I have written this blog after speaking with my 17-year-old niece recently. Follow some of her most private thoughts from our conversation in the attempt to spread more awareness about bullying and to show others what can happen when you stand up to bullies. I have shared information about her circumstances. Bullying is far too common, banding together we can make a difference.
To my Niece, I’m extremely proud and grateful for you allowing me to share our private conversation, thank you!!
One of the last times we spoke you told me you had some things going on. I asked if you were ok, you then explained you were having some school trouble and getting bullied.
- This was your message when I asked if you wanted to talk about it.
“It’s really hard. People are just making up rumours saying I’m pregnant and I’m a junkie and I’m selling myself like it’s really filthy stuff. Iv just decided to rise above them and do something about it. It’s just silly stuff tbh but it has a huge effect on people and they just don’t realise it xx”
I told you I could understand, having been through the same thing myself. I asked if you’d ever thought of turning this into a positive because I’ve witnessed your resilience, and I felt together we could do something about this.
You replied with:
“Iv tried to ignore it all and just smile and wave but is hard sometimes. I want to stay in school and complete year twelve but I don’t know what more I can do”
I asked you if you ever did any writing, I thought if you wrote about what was happening and how you were feeling it would be beneficial for you to be able to process your thoughts and feelings. You told me you write all the time and you have a journal. I was amazed, and so happy to hear this.
Gosh I wish I had your strength when I was your age, I mean it, I felt I suffered very much alone, with no outlet.
A further reason for asking you if you wrote, was because I immediately wanted to do something to help. I wanted to be able to use your situation and make something positive, to help both you and others who are being bullied and in an attempt to get a message to those who bully others. I thought maybe we could work on something together. I asked you the following:
“Can you do me a favour? Can you please write me a letter, or email or whatever and tell me everything you want me to know about how you feel about bullying, what they say and how you feel about the people bullying you. All the things it makes you feel inside, what you wish would happen, why you want it to stop etc, just as much as you possibly can get in there, could you please do that for me do you think? Doesn’t have to be specifically to me, it can just be in general, almost as if it were a journal entry if you like, just as much in there as you can get?”
You told me you would do it, you didn’t know exactly what I had in mind, the ideas running in my head, I was wondering what you would write to me, either way, I knew with your permission we could do something positive together.The next day, you sent me the following message:
“I wrote it like I write in my journal… I hope that’s okay x
I always ask myself the question why? Why do people do and say this nasty stuff to me. Is it my fault? Did I hurt them? Can I fix it? Why would those nasty rumours be spread?? Why would someone say that I’m pregnant? Why would anyone even think that I’m a junkie?? Why would I sell myself for drugs?? I mean who is even saying this stuff??
You’ll never believe this but sometimes I can answer my questions. Sometimes I know the answer. People are just jealous. I’m not fat or ugly and I know that. Sure I’m not a size f*ing 5 but not everyone is.
Do you realise that it hurts me? Do you realise that you make me feel worthless?? Do you realise that you make me feel like a thorn in a world full of roses?? Do you think that it’s okay to treat people with disrespect?
It hurts me when you say those things. You make me feel like I don’t belong here. You make me feel like being different isn’t okay.
How will I be accepted?? What do I have to do to prove to you that I’m worthy?? You should be lucky I’m not the type of person to feel like dying. Do you realise those consequences?? So much for being a friend right.
Lucky I’m positive! Lucky I can take your negative words and make myself smile again.
Thanks for nothing friend!!
I want you to stop!! Even though I can smile even though I can be positive I want you to stop. I don’t like the way you make me feel!! I don’t like the way you make other people have an opinion on me!! I like being unique and I just want you to leave me alone!!! Stop making me feel like I have to give up my future for you. You’re not happy with your own life and that’s fine but don’t try and ruin mine. Seek help!! I’m sure someone would love to see you smile too. You don’t have to hurt others to find your smile.”
I don’t know how this message reads to you, it blew me away. I was SO impressed and so proud. I told you as much and I would like to talk to you about this some more because I thought what you have is what the world needs more of.
This oozed opportunity to make a difference in other’s lives, to support not only you, others too and I couldn’t turn it down. Still thinking about what I wanted to do, I was thinking a video of some kind, turning your inner thoughts and desires to a video, utilising social media as much as possible, I still hadn’t shared my ideas with you yet.
The next day, I came across a song I absolutely love and really wanted to share with you, it has an incredible message and thought it may be something to lift you up when you’re feeling down, it’s “Brave” by Sara Bareilles
“Surprisingly I listen to that song every time I’m down and out every time I feel like I’m locked up in a cage watching everyone around me living. It’s a great song and definitely has a strong message behind it.”
I am incredibly proud of your resilience, your ability to see this in such a way and still hold an amazing attitude, a true testament to the amazing young woman you are.
On my own journey Advocating for Anti-Bullying, I asked if you thought you could stand up and be an advocate for bullying.
You said “There is no harm in trying.”
Great I thought to myself, we can really make something of this, and what came next, surprised me.
I asked if you thought you could record a video reading out what you had sent to me the other day, you told me about your fear of public speaking and I encouraged just maybe to record one for me, if I could possibly empower you, maybe we could put it public, though I was more than willing to record one on your behalf to spread the message. Even though you had your concerns, you told me you would think about it.
Then the following message came:
“Oh and Aunty Kayleen thanks for listening having someone to talk to has helped a lot. Went to school today and people were actually nice to me x”
Your advice has been amazing and really helpful. The last couple of days Iv been getting out and it’s just so much easier. Standing up to the peoole that made me feel like sh*t was so satisfying you helped a lot and I’m very thankful x
Yeah I did!!! Had to do something feeling caged was getting annoying and there was only one person to fix it thank you so much for the advice x
“What did they say?” I asked
“Some said they were sorry and didn’t realise that their words had such a big effect on me some just looked at me blankly and later told other people that they feel shi*ty for how they made me feel and are so happy that I didn’t do anything that they would regret and some asked me hang out with them. I was scared but I did it”
WHAT BETTER OUTCOME COULD A GIRL WANT!!!!
This is exactly WHY I wanted to show an example of this situation.
It brought tears to my eyes.
Your final words to me were:
“It feels great knowing that when you let people know how your feeling about their actions that they actually listen.”
- How long have you been bullied for?
I was in primary school when I was first bullied. Iv been bullied all through my school years. My family have moved towns a lot and that means moving schools. Funny enough I was bullied at every school. It got worse in high school.
- On Average, how many people bully you?
Hard to say but in groups of up to 20 peoples.
- Are they all in one group, or separate groups?
Separate groups but they all have a connection in a way
- How old / what year levels are they in?
Year 10/11 some older some younger it really averages about year 8 and up stops at about the age of 19
- Where did the bullying take place?
school and social media workplace out in public
- Were there others around at the time? Witnesses? What did they do?
Sometimes they have their friends around. Friends just stand there or participate in bully. No one was ever really around that didn’t agree with what was going on.
- Did you tell anyone about being bullied?
Yes I spoke to my mum headspace school counselors and some close relatives
- Why or Why Not?
I spoke to people about my bullying because some of the things the bullies were saying and doing made me feel worthless. I needed advice on how to deal with the bullies what to say how to make them leave me alone. I always felt caged and lonely I thought maybe if I spoke to an adult we could take appropriate action
- What did you do when you were being bullied?
I cried a lot I liked being by myself listening to loud music walking. I really just liked being alone. After speaking with a close relative I decided it was time to stand up the bullies I spoke to the people that were making me feel worthless and caged and told them how I was feeling. I told them making someone else feel crappy because they are not happy with themselves is not acceptable and if someone bad was to happen they would have to take full responsibility for their actions.
- How did you feel when I asked if you wanted to talk about it (after you told me you were having troubles and being bullied)?
I was scared. I didn’t like talking about my problems. I confined myself to my journal that is my safe place. My journal is the only thing that will listen and not judge me. However, there was a small part of me knew that talking to someone would help and I could learn a way to deal with the bullies. Talking to someone was different to my journal because they can give me advice whereas my journal can’t.
There are 3 reasons I wanted to do a blog about this:
- Attempting to reach other kids and those who are being bullied, to empower them to not only know they are not alone, to support them to take a stand for themselves and to see what can happen when you stand up to bullies.
- Attempting to reach bullies so they too can see and understand what it feels like for those words to be said to others, to reach them on an empathetic and compassionate level, also to see even though they are bullying someone else, the victim has the ability to have compassion for you too. In the words from above “You don’t have to hurt others to find your smile”
- To reach the general public, Mum’s, Dad’s, Aunts, Uncles, Friends, Everyone, please, I didn’t know the outcome of my simply messaging was coming off as ‘listening’ and being there for her and how much it was actually helping. So please, be there, message, call, talk to kids about what’s going on in their life, you never know how much someone needs you. Even if only through messages, kids need to know they are not alone and they have someone to talk to. I feel like I barely did anything yet it meant so much to my niece and I know not every situation is going to be the same, this one turned out better than I was ever anticipating and I’m SO proud.
I am a proud advocate for Kidzucate, an Anti-Bullying and Harm Prevention Charity which I am extremely passionate about (if you couldn’t tell).
We need to do more to support children in both standing up to bullies, for themselves and on behalf of others, to share compassion, empathy and understanding. Too many children feel alone, all it takes is a simple conversation.
Kids Helpline are an amazing organisation and is a free call within Australia. They are amazing and helped me many times I was feeling alone.
Their number is 1800 55 1800 – there’s ALWAYS someone who will listen.
I wrote another blog about bullying a while back and how a specific movie affected me more than I ever though it could. Find it here.
Live life with kindness, love and compassion.
With love, always!