“Evil witch” one classmate called me.
Other classmates simply tied my shoes together, laughing when I fell over.
Yet others stole my lunch if I put it on my right side (the side where I am blind.)
Being called four eyes eventually had a pat response of “Two, really. Can’t you do math?” since one lens of my glasses was cosmetic and the eye behind it didn’t work.
People thinking I was creepy for having a somewhat faded looking eye can be validated now, since I write horror games.
But the things that stick with me, and the things I hear said to the children of the present consistently nauseate me.
i remember the first time I was told that a boy “liked me” because he was making fun of me. He would hit me in the car. He would tease. He would make carpool rides absolutely interminable. And in response, I would be told this was just his way of telling me that he liked me.
I didn’t like him.
I wanted him to leave me alone.
I was told to just ignore it, because “boys will be boys.”
I was told that surviving the bullying would make me a better adult.
So it should come as exactly zero surprise to you that the article “Ten Perks Kids with Autism Get from Bullying” really fucking pissed me off.
This article says that bullying can help your autistic child build strength? It says it helps build friendships (and for me it built strong friendships between kids who needed each other – because we were the bullied, we were those hiding together in a classroom at lunch.) Healthy relationships? Nope. All of the things this article says are “perks” are merely things you have to learn to survive. There’s other “perks” to being bullied: The perk of learning how to hide your fear. The skill of knowing when to keep your mouth shut. The perk of learning how to survive in a hostile social situation. Sure those are perks!
But they aren’t perks we can’t learn through other kinds of adversity besides being harried by our peers through hallways of middle schools and high schools.
Bullying has no positive traits attached to it. The perceptions of gender based bullying hurt women as they age – making it harder to parse the difference between gentle teasing, and outright abuse. During what I now identify as a deeply toxic and abusive relationship, the teasing got to be so much that I would cry at night. The dismissals of my opinions I took just to be true, because he was smarter than I was. it all read like the bullying I experienced as a middle cshooler, and it fed into my ability to be an adult.
I didn’t learn self esteem from the bullies – it took me years upon years to not hate the eyeball that I was teased for. I stopped wearing my hearing aid in middle school because I was tired of people whistling into it, or yelling into it. I was tired of being abused by my peers because bullying wasn’t perceived about being “that bad”.
I was afraid to go to the faculty about bullying because I knew that my classmates would say they were just “joking.” Being bullied taught me not to trust my peers, It taught me not to trust people who had authority over me. It taught me not to trust. it taught me not to feel safe. being bullied was not a way to become a better adult. It taught me to stay silent when I was hurting, because I was told that given them attention just encouraged the bullies because they wanted the attention. When they stole my cane, I stayed silent. When they took my glasses off my face, I didn’t fight them. All because I thought the teasing and the terrorizing would just stop if I let them go about their business.
I was wrong. They never stopped. Until I went to an alternative high school, where we were all fleeing from the bullies, I hid during lunch hours with my friends and I didn’t complain about how I was treated for fear of making it worse.
Anyone who tells you different is lying.