If not me – Who? A true story about bullying

 

This is a true story about bullying.

I hope this will help to bring some comfort and relief to the victims of bullying and their loved ones.

It is also my hope that at least one bully will read this and repent.

Almost free

It was now 12th Grade and my despair during 8th Grade was long gone.

I was still friendless but the cruel and relentless taunting had long since stopped.

There are a number of possible reasons for this.

  • I was ‘Captain’ of the High School swim team which afforded me a degree of ‘social rank’
  • My social skills/intuition deficit while not improved, had not worsened either
  • But the intellectual gap between me and my former tormentors was now very exaggerated!
  • Although we never spoke, they seemed to have become intimidated by this

 

They were now struggling with basic, rote learned trigonometry.

  • I was in the gifted group being taught Freshman College math
  • and had already been offered a place at an Ivy League College
  • I was almost free!

I had also accepted that for reasons unknown, I was a social outcast, but I no longer cared.

  • This had taken away much of the power of the other boys to hurt my feelings.

Struck by compassion

One day during lunch break I noticed a gang taunting a Grade 11 boy. I’ll call him David.

  • I had noticed this developing over several months
  • I was initially quite indifferent to it
  • The school bullies would routinely select a boy for psychological bullying, then move on to the next victim
  • Furthermore, as a social outcast I was in no real position to do anything

This day was different.

  • I had noticed David becoming more and more dejected
  • I recognized the signs of despair in his expression and his posture
  • His face had become grey, with the slow but relentless erosion of his dignity and humanity
  • I could feel his pain
  • He was dying inside!
  • I wasn’t sure how much more he could take
  • He was in the Grade 11 gifted group but didn’t do sports; he just didn’t have enough ‘points’
  • The fact that I could see and feel this with my impaired ‘Theory of Mind’ will be the subject of another post!

The day the Earth stood still

With no warning and no rehearsal, a powerful feeling of outrage seemed to spread through my entire body, in what seemed like a split second.

This was uncharted territory for me.

  • My feelings in 8th Grade had been quite different
  • Dread, despair, misery
  • My outrage here was empowering, liberating and energizing

 

I turned to the bully who had just taunted/insulted David and looked him clean in the eye.

  • I then asked him a very short, simple, open question
  • about their treatment of and behavior towards David
  • I then turned to each bully in turn and looked them straight in the eye too
  • Without saying a word
  • You could have heard a pin drop

Everyone, not just the bullies, fell into what seemed like a very long silence.

  • But was probably no more than 10 seconds

All of the bullies were visibly shocked, some looked frightened.

 

I was acting purely on instinct.

  • All I had done was hold up a mirror
  • Causing the bullies to see David for what he really was – Human!
  • There was also the added humiliation of a gang of bullies being confronted and defeated by a lone boy
  • A boy who was himself a bullying victim a few years earlier!
  • I imagine they felt completely emasculated

 

I then slowly, calmly and deliberately, announced to the gang, while turning to look at each of them in turn.

  • ‘This ends NOW!’

The silence then resumed.

The last resort

I should mention here that I was ready to knock each and every member of that gang to the ground if necessary.

  • and they knew it!

I had the build and I had the strength.

  • and they knew that too!

I could feel the adrenalin rush, but my mind remained calm and my thinking clear.

 

I should also volunteer that fighting is not in my nature.

  • The few fights I did have were all at school
  • Only after I had been taunted beyond breaking point
  • I always went for the ring leader and this always ended the bullying

But on this occasion I never even had to raise my voice.

 

I had ‘subdued the opponent without fighting’

  • applying the teachings of Sun Tzu (The Art of War) before I had even heard of him!

 

David and I walked away and grabbed a couple of sodas.

  • We talked but I mostly listened
  • We were friends for a while but then drifted apart
  • I never saw him again after I graduated High School

Nobody ever bothered David again and the school bullies kept a very safe distance from me.

Epilogue

David also went on to attend an Ivy League College.

He then completed a Masters degree and became a very successful and highly sought after International Consultant.

 

I have no idea how things would have turned out for David if I hadn’t stepped in that day.

  • Maybe he would have found the strength to survive, in despair, as I did in 8th Grade
  • Perhaps he would have found the courage to face them down?

 

What I do know is that I did the right thing because;

If not me, who? – If not now, when?

This is dedicated to all of the victims of bullying and in Special Memory of those whose stories have ended in tragedy.

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. varda-squashedmom
    Aug 11, 2012 @ 21:17:58

    Just beautiful. Thank you.

    Reply

  2. Angel
    Aug 12, 2012 @ 11:21:12

    I think this is an awesome post! I am so glad you shared it and I hope that it opens the eyes of others. This is such a great thing to read about you and David getting through it and moving forward with life in a positive direction. It makes me so happy to read.

    I have been the victim of bullying throughout my life. Physical, psychological, and emotional, for some reason I did not have the strength to stand up for myself unless I was at my breaking point. I would become very aggressive because I could not express what was happening to me, or when I did share that I was being tormented no one believed me. Not being able to express myself or feel heard led me into self-harm behaviors.

    My mother told me to ignore them, or beat them up. That is what her father told her to do when she was being bullied, as a matter of fact when she told him he said something very close to, “You go out there and beat them up if you don’t I am going to beat you.” He would not allow her back into the house until she did it. Yes, not a healthy way to handle the situation. She being on the spectrum it caused some serious issues for her, later for me.

    I hate violence so it made it even worse when I became aggressive. I had guilt and felt badly for the people my aggression was directed toward even if they were the ones tormenting me. I never beat anyone up it makes me sick to think about doing that, but I did have to physically protect myself at times. It normally did not work in my favor being that I was a skinny girl and boys, and larger girls were after me. (Larger as in height and muscular build.) My perceived “insanity” saved me on many occasions. :-)

    However, if I saw someone else being tormented or bullied I was the first to jump to their rescue. My mind did not even comprehend that I could be seriously injured, or that they would turn on me. In my mind I would rather have the bullies come after me than to go after another person. I can’t bear to see another person hurt like that, but for some reason I have felt that it was ok for me to endure such horrible things.

    I appreciate what you share here because it helps me to see how you saw your self-worth and decided that it was wrong to be treated like that. I need reminders that I do not deserve to be treated badly – ever!

    Thank you!

    Reply

    • spectrumscribe
      Aug 12, 2012 @ 13:06:13

      Thank you Angel for your kind words and for sharing your experiences.

      I don’t really know how to respond because I’m quite blown away!

      I am surprised and very moved by your comment.

      You’ve given me an idea for a Wordless Wednesday post – which I am going to credit to you.

      Thanks again :-)

      Reply

  3. Trackback: The Bodyguard – Wordless Wednesday « Postcards from the edge of the Spectrum
  4. 1funmum
    Aug 29, 2012 @ 09:31:23

    I loved this post. Yes if not you then who. If not now then when. Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, ages and genders. It can be very hard for people to understand when they have crossed the line into becoming the bully. I have often said if we really want to tackle the problem about bullying we need to address adult bullying. We as adults often for get where behavour is taught and who teaches behavour. Children need there roll models to not be bullies them selves to learn that it is wrong. I loved that you no longer became the victim of bullies and pulled through. But what I loved more is that you did not use your new found status as captain of the swim team to become the bully. You could have elevated your self in higher status by choosing to bully others so you could truly no longer be bullied. Too often when given the opportunity the bullied becomes someone else’s tormentor. The fact that you also did not take on the place of the bystander when it would be so easy to be one is also commendable. Bravo for being a super Person. I’m sure you continue to try your best to be. Thank you so much for sharing your story with the world. Hopefully it will help someone to stand up for them self or not be the bystander. But I feel to end bulling parents have to teach there children not to be one and not be one themselves.

    Reply

  5. Sue
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 03:49:51

    I’m so glad you shared this powerful post! Bystander really do make a difference and you are living proof!

    Reply

  6. Shauna
    Sep 27, 2012 @ 00:34:45

    What a great post.. What a great thing to do… My daughter was bullied at school for years until I finally went to the school and forced them to take action. I waited too long, the damage has been done. She will get through fine but it really was hard on her self esteem. I just wish one person had done what you did and showed her she was worth it, that was my job and I failed to act soon enough. She is a great kid and has a great future ahead of her, I cant say the same thing for the bullies. Our kids need to be taught compassion and giving!

    Reply

  7. Trackback: If not me – Who? A true story about bullying « ☮ A s p e r c a t 's ☮ P l a c e ☮
  8. frank4manl
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 18:12:32

    I was too intimidated by the bullying done to me that I did not gain the wherewithal to intervene until I was a mother. It was in swimming pools where I would grab a kid and tell him to stop it. Same response every time. “We’re just playing and having fun.” So my response to that was the same every time. “If only one of you is having fun, you are NOT playing. Leave him alone.” Then, as long as I was watching, the bullied kid was left alone. I have no idea if I taught anybody anything.

    Reply

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