We live in a world with two seasons of ‘Thirteen Reasons Why,’ significant anti-bullying legislation including Brodie’s Law (2011) and extensive media coverage to tragic suicides induced by bullying including the death of Dolly Everrett in January this year. We are more exposed to and aware of the devastating consequences of bullying than ever before. So why is it still happening?
You see, one of the most dire consequences of our modern and technologically driven world is the ability of high school bullies to thrive beyond their senior year. It is our dependence on technology which provides bullies with the forum to reach their victims at any time and across any platform. Bullying is no longer an aspect of the playground but embedded in workplaces, homes and communities.
I had been particularly lucky throughout high school, evading most forms of teenage angst and drama. But it wasn’t until two years later, that I first came across behaviour consistent with bullying. For eight months, I have been very much haunted by a break-up I had interpreted as mutual in nature. After all, some people are inherently incompatible. But, since November last year, I have experienced behaviour akin to bullying. Some truly unthinkable things have been said to me in person. I would hear from mutual friends rumours being spread about me. And up until last month, I had received messages from various accounts, reminding me of my “worth.”
But, I do not write this to draw attention to accuse or identify the people in my story. I write this because my story is one of many and demands to be told. Our society rarely gives a voice to the weak. And in a world which values strength, victims may feel that they have no right to speak out, internalising their experiences.
When bullying lives beyond the High School Halls, it becomes nearly impossible to address. Its not like you can run to your home-group teacher or call their parents. You truly feel alone. The first time I received messages over instagram, I remember crying and shaking, and wondering if it was possible, that the love I had from my boyfriend, friends and family was enough to confront the hatred I was receiving. I would think about this rooftop carpark and how I would like to jump off it. I just wanted this feeling to stop. I’d withdrawn from most of my friends, particularly those I had shared with this person. In my mind, I had wrongly held them accountable for this persons actions. You see, sometimes you need to be your own knight in shining armour.
It took me much longer than I would like to admit to learn this important message; just because someone does not see your worth, it does not mean you have no worth at all. As hard as it is, you cannot let this one person, insignificant in the scheme of things and the life ahead, determine who you are. I have so many exciting things ahead, from graduation to overseas trips, I cannot let this bump determine the road I take.
It was this positive mindset which helped me the next time I received a message. I immediately blocked the number. I told my parents and closest friends, mainly for support. They instantly reminded me that things will be okay, and the messages say little about my true character.
I understand that not everyone has the same support network. But please remember you are not alone, and you can always contact us at OOMPH! Network for support. You will always have a friend here. Speaking out, whether it be to a close friend, parent, or manager at work is the first step to making things better.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Headspace: 1800 650 890