Being bullied turned me into a bully

True Stories

Why do people bully? Katie* opens up about her experience of being bullied at school, how she became a bully herself and why the experience has shaped who she is today.

I didn’t realise I was being bullied

It’s only now when I look back that I realise I was bullied by the girl I thought was my best friend. We were in Year 8 and she was known as the ‘cool girl’. She took a shine to me and to be honest, I felt flattered that the coolest girl in the year wanted to be friends with me. The problem was, she was very possessive and wouldn’t let me speak to my other friends, so we became quite isolated from the rest of the year.

She became quite manipulative, would call people nasty names and before long, I was the subject of her bullying. One of the worst things she did was send a naked photo of me to my Dad. We were messing around at my house and had taken photos of our boobs. She deleted the photos of her but sent the photo of me to my Dad. I was so embarrassed that I never told anyone until now. I still don’t know if my Dad ever saw those photos.

Her behaviour rubbed off on me

Even though I knew my bully wasn’t very nice to me, I desperately wanted her to like me. I was a bit of a doormat and I think I started joining in with the bullying to impress her. Looking back, I feel so stupid for joining in, but I guess you do silly things when you’re young. I feel so guilty when I remember the way I treated other people and it’s hard to admit what I did. I became generally pretty lairy at school.

I got in trouble a lot with teachers, spent most lunchtimes in detention and started to call people nasty names. I was a bully. At home, my behaviour was getting worse too. I think I needed an outlet for my anger and as a result started being really nasty towards my stepdad, who really didn’t deserve it. I am lucky to have an amazing stepdad but I got the impression it was cool to hate your stepdad. So that’s what I did.

I started to really hate myself

During this time, my self-esteem was really low and I would go as far as saying I hated myself. I was isolated from most of my school year and my only friend was someone who made me feel even worse about myself. I’m not exactly sure how it happened but I just remember waking up one day and realising I didn’t want to be a bully any more. I wanted to have proper friendships and I wanted to be a nice person. That’s when I spoke to my mum and together we decided it was best for me to move schools.

Everything changed for the better

With the help of my mum, I moved schools and was really lucky to immediately meet a nice group of girlfriends who are still my friends today. I completely dissociated myself with the person I had become at my previous school. Ten years on, I still cringe when I think back to that time when I was the bully and I still feel terrible for some of the things I said to people. I think the whole experience has made me hypersensitive to other people’s feelings. I now work as a nurse, I like to think of myself as a caring person and I always try to stand up for people if I think they are being unfairly treated.

My advice to the bully and the bullied

My advice to anyone who is a bully – be strong, you don’t have to be a bully to be cool. Being cool won’t get you the best friends or the most loyal friends. The respect you get as a bully is short term and you’ll be considered cool for different reasons – whether that’s being the most generous one of your friendship group or the funniest one. In the case of my bully, I believe she bullied because she had a difficult home life. She had a lot of anger and her way of venting it was to bully. If that sounds familiar to you, try to find the support you deserve by talking to someone you trust.

My advice to the bullied – don’t feel embarrassed about being bullied. I wish I’d spoken to someone much earlier about how I was treated. Telling my mum was the best thing I could have done – that’s when things started to change. Bullies need to be stood up to and that can only happen if you tell someone. You’ll hear people say “oh, just ignore them” but in reality, it’s pretty impossible to ignore someone who’s calling you names and being mean to you. A more constructive thing to do, in my opinion, is to tackle it head-on by telling someone.

*Katie is not this person’s real name; they have used a different name in order to protect their anonymity.

If you need support for bullying

Head to our bullying page for more information and support.

You can also read our article on how to cope with bullying at school and learn about another member of our community’s experience of bullying here.

Next Steps

  • BullyingUK offers advice and support to victims of bullying. Call on 0808 800 2222.
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By Holly Turner

Updated on 22-Feb-2023