I’m saddened by the recent news story of the sport guys who have told their harrowing tales of abuse when they were younger. And it’s reminded me of the awful things that happened to so many innocent and vulnerable young lives of those abused by people in power and those with celebrity status. And my heart bleeds for the loss of those young childhoods.
We probably all have secrets and stories that we don’t share with others. We certainly have things stored in the bottom of our hearts that have never ever, ever seen the light of day. And may never surface.
And awful things are happening to ordinary everyday people, carried out by ordinary everyday people. In ordinary every day places, under our noses, and with others around.
It’s not quite the same I know, but I was bullied in school. By just those ordinary girls, who we saw every day, day in – day out. And after talking to school friends, I’ve found the same happened to some of them. Name calling, physical abuse, emotional abuse and more. I’m not a young 15 year old girl – but a 50 something, mum of two sons and a granddaughter. But it still hurts me to think about it today. I can see their faces in front of me. Older girls, who thought they had power over us. They were in my class, and I don’t remember everything about the bullying, apart from one incident when I tried to answer them back. It went horribly wrong and they laughed at me, and pushed me down a grassy incline. The bullying petered out, they must have moved on to some other vulnerable innocent 15 year old.
It sounds so very innocent doesn’t it, a bit of name calling, pushing and shoving. But it goes deeper than that. It makes you feel wary of making friends, how will these new people be towards you, will they take advantage of you, your innocence and your friendship?
Both my parents suffered with mental health illness for a very long time, it certainly had an impact on me. Perhaps this vulnerability was what they were targeting? I really don’t know. I always felt that I had to be strong and feisty to overcome the problems of my home life. I obviously wasn’t that feisty to be walked over like that!
And after having conversations with old school friends, we have found that lots of us have shared stories, but none of were aware of what impact it was having on each of us. How did we not know, we could have supported one another! But you keep these things quite don’t you?
I can see that young girls can be so very cruel, it hasn’t stopped 40 years later, but now it has taken a different turn. You get bullied on Social Media. You can’t get away from it, your phone is always in your pocket – the bullies can target you wherever you are. At least 40 years ago – when we left school, we left those girls behind! Although the spoken word was just as vitriolic then as the written word is now. You did something then – the word spread like wildfire through the ranks of the school. It may have taken a little time to get to those who could do most damage to your reputation, but none the less it got there, and the rot set in! At least then you had some time to try and defend yourself, to quash the rumours. In today’s age of instant gratification, instant messenger, instant everything, what you do now – spreads at the push of a button to everyone! That’s technology I’m afraid. Advantageous on one hand, devastating on another.
I have no answers to the problem, it won’t ever go away I’m sure. But as a parent I have tried to teach my sons respect, to look out for others as much as themselves. To make sure that everyone get home safely from a night out. If something irks you or hurts you to share it, and as a family we will try and deal with it. We need to lead by example, and for us that is setting a good example!
And of course, it doesn’t stop at 15. It’s not just something young girls have to deal with. But middle aged women of 50 + get bullied too. But believe me they know how to nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. Safety in numbers, support from others, divide and conquer. All those clichés – trust me they work!