This year, over 13 million American kids will be bullied, making it the most common form of violence young people in the U.S. experience. Bully, a film directed by Lee Hirsch is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary—at its heart are those with the most at stake and whose stories each represent a different facet of this bullying crisis.
It’s rare that talk about causes that are dear to me but with this film, it highlights something that really hits home.
Because I was bullied.
In 4th grade, I was your typical, nerdy overachiever…I was the teacher’s pet, getting good grades, and being chatty in class. I had a group of close friends and we did everything together from causing mischief to chasing boys. One day, one of my friends decided that I was no longer worthy. I was too smart, too loud…too…everything?
It started with copying my homework. Then, I wasn’t allowed to get higher marks than her on assignments. Within one semester, I became sullen and silent and I started wearing long sleeves, sweaters, and tights all the time even though it was blistering hot outside. My glasses were often twisted, stepped on, smashed, and broken. I was hiding Indian burns and bruises from her kicks and punches when I didn’t do what she said.
My teacher noticed the drastic change in my behavior and on several occasions tried to get me to confess what was going on, but I refused for fear of retaliation. Unless I said something, nothing could be done to change my situation.
One day, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was hurting, my glasses were missing, my homework was torn apart, and I broke down…right in the middle of class. The teacher came over and through fits of sobbing, I whispered that my glasses were taken by the bully. The teacher swiftly demanded the location of my glasses and the girl plucked my glasses from her locker saying that she was only playing a joke. After class, my parents and the girl’s parents were called to the principal’s office. I don’t remember the exact details but the girl never returned to school after that day.
Though I never saw her again, it made me distrustful of everyone. I was always on alert…afraid of something approaching me from behind and afraid of being betrayed. It took a long time to learn to trust and build lasting friendships. It took me even longer to forgive but eventually I did. So when I hear of people being teased or bullied, I step in because I don’t want anyone to go through what I did.