I was bullied online by my best friends
Kate* thought the bullying at school was bad enough, but then her friends started attacking her online. She tells The Mix about how she wonders if the cyberbullying she endured contributed to her social anxiety.
I logged onto Facebook again, my fingers shaking with nerves as I typed in my password. I’d started to dread going online – wondering what they’d call me today. Fat? Ugly? Both. And it’s not like I didn’t know my online tormentors. Until recently, they had been my best friends.
Friends who became enemies
I always had a core group of friends from when I was a child, but I left school for a while to be home-schooled and when I came back things had changed. My friends kept laughing at things but wouldn’t tell me what they were laughing at. They seemed more grown-up than me — talking about boys and alcohol.
Then they stopped leaving me out and started teasing me instead, making fun of how I looked. Friend after friend joined in until I had no one left on my side. I spent my days at school putting on a brave face and laughing weakly at their jokes – or just sometimes sitting in the toilets by myself, waiting for the bell to ring.
Taking their bullying one step further
If school wasn’t bad enough, one night I logged onto Facebook to see one of my ‘friends’, Natalie, had uploaded a photo of Frankenstein’s monster, with the caption ‘This looks like Kate’. Loads of people had liked it, shared it, and commented on it saying they agreed. I didn’t cry, but I wanted to. Why were they doing this to me? I told my mum and she sent a message to Natalie, asking her to take it down otherwise she’d tell our head of year.
Natalie removed it, but the next day at school was terrible. She made fun of my mum in front of everyone, saying she’d overreacted and wasn’t that funny? I was scared of her, so I found myself agreeing with what she said. Somehow I even ended up apologising to her, which I know is completely backwards.
The tipping point
The messages continued, so I told my head of year. He talked to Natalie, told her parents, and threatened to get the police involved if it carried on. Natalie stopped, but her friends (who used to my friends) didn’t. Every day I’d get messages from them, telling me I was fat… that I needed to sort my face out. They even said I should measure my stomach. I was a healthy weight but they made me think otherwise. I didn’t bother saying anything to my head of year this time. I didn’t see the point.
Sometimes Natalie’s parents would pull up beside me to pick her up from school. They’d glare at me out the car window, so I guessed they didn’t think their daughter had done anything wrong.
I left school in Year Nine after I developed such severe social anxiety that I was practically agoraphobic. I have no idea if the bullying caused it or not. The one good thing, I guess, was leaving school stopped the bullying – the comments quickly fizzled out.
A harsh lesson
Things are so much better now. I think, despite everything, the bullying has made me a stronger person. I’m much kinder and more careful about what I say, so I don’t hurt others the way they hurt me.
I recently saw Natalie for the first time since leaving school in a supermarket. She blanked me. I’d love to know what she thought about the whole thing – if she even remembers how she treated me. But I’ll never know, and maybe it’s better that way.
Don’t listen to bullies
In hindsight, I wish I’d ignored them right from the beginning. I shouldn’t have accepted the way they treated me. If anyone else is going through this, please, please don’t believe what the bullies are saying about you. They probably don’t even believe what they’re saying and are just doing it because they’re jealous, or have issues in their own lives. Try not to be angry, but pity them, because there’s clearly something rubbish going on with them.
Remember that the Facebook friends list is called a ‘friends’ list for a reason. If they’re not behaving like one, delete them. Otherwise you’re only giving them the opportunity to get at you again and again. And tell someone you trust so they can help you. Don’t worry about being labelled a ‘grass’ or a ‘taletell’ – at the end of the day, it’s much better than being a bully.
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Updated on 29-Sep-2015
Photo by blameless eyes and posed by model
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