Trigger Warning: Open discussion of sexual bullying.
I’ve mentioned this in passing before, but when I was school part of the bullying I went through turned sexual. Here’s my contribution to the “Me Too” conversation.
This post is going to be a bit disjointed. It’s late, and this is a difficult topic, so my structure is a bit all over the place.
My experience was in a library. We were all there for a lesson, watching a movie because… reasons. I don’t remember why. It was one of the Xmen’s – I don’t remember which one, but that’s more because there are like 20 of them now. If I saw them I could tell you which one.
My bully had been, well, bullying me again. My main bully, anyway. I was bullied by a good third of the class… I’d been bullied in most of my schools, but at this particular time we were living abroad and I was the only white kid in my class, and kids will leap on anything different about anyone. She’d been saying stuff, I don’t remember the details, and when I was trying to blend in at the back of the class she came up and sat next to me. With her backup singers, of course.
So they were there, making fun of me, as usual. I don’t remember the words they said – they weren’t particularly original or clever – but as some point she thought it was funny to put her hand on my leg.
I’ve read before about the fight or flight OR FREEZE response. “Fight or flight” is what people think of as the traditional response to danger, but freeze is just as common. And that’s what happened to me. At some point I did manage to move enough to flick her hand off my leg but she just laughed and put it back.
I get that this wasn’t “as bad” as many of the experiences I’ve read about em>(although I’ve also read some pieces that would tell me off for saying that), but the thing that always bugged me about this was the fact that this happened in broad daylight, in the middle of the day, with three supervising adults in the room. I’d complained before about the bullying. They should have looked after me.
I’ve never been so scared in my life.
There are other occasions I could talk about, men who were overly familiar when I was too young. An older man (like 40+) who literally interrupted me on a date with my boyfriend when I was 15 to put his arm round me and tell me how beautiful I was and how wonderful sex is. A different older man that never talked to me but kept buying me drinks (ok, pop, but still) whilst I was trying to have a day out with my family. Again, at 15.
I guess I was really hot at 15??
Those instances – and others too insignificant to mention – shouldn’t feel as insignificant as they do. Those men were predatory too. But those are sort of normalized. I was able to get past those, they didn’t scare me, and after the moment it was just something to laugh about.
I don’t really remember if I got help for it really. That’s kind of weird. I remember a fair bit about the event itself, but not much detail about what happened when I went to tell someone.
I remember telling my teacher – I was scared.
I remember my teacher asking me if I wanted to bring in the police.
I remember telling my teacher – no, I just want her gone.
I remember my teacher telling me my breath smelled like oranges.
I don’t know WHAT the fuck that was about.