Jay's story

"I'm a fighter, and no-one can take that away from me"

Jay writes about the mental scars being bullied in school left her with, and how she's overcome them.

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I was bullied all through my secondary school years, from the age of 11 years to when I left at 16.

When I first started secondary school, I was a fairly bright pupil who wanted to work hard. I had made a couple of friends and was relatively happy.

A girl who I knew from junior school, who was, unfortunately, a bit of a misfit, always in trouble with the teachers and even the police, joined the secondary school, and immediately latched onto me and wanted to hang around with me. Because my parents were very much against it because of the girl's background, I was forbidden to have anything to do with her.

This was to be the start of a campaign of continual bullying that would affect my life forever.

This particular girl then formed a gang of other girls, some a couple of years above me, who proceeded to make my life hell. They would push me in the corridor, call me names, pinch and punch me, and push me out of the lunch queue in the canteen. The bullying then took on a new level. About 15 girls would follow me home, rip my blazer, grab my school bag and scatter the contents along the main road, then kick me to the ground and punch me and pull my hair. This happened every day on my walk home from school.

My parents complained to the headmaster of the school. He told my parents that I was the troublemaker and was the naughtiest girl in the school. I have never understood why he said that. It's only now when I look back, I think he was frightened of these bullies.

They used to lock teachers in cupboards, were incredibly rude and swore at and tormented them. No amount of detentions made any difference. The headmaster didn't seem to have control over them and made me a scapegoat as I was someone who never answered back.

I always felt that there was nobody I could go to for support. My parents grew sick and tired of me coming home in tears every day complaining of being beaten up. They were angry at me for getting my blazer torn on a regular basis. They just told me to stay away from the bullies. Easier said than done!

When I reached the end of year 4, there was light at the end of the tunnel, for most of the bullies had either left or were leaving school in the summer for good. I was staying on in the 5th form. Unfortunately, my education had really suffered, and I had gone from being in the top grades, to the very bottom.

I did very badly with my 'O' Levels, and unfortunately, there were a couple of bullies who had stayed on at school. Although the physical bullying had stopped as the ring leader had left, the verbal bullying continued. I didn't wait for end of term, found myself a job and just left without informing the school.

I never really made many friends as I grew up. The bullying had made its impact, and I think I put people off by being needy. I have a much tougher skin now, but underneath, there is a vulnerability. As I type this, the tears fall, and when I read reports of children being bullied, it stabs me in the heart. Memories that will never fade, coming rushing back.

I am nearly 60 and very happily married with a grown up daughter, and live in a lovely home. I have a handle of very close friends. I am lucky. I have made something of my life. Unfortunately, the one bad thing about me is, I am very defensive. I will not stand for people having a go at me. I take it as a personal form of attack. I will stand up for myself but then become extremely upset later. I also find it extremely difficult to be in a room full of women. I feel very uncomfortable. Over the years, I have turned down many an invitation to hen nights, and girl's nights out if it involves a large group.

I have however, a confidence that many people lack. I am able to write shows for a local dance school, and am able to narrate these stories to large audiences without a qualm. This confidence has come by telling myself that, although I did badly with exams in school, I am not stupid. I can write a good story, and I get enjoyment from telling it to an audience.

I am a fighter, and that has given me a confidence that no-one will ever take away from me.

I hope that this story can make a difference to whoever reads this, especially teachers and heads of schools. Bullying cannot go on, whether it's physical or verbal. It has to be stopped and the bullies punished.

I am so thankful that I must have been strong, for I came out the other side. It could have been so different. 

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