Today marks PACER’s 2017 Unity Day! Now is a time to unite for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion, and pledge to create a world without bullying. When we stand together, no one stands alone!
Below, three of our writers shared their experiences with bullying, as well as tips on how to protect yourself.
Lexie Manion: “I am a mental health advocate and self-love blogger. I utilize Instagram and my blog the most to share my story. As someone who writes so openly and authentically, some people see me as an easy target. I share my struggles openly to process them myself and to help others see they are never alone in their own hurt. Some people like to keep talk of mental health and honesty at bay, so they attack me with hateful words because they think it’s wrong to post more than a highlight reel.
Words do sting me time to time, but I don’t think anyone, no matter how confident or happy, is ever completely unfazed by hateful words. What I do when I’m being bullied online (besides blocking) is to surround myself with positivity—whether that be with good friends, or an activity I love like drawing or writing. By refocusing our energy on things that matter, we take the power away from those trying to bring us down.
My best advice to anyone who is being bullied online is to not engage, report the account(s), and block them. Hurt people hurt people, and they are simply not worth your time. If you are, however, a child being bullied, still do not engage, but keep the evidence and report it to an adult at school. While not everyone is going to be your friend or like you, absolutely no one deserves to be bullied.”
Katrin Alyss: “There are different ways to bully a person, whether online or in real life. Bullying can take the form of spreading malicious lies about the person to destroy their reputation. There are also after school attacks in the form of leaving nasty messages to the victim. The messages could be taunting them to hurt themselves and lead to suicide if someone doesn’t intervene on the victim’s behalf.
If I saw this online to a person whom I know and care about, I would respond to the person that this isn’t right and needs to stop. I would also report the post as abusive on Facebook. I would then message the person and see if they are okay. I would also tell them that they are a great person.
I haven’t had a chance to help someone in real life. If I couldn’t challenge the bully, I would be with the friend and advise them to get some counseling. If a friend were getting bullied due to sexual orientation, I would go to one of the “Safe at Macomb” instructors at my college and let them know. If I saw someone being bullied, I would ask if the person is okay, and offer to go with them to let an instructor or the campus police know what is going, so it doesn’t escalate to a physical level.
I would do my best to help the victim in the situation and let the authorities deal with the bully. The bully bullies because they may have some hidden pain that they try to transfer onto others; however, this is not okay behavior!”
Diana Denza, Communications Associate: “I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum: both bullied and bully. Throughout grade school and junior high, I was tormented for everything from my walk to my appearance. In fact, my classmates once created an AOL chatroom to trade insults about the strange, quiet girl in the back of the room.
A few years later, I was still facing bullying at school and chose to transfer out of my first high school. My mother had died, and I was secretly coping with my attraction to women in a religious community. Moreover, the adults I was surrounded by growing up were also deeply unhappy; they taught me that hurting others when you were in pain was okay.
When one of my first friends in high school was being bullied, I turned away. I stopped returning her phone calls and inviting her to hang out. I even joined in on the bullying because I believed it would make me less of a target. I wasn’t a very strong person then, but I am now.
I know now that gossip and mean words only harm. They never heal. They will never give anyone peace. I contorted myself to fit others’ standards, to not be a target myself, but I still felt like a very sad, one-dimensional person. When I finally did get help in college, I was struggling with anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, and years of confusion about the things I had learned at home.
I can’t change the past, but I am comforted by knowing that I am doing the right thing in the present. I do my best not to shame others and I have positive outlets for self-expression. Most importantly, I’ve vowed to one day be a mother or an aunt kids deserve, because now that I know better, I do better.
To those who are being bullied: tell someone, whether that someone is a parent, school guidance counselor, or friend. You are not alone in this. If you are experiencing online trolling, take screenshots and report, report, report. If the bullies are your family, leave as soon as you are able and don’t look back. Society will shame you for this choice, but society is wrong.
To those who bully: I see you. I know it’s hard. I know that you’re in pain and that you’ll do anything to end this pain, but bullying will only cause more of it. Help is available and it’s not shameful to ask for it. You are better than this and I believe in you.”