I started getting bullied in first grade. It started when I was five years old and at a field trip at a local pool. I was minding my own business just splashing around in the three foot end and all of a sudden I felt a hand on my back. It started pushing me down, outweighing me, forcing me to go underwater. I got pushed all the way under the surface of the water and then the weight on my back became even more. It turns out that I was pushed under water by a high school student and then sat on for a full minute. All I can really remember of it besides that is hitting my head very hard on the bottom of the pool and blacking out. To this day I can’t swim, I’m afraid of the water because it brings back just too many memories.
In second grade I had a knife pressed against my throat at school. One of the kids in my class decided it would be a “funny joke” to see me have a nervous breakdown in front of the class. When the teacher asked the student why he did it, he responded that he was just doing what a group of kids told him to do. That group of kids ended up becoming the football team, and I was just beginning my twelve years of hell.
Third, fourth, and fifth grade were the same, day in and day out. Wake up, get ready, go to school, get made fun of for various reasons, go to class, get made fun of there, go to lunch and be the last student served because I kept getting shoved out of the way, sit alone at recess and get made fun of, go back to class and get made fun of, then go home, do my homework and get ready for the next day. Throughout all the jokes and emotional bullying, other events unfolded that have scarred me and physically. For instance, the one and quite possibly the dumbest decision of my life was my decision that I should stop eating, start purging, and yes, start cutting. As a fourth grader. I was, by no means “scrawny” in grade school, but I was tired of the jokes about not being the “smallest kid in the class”. Fifth grade started. The bullying picked up. More jokes. More abuse, it started to get physical; shoving and tripping. Trauma started setting in, yet no one cared. Everyone laughed at me and made me feel like a giant piece of nothing.
In sixth grade I was only 3′ 11″, the shortest kid in school, and got glasses, THAT went over well. I started getting shoved against and into lockers and locked in them, I got punched and kicked, yelled at, and cussed out, got my face smashed into walls and at one point had my glasses broken five times in ten days. That went on all through sixth, seventh, and eighth grade, then also in eighth grade the one moment that has permanently traumatized me happened. December 11, 2008. I walked out of the middle school and there was a group of eight people standing in a line blocking me from getting to the playground. Click. The doors closed and locked behind me. I was grabbed, tackled, and pretty brutally beaten. I was punched, kicked, spit on, and got told that “The world would be a much nicer place without the likes of you here to ruin it for us.” I remember that quote still to this day.
High school wasn’t as bad as the incident in eighth grade, but the physical and emotional bullying continued. I was an outcast throughout my school, no one cared. I would sit underneath the staircase during one of my classes on some days. I would try to sit in the back of the class and avoided public speaking at all costs. I would get chased between classes, and all of this happened without teachers realizing it was going on, I believe, and I was afraid to speak up because they would merely get suspended a day or two, then come back and do worse, because the school I went to cared more about football than student’s safety. It’s been something I’ve lived with my entire life, and I’m almost certain some memories will always stay there. As a result, I have an extremely difficult time trusting people. I’m very self-conscious, and I always feel judged by people.
Evan is an advocate for victims of bullying, self-harm, or ED. You can follow him on Twitter @EvanMerical