I Was Bullied: Part Two – A Recollection by Emily FataEmily Fata August 13th, 2016 Personal Story
Written by: Emily Fata
This article is a continuation from a previous post, in which I discussed my experiences with bullying growing up. When high school finally started, I was nervous to begin in a place where I knew nobody, but my parents reminded me that I had transitioned well during the previous move and I would do so again this time.
I have to say that they were right. All four years of my secondary school education went by with little disturbance and bullying. I made many friends very quickly and over the years, figured out whom I clicked best with and kept them in my life. Even now, there are a handful of those friends I still keep in contact with, including one of my very best friends.
The only thing that stands out to me in regards to being bullied was in tenth grade, on a day when I had forgot to put my kilt pin back on my uniform after pulling it from the dryer in a hurry one morning. To preface this, I have to note that there was a ridiculous ‘code’ in my school having to do with kilt pins (which obviously only applied to the young girls who were wearing them): pin pointing down meant you either didn’t care about the whole thing (as that’s the default position for the pins when you buy them) or that you were single, pin pointed up meant you were taken, or a missing pin meant you were pregnant. On this particular day, it’s clear what the false assumption was for me.
It was actually someone who was once my ‘friend’ who started the whole debacle, seeing the missing kilt pin and much to my horror, stopping any student who walked by our lockers that morning to tell them that I was “knocked up” and “probably don’t even know who the baby’s dad is”. I begged her to stop, traumatized because I was a virgin who didn’t want to be labeled as a “whore”…after all, sexual promiscuity has become something that is socially shunned (yet somehow also desired), particularly in high school. She even stopped a guy I had liked who happened to walk by, to tell him that I was “a big slut” and asked if he wanted me now. A few of my other friends told the one girl to stop acting that way, but she wouldn’t let up. I ended up taking off and heading to my first period class, hoping that by lunchtime, she would get over it and we could all just go on with our day.
When I walked into my class, my teacher pulled me aside and asked if I was okay, because she heard that I was pregnant. She wanted to know that if I needed to talk to anyone, she was there for me. It hadn’t even been fifteen minutes, and somehow my teacher had already heard the ‘news’. I was in shock.
I went through the first half of my day absolutely distraught that this rumor was spreading around the school like wildfire. When the lunch period finally rolled around, I was working in the school’s foyer helping out with a club I was part of. In fact, I was happy to be away from the lunch table, as this meant I wasn’t there to remind everyone about the untrue gossip. Unfortunately though, when one guy who hung out with my group of friends happened to see me from the second floor balcony, he leaned over and called out to me: “Hey, skank! Bet you don’t even know who the daddy is!” I immediately burst into tears and ran to the washroom. Thankfully, my best friend was nearby and followed me. She consoled me for the rest of the lunch break until I returned for last period.
There, a girl who I had been friends with from one of my first days at the school came by my desk and started up with the same name-calling and accusations that other people had been throwing at me all day. Again, I burst into tears right there at my desk. One acquaintance, a girl who sat beside me, had actually stood up and told the bullying girl off, telling her she was an awful friend and asking how she could dare say those things to me. She had even made a good point to her – even if the rumor was true, why would she bully me over it? What’s bullying doing to do except make any situation worse? I’ll never forget how grateful I was that she had said something when I was too upset to stick up for myself.
My teacher came to pull me outside and I explained everything to her. She was one of the nicest teachers I had ever had in my school years, and getting it off my chest felt good. I asked her not to tell the office to report it, as I just wanted the situation to dissipate and be forgotten about, but she had the responsibility of reporting; she explained this to me, so I agreed and told her it was okay to share what had happened.
The next day, I was called down to the office to speak with the vice principal and I told him everything. He took down all that I said, called down my best friend to verify my story, and had us sign off on a paper saying that my statement was true. I had the option of choosing to either have the one girl who initiated the whole story suspended or write me a formal apology letter, so I chose the letter. I had wanted to see if she was sincerely sorry for what she did and I remember the letter seeming genuine. I don’t even remember what it said to be honest, but I remember feeling that it was a good apology.
After that incident, nothing extreme enough to recall happened in my high school years. I realize that I’m incredibly lucky to have gotten through those four years relatively unscathed. Some people are not so fortunate. Kids can be brutal and mean. They can also be wonderfully supportive though, as well.
Looking back on my bullying experiences now as an adult (who is nearly finished her university undergraduate degree), I can see how those events have changed me as a person. I became more compassionate toward other people, because I know how it felt to be the underdog. I became kinder, because I was aware of how words can hurt people and leave such long-lasting negative impacts on them. Most of all, I became determined to do whatever I can to advocate for a world of acceptance, love, and equality. Whenever I see people (especially on social media) degrade others due to their race, sexual orientation, gender, abilities, or anything else for that matter, I always make sure to call them out. In fact, I’ve even removed family members and people that were once friends because their frequent posts supporting topics of intolerance absolutely disgusted me.
In a world where there can be far too much negativity, we must strive to be the best people that we can be. In order to do this, we have to stand up for those we see being put down. It is the very least we can do.