In her eloquent and shocking response to my previous post, Kitty encouraged fellow bloggers to post their personal stories of bullying and prejudice. I am a little apprehensive about posting this - this blog isn't really supposed to be about me, but I guess I do throw in the occasional personal-based post here and there (and a heck of a lot of 'hey guys, guess what I've been up to!' introductory paragraphs or P.S.'s) so to hell with it.
I attended a small Church of England primary school, with no more than 100 pupils the whole time I was there. I was pretty quiet; I loved creative writing, reading, and art, and whilst school per se was not my favourite thing, I was happy enough to attend and, as far as I am aware, didn't cause any trouble the entire time I was there. Yes, so I was the 'weird kid' for my taste in clothes (I hadn't yet discovered Goth, but I used to wear such oddities as rainbow-striped trousers and silver platform boots - not together, I might add - on own-clothes days), and often felt as though I didn't quite belong (but doesn't every kid?) but I had my fair share of friends and was content.
Secondary school was a whole different league. Whilst I found my footing with a group of friends who also appreciated unusual fashion, I couldn't get into the music that the 'populars' listened to, wasn't interested in smoking, drugs or promiscuity, and had the apparently offensive tendency to dye my hair different colours and have it lopped into a pixie cut. Short hair meant I was a lesbian. Orange hair meant I was a freak. The rock band hoodies and blue leather jacket I wore meant I was a loser. I worked hard and got good grades so I was a boffin. My group of friends shrank in exact inverse ratio to my growing dissatisfaction with mainstream culture.
The bullying started with name-calling - weirdo, freak, lesbian, loser - and a few particularly scathing comments still ring in my ears (if that isn't too melodramatic). I was also experiencing some troubles with my dad's wife and her family, which had led to me developing some eating-disordered behaviours and self-harming tendencies (after I left school I was referred to a physiotherapist for several years, and not to be too flippant about it but I'm feeling much better now, thanks very much).
When the cuts on my forearms were noticed in the girls' changing rooms, word spread and all hell broke loose. It was like a switch had been flipped, and what had been a few kids calling me names now felt like my entire peer group turning against me. I was locked in the girls' bathrooms for two hours. Once whilst I was standing outside the school building chatting to some friends, a boy with a baseball cap pulled low over his face and his hood up used an aerosol and a lighter to launch a fireball at me. I dread to think what would have happened if I'd been standing any closer.
A close friend of mine (who also suffered from self-harm) and I were surrounded by a group of at least a dozen of our schoolmates in a corridor, all chanting (non-sensically) 'murderers, murderers'. Once I stood up for one of my younger friends who was being chased by a group of older girls, pushing one of the girls away from her, and what seemed like her entire class fenced me in so she could deliver a good slap round my face.
I became too afraid to eat in the school canteen. I began to act up in lessons so that I would be sent out, to avoid my desk mates constantly kicking me in the shin and having (of all things) egg sandwiches thrown at me. I became quieter and quieter at home and more and more disruptive at school.
Once in a geography lesson, the boy next to me stabbed me in the forearm with a compass. I can't remember precisely what happened, but I was sent out of the lesson and given a detention. Which I refused to attend. So I was given another detention. Which I did not attend. I was taken aside by the teacher and asked if I was having problems at home. I was too shell-shocked to point out that I was having chairs thrown at me and 'lesbian', 'freak' and 'bitch' chanted at me by almost the entire class right under her nose. I just walked way.
I began bunking off school, feigning illness or just spending the entire day skulking around town. My parents contacted the school, who 'had a word' with the bullies. Well, we all know what that does.
When I walked into French class at the start of my third year of secondary school, I froze in horror when I realised I was being seated next to the worst of the bullies. I asked the teacher to change the seating plan but she refused. During the entire lesson he held his nose and complained at the top of his voice that I 'smelt of meat because I was a lesbian', scrawled 'cuts' on my arms in pen, and eventually wrote 'LESBIAN' across the cover of my French book.
The teacher went ballistic. At ME. For defiling my French book. She told me to leave the room and gave me a detention.
That was the last straw. I shouted in her face that she was fucking stupid if she thought I'd done that to my own book, stormed out of the class, walked out of the school - and never went back. It was my third day of year nine. My mum found me at home in semi-hysterics, and pulled me out of the school system the very next day, after conferring with my headteacher, who thought that I would find the situation even worse at a different school.
I was home-schooled between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, during which time I discovered Goth culture, got a job, began volunteering, made some great friends, took steps to deal with my 'issues', and realised that, actually, I was never the 'freak'.
Not a freak, just a girl ^^