One of the most astonishing things about being a survivor of bullying, is that society expect me to be all nice and smiley to my bullies when I meet them today.
To this I have to ask: Why?
Why should I be nice to someone who turned my life into one long struggle of distrust, misanthropy and a general hate against said society?
The answer, of course, is that people who weren’t bullied don’t understand the long term effects. Their thought process runs something like this: «Yes, bullying someone isn’t very nice, but they were just children. It was a long time ago! Why should the victim be bitter? They haven’t seen their bullies in years!»
Trauma doesn’t work that way.
It stays with you always. It festers.
But most importantly, the reason I will never be nice – or even civil – to my bullies, is because I know they are horrible people. Why should I be nice to someone who has proven over a period of several years, that they enjoy humiliating and belittle another human being?
But apparently I’m the difficult one. I am the one who is in the wrong, somehow.
It’s as if bullying is actually okay.
I’m part of a writing group, and some time ago one of the people in this group submitted a draft for a story, concerning a woman who was a big bully, a classical mean girl, in high school. Then something really traumatic happened to her, and ten years on she is trying to reintegrate into society. She moves back in with her parents in her old neighbourhood, and meets several of the people she tormented in their school days.
The thing was, her previous victims were completely over her. The bully acted the same way she had done when she was 17, being a bitch to her old classmates, destroying their possessions and making fun of them, and they did absolutely nothing to retaliate.
They were basically balanced adults who just felt sorry for the bully and the difficulties she was now facing.
I of course, called out this strange behaviour, and asked the submitter exactly how bad the bullying had been. Did this girl just act like she was better than everybody else, or was she a cruel sadist to everyone she deemed «below» her?
Because, if she was a proper bully, there was no way in hell her previous victims would be so kind and understanding. They would get back at her. They would humiliate her and make her pay. There was absolutely no way they would pasiently sit and watch her continue where she left off.
And to drive the point home, I told them a story I heard in my student days. One of the people I was going to university with, told me how he got back on his school bully.
He had a part time job as a debt collector. One day, who’s name didn’t turn up on his caller’s list, than his bully’s. My student buddy – let’s call him Will – called the bully up, introduced himself the standard way, explained why he was calling, and told the bully the debt needed to be settled immediately.
The debt was for several calls to a sex phone line, just to add insult to injury.
The bully couldn’t pay. So Will added all the extra fees he legally could add – he wasn’t stupid enough to do anything illegal, obviously – and the end result was that instead of settle a debt of maybe €60, the bully ended up paying over €200.
The person who had submitted the story was very quiet while I was talking, and really had nothing to say to any of my questions. It was like my persepctive had never entered their mind at all while writing it.
None of the others in the group seemed to have concidered it either, because once I finished relaying my story about Will, one of them exclaimed «What a facinating story!»
I had to stiffle a chuckle. This is why we hardly ever get realistic depictions of bullying. Because the people writing the stories never were on the receiving end, and the editors haven’t either. That’s why us bullying victims just roll our eyes every time we see a depiction of a bully who suffered some trauma, and then we should believe they are the «real» victims.
Honestly, the only realistic depiction of bullying and its psychological effects I have seen in any fiction, is in the novel Let the Right One In. But that is because author John Ajvide Lindqvist was bullied in school, and the book draws heavily on his own experiences growing up. And it shows. Even though the book is about vampires, it carries a realism most «realistic» fiction can only dream about.
And I have to admit, for me the most satisfying part of Let the Right One In, was when the bullies had their heads ripper off.