real life

Five women share how being bullied through high school has changed their lives as adults.

The following contains discussion of eating disorders, which may be triggering for some. Support is available via The Butterfly Foundation. Visit the website or call 1800 33 4673.

High school bullying is one of the great equalisers of our world.

No matter what walk of life you come from, what kind of school you attended or who your family are, bullying is a particular kind of life experience that can touch anyone.

Even after your graduation ceremony has ended and you’ve trudged out into the world to build your life, no matter how successful and fulfilling that might be, the experience of being bullied is one that can stay with you throughout adulthood.

Here, five women share their own experiences of being bullied in high school, explaining how these moments broke them, but also shaped them for the better.

Ada

“I was bullied in Year 10 pretty severely by girls who were in Year 12. They would mock my laugh and mimic Facebook statuses I made.  This group of girls didn’t like me because a guy in their year who was the ring leader liked me, so I ended up going to the school about it. The girls then cried and apologised very dramatically.

“My parents moved me to another school because of how poorly the school handled the situation, and I was told to stay away from the boy (victim blaming, much?). I actually came out pretty unscathed. If anything, I think being bullied in high school prepared me emotionally for facing jealous people in the real world. It gave me enough insight to realise there are weird, insecure people out there but that their insecurities have nothing to do with me as a person.”

Video by Mamamia

Ella

“I was bullied pretty horrifically all the way through high school. I remember one night specifically when I lived next door to one of the popular girls at school. She threw a party at her house and invited all the girls from our year, except me. I could see them all traipsing into the party, so I sat in my room and sobbed.

“My mum found me and decided to take me out to dinner. When we pulled up back at our house it appeared the party was over so I headed around the side of the house to my room, but then five or six girls popped their heads over the fence and started screaming ‘rat face!’, which was the nickname given to me by a guy at school.

“It was horrific. Even now I am really nervous around big groups of women and I find it really hard to cope when I see my friends online doing something without me, even if I was invited. It did make me realise that pain doesn’t last forever and pain will pass, but the scars do remain.”

Alyson

“One Friday afternoon after school, my group of school friends and I were at the “Queen Bee” of our group’s house and I found myself in the computer room. The Queen Bee’s Myspace account was open and I saw message after message calling me stupid and needy. Wishing I would ‘die please’.

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“My heart was absolutely broken. I quickly printed the messages, tucked them into my bag and made an excuse to go home. From then on, I sat with the people in my group that weren’t part of the “hate club”, but I couldn’t stop noticing the giggling, the bitching and the texting.  Eventually, the girl gang grew out of it. In fact, one of the members of this group is one of my best friends to this day. I still bring it up with her and she hangs her head in shame.

“I regret not standing up for myself but, for me, my bullies were young and immature. I never trusted Queen Bee again but I don’t hold any animosity towards her. She taught me the power of kindness. The bullying I encountered was low level enough that it hurt, but it wasn’t forever damaging. It’s added to me being a people pleaser and a ‘worry wort’ it’s also made me a more well rounded, compassionate human.”

Rachael

“I was bullied in both primary school and high school. I was a bigger kid so I was called ‘baby elephant’. I had my bag hidden from me and peanuts thrown at my head. I honestly can’t remember how I got through it other than to ignore it and keep showing up to school every day.

“Later on in high school, technology made bullying a lot easier. One guy (who I had a crush on) would ask me to send him sexual messages (no pictures just text) and he would send them around. His friends threw old food at me. My whole grade pretty much turned against me, and in the end I decided it wasn’t healthy for me to be there and I moved schools to finish off Year 12 elsewhere.

“It was the best decision I’ve ever made. My body image has taken a massive hit from the years of people degrading me for it. It’s taken me years to have some self confidence and some form of self worth. But I’m getting there now.  I guess it did teach me was to ignore the people who try to pull you down.”

Simone

“I was terribly bullied when I was 14. It all started because a guy liked me but I didn’t like him back. He told everyone I was a slut and that I’d slept with one of his friends – we’ll call him Sam. Sam went along with it for some unknown reason, and it just blew up completely. People at school would call out ‘slut’ or ‘ugly whore’ when I walked past. Someone added to it that I had an STD, so I earned the nickname ‘herpes’ (I’d never even kissed a boy at this stage!). People I had never even seen before would shout ‘herpes’ at me in the street, and I’d get prank calls from boys pretending to be calling from an STD clinic. My parents pulled me out of the school, and I went to a much smaller school for Years 10-12.

“After the whole ordeal, I seemed to bounce back pretty well, until at 17 I was diagnosed with Bulimia. My eating disorder was a direct result of the deep insecurities I developed from being bullied. With the help of my parents and psychiatrist I recovered. I relapsed once at 23, but haven’t since then and I’m 26 now. Being bullied at school is something you can definitely overcome, but the memories never go away.

“I feel sad sometimes thinking about that 14-year-old girl ducking from thrown apples and thinking that maybe she should actually get a nose job, but I also think, in a way, it’s made me really thick skinned. I couldn’t give a f**k these days if someone thinks I’m ugly or calls me a slut.”

Were you bullied during your high school years, how did you overcome it? 

Butterfly Foundation: 1800 33 4673

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800

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