If it hasn’t happened to you, then you know someone who has dealt with it. Whether you are gay, fat, religious, a woman, a minority, have acne, bad hygiene, or any other hundreds of traits that make you different from the rest, you have probably experienced being made fun of for something. While mocking or teasing or laughing can seem minuscule or insignificant compared to a punch to the face, these actions are still hurtful and can cause us so much pain that it can and has led to personal insecurities, hatred, suicide, massacres, and more.
Here are just a few examples that hit close to home for me:
I knew this girl that was bubbly and fun and outgoing and pretty — but some people didn’t think so. Instead, they wrote her letters about how fat she was, how they knew her hair wasn’t really blond, how her laughter made them cringe, and that she should just “do the world a favor and die.” I read the letters. I saw the hatred in them, and I saw the pain in her eyes as she read them.
My mom grew up in a rough neighborhood where she and her sister would get beaten up constantly just because they were white. She told me stories of how they would walk through the neighborhood only to be ambushed from behind and have their heads smacked against the pavement until they blacked out.
I had a close friend confirm that he was gay after years of whispers and assumptions from others. When he finally came out, he was tortured on a daily basis from other kids at school. The word “fag” was displayed all over his locker and threatening letters with disturbing images were written to him all because he wanted to be honest with himself.
I heard another story of a Muslim girl who was harassed because she wore a hijab (a cover) to school every day. Students, her peers, would run around her trying to pull it off her head, chanting, “This is America. Get out of our country if you want to wear that.”
For the bullies in these stories, these comments are fleeting and only small blips of time that are dismissed and forgotten by them over the years. And though these are all different stories, they all share one thing in common — the ending. All of these people who were bullied attempted (and thankfully failed) to commit suicide. A slit to his wrist, an overdose of her prescription, a gun to the forehead — all these thoughts spark an image too disturbing to grasp and too difficult to let go of once they are there.
To say that prevention and overcoming bullying is important to me would be a huge understatement. Because of this, I have done some research on what you can do if you are being bullied or if you see it happening around you.
1. When possible, ignore it.
This is easier said than done and not always the appropriate solution in the situation. It is particularly helpful if it is a one-time offense, but if you have become the full-time victim, then other options would be better suited.
2. Surround yourself with support.
Do not be silent about the situation. Speak up to family and friends, teachers and counselors about what is going on, and ask for help. Remember, just like in cases of rape, the victim is not to blame for the act committed; the bully is the one at fault. You are NOT the reason for getting picked on or beat up or harassed. You deserve help and you deserve respect!
3. Hang out with other people.
Bullies tend to pick on loners because it gives them the courage to say what they want to say and do what they want to do when you are “helpless.”
After reviewing many sites regarding bullying, these are the tips I feel are the most helpful, but check out the advice of the experts through some of these sites yourself:
As a victim of bullying myself, I know it can be difficult to be on the wrong end of a joke or an innocent remark. Know that you deserve to be treated fairly and with respect, as all humans do. Get help and do not be afraid to stand up for yourself. Be bold. Be brave. Be strong. Know you are not alone. And be yourself!