It is important I tell this story as many times as possible, because I know what Amanda was feeling.
You feel lost and alone, angry and terrified. You want to talk about terrorism? Terrorists? Then look back to the days where every morning you wake up in tears, shaking and fighting the urge to throw up because you know that it is going to be another day of hell.
Imagine growing up with the same kids all your life. In Grades 1 and 2 everything is fine. Until she comes, that awful evil teacher that singles you out because you aren’t as smart as the other kids, because you can’t read as well and you take more time on your work. She hassles you and all of a sudden every kid in school is jumping on the bandwagon.
Imagine entering junior high with these same kids and suddenly it goes from teasing to having them set your hair on fire. Throwing you into lockers and paying each other to beat you up every single day. Teachers turn a blind eye, parents are called but really don’t care. The police are called but the bullies are protected. The victim (me) is ignored, so what does she do? She starts putting matches into car gas pipes, eating and drinking rat poison. Cutting. That didn’t work. So instead she looks for attention elsewhere. At 13 she starts dating older men, because hey, no one cares, maybe she’ll get lucky and she’ll be like the kids she hears about on the radio — maybe one of them will slit her throat… No such luck.
Drugs and booze come next. That doesn’t work either, except to hide the pain, numb it.
Only a year ago she finds sanity. Contacts her bullies and learns that if she wants freedom, she must learn to forgive. She must forgive not for them, but for herself. Finally after 13-plus years she gets an apology, a sincere apology. She starts an online radio show, and learns the way to healing is to help others. In spite of all they tried to do her soul still burns strong.
Is there a way out? Yes! Should this end? YES! We can share our stories a million times, but until the police, the schools and the government work together, this will continue to happen and we will have the exact same conversations over and over again. We must decide, together, today and forever that this is the last time we will allow a child to suffer the pain and abuse that is associated with bullies. It is time that the bullies are the ones to be punished. Not the victim. It is time that parents and schools stop being lax and lazy.
I got lucky. Many of us who will share our stories, got lucky. Many more will not, unless we stand up and fight for them, and teach them that they deserve to be here as much as anyone else.