1. It had very little to do with me

    I was always a target of various bullies throughout my life but the story I’m about to tell will always stick in my mind.

    When I was in Grade 9, I made friends with a classmate because she seemed cool. She was athletic, had stylish clothes, liked to party and was a generally loud and outgoing girl. I was shy, artsy and a bit of a doormat, so I felt like her personality was something for me to aspire to, and she liked my clothes and creative nature, so we had somewhat of a symbiotic relationship. It worked out, for a while.

    Within a few months I grew tired of her abrasive attitude and was feeling used (“Hey, can I borrow your clothes/some money/CD’s/not return it/etc?”) and learned through the churning gyre of teen gossip that she was making fun of me behind my back while posing as my friend. I ended the friendship then and there through the usual passive aggressive pre-text message method: a note. This proved to be a terrible mistake that lead to a solid year of constantly fearing for my safety.

    Within the first few days of ending our friendship, I heard through others that she planned on killing me. I received threatening letters from her, as she attempted to rally others to her cause. I remember having to share both a science and an art class for one semester with her, and in both classes she attempted assault through a couple of her guy friends (this thankfully never followed through due to teachers walking in just as they were about to come at me with a paper weight, and another time with a lighter in attempt to burn my hair). I was always looking over my shoulder (don’t go to the washroom/walk home/walk the halls alone). When I think back, I wonder where my friends were this entire time? Oh yeah, they were sitting next to her, too spineless or apathetic to stand up for me. This went on for exactly a year, which isn’t much compared to many brave people who have had to endure a lifetime of abuse, but it was a terrifying and dark period of my life where I felt like none of my peers cared enough to stand with me.

    Fortunately for me, in the end of it all she was all talk. I will forever be thankful to my mother and my guidance counsellor who didn’t take kindly to death threats, and ended the cycle before it escalated by severely reprimanding her.

    Back when we were still friends, she confided in me that her mother was verbally and physically abusive toward her. She would call her “ugly”, “slut”, “whore” and belittle her in many other ways. In the end, I just felt sorry for her because I knew where her abuse directed at me was coming from: her mother. Abuse breeds abuse. I’m not sure where she is now, I talked to her a few years ago when I was in college and she still seemed like a bitter, battered soul. Even though she was terrible to me, I hope to this day that she has found peace.

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