See Sense, Stop Bullying: I was bullied because of my sexuality
I hate the fact I can say this but…overall, I got it easy. Everything that happened could have been so much worse but, maybe because I was so scared and because, in a way, I was a coward, it didn’t.
I moved to Milton Keynes when I was 11 and even before I came here, I was being targeted by people. Ever since I was little, people ‘picked on me’. So when I moved, I was already fragile and isolated. I had no one and I wasn’t sure if I even wanted someone.
I thought moving from rural Lincolnshire to Milton Keynes would mean a new start and a second chance, but it wasn’t that easy. Going from North to South meant my accent was different, my pronunciation of words was different, and that was target number one.
A lot of the time, the ‘jokes’ aimed towards me were mostly because of my voice and the way I spoke but also because of the way I looked. I was short, fat and had a perked up nose which, within a week of being at the new school, landed me with the nickname Penelope and Mrs Piggy. The names stuck until Year 10, when the group of bullies left.
The only time anything turned physical was when there was a ‘standoff’ between one of the bullies and myself, and when I tried to walk away, they shoved me into the a table and every time I tried to stand, they’d shove me back down. I had bruises on my back and sides for weeks after that. And this was before I even came out.
Bullying isn’t just physical…
I was never attacked physically but when you’re told that you’re stupid, you’re worthless, you don’t know what you’re saying, to go die, go slit your wrists, to go running to Mummy and cry like a baby, you start listening to them and slowly start to break. I accepted what they were calling me and began to believe them.
With the bullies words weighing down on me I started to self-harm, but in a way that kept it hidden from everyone else and the true meaning of it was only known to me.
Daily I used to draw all the way up my arm. It would be anything. On bad days, it would be things that they had said to me, things that I’d done wrong. On good days or when I was counting down to something, it would be symbols or things that meant something to me. Alongside that, I would write.
I’d have notebook upon notebook upon notebook and all I did was write stories, create characters and go into worlds where my life, my main characters life was so much better than the one I was in.
Coping with the bullies and coming out…
I remember, when I was in Sleaford one summer, I got in contact with someone from my previous school. The person I was talking to was the person who bullied me throughout the whole of primary school.
I asked him why it was that he bullied me and I remember he told me it was because I was different. I worked to try and fit in but they knew I wouldn’t so they would target me. Hearing that it made me realise the fact not fitting in with others at school should be a good thing. I don’t want to be like them. I am me. I am my own person and I don’t have to be like others.
It wasn’t until my Grandma died that the penny dropped. I stopped caring about what they said. I’d lost one of the most important people in my life and what they said wouldn’t hurt me anymore than that.
When I went back to school in September 2014, I wasn’t the same person I was before. I’d stopped caring what the others thought of me, I had stopped caring about what they said and the way they treated me.
I kept drawing up my arm but it wasn’t because of the bullies, it was because instead of worrying about who I was to other people, I was finding out who I was instead.
If they felt like ‘today is a day we're going to attack you’ I wouldn’t let them. I’d tell them to wait and I’d walk away.
That was when I started to become open about being homosexual. I remember I got bombarded with questions for months.
In PE, they wouldn’t let me into the changing rooms because they ‘don’t want a lesbian perving on them’. I didn’t care though.
They used to make homophobic jokes about how I was weird; they’d ask personal stories about how I knew. They’d poke at sore topics and ask about relationships that fell through or I was in.
As I was in a long distance relationship with a Trans female, they asked a lot about that. At first, I got annoyed but after a while, I just accepted that some people don’t understand that not everyone is the same and some are weird and wonderful.
Bullying isolates you…
When I moved to Milton Keynes, I isolated myself. I became quiet, scared and fragile. I stopped going out to see those who I called my friends. I’d get the bus home, sitting in silence and listening to music. I’d come home and do nothing.
I was numb to the world. I was so tired of the comments and names at school that I started to give up. I didn’t want to die; I just didn’t want to live this life.
There are still days today, years after the worst of it died down, where I feel like I’ve messed up this life and I want to try again. But the one thing that controlled my life was the fact that I was scared. I would, and still do, get scared that if I do something wrong, it will come back and bite me.
Not only that, the one thing I was stuck feeling is that I was alone. I couldn’t go to my Mum because I didn’t want her to get involved in it. My sister sort of understood and always tried to help me see a joke in the situations but that was all I had. I wanted so bad to give up on everything but I was too stubborn to do so. So I lived everyday hating it. Then I lost my grandma and I just went numb. I stopped caring, that was when I gave up.
But, I remember my friend used to tell me ‘A soldier you should fear is one who’s got nothing to lose’. Hearing that reminded me that I haven’t got anything to lose so why not! Screw what they said to me and I don’t care anymore. I’m going to live my life my way and not yours!
Getting the school involved…
I never went to school personally, it was always school coming to me or those who were targeting me using the school against me. I remember one time where I was talking with a friend and made a ‘not PG’ joke and the ‘bullies’ started pushing, pressuring, threatening and yelling at me. In the end they went to the school, complained about me and I got a lecture.
That was what hurt more. Not the attack from the bullies, but the fact that they were able to use the school against me. It was only in Year 10/11 after the school had been told my entire story and the reasons I can be unstable or react certainly, did the school realise that I’m not like other students and that they hadn’t always helped the situation and had actually made it worse.
There have been times when somethings have become bad between me and the other students, where I’ve been able to sit with teachers and talk as if we were two human beings and not student/teacher. My year 10/11 Head of Year was someone who had known me since everything became bad and was probably the only teacher that I felt comfortable talking to about it all.
There is no way to justify bullying…
Bullying, in all of its forms, is horrible. There is no possible way to justify why a person has targeted hate towards someone specifically. I went through hell and back and now, two years after it has all happened, I’m still recovering.
Being bullied doesn’t just affect the person for that moment, it affects them for life. And very rarely it’s positive. From my experiences, I’ve lost my personal confidence, I’m easily ashamed and I spend most of my life hiding behind a façade and that’s a talent nobody should have.
Nobody should be forced to hide who they are because one person doesn’t like it. Nobody should be scared to get on the bus in the morning because someone’s going to empty the contents of their bag across it. The only nickname a person should have is one from the people they trust and care about. Not one that targets them and makes them feel like the dirt on the bottom of someone’s shoe. I would not wish that pain upon any student.
You’re always told that if you stand up to the bullies, they’ll leave you alone. I know from experience, that doesn’t work. What does is just not listening.
Acknowledge them, make them wait to talk to you and just don’t listen! If they call for you, just tell them to wait, and then carry on doing whatever it was you were doing. There is no way to eradicate bullying overall. All we can do is support those who are going through it and help them where we can. Some do it on their own, some just need the right person to support them and understand them.
For help and advice visit Ditch the Label.
Last Updated: 30 November 2017