Her name was Millie, the girl who sporadically made high school my personal nightmare.
She’d stroll carelessly through the hallway with her pack of slightly quieter friends and go out of her way to brush by me and cackle out words like “pathetic loser,” and “monster ugly” and other colloquial Kansas jibes about “breakin’ the cam’ra when you get yer pitcher taken.”
In choir, she sat behind me, and when the director would ask me to try out a solo, she’d giggle and cough and kick the bottom of my chair for extra maddening effect. Then she’d elbow her friends and they’d all boo behind their hands after I was done. While they never saw me cry or react, most of my time was spent hyperventilating while waiting for the next onslaught of snark.
I let Millie ruin a good portion of my high school experience.
We’ve probably all had a Millie in our lives, whether it was in high school or even today. That girl or woman who, no matter what kind of a mood you’re in, can eat you up and spit you out just by honing in on whatever weakness you feel in any given moment.
Feeling a little embarrassed by your slightly greasy hair (which your friends had previously told you NO ONE would notice)? There’s Millie, “Hey, girls! Check out her hair. She’s going to need some 409 to clean THAT tonight. HAHAHAHA.”
Self-assuredness at an all time low while speaking in public? There’s Millie at the back of the room, doing a spit-take when you mispronounce the word “epitome.” (Seriously, shouldn’t it be ep-it-ohm? C’mon.)
At one time or another, there’s going to be a Millie-and-her-gang in your life, but that doesn’t mean they have to obliterate the self confidence of you and all the other girls within spitting distance.
Dear Crunchy Betties, There Are These Girls …
Last week, I received an email from a teenage reader (I LOVE our teenage Crunchy Betties!) seeking some advice. Out of respect for privacy on the details, I’m not going to quote the email, but here is the gist:
Amy (we will call her, not her real name) is concerned about her friend, who is having exceedingly difficult problems with a group of girls at her school. They are, for reasons only teenage girls understand, humiliating her on purpose and taking their catty ways to a new level.
This girl is quiet, and shy, and emotionally vulnerable – especially to a group of peers. The friend is distraught, and dreading school and further encounters with these girls.
Amy wanted to know if there was any advice or help I could give her to pass on to her friend. This is where I need your help.
You see, this issue has plagued me for the last week, and I’ve thought through all the responses I could possibly give, each one being more and more pathetically stereotypical.
“Tell her that high school is only a very small portion of her life, and that it will get better soon.” “Tell her that those girls are either jealous or lacking self-confidence, which is why they’re lashing out.” “Tell her BLAH BLAH BLAH stand up for yourself BLAH BLAH BLAH don’t let them get away with it BLAH BLAH BLAH talk to your guidance counselor.”
But none of those things are real. They’re all patent responses that we grew up hearing, so it seems like what we should tell the next set of women coming up behind us. But, seriously, none of that common wisdom helped ME back then, so how on earth can it be expected to help someone else?
After pondering this for hours today, this is the only thing that made sense to me:
While not everything is our fault, how we react to it, respond to it, and accept our role in changing it IS our responsibility. If I could share anything with a girl who is going through being bullied by another group of girls, it would be that.
(Whether you’re 14 or 64.)
The longer you accept the role of victim in your situation, the longer you will remain the victim. No one but you has the power to change your emotional response to a situation. And, no matter how mean or vicious the words and actions of another person are, only YOU can let them ruin your day.
If nothing else, being bullied is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to find the strength and the courage within yourself to be in charge of your emotions; it’s an opportunity to look at the situation and go, “Hey, I could feel like crap about what’s going on, but I could also choose to focus on something better instead.”
Now, when you put yourself in the situation of a teenage girl, that may not be of much help. Remembering those feelings (and how they were often OMIGOD MOM YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND ME), I’m not sure I’m touching the right keys here.
So, help this girl and all girls who are going through something similar, legion of warm, compassionate, caring Crunchy Betties.
What would you tell a girl who was being bullied by a group of other girls? How would you help her understand her own role of responsibility? How would you make her feel empowered AND good about herself, in the face of compassionless, humiliating mean girls?
THIS is your big-sister deed for the day.
Have you had a Millie in YOUR life? How did you deal with it successfully? What words can you offer to help a teenage girl through this situation?
I’m a little late to the party, but I agree with your answer Crunchy Betty! However, as someone who went through bullying for a long time in my life, I would like to add that sometimes you can’t help how you feel. But when you can’t help but feel crappy about your situation, you should accept and understand your feelings. Find strength in them, and strength in yourself to move on. Sometimes the real strength is in accepting your feelings. And from there, you’ll be able to find the strength to ignore what they say.
Sigh. This story reminds me of when I was in JHS, I hated JHS. in hindsight, it prepared me for the stresses of HS n encountering ppl like that. I used to ignore the person who gave me hell, most times out of fear, she was HUGE compared to me, and while I did defend myself sometimes, I wish now I had given her a nice punch or two. Def would’ve made her stop her shit. But I was 13, in a place where I knew the odds weren’t in my favor. HS on the other hand I was much more rebellious and def did pick fights. No more ignoring. You wanted to bother me, I was gonna bother u more. Simple. Now at 23, I can honestly say it depends on my mood, some ppl will not be worth your time or stress, others need a good whip lashing. I’ve learned to pick and choose my battles carefully. Some are worth standing up for yourself, others you’re just best off being the bigger person. Being passive doesn’t make u a punk. It shows them they’re not important.
PS I shared this blog on mine. I doubt you’ll get any traffic since I’ve been inactive for so long but just in case. Lol
I had been bullied often as a teenager and unfortunately I was forced to fight back. Now I know that often times the bullies or mean girls are the ones who are the most insecure or unhappy either at home, school, or with themselves. To the young woman I would say, try to find a way to make their insults funny to you. Imagine why they would say something so mean, why they go out of their way to hurt you. Obviously you are a threat in some way. Humor may just help you through it, and even if you never share with anyone else the funny thoughts you have, laughing on the inside is better than crying.
I know this is kind of late, I just started following this blog (which I absolutely love by the way) but hopefully it’s still relevent. It’s so sad to hear that girls pick on each other so much. Even adults do it! (Why can’t we all just be friends anyway?) I was blessed in highschool with some really great friends, and wasn’t picked on too much but when I was younger, and in middle school, I got a lot of it (I had a long awkward looking phase) and even today (I’m 23) I still struggle sometimes with how I look. It’s so hard to feel like you measure up to women in today’s society. We hear it in the media, magazines, tv shows, etc. The last place we need to hear it is in our own highschool, where we should be growing and blossoming into the beautiful human beings we were made to be, not being torn down and told all the ways we should change to be like someone else. And although all the responses you wrote are true, we really only realize it when you’ve matured enough to see it (generally after the fact, unfortunately).
Here are a few things I thought of that, hopefully are helpful. (It’s been a while since highschool, but these are things I can still use today to boost my self esteem a bit).
1. If you have a mirror in your locker, take it down. Seriously. You don’t need to be worrying about how you look everytime you open your locker. If you’re anything like me, you already criticize yourself enough, you don’t need to look in the mirror every after every period and find every single flaw you think you have (or that others think you have). Just don’t worry about it, and don’t think about it.
2. In place of a mirror, put up compliments people have given you. (Yes, you’ve gotten compliments, even if you can’t rmember them…that’s just your brain being negative). If you can’t think of any, have a girls night or something, and have everyone write down two or three compliments or things they like about the other girls there. That way, everyone benefits, and you can type up those compliments and put them in your locker, where you will see them everyday. You should also add some from yourself, that way it will force you to start thinking positively about yourself.
3. This one is tough, and a little cliche, but it’s the truth. Try to remember that the girls that are giving you a hard time, are probably insecure in the area that they are making fun of you for. Why else would they be bashing you, unless they wanted to feel better about themselves. I know you hear it too much, but seriously, it’s the truth. So instead of feeling sorry for yourself, feel sorry for them. Maybe if they tease you about something, muster up the courage to give them a compliment in that same area. They will probably be confused, but hopefully they will take that compliment into account, and when they start seeing the good in themselves, they will stop seeing the need to put others down.
4. Lastly, be creative. Whenever I was bummed out in highschool, I wrote songs. (I couldn’t draw worth dirt, although I tried that many times too….haha). Not only is it a good way to vent, but once you’ve created something, that should give you a little confidence boost because despite what other people say, you are still you, and you can still create whatever you want to! Write a song or poem, draw, sew, paint, make the chocolate mint lip balm from this blog (because seriously, who doesn’t love a good lip balm/gloss?!) build a popsicle stick house for crying out loud (or knock one down, that’s fun too). Just express yourself. Because holding it in only creates more insecurity, and eventually anger and jealousy. Trust me. I know. It aint pretty. But you are. So stay that way! 🙂
In my freshman year of high school a junior boy used to pick on me on the bus. He would say horrible things about me that weren’t true but the other kids would believe him and laugh at me. I still have no idea why but oh well. I had this one really lousy day where nothing seemed to be going right so I was already pretty mad, then I got on the bus to go home. This guy started immediately with his mean comments. I did not say a word, walked up to him and slapped him in the face so hard that everyone heard it and turned to look. He was stunned and just sat there in shock as I walked back to my seat. After that he left me alone, he did not like when someone embarrassed him back LOL. I would not recommend violence but sometimes you just have to let them know you will not put with with their shit anymore lol.
When I was in middle-school I was a high achiever, prime-target for all manner of nasties. When I went to high-school I did my best to fit in, it didn’t make it better. I had A very unfortuante thing happen which meant I had to take a lot of time off but in that time I realised that you are your own person, the only thing you ever have to regret is not being yourself. So when I went back to school despite having no confidence and being very socially awkward, I was myself. I’d do my hair how I liked, I’d paint my nails with all manner of quirky patterns and I’d never let anybody tell me I was wrong for doing that. I mention the little things because sometimes it takes a little change. start by wearing something unique to you, the confidence I find can rise from their, as soon as people realise you are happy as you the only thing they might become is threatened by the strong confident person we all have inside us and have to learn to let out. If your comfortable with who you are then what words can break that ? What can they say to dent that? So, I guess that’s my suggestion, take time to figure you out, make a little change and the rest will follow. It worked so well for me, I gained independance and at college true friends for life and I don’t fear the words people say against me because from a little change I grew strong.
I was bullied very badly in ways like this through elementary and junior high school – more often by boys than by girls. It was humiliating, degrading, and made me feel less than human. For a long time, it severely affected my ability to form close and meaningful relationships with other people. Even now, at 26 years old, I am sometimes still afraid that when a man I don’t know very well shows interest in me, he is just tricking me so that he can make me feel like crap later.
A lot of things have changed in my life lately, and I’m starting to find the strength and empowerment that this article is talking about. But for me and the nature of my life up until this point, I simply didn’t have the environment and the tools to even approach the notion that I didn’t have to be a victim. Honestly, particularly when you’re at that young an age, your peer group is very important. You spend most of your day at school with them, and how you fit in is very tied in with your self-esteem. If you don’t have the environment to feel that you are worthwhile and that you have a choice in how you are treated by other people, you will continue to play ‘the victim’ – often because you aren’t even aware there is another way of being. It is systematic and consistent, and far more compelling than a lot of advice that adults can give.
What has changed for me are two main things: 1) I have a safe space where I am not afraid, and 2) I have a community of people that, even though they aren’t necessarily my age, care about me and treat me with human dignity, affection and respect. I’m sorry to say, but if you are not a fighter and have a low self-esteem, it’s very difficult to change how you view yourself. In my experience, until I have found people who treated me like I was worthwhile, I was not able to believe that I myself was worthwhile. That couldn’t come from inside me, and I really needed acceptance to grow.
So the most important advice I would give is: don’t think that digging your heels in and waiting for things to get better is your only choice. When you’re young, getting the advice to wait feels horrible because you can’t imagine what will come after, and even with adults telling you it still feels like the wait will be impossibly long and horrible. Don’t think that you have to keep your head down, stay silent, and keep on going because no one likes a complainer. Most of all, don’t think that you have no choice! As soon as you give someone else control, you really are trapped.
Practically speaking, I’d say go out into the world and your community. Ideally, try to find a community that meets in person, but that’s a matter of personal preference. It can seem scary and counter-intuitive to go out into the world when you feel like people just kick you while you’re down, but you really need a community. It can be anything, really, any interest or activity that brings people together. In a healthy community, it doesn’t matter what the ages of the people involved are – they treat each other with respect and are generally kind. When you find a community that is right for you (in my experience) you feel accepted, a sense of belonging, and like you are important to the people there. People in healthy communities DON’T make you feel ashamed, bad, make or ask you to do things that make you uncomfortable or are illegal, or take things from you (money, time, property) through coercion. People in healthy communities will be happy to see you, value your presence, and appreciate what you contribute to the group simply by being there. It should feel natural and should not feel like you’re forcing something. (Of course there will always be some people that you don’t get along with, but people should never be degrading or abusing each other. There should still be respect.) If it doesn’t feel comfortable or right, then it isn’t the right community. It could take a long time to find one, but once you do you will be amazed by how much better you feel.
I have been part of a healthy community for under a year, and I already feel a lot stronger and better about myself. Because I know that people I value think I am important and worthwhile, if someone is unpleasant or hurtful to me, it’s a lot easier for me to brush off the comment and move on. I could not do this before I genuinely felt like I was important to others.
This was incredibly long, but yes…in a nutshell I would advise a young person to find a caring and healthy community.
You can call bullies of any kind – “petty tyrants”
Be it a high school bully, your aggressive mother in-law or your ignorant boss – consider any of these a blessing, because you have them around for a reason – they are there for you, so you can find a way to overcome them, to grow. They are obstacles in your life that make you stronger.
Another way I can put it – once you change your attitude to the whole situation (stop fearing, stop feeling hurt or down because of the bully) – it will be the end of it.
For example for me – an abusive ex husband was such a petty tyrant for me. The day I stopped fearing him (it just happened) – he stopped his abusive behavior.
Some awesome advice was given in comments below.. these can help you to become a winner!
Ok, I will share what helped me through the years. We all have or had someone that hurt us in some way. Some more than others, but how we allow ourselves to be affected by this on a daily basis will decide whether we are happy or not in any given situation. For example: Girl has been abused in some way and it continues to affect her daily life in relationships with others for years and years. I personally had the problem that when I was in a situation that triggered a memory of a specific incident, I would automatically feel as if I was abused all over again, leading to failed relationships, bad communication and feeling that noone understood what I had gone through. Then somewhere I read that you have to learn to forgive before you can move on and not allow that person/persons to hurt you anymore. It sounds simple and crazy, but if you think about it, when you put yourself back in that situation you are only hurting yourself, by reliving it. I used a technique that helped me break the habit of going there and I promise you it worked. What I did when that thought or memory crept up on me, I would say to myself. “I forgive you (the person who abused) and I’m not going to let you hurt me that way anymore.” Soon, I was able to stop the cycle of my own private pity party that I was going to and focus on more positive things. Believe me, I know you can’t forget about that person, but you can forgive. When you stop allowing them to hurt you, you will then be able to move on and be happy in your life. Now I always surround myself with positive people. Remember you are in charge of your own happiness and no one else.
Oh my does this bring back horrible junior high and high school issues. I would like for this girl to know that people are just plain vicious. Everyone has things they don’t like in their lives, and people express that in different ways. This bully is insecure. She wants to be accepted by the other girls, so she does whatever she can to elevate herself in those other girls eyes. I would like for the girl being picked on to stand tall. She’s better than that, and ignoring it is one way to counteract that bullying. After a while they will realize that it’s not fun anymore and move on.
It really does get better the older you get. Try and make a couple close friends. Concentrate on making yourself a better person.
By the time I graduated from high school I had switched schools 13 times. I was always the new girl and always fresh meat for bullies.
My son was called “gay” because he wore glasses and got good grades in school. Ironically, he was a beast when he played hockey, but since it wasn’t a school sport no one knew. He would come home from school very sad sometimes. I remember telling him that life was too short to let negative people bring him down, and as hard as it was, to act like their harsh words were funny to him. I decided to take a few boys from his school to watch him play hockey, and the name-calling stopped. In high school, he ended up tutoring some of the former bullies because he was in Honors classes and they were in danger of flunking out. Luckily for him, he had very good self esteem and a thick skin. He is very successful now, but I think being bullied in elementary school helped him to deal with adversity. Adults with bullies for bosses can empathize with kids who are picked on. Just listen to your kids, and be there for them through the tough times.
I got told years ago that the best thing about High School, is that it ends…
How is Amy’s friend doing? Better I hope, or at least encouraged.
Very interesting to read the responses. I was on line last week when this popped up. The urge to respond was huge but didn’t think what I had to offer as a gay man would be appropriate. Now that 51 women have I feel it’s ok to put my 2 cents in.
be bigger, be better, know better
Think there is a lot of good advice. I don’t have much faith in telling the school administration-
http://www.HerFuture.com cool place for young women to find mentors
Fake confidence if necessary. Smile big. They won’t know how to handle that when they’re expecting you to be upset. Worked well for me in high school. If they don’t get the response they’re seeking, eventually they stop pestering you. So smile big, be excessively cheery. Heck, be NICE to them. If they insult your hair, tell them you like their hair WITHOUT being self-deprecating. Laugh along with them.
It may help Amy’s friend to come to the defense of someone who is even worse off than she is. I often just looked the other way when people said rude things to me, but when bullies were teasing a disabled kid I knew, the gloves came off! I could defend him in a way that I couldn’t defend myself yet, but bullies still got the message that I wasn’t an easy target anymore.
This isn’t a strategy for everyone, it might make you both a bigger target if you’re not strongly passionate about protecting others. But it may allow Amy’s friend to feel more powerful and confident to practice protecting someone else first.
I would agree with many of the comments. I think it would be important for Amy to stand up for herself, look her bully (ies) straight in the eye and smile while they are taunting her and to politely thank them for their opinion. Then Amy should inform the school of what just happened. Amy also needs to talk to her parents. While it is one things for all of us to give advice on what to say to these girls, it’s hard to do in that situation. Adults can role play with Amy to make her more comfortable in these situations.
I use to bullied, even through i was one of the tallest kids in my class. I figured out small tricks though.
1. don’t try to insult them back because they’ll us that against you.
2. Act like everything’s a compliment.
like if Millie told you have greasy hair, you can turn to her and say “Thanks! i was hoping for that!” another ex. You mispronounce a word, and she points it out, smile and tell them you appreciate their help and care. by the way, walk away as fast as you can after your deed!
3. Body language!!!!
4. try to have a friend near that can get you out of a bad situation.
like Kim’s the bully, and Mable’s getting bullied.
Kim:You’re a baby. you still eat PB&J’s?
You: would you like some? they’re for sale. I need some lunch money anyways. By the way mable, i’ve been looking for you, i’ve been having a organization issue with my locker..(drag her away)
5. REMEMBER that what they said is suppose to hurt your feelings. That might help
Hope these tips help!
People used to talk about me behind my back in high school some 40 some odd years ago. After my first year of high school I got tired of it and stood up to them either in a group or on a one-to-one basis. Most bullies do not like to be stood up to and will back down. If she stands up to this girl she needs to use polite but firm words and may need to do it more than once. And yes I was terribly shy and scared. Lauren’s advice is right on but if the girl enjoys singing she shouldn’t have to give up choir to get away from this girl so standing up to them may be her only option. This girl that’s bullying her may be jealous if this girl’s voice is good enough for a solo. The bully is trying to mess her up on purpose. That’s one thing that the girl being bullied needs to remember. I’m good enough to sing a solo or can be with more practice.
I love you, Crunchy Betty. I love your ingenuity, your willingness to research so I don’t have to, your sense of humor and your humility. And I super love this post. My 14 year old daughter is going through much the same thing right now with about 2 Millies (and other minor Millies in the periphery). The difference for my daughter from Amy is that my daughter is outgoing, which is a nice way to say she’s a little in your face at times. And though she’s the bubbly, outgoing one that seems like she has everything going right for her, she comes home in tears at least once a week.
The 2 best pieces of advice I’ve ever received may or not change what’s happening, but they can certainly change Amy. #1- Act like the abuse from these small, small girls doesn’t bother you. It takes the wind out of their sails, and it’s just not as fun to dish out their rotten behavior. #2 Forgive Millie and her minions. Hurting people hurt people, and that’s the only reason Millie is acting the way she is. Forgiving her does not mean that Amy is saying what Millie does is okay, but it will free Amy from a future of bitterness and Ugly Pinched Face Syndrome.
Tell her to look at her watch, and ask “Are you done? You see, you seem to think so much of what I think of you, that I wanted to make sure you were done before I walked away. I would be so rude otherwise.” This is best done with a friend or neutral party nearby. Witnesses. She might also wish to carry a small voice recorder throughout the day for a few days to establish a pattern. Just in case these girls turn physically violent. I hope they don’t.
Much beyond that, I can sympathize. I won’t go into my own experiences, but twice in my life I received the worst kind of confirmation that other girls were threatened by me. Fifteen years later, one of my bullies came back to me and told me exactly that. I made her feel threatened. Whatever Amy’s friend is going through, she can probably hold on to that. Some one is afraid of her.
I would also tell her that this is for a limited time, old and boring as it is. There is an end in sight. You can endure anything if you know it will end. Long lines, boring events, boot camp, and high school are all just moments in time. Let them pass. Endure and outlast them. Give these other girls power over you no more, and go find where you shine. The sooner you do, the sooner you step into womanhood and leave those girls behind. The door’s open, and we’re waiting for you. <3
Girls can be mean, who knows why some treat others in such a bad manner. I agree that it is our responce that fuels the fire and encourages these girls to continue, while it will help for this girls friend to interject on her behalf what this girl needs is confidence to stand up for her self and to let these girls know that it is not ok to treat people this way, a self defence class is a good way to gain confidence and will help if these girls get physical! if this is not possible start some sort of exercise, walking/jogging is a great way to get those happy endorphins!
My troubles were in elementary & middle school, but early in high school, I’d figured it out, and shared it with my own oldest daughter, & (just last night, in fact) with my step-daughter. Very much what you said, in your email:
“You can’t change other people, what they do, or say. You can only change whether or how YOU respond. Treat them like you want to be treated, and without fear. You don’t even have to engage. If you don’t know what to say – just smile *kindly* (not with any venom that you might be feeling, because that will only add fuel to their fire), and walk or turn away. Eleanor Roosevelt said that, ‘No one can take advantage of you without your permission.’ And she was right, so, be a duck – let it roll off your back & don’t let them get the reaction they are looking for. It worked for me. It wasn’t easy, and there were times when I went home and cried. But I didn’t say or do anything I’d regret later, and they did stop much sooner than it felt.”
I think that once I figured that out – around the start of 9th grade, it only took a couple of weeks or so, and they all stopped. I hope ‘Amy’ will be ok, soon. ~gentle hugs to her~
Rowan BreatheMore TwoSisters
My thoughts are for her to find her passion, what ever brings her joy. And to focus on that, when the bullies start up, start vibe~ing on what makes her happy, and let those women fade into the back ground with their snarkiness.
And if “amy” or any other girl is near Houston Texas (yehaw) tell her to find/google me cause I’ll teach her to hula hoop like a mofo and be the baddest raddest bitch on the block. with chips.
It is so difficult to find the right words to say to make it better. The truth is, everyone is different and everyone reacts to bullying differently. I went to a very small high school (my graduating class had 52 students). Being from such a small school, everyone quickly became intimately familiar with everyone else’s fears and insecurities. The crueler of these students quickly found out how to exploit the most vulnerable.
Being only 22 years old, I don’t claim to have it all figured out yet but looking back on my reaction to the bullying I experienced I am deeply ashamed of myself. I allowed the bullies that picked on me at school to change me. I became bitter and angry and spiteful – eventually bullying back the bullies who initiated the bullying on me. Responding angrily is never productive or acceptable, no matter how much their words might hurt you. My best piece of advice is not to do anything that you will regret later in life. I know it is easier said than done, but take the high road, make peace with yourself, take comfort in knowing that you will be able to look back and be proud of how maturely you handled yourself. And know too that these people that are hurting you so badly now will not be able to say that of themselves years from now. Know that they will either grow up and out of this bullying phase or the world will teach them some very painful and powerful lessons and they will have no choice but to learn them really quickly.
Know that you are beautiful, special, important, and loved. No amount of bullying can diminish the truth of those words. If you ever doubt it, ask your best friend, your mom, your siblings, etc. There is no greater strength than is found in a good long hug and a kind word from some of the most important people in your life. Seek that out and lean on it when you are given burdens that you don’t think you can bear alone.
I never understand people who say they wish they could go back to high school. UGH! I suffered a nearly intolerable amount of teasing and ridicule from my peers as an adolescent. After a failed attempt at suicide (Thank God!), seeing a Psychologist for months, and ignoring more than I could bear, I finally realized as a junior in high school that I simply could not allow my classmates negative words to affect me.
So here is my advice:1. Look them in the eye, or at least in the face, while they are harassing you. Sometimes this alone is enough to get a bully to feel uncomfortable and stop the abuse.2. Whenever possible, use their comments against them. When someone is lying or just plain wrong, call them out on it.
3. Realize that the reason someone is teasing you is because they need to feel better about themselves, but be the bigger person and don’t try to bully them back. It’s much more likely to backfire than actually help your situation.
4. Continue to do what you enjoy and makes you feel good, ESPECIALLY if you are good at it. There is nothing that successfully raises one’s self esteem more than doing what you love!
Last, but certainly not least,
5. Smile! It would drive me crazy when people would tell me to do this, but the conscious effort to smile actually send signals within your brain to create happy brain chemicals. And when you are smiling, it is a lot more difficult to pick on you.
Also, if you don’t want to, after high school is over, you won’t ever have to deal with your abusers again. Go aways to college, use your talents and hone your skills to become successful adult. Revel in the fact that you really will appreciate the sweet things in life all the more, having suffered through these sour parts!!! My entire adult life, I have been fortunate enough to say that, each and every day, I am a little bit happier than the day before. Finding myself, finding my career, finding my soulmate, creating a home and a family, and watching my family grow: It doesn’t seem like it could get any better, but it always does!!!
How can I even start this? I remember those days, very well. Now I am mother and am helping my own children through this. They often tell me what a person has said or done, and I am instantly transported to those days. What I ask my children, when these situations occur is, “Do you believe what they are saying is true?” If they aren’t, then you have to keep telling yourself that. If they are, which this is a small percentage of, what can you do to change that?
Now I know as a teen that you might not be willing to listen to an adult, but it would be helpful to find someone older than you to vent to. Keeping all that anger bottle from this problem is harmful. Especially if it is someone who has been through it.
I was lucky; my parents always told me that “you tell and/or show people exactly how to treat you, and that’s what they’ll do”. I expected (and still do) to be treated well , and I was. My daughter, on the other hand, didn’t hear me when I told her this, and she was miserable her freshman year of high school. I finally told her to look at the bullies and say”Thank you! Thank you for using your valuable time to think of me as much as you do. Thank you for making me so important in your life that you use your valuable time to come up with more and more ways to get my attention.I’m not even that important to my own parents!” Then in a raised voice say “Hey people, listen up…Millie and her friends think I’m wonderful! They use their VALUABLE TIME to come up with more and more inventive ways to get MY attention! How’s that for being special!?!” My daughter finally did this at the beginning of her sophomore year, and had no more problems from anyone after that. Yes, she had to dig deep to do that in the first place, but she only had to do it once.
I completely agree . Once i was finally fed up with the stomache aches and nervous wreck i made myself i said enough ! Finally lost it and yelled right back at the bullie because what did i care i felt nothing could be worse than the way i was feeling so stand up yell make the bullie feel stupid and petty. Bullie stopped that day
Best advice I have heard. My son would never have the nerve to do it, but it is really great advice.
Awesome. Maybe figure out what the bully’s weakness is and throw that into the comments. For example, my 6th grade bully didn’t want the boys to perceive her as a bully, but wanted them to think she was sweet and girly, so when called out in front of the boys she backed off quite a bit.
This is the technique our guidance councilor teaches to our elementary age students. The younger ones struggle a little more to remember it, but the older ones do well with it. I also tell them they must say this response in a positive and respectful tone, because often the bully is looking to pick a fight and make you angry, so being polite and respectful with grate on their nerves and leave them frustrated without actually being mean yourself. That and I require respectfulness to anyone and everyone all the time, no matter what.
She needs to report this to the administration in her school. Now. No one needs to tolerate bullying. The problem is with the bullies, not with her. It is the school’s responsibility to provide a safe environment for her to learn. Most schools have become far more sensitive to this issue. I know it’s difficult to go to an adult with these kind of problems, but she needs to for her own sake, and anyone else the bullies are harassing. Here in Massachusetts, we’ve seen too many sitations where bullying led to very tragic endings (remember Phoebe Prince?) Bullying is not a “rite of passage,” it is not a “growth opportunity” for the people being bullied. No one deserves to have their lives made miserable by the selfish actions of others.
“growth opportunity”??? That is the worst thing I’ve ever heard of.
I agree that one must consent to be a victim.
What has worked for my daughter is to get a trusted adult and drill the possible situations and some good reactions. Start small and light, and if that’s too hard, use dolls the first few times (works best if it is a young child). Drill actual situations that happened and how they could be handled. Let the person being bullied come up with her own solutions and then play them out. The idea is for the victim to become empowered in a safe situation. She can try different responses and see which ones she’s comfortable with and which ones don’t work. Then she can gradually become more confident in how she can handle the bullying.
Always start light and gradually get more “mean.” You can also have the victim play the bully so she can get the other perspective. Always end off on a positive note.
I have worked with kids using this method and it ALWAYS works!
Usually it works so well that the bullies just stop picking on them without them needing to use their newly drilled skills! Bullies can sense confidence, and confidence comes from confronting the problem and drilling the solution. That’s how confidence is born in sports and school subjects! This is no different.
I wish this girl good luck, she is an amazing human being and she doesn’t have to be a victim any more!
Also, it can help to have her friends drill these scenarios too.
It’s such a hard thing because we know (people that are older – I’m 31), that is gets better and that it will honestly be a distant memory later on but in the midst of it, it seems like such a painful thing. And it is. No one wants to think that something is wrong with them.
For me, I was not well liked, people made fun of me for being different. I honestly just liked different things. I was brought up in Greenville, SC – not a place that has traditionally been super diverse – and for whatever reason, was really into things which I now call, “worldly”. I didn’t fit in. And high school was miserable.
The thing I realize now is that I am different and that’s a good thing. At the time, I just thought, why can’t I be normal? Now I cherish that.
I think that if it were my daughter, I would say, I know this sucks now, but it will change. Those girls are threatened by you because you’re different. And their insecure because being different scares them and threatens the “world of comfort” that’s been built around them. But if you continue to love yourself and be proud of who you are, joy will prevail and you will be happy. So if it’s possible, just keep saying to yourself, I am different and I am special, and try to learn to be confident in who you are.
Then, if she can continue to get that type of support from her friends and family, maybe it will help build her self esteem.
For me, this level of torture happened to me in the small, private, religious elementary school I went to. By the end of 6th grade, I was begging my parents to send me to public school and luckily they agreed. Now before you think my answer is “change schools” I need to point out that after my two years in public junior high, I had to face these girls again in high school when they matriculated in. However, those two years were invaluable, because not only did I get 9 inches taller (which helped) but I had been able to reinvent myself and surround myself with people who were accepting of me, even though I was scrawny, geeky and weird.
I was nowhere near “popular” in high school either, but I did have a safe cocoon of friends. However, my greater sense of identity and strength came from friends I made outside of school, whether it was fencing or theatre or horse back riding or tennis.
If she can somehow separate enough hours of her life outside of school to build the confidence she needs in the absence of bullying, it will bleed into the rest of her life and they are more likely to stop targeting her. Bullies smell fear and weakness, so the best bet is to become as strong and self assured as you can.
I suggest telling the school authorities what is happening, the bullies’ parents, get everyone involved. Discuss what is happening, and be sure to use words like zero tolerance, counselling, legal counsel, and lawsuit.
Most kids don’t want adults involved. So perhaps the girl can get right up in the face of the bully and straight up ask her who is abusing her in her life that she has such low self esteem that she has to spend all her time being such a jerk. “Grow a personality before you get old and die alone.” Confronting her might be the wake-up call she needs.
Or teach her how to throw a good right hook. You only need to hit the ring leader, just once, and make it count.
What these mean girls do is bullying. Plain and simple. It should NOT be an accepted part of a high school experience. Schools should not tolerate such behavior and other students shouldn’t tolerate it either.
It’s very difficult to get into what the victim of bullying should do that doesn’t in part blame the victim. However, it is generally accepted by psychological literature that the victim or a peer should identify the behavior and tell them to stop (e.g., “That is bullying. Stop it.”). If possible, they should walk away. Being around prosocial peers is also beneficial.
The problem is that it’s very very difficult to stop this behavior without a school-wide anti-bullying intervention.
I’m a big fan of gentle confrontation, personally, but I know this won’t work for everyone. I was raised by two mental health professionals who nevertheless had pretty pat advice when it came to bullying (unless my mom got really mad and started offering cutting insults to throw back or called the school and made a scene- viciously protective sometimes that one). They did however model therapeutic style communication. I was bullied from 4th grade until I discovered in 10th grade that bullies had no idea how to react to “I statement” style responses and headed for the hills if you turned the focus on them. Ex: “Whoa! What a craptastic thing to say, that really makes me mad and I kinda feel hurt, too, why in the name of sanity would you say something like that?” or “That’s a really hurtful way to talk why do you do that?” or “You must feel pretty awful about yourself if you have to talk to me that way to feel good. Is there something you need to talk to somebody about? I’m a good listener.” These have to be said in a totally chill and slightly condescending or genuinely concerned tone of voice. I think that might be difficult to pull off if you haven’t grown up watching some one do it. These can also backfire horribly in the moment but if you keep asking “why are you doing this?” in various ways and labeling the words for what they are- mean, hurtful, hateful, etc the pattern usually peters out and they find someone else to pick on if it’s you’re typical run-of-the-mill bully. Because when you ask why and name the behavior they get very uncomfortable because they don’t really want to think about it too hard. Although, once I did resort to violence (I smacked a jerk on the bus right on top of his fat bald head with a textbook- a thin paperback one – and the entire bus burst into gales of laughter so I laughed too which left the bully the only one not laughing) I don’t recommend it. The crummy thing is that really in the end you have to find your OWN way of dealing it. It’s gonna be different for everybody and in the end you can’t change other people’s behavior, only your own. 🙁 Hypothetical hugs to Amy and her friend.
I agree! Call them on their sh*t! Once they realize you’re not an easy target, they will move on to someone else who is – then maybe you can go find that person and help them stand up to the bully. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this tactic if the bullying is physical, but if it’s catty high school girl verbal drama like Betty described of her own experience, then stand up and turn around in choir class and say, “I’m sorry you didn’t like my solo. I’d like to try it again without you (look at bully) kicking my chair, if that’s OK with you (address teacher)?” Take a deep breath first so you can speak calmly and evenly.
I think a lot of high school girls (and sadly, even adult women), use gossip, teasing and bullying as a way to show off in front of their friends and give themselves the appearance of being in charge, humorous, powerful, superior…whatever. It’s likely that they have many of their own insecurities, or just nothing else to say to put them at the center of everyone’s attention. Once you call them out on it, they’ll be embarrassed in front of their friends and they won’t want to risk abusing you again – they’ll have to find someone new who won’t stand up for themselves instead.
I would also recommend that this be done in public, preferably with a teacher or other adult around, so they can get involved if necessary, and also then you’ve got witnesses.
I wasn’t so much bullied by girls; there were actually a few boys who made my middle school/high school years hell. And I was one of the popular kids! I still have no idea why they were so mean to me. Anyway, what helped me was reframing my thinking. As a person who likes to be in control of things, I finally realized I was ALLOWING them control over my emotions, thoughts, feelings, and self-worth. I was consciously choosing to give them the power over me. It wasn’t a quick process, but I had to re-train my brain to discount everything they were saying and remember the truths about myself that all my loved ones believed. It involved lots of inner-dialogue and mantras to boost my self-esteem and really find value in myself, my character, and my abilities. And when you have a good support system of great, loving people, you have to trust that they wouldn’t waste their time and energy loving and supporting someone who wasn’t worth it all! 🙂
It can be difficult to share advice from one’s own experiences and what worked for them because we act, react and think differently. What is a great help to one person may be the bane of another’s existence.
My older sister protected me from bullies, so my advice would be for this friend, if she’s able, to stick up for her more vulnerable friend. When you are with your friend and these girls begin to lash out, respond loud enough that others will hear. Instead of fear or anger, try to let them know how childish and ignorant their behavior is (e.g., “Really, don’t you have anything better to do?” “When are you going to grow up?” “Are you still playing this game?” “Don’t you have any real hobbies?”) Said in an exasperated/bored tone instead of a scared/angry one, the girls may take notice…especially when their other classmates can hear the conversation and everyone suddenly realizes how foolish they are acting.
I watched some news report about bullying and one of the points that was made was to take the bully’s attention away from the victim…get between the bully and the victim. No need to be violent (hopefully), but just make this group of girls aware that your friend isn’t alone. Be aware that they might then decide to focus their attack on Amy, but if Amy is prepared, she will at least be able to protect her friend.
I agree with the comments about how we’re animals and this bully feels like she is in control. Right now, these bullies see weakness and they are going to keep poking at it. The more Amy’s friend bends, the more she will be pushed. For advice specifically to Amy’s friend, “fake it till you make it.” Being shy and quiet are wonderful pieces of your personality, and we are all vulnerable at times. Don’t be ashamed of these qualities. None of these things mean you can’t be confident in yourself. What you need to do is stand up straight, throw your shoulders back, and look ahead…maybe even toss your chin into the air a little. Walk like you are in charge, like you own the school (or wherever you are). Look people in the eye. Practice this in the mirror or in your room at home. Practice in front of Amy. Stare Amy down until AMY is the one who has to look away. If you are both up to it, try some role-playing where you can practice your response to rude comments (even if that response is just walking away. How you react is your choice). Act like you’re confident and you will become confident. Fake it till you make it! Join a club or team that scares you a little and pushes your boundaries…not for the bullies, but for you! Being confident and strong will help you even when school is over and done with. Does your school have a debate club? Is there a sport you’ve always been curious about? Maybe you are interested in being in the school play. Find something that threatens your safety bubble and do it anyway! The confidence you gain in this “scary” endeavor will help you to deal with these silly girls who don’t know how to be civilized.
You got this. 8)
I’m 20 and I have a 16 year old sister, so this is fresh in my mind.
Most of my self-confidence and respect is deeply rooted in my belief that God created me and loves me unconditionally. What insult can compare with that knowledge?
But when that’s not a belief that you have, here are some other thoughts:
It’s awful and it hurts and it IS a big deal to be treated that way. Adults who try to say otherwise just aren’t remembering correctly.
Don’t allow these girls, or even school, to be your life. Find things to do that make you feel special, and be proud of them.
Don’t focus on the problem. When you allow these girls and their taunts to fill your mind and worry you all day, they’ve won. Instead, look around you. Are there other girls being bullied by them? Are there other kids being laughed at in the hallway? Put yourself and your own problems aside for a moment and reach out to someone else. It will relieve the stress of the situation from your mind, and maybe you’ll make an important connection.
Amazing advice! Could not have said it better myself. Truly.
And don’t show insecurity. People can smell it from a mile away. :p
I would say stop focusing on them and work on your self confidence. Don’t let these people steal the joy of your day & don’t take their crap. You have the power! How you think, act, and respond are a personal choice. As crunchy said, don’t play the victim. Anyone will bully us and disrespect us if we let them. We teach others how to treat us. You can either let other people define you or choose to define yourself. Feel sorry for the bullies…they have issues & are lashing out at others to feel better.
This comes from someone who has been bullied…I mostly did the “ignoring them” technique. AND IT DIDN’T WORK. I was quiet, self-conscious, and didn’t want to speak out.I still am pretty quiet, but there’s a difference between being quiet and being unafraid to speak up at all. I was too worried about what other people thought & tried not to show any emotion. I let others take my joy and power away. If I could go back, I would have remembered how powerful I am inside. I would have showed more pride in who I am. I would have spoke up more (I never even raised my hand in class :p) Boy am I glad those days are over (graduated a couple years ago). Be strong & best wishes to you.
I just finished up a book by Janet Poole called “How To Get Anything you want Just Like That!” It taught me a lot about personal power and taking charge of your life. Read this and other inspiring books to lift your spirits! 🙂
Hopefully this advice doesn’t sound too cliche or corny. :p
I agree that she has accepted the role of victim and is allowing it to destroy the last iota of self-esteem she may have. She wants to be “accepted” by them instead of learning to accept herself. My daughter had some real problems with this as well; not the bullying, but the personal acceptance and self-esteem. What she needs to be doing is empowering herself. The more she does, the more she can be like, “I don’t mind, cause you don’t matter”.
I helped my daughter through this (and have almost created a monster in the other ego direction! LOL) by having her do two things.
1.) Make a banner, paint on a mirror or otherwise create some form of sign that she will see every day that reads, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” (Eleanor Roosevelt, 1937). She has to make herself understand that she is ALLOWING them to make her feel this way.
2.) Buy or make a small journal. Write about how she feels when these girls do this and come up with ways she could have handled it best. Even if that means writing down a snide comeback (it’s getting it out of the system so she can move on). We all work better in hindsight! And at the end of EVERY SINGLE DAY, if she writes nothing else, she needs to write a positive affirmation about herself. i.e. I am really good at (insert verb here), My best feature is (insert body part here), etc., etc. She has to be honest with these and really look at herself to be able to write them. The more we look for the good things about ourselves, the more we truly see them and accept them.
Inner strength always shows on the outside. When these girls see that she is strong and confident, unphased by their taunts, then she won’t be fun to them anymore and they’ll stop.
You are an awesome mom with awesome strategies. Nice going!
I was at least as likely to be bullied by my family as by anyone at school, so going to anyone at home would have only made things worse. However, the thing it took me far too long to learn and that I wish someone would have helped me understand then… the only reason they can hurt you is because you value their opinion. If you don’t care what they think, it doesn’t matter what they say. Some people push buttons just because they can. Some people do because they don’t want anyone looking at what they’re self conscious about in themselves so directing attention to someone else’s flaws is good protection. There are a lot of reasons why people do it, and ultimately none of that matters. What matters is that you find a way to determine for yourself why you think their opinion matters enough that you let it hurt you. They do not have your best interest in mind. Therefore, their opinions don’t matter. They should have no weight. The most they should get is “I’m sorry you feel that way” as you move on past them. Do not ever value the opinions of those who do not value you.
Make sure you let your friend know she is not alone. Make sure she knows that you are aware of her situation. If you can feel brave enough to speak for her, you should. Like any other abuse situation silence will do more harm than good. Asking the question of others you respect shows that you are an amazing friend. Keep up the good work!
This is such a hard situation. I was “that girl” in high school. You know the one, always has her nose in a book, doesn’t dress like all the other girls (think black lipstick, blue hair and oh, the piercings), painfully awkward in social situations. And to top it all off I was a huge geek. Still am, come to think of it. I was bullied almost constantly, by boys and girls. I was afraid of walking home by myself because of the physical confrontations that happened on a nearly weekly basis. It started in third grade and when on for the next six years until one day a boy tripped me in the lunchroom and threw food at me, called me a pig and other filthy things. I just snapped and took a swing at him. I was lucky, really, the staff at school had seen me getting shoved around for so long I got off way easier than I should have for fighting at school, certainly easier than you would these days. After that I discovered that not only was I fed up and not taking their crap anymore, I could be every bit as cruel as they could. And I was.
I was truly awful to the kids who had made my life hell, constantly looking for opportunities to humiliate and belittle them. At the time it seemed like poetic justice, giving them a taste of their own medicine, but looking back at it I realize that I let them drag me down, I let them make me into someone ugly and mean. You got it exactly right. Sometimes people are going to be petty and cruel and they are going to try to make you feel like dirt, there might be nothing you can do about it. But remember that that’s on them, and believe me, it will come back to them eventually. And I know it’s cliche, but it does get better. High school is not forever and take it from someone who did it wrong, you’ll want to be able to look back and know you were the better person.
Try joining an extracurricular your tormentors don’t take part in, build yourself a support network. If you’re not comfortable with any of the activities offered by your school, look into a youth group or teen center, voulenteer at a nursing home or get involved with another local charity or activity like archery or even a local knitting group. Don’t be a victim, get out in your neighborhood and find a group to be involved with. The more you spend time with people who support you and make new friends, the better you’ll be stand up to the taunting at school. Good luck, and remember there’s no need to be alone in this.
As many people on here have said, focusing on her friends is really important, that’s the best way there is to stay strong. Amy clearly cares a lot about her friend, so she needs to make sure that she knows it, knowing that even just one person is on your side makes so much difference, and in some cases can mean the difference between life and death. As for dealing with the bullies, their behaviour needs to be reported, victims of bullying are often concerned that the bullies will want revenge if they get punished, but if it doesn’t get reported, then it will carry on anyway. No-one wants to be known as a snitch, but sometimes standing up to these horrible excuses for human beings is not an option, and you can’t just let them get away with it.
I was bullied for a long time by the same girl, from about age 7 through to 15 she had control over me. I didn’t tell anyone which didn’t help matters.
However in hindsight I can see that some of the fault was with me. I let her get to me. I let her pick at my weaknesses and make them seem somehow insurmountable. So I would wholeheartedly agree with “Hey, I could feel like crap about what’s going on, but I could also choose to focus on something better instead.”
It’s not easy though – it took me a fairly big chunk of my adult life (and some adult bullying) to get this straight.
First and foremost, ‘Amy’ should stick by her friend, because nothing gives you more confidence than knowing someone is on your side 🙂
I was a bully myself more often than not. I was smart, popular and had “the” boyfriend. But I never thought of myself as being mean so much as being honest.
Sadly, I’m not sure what advice there is to give. My response today would be to get parents involved, but the wrong parent with the wrong attitude can dramatically worsen the situation.
I bullied because my victims did things I found aberrant or embarrassing. One girl had a horribly obvious crush on my boyfriend. Even though he wasn’t interested, I felt threatened by her. One was so modest she changed for gym in the bathroom stalls and refused to shower afterward. I thought that was ridiculous and rather disgusting. One had horrendous acne and (no doubt on her doctor’s advice) never popped her pimples, so she often walked around with huge, very obvious whiteheads. It repulsed me.
But of the two girls that bullied me in my lifetime, at least one did it out of jealousy: she had been dumped by my boyfriend before he started dating me (didn’t find that out until I was home for the summer after my sophomore year of college). The other, I suppose I’ll never know why she did it, but I think it was similar to the reasons I bullied; I, quite simply, did things she found annoying.
If anyone had ever confronted me and quietly asked me why I did it, I would have relented. I wasn’t really a mean person. If anyone had ever taken it to my parents, I would have been mortified, because when I spread rumors and said nasty things, I knew it was wrong. Perhaps there isn’t a good solution to the problem, but at least victims of bullying should know that a lot of us who bullied, me in particular, look back on our behavior and are ashamed of the choices we made.
Thank you for speaking up, Kate. It’s so helpful to see the other side of the situation. It took real courage to open up like this.
Kate- I meant to say something when I first saw these comments and got side tracked: thank you a million times for this. Basically, I agree with Stephanie.
Gosh, this is so hard! Growing up has so many facets.
When I was in 8th grade, a particular girl and her entourage were harassing me on the walk home from school. I had zero confidence in myself due to my home life. I would have suffered silently the whole way and who knows what would have happened thereafter. However, my best friend was walking with me and she was strong enough for both of us. She was quiet for a little while and then she got mad. I don’t actually recall exactly what happened, but she turned around and let those girls have it. They backed down after a few minutes and that was that. Neither I nor she were ever bullied again all the way through high school.
Then, our lives parted physically (we’re still best friends, but we no longer live near each other) and I encountered similar situations over the years. Someone usually came to my rescue and the bully would stop; or my circumstances would change and I would be removed from the bully. I learned different lessons along the way, but the ultimate lesson was to believe in myself.
From my experiences, a short-term solution is to get help from anyone you can to stop the bullying quickly. Long-term, though, the teenager being bullied will need to sort through her own issues and find a path to discovering who she is and how she wants to be. Being open to new experiences helps tremendously, as does accepting one’s part in all the drama.
A turning point for me in young adulthood was stumbling upon a book in a random bookstore and taking the time to read it cover to cover, several times. Being Happy! by Andrew Matthews had a profound impact on me and it is a fairly quick read. Although I purchased it years ago, it is still available on amazon for less than $10. Might even be available from a local library.
I agree that she is in control of her feelings. I think it is important for people, especially women, to realize these encounters will happen through out life. Most probably to a much less degree than in highschool and not nearly as vicious. However, I would suggest that she use this time and look at it as a training on how to overcome adversity and challenge throughout life. As professionals, as entrepreneurs, inventors, whatever we become in the future, the better we can stand up for ourselves and articulate our position the better.
I would suggest, practically speaking, she try to address one or more of the girls privately. At the end of the day, the leader of the pack is insecure and the rest of them are followers. They need to pick on someone to feel better about themselves. Can she find someone in that pack that may be open to a conversation and try to impart that that person an understanding of what it feels like in her shoes. I think empathy can be very powerful, when we start to imagine what aother is feeling or going through, and it is something people respond to.
The only other thing I would say is that…its a big world. It may sound cheesy, but in high school get good grades, do extracurricular activities, become a well rounded student and then go to college someplace else. Does that sound harsh? I don’t advocate fleeing, but it really is a big world out there and since I encourage all people in high school to travel and explore the world, I think in this case it is also good advice.
Ah, school. I buried my nose in books during middle school and then did all the wrong things in high school to get people to accept me. So sage advice is not forthcoming from me. I did just read an article over at xojane about this too. It was great. The one thing I really loved was Lesley said she somehow knew that she didn’t deserve the bullying, and it probably saved her life. Definitely worth a read:
So I guess ‘punch the bully in the face’ isn’t really an option here! I went to an all-girls school where I experienced and saw situations like this every day for 7 years….and I STILL don’t have any advice! I guess all you can do is find out who your real friends are and be thankful for those who stick by you. It’s such a shame that teacher/parent intervention tends to make things worse rather than better.
Bullying is illegal in NJ and more states are adopting or strengthening anti-bullying laws. If her school has a strong stance against bullying, she should go to a guidance counselor. If her parents are supportive, she should tell them too. She needs people on her side. If she doesn’t have that she may want to decide to ride it out, as nothing is worse than having your complaints be brushed off or laughed at. Fortunately, she has a good friend, and she should concentrate on the hapiness of that relationship.
I would also tell her that I attempted suicide at age 12 due to two girls who were terribly unforgiving and destructive. I later found out that one was considered so ugly that her father had to pay boys to take her out on dates. And the other suffers today from a relentlessly painful condition.
I would also suggest that she read A Woman’s Worth by Marianne Williamson. She must know that she is a worthwhile human being, and that what we feel inside creates what happens to us outside.
Where I live in Ottawa Canada, there is a big push in the schools to stop bullying. It has recently become part of the curriculum due to the gay son of a counsellor who killed himself because he was being tortured by bullies. There was a radio show on yesterday, and people like Lady Gaga said she was bullied and actually tossed into a trash can and laughed at. There was also Richard Simmons who was actually attacked with a bat. Richard finally stopped his abuse by looking the bully in the eye and asking him why he was bulling him. Sometimes the bully needs to be confronted. Most bullies bully because they feel small and inadequate. It is their way of boosting their egos. If this girl has any close friends, perhaps they could support her when she confronts the bully. Other then that, her only option if she doesn’t want to involve the school is to just walk away which basically won’t solve things and might have her hiding from bad situations the rest of her life.
This is one of those topics that you think your advice will be better once you get older, but like was mentioned above, we often forget how hard it is to be a teenager once we are removed from the emotionally driven life we had during those years! I have to agree that taking charge and attempting to not see yourself as a victim is the key, but in the situation, it’s hard. Larissa is correct when she says that focusing on the people that matter is important. I was definitely one of those teenagers who thought my mom did NOT understand what it was like for me. I didn’t realize until I was in my early 20’s that I should have listened to her as she had it WAY worse than I ever did and she managed to come out a stronger, more assertive and wonderful woman and mother. Because I could not see through my own emotions clearly and accept the help my mama was trying to provide I found help outside of my parents. They were supportive when I asked to have someone else to talk to about the situation. I worked with a wonderful counselor who helped me process the crap I had to endure daily and helped me work on being more assertive and confident in myself. As a result my last two years of high school were spent with a close circle of friends who mattered. Lo and behold, by the end of our high school years our little group of more confident, smart girls (and guys) were considered the “popular” kids! It’s amazing how once we grow in ourselves and value what we have to offer other people notice those things too!
So, I guess my advice would be to find help where you are most comfortable. Someone who can help you in an objective way is a great asset and you will find that you are the one that grows from that experience. Learn to value your strengths and others will value you too. It all starts with yourself.
Rose Anastasja 'Fjern' Bonnese
It’s really hard to go through something like that. And most people have to do it, I think. I don’t know if this is the best option, but it’s what’s been told to my brother for years now: Fight back. Maybe you shouldn’t go punch someone in the face. And you shouldn’t do all the ruel things to them that they did to you. They have other weaknesses than you. But it’s not about finding them either. It’s about saying that you’ve had enough. About getting angry instead of sad. It’s about saying to them that they’re out of line. And say stop. You should be furious, your head should turn red, you should yell at them and tell them what you feel. Not that you are sad, but that you have had enough of their crap.
This is to get her attention and to make her understand that this is serious.Think of it like this: You are animals, and she think she’s the leader of the pack. Therefore she can bully you for as long as you get sad. That is the same as obeying. But if you get angry, it’ll be the same as saying that it’s not okay for her to think that she is the leader. You will put up a fight and challenge her.
Luckily you are not animals, and this isn’t a fight on life and death. It’s about you saying that it is enough! You have an advantage because you haven’t done this before. She won’t expect it. And therefore she will be surprised and speechless which will give you time to expreess what you feel.
I hope it’ll work out for you. Love.
This is such a hard one! I know I’ve been in that place, but there seems to be some sort of memory gap between there and when I got over feeling victimized. Maybe I just got tired of it, or maybe I could see other people in my life dealing with it and that made it a lot easier to get a perspective.
I don’t know how much this would help a teenager, but my advice to myself and others, constantly, is to care about the opinions of the people that really matter to you, and really understand you. It’s important to reflect upon the support network you have (family, this amazing friend that is asking us for help for her), and realize that their opinions are the ones that matter.
That, at least, is what works for me.