a category for anything. Well I suppose ‘misfits’ is a category and we all were well aware we didn’t fit in. We had no special ambition, no agendas, no interest to be the best in sport or win over the teacher. Some were Italian. I was half American/Australia. Another Portuguese. One was tall and gawky.
I knew one thing. I knew there was a world out there. I would lose the sound of the teachers voice as I dreamed looking across Sydney Harbour to the city over my desk at the window. Kambala Church of England girls school was the best school in Sydney and also at the best location smack bang on the harbour. My desk was near the window and daily I would be hypnotized by the boats sailing in and out, the ships and cruise liners. “I wonder what is happening out there?” And I would dream of being on one of those cruise ships or on the boat that tugged them in. Or in the city as a business woman with a briefcase or a shop manager on Pitt Street or being together with my older sister in Los Angeles meeting all the rock stars.
My divinity teacher raised her voice and snapped me out of my dream “Leslie! Pay attention! The children of believers are themselves part of God’s family and therefore…” I straightened up in my seat and pulled my uniform straight in the chair and tried to refocus looking towards the blackboard.
My restlessness and dreaminess at school was a way I could escape, as result of being the victim of severe bullying. I don’t know how it started. I don’t know what I did to instigate it or what happened in them to instigate it. All I knew was that it had begun. These girls were in my class and they hanged out in a pack. We were all around the age of fourteen and I suppose the hormones were kicking in. Two of the bullies were huge breasted and tall. They would circle around me and I will never forget the looks on their faces as they hurled insults and they would rile each other up. Their mouths looked ugly when they verbally assaulted me even though I thought a couple of them were pretty.
There were four altogether, or was it five? I can’t remember. The pack leader had a famous father who owned a prominent seafood restaurant, the others seemed to just be following the pack leader. Circling me like a pack of wolves they would take bites at the sheep. ‘You’re a loser!’ “Look at your dumb mouth. Marcia Hines (a famous Australian African American singer with big lips just like me)! Marcia Hines! Ha ha!” They would always try to grab my schoolbag and take out my lunch and papers and throw them around.
I was really affected, Everyday was an effort to go to school. Everyday I would come home and I wouldn’t want to talk to anyone in my family. I would just retreat to my room and look aimlessly outside my window.
The intensity of the bullying started to escalate.
‘Get her’ … ‘drag her down’ ‘Get that dumb bitch’ ‘Get her school bag!” Everyday… for months. They would rip up my homework. They made my life hell.
Like dogs they could smell fear and would deepen their attacks.
‘Hold her down!’ ‘Stick it up her’ I think that was the worst day. The day they even held me on the classroom floor before class started and attempted (unsuccessfully) to pull down my underwear and shove a broom handle up me.
The worst of it all was that no-one outside of the gang wanted to help me. They were all afraid of the gang. Even my own friends started to distance themselves as they were afraid. I was depressed and felt defeated and very very alone.
Yet one day it ended. To this day I don’t know who informed who. But I will never forget the day my Latin teacher called me to her desk at recess and asked me a few questions. I felt she was an angel. Finally someone reached out to help me. That afternoon the gang was all called to the Principal’s office where the bullying was put to an end.
They would still continue to call out names to me from a distance but they weren’t allowed to come near me or touch me again. I was free! Yet I wish it was stopped months before.
I wonder where these girls are today and if they even remember. I forgive them for making my life hell yet to be honest I have always dreamed of the secret revenge day when I would see them in public somewhere and have ‘a little conversation’.
The reason for me writing this post is this. If you do have a child that is being bullied, step in and help as much as you can. Go talk to the principal of his or her school. It isn’t enough to give your child coping skills. It truly has to be stopped. I don’t think coping skills even though they can help slightly, are the way to go. It has to be stopped. No amount of skills are worth the daily aggravation. Step in and stop it, even if it means changing schools.