Five hundred and eighty-three

I’m depressed by how it doesn’t seem to be getting any better…

I’m depressed by the fact that a 15 year-old boy was arrested for the string of sexual assaults on women in the Bloor/Christie area of Toronto.  I’m depressed that a 15 year-old girl committed suicide and there are still kids harassing her on social media after she is dead.  I’m upset that I know people whose children threaten to commit suicide or are taken to hospital for eating disorders because they are bullied.

The biggest problem is this is not new.  I was teased and bullied as a child.  I was hit so hard on the back of my head by a girl “friend” of mine in the hallway during middle school that I fell to the ground and couldn’t get up.  This was only because I had a happy childhood and she didn’t, so she picked on me to make herself feel better.  I had boys call me a Nazi because my last name is Schwietz, which is not even german.  I was asked out by a boy as a joke to his friends so they could laugh at me.  I remember writing a letter to my parents telling them how upset and alone I felt because I couldn’t talk about it out loud.  I told them in the letter that if it weren’t for them, I’d probably kill myself.  I was 14 years old.

I recently read a blog entry about “What it’s like being a teenage girl” which tells the story of how this woman writer was bullied as a teen, her body being sexualized, and how important it is to openly speak to boys and girls about sexuality and boundaries, women are not objects, and men are not entitled to our bodies.  Fortunately, in my small middle and high schools, I didn’t have to deal with sexual objectification as a teen, but I know friends who did.  Fortunately my mother and father talked openly about sex and respect to both my brother and I growing up.

Maybe education is the answer.  Maybe parents need to be educated about how to tell their children these things.  Maybe parents need to set an example for their children and stop being bullies themselves.  Maybe we just need to keep talking about it until it is taken seriously.  I was told to just ignore the bullies when I was a teen, but now with social media, how do young people get away from it?

When I got a little older, I found friends who loved me for me, found interests that I focused on and tried to avoid the occasional bully that I was faced with.  I am now 32 years old, stronger for what I went through and I have more compassion for everyone, from the cool kids to those who have a harder time with social interaction.  I try to be kind and inclusive to every person I meet.  There is a campaign started in the LGBT community by Dan Savage, the It Gets Better Project, where older people tell younger people facing harassment that “it gets better” and to try and stay strong.  It does get better as we get older, but it doesn’t seem to be going away as a whole.  Yesterday I watched a video circulating on social media, made by a grown woman news anchor talking about bullying, how she was bullied in an e-mail about her weight, and how she dealt with it.  If adults think it’s acceptable to bully, how do children learn not to?

I was going to talk about how happy I was that I made it over 100,000 views for my blog, but I can’t be happy when this continues to happen.  When I feel unsafe walking in an area of Toronto because a fifteen-year old boy is sexual assaulting women, it makes me sad.  When I fear that if I have children, they will have to go through this, and it worries me whether I want to raise a child in this world.  When I have personally been Facebook bullied by a co-worker a few years ago that made me take down my “wall” so my family wouldn’t see the lies she posted about me, it’s not right.  The co-worker was in her early twenties.

I don’t know what to do.  I feel helpless and depressed.  I feel like it’s not getting better and that although I am stronger for what I went through, not everyone is – some teens don’t make it, no matter how much they reach out for help.  Whether it’s sexual assaults, cyber bullying, or mean e-mails, none of this is acceptable.  If 15-year old teens are sexually assaulting random women on the street, bullying their peers to the point that they kill themselves, and making themselves throw up to the point they need to be taken to hospital just to fit in, what is this world coming to?  Where is the hope that things will get better when it seems to be getting worse?

I am depressed, but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I see young people standing up for bullying in vigils for the girl who was bullied to death.  I worked with a lot of good kids when I worked at a youth theatre for awhile.  I see all the articles being written and the videos being made trying to keep talking about bullying.  I see all these things and I see that many of us are trying to make a difference.  But I want the change to come sooner, because every time I hear about another tragic suicide by a teen it makes me cry and a little more depressed.  It has to get better, right?  I don’t think it can get much worse.

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8 thoughts on “Five hundred and eighty-three

  1. Lovely lady,

    This has been weighing heavily on my heart as well. I feel all the despair you do and also have no idea what the solution is. I was severely bullied as a kid (one guy who constantly picked on me kicked my crutches out from underneath me when I broke my foot). When I went home last Christmas I saw one of the guys who used to pick on me. I was with my sisters and he was with his wife. He pointed and they both started laughing and all of the sudden I was 15 again and wanted to crawl into a hole. It is amazing how we never truly heal even though “it gets better”. I think all we can do is be the best examples we can be and like you say, be tolerant of all kinds of people in the hopes that our children are witness to our kindness and lack of bullying.

    xo

    • I know. It’s so hard. And so sad. I’m sorry you had to go through horrible bullying as well. What gives me hope is that there are so many people talking about this now and trying to make a difference. It’s people like you that give me hope and are trying to set a positive example for young people. I guess we just have to keep sticking together and trying to make a positive influence in other people’s lives.

      xo

  2. What bothers me is that the root isn’t even the bullying, it’s the lack of respect girls and young women get, both from boys and from themselves. If we can find a way for these young ladies to be stronger and more confident, to not measure their worth by the value their peers and male counter-parts put on them. Just as important, is to teach these boys to see them as people and not as sexual objects, to not assign worth to the girls based on looks and on risky behaviour.
    With the role models seen on TV, in the media, and even many of the parent examples I see day in and out, we have an arduous task ahead of us.

    • I totally agree, Jason. It sucks. I guess we all just need to keep talking about it and keep making a big deal about it. Because it is a big deal. It is hard being a teenage girl when you’re trying to understand all these new hormones and body changes in a world that wants to instantly sexualize you. Especially when you’re trying so hard to fit in and look like those air-brushed models in the magazines. And you start to have crushes and want boys to like you. It has to start with the parents/caregiver and education. Without knowledge and self-respect, combined with peer pressure, and that TV/media influence you spoke of, it is a deadly combination. It’s hard, though, because if teaching boys and girls this doesn’t start at an early age, it’s difficult to get through to them and make them listen when they’re older. Forget trying to teach adult bullies that it’s wrong!

  3. Awww… my heart goes out to you. Wowee.. I didn’t realize how much you have overcome. We really are kindred spirits… I’ve been through hell and back too.. It’s incredible how much we have survived, thrived, and lived through… Hugs to you…

    Pink.

    • Thanks Pink. I’m sorry that you also had to deal with horrible bullies. I’m not as much concerned with what I went through, as what kids are going through now, though. It has to stop. It’s gone way too far. We survived and thrived, but a lot of them are not living through it, and that makes me so sad. 😦

      • Yes, it’s soo true. The stories I hear now with online forums including a hate page that you can create against someone and things like phones were pictures and what not can be created, it’s really sad. Thank you sooo much for raising a very good point. 😀

        Pink.

  4. This is so sad. There was a time when I just read about these things in the media but now someone I know personally has alerted me to his dear friend who was literally bullied to death. Suicide is so sad and I think people just feel hopeless, like no one is there for them, like there is no escape, no place to go, like life is just too hard. I hope you feel better. Try not to be too depressed.

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