A Bullying Survivor
By Shaunagh McSweeney,

I started running, the sun beating down against the back of my head, my heart pounding. I just needed to get away! As soon as I got to my house, I could run in, lock the door, and be with my parents, then they wouldn’t be able to follow me, or upset me, not today anyway.

This had been going on for a few weeks now, this constant abuse. It started off for no reason that I could see, maybe because that girl Lucy left and they needed a new victim. Maybe because I was good at lessons and they didn’t like that, that’s what my dad keeps telling me anyway. Firstly, they all just stopped talking to me and started spreading vicious rumours. But then, it started getting worse, with them trying to break into my locker and hiding my stuff, before they started pushing me around and knocking me into walls. From there, it’s just hit new lows, with them trying to provoke me and hurt me outside of school, when I was just going to the shops, etc.

That’s why I was running now. I only saw three of them instead of the usual four and I remember thinking at the time that it must have been Mercy who refused to join in. Mercy and I, we were best friends just last year; we’d known each other since we were seven! We were even best friends this year, until the group decided to hate me.

I don’t know too much about why they’ve decided to do this to me, because I only know what I’ve heard from some of the girls that think telling me what’s said is the right thing to do, or the girls that have nothing to lose. What I do know, is that apparently I was becoming annoying and it was funny to see the girl that is usually so hard and brave, down and upset. That, I could mostly deal with; it hurt, but I could deal with it. What really made it worse was the way they tried to get other people to not talk to me and spread horrible, false rumours and gossip. Tried and succeeded, I should mention.

One day, Mercy was talking to me and was being lovely, and the next day she had joined Raven and her horrible little cronies and completely brushed me off. I should’ve always known that she wasn’t reliable, if I’m being honest. She was always chasing after the latest trends and making sure that she remembered the artist names of every song in the charts, sometimes I think that she was just insecure and not confident in her skin, and so she didn’t see it as hurting me, more like getting what she had always wanted; the dreaded P word: popularity.

So, yes, Mercy wasn’t with them. But there were still three of them chasing after me. I was lucky enough to have some warning of their schemes and plans from Katie, again. They had never done to her the things that they were doing to me in the same degree, however they had been rude about her and had gossiped about her from almost the time that we started school. I think she felt bad for me. She was nicer to me than I deserved, if I’m being totally honest, I had never given her much time myself. However, now, she was helping me. They were so oblivious to her, that they were completely unaware of her presence in the classroom whilst they planned their next attack against me.

From what Katie heard, seemingly just the basics, they knew that I always went to my sister’s flat on Friday evenings and that I always walked home at around half past six. Mercy must have told them. At the time, even just that small detail that she had shared with them felt like the most painful betrayal, but looking back on it, I just feel almost content about finding out who my real friends were.

They had planned as a group, to catch me on Bright Avenue and provoke me into shouting at them or attacking one of them. Apparently, they had heard that the teachers had realized that I was upset, and that they were sure that Raven’s little group was the source of it. They thought that if all of them could get a reaction out of me, then if they were called in to a teacher’s office, they could claim that I started it for no reason or could imply that I was mentally unstable.

As I had only found out about it that day, it was too late to cancel on my sister, but I did all I could and the best idea I could find was to leave her house at six o’clock. I was about half way home and I thought I would be fine until I saw them sat in the bus stop across the road, right on Bright Avenue, half an hour earlier than planned. They really, really wanted to catch me.

I couldn’t prevent myself from letting a gasp escape my mouth, causing Raven’s head to bolt up and a smirk to plaster itself across her smug face. She let her thumbs slow across the small keys on her phone and grabbed the two others’ arms, her eyes still fixed upon my face. I turned away abruptly and quickened my pace, determined to get to my parents and finally tell them everything, but I could hear them laughing and jeering behind me. I started to run and relief started to flood through me as I got to the end of my road. However, now I was really becoming short of breath and I could hear them speeding up greatly; they were the best at sports collectively in our class.

I kept running, but I only managed to get to the house two buildings down from my own when I felt a pair of dainty hands with sharp nails dig into my back and pull me slightly backwards. Next, I felt a leg push against my own and another larger hand pushing on my back, and sending me sprawling to the concrete. I cried out, and as another kick landed into my ankle, I whimpered. It stopped for a minute and I closed my eyes, awaiting the following assault, filled with dread.

I felt a large familiar hand against my arm, attempting to pull me up from the ground with a light whispering in my ear, “It’s okay now, sweetie. It will all be okay now, Daddy’s got you.” I heard running and frantic whispering in the other direction but I just turned into my dad’s body and hugged him tightly letting him lift me up and carry me in.

From there, things are a bit fuzzy. I remember the local doctor coming in and checking me over before sending me to the hospital for a suspected broken rib and a torn ligament in my ankle to join the bruising all over. I know that my mum was by my side the whole time telling me how brave I was and hugging me and that my dad was on the phone to the headmaster and the girls’ parents telling them all what they’d done to me.

I knew I had to go in the next day; I couldn’t let them win. And the school, they were absolutely brilliant: they made each of the girls apologize to me, and then punished them horribly before putting them in separate classes and speaking to each set of parents seriously. It still wasn’t enough for me though; I could not forgive and I could certainly not forget. However, in some small part of me, very deep down, I knew that part of it was my own fault. Don’t get me wrong, I by no means did anything to those girls to deserve what they did to me, but I often think, if I could have just spoken to my parents or to the teachers earlier, none of this would have happened.

And that is the exact reason of why I have written my story and have let the world see it. Everyone says it; all the leaflets, websites, teachers. But I am letting you know from my own experience, you must tell someone! My name is Emily Louise Smith and I am a bullying survivor.