My bullying started in year 4. Until then I was a popular kid because I was champion boy every year from year 1 to year 4. Something happened in year 4 however that meant I had to take some drugs that caused me to gain heaps of weight (kind of felt like I doubled in size – but that may not be completely true) and as a result of losing my speed and perhaps my confidence, the bullying started all the way back then. By year 7 my own friends were bullying me and year 8 I moved to high school.

I was a little nervous about high school but to be honest I was a little excited as well. This was my chance for a fresh start. Something new. Maybe I wouldn’t be bullied so much…maybe I could get a good group of friends and I wouldn’t feel so alone. Once I actually got to high school though all of these thoughts vanished. Not only did the bullying start day 1 of high school in year 8…but I didn’t find a friendship group until the middle of year 9. For more than a year I walked around at recess and lunch alone…sat alone…ate alone. Then I would go home and deal with loneliness there too. Interestingly loneliness is one of the issues I struggle with now as an adult.

For me…the bullying continued EVERY SINGLE DAY of my high school life. I would wake up every single morning of my high school life feeling sick… with a knot in my stomach because I knew that I was going to be bullied… but had no idea when it was going to happen. No wonder I fell into depression as a teenager… no wonder I had a plan in place to take my own life in year 10.

I was never taught how to deal with bullying. We were taught in school ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’. What a load of… crap. This is a lie. Words have the power of life and death. Death!! They can take away our will to live – that’s how powerful they are. And so I just pushed on through…using destructive coping mechanisms to try and make myself feel better, but that only caused more damage (and long term damage too).

How we cope with the pain is another topic on its own… but how do we deal with the bullying in a healthy way? We have 3 options in direct response to bullying:

1)     Passive – Being passive means to do nothing. I only spoke to one person in my high school years about the bullying and they said ‘ignore it…and it will go away.’ WORST ADVICE EVER. Bullies do what they do cause it makes them feel better. Being passive will not stop bullying.

2)     Aggressive  - People often think if we punch bullies in the face or if we yell and swear at them that the bullying will stop. Well I yelled and swore at my bullies and it did NOTHING…so that doesn’t work. If we respond in an aggressive way we only set ourselves up with an EXTREMLY unhealthy pattern of dealing with problems. Aggression does not have a happy ending either… I have heaps of stories of aggression ending badly. There will always be someone bigger and stronger than you!

3)     Assertive – Being assertive means standing up for yourself WITHOUT aggression. This has 2 parts.

a.     Speak to the bully one on one. Sometimes when you speak one on one things change – all of a sudden the bully becomes an normal human being (because there is no crowd to impress) However they respond…something will change subconsciously. You are no longer the guy or girl that won’t stand up for themselves.

b.     If the bullying continues then speak to a teacher (and one that you trust) Dobbing is COMPLETELY different to asking for help. Bullies use the term dobbing to keep victims trapped in the same cycle to prevent themselves from getting in trouble. When you need help…asking for it is the normal, healthy and appropriate response. When you are in a maths class and don’t know how to answer a maths question and you put your hand up, are you dobbing on the maths question? NO! It is the appropriate response. So make sure you speak to a teacher that you trust.

I chose to be passive 80% of the time and aggressive 20% of the time. Neither worked for me…as the bullying continued. I wish someone had of told me to stand up for myself without aggression. To tell a teacher that I trusted so that something could be done about it.

EVERY student deserves the right to go to school and feel safe. EVERY SINGLE ONE. If you are going to school and don’t feel safe make sure you are speaking to someone about it…someone within the school that cares. Don’t make the same mistake I did and just try to deal with it on your own.

If you have any questions about bullying then go to the Armed For Life Facebook page and send us a message.