Bullying and Violence: An AnecdoteDecember 4, 2012
I wrote the title for this post days ago and I had it all planned in my head, I knew exactly what I was going to write and then I didn’t write it. It slowly dawned on me that this is meant to be an anecdote, an account of something that has really happened to me and you lot (or hopefully at least one of you) are going to read it and know it happened, do I really want that? You might judge me and find me wanting, or worse still feel pity! It was a long time ago I survived relatively healthy and sane, some people aren’t so lucky.
I was badly bullied at primary school and I was badly bullied at home. In fact the first 12 years of my life was pretty much spent trying to avoid being picked on and trying to avoid punishment, mainly by hiding, keeping quiet and being really really well-behaved and good, both at school and at home. However those tactics never really worked, but then no tactics would have worked, sometimes failure isn’t down to you.
I was brought up very religiously and I was taught that if picked on by bullies at school I had to turn the other cheek. Do you know what happens if you turn the other cheek…the bastards keep on hitting you. Do you know what would have happened if I had ever struck out… I would have been punished by my Dad (the most hypocritical man in the world ever). I was more afraid of him than of the bullies so I suffered in silence. My brother his brain unable to cope with this dilemma just got angry, angry at the bullies, angry at our teachers, angry at my Dad and angry at me, and of course I was an easy target.
The problem with my Dad was that he was unpredictable, he could be tremendous fun one minute and an angry nasty bully in a flash for no apparent reason, you had to be aware and alert and second guess him, something my brother consistently failed to do. One of my Dads methods of punishment was if he caught my brother hitting or hurting me he would then hold my brothers arms then order me to hit him back (yes this is the same man who would punish us if we didn’t turn the other cheek…) I would always refuse A) because believe it or not I had no wish to hit my brother B) I have never been stupid…. because C) my brother would get revenge and D) I didn’t trust my Dad. Of course my refusal to hit would then infuriate Dad I would get yelled at and made to cry and my brother would love it and we would become friends again for about a week and then the cycle would begin again.
Unfortunately violence has a habit of breeding violence and of escalating, as my brother got bigger his resentment of me his goody two shoes (or as I like to call myself someone with good survivor skills) sister grew, as did his bizarre love/hate/worship relationship with Dad. The angry violent boy became an angry violent man, far worse than his father. I’m not going to say any more about them because they can’t defend themselves. But I remember feeling sick with fear so often during my childhood, that nowhere and nobody was really safe, I’m not sure that feeling has ever really left me to be honest.
One thing I always want to say to people I see arguing is don’t respond to anger with anger (especially with children). Bullying can be a symptom that something is wrong for both parties. To those teachers out there who dismiss children who quite clearly are having problems hang your head in shame. And to all the people out there being bullied don’t turn the other cheek, don’t put up with it and don’t respond with violence, talk to someone you can trust it’s not your fault and you don’t deserve it.