When I was around ten years old, I was at a park with an older girl who bullied me relentlessly in the first grade. She was a few years older than me. We had gone there together because her mother was one of my mother’s best friends. We were expected to get along. (Cont’d)
This park was famous for having a cement slide built up into the hill on the east side of the park, that curved around and around. We used to sit on big pieces of wax paper and go down the slide to make ourselves go faster. It really worked.
The slide ended in a square pit of sand, in case you needed a soft landing if you flew off the slide at the end.

There were generally older adults around and kids were pretty good about taking turns going down the slide at of staggered pace.
So this day that we were there – Vanessa and me with maybe one or two other kids, I can’t quite remember – I was going down the slide. Vanessa was the bully. She was maybe 15 or 16 at the time.

She deliberately jumped on the slide right after me.
I was sitting at the bottom of the slide, ending my turn, my feet in the sand. I remember sitting up straight. I was about to try to get up. Vanessa came down so fast and put her feet up so that she could slam me in the back with the force of her entire body.
She had put up the soles of her feet so that she could slam into me, fast and hard into my little back.

I remember the force of her impact and then my body was filled with so much pain that I couldn’t breathe or move. It must’ve been minutes that passed.
My consciousness was so filled with pain that I couldn’t focus on anything else. I think I fell over. No one came over to help me. It was blinding. All my other senses shut off. I think I remember Vanessa laughing.
All I wanted was for us an adult to come over and check on me. I probably should’ve gone to the hospital. I assumed my back was shattered.

I thought, that’s it. I’m going to die in this little sand lot.
Some minutes passed, and the pain began to subside. At this point I think I was making sounds of distress and tried to explain that I couldn’t breathe. That’s the other thing – I thought I was going to suffocate.
I didn’t expect this, but I’m actually crying my eyes out trying to write this thread. This is for all of you who were bullied and told to toughen up.

And this is for all you with bullying in your past – you owe restitution to your victims. Not just an apology.
I think I remember asking to go to the doctor. Or wanting to go to the hospital. No one took me. My father was rarely home and my mother was out of the picture. I remember feeling so incredibly alone. I just wanted to die.
Do you know what it’s like experiencing such incredible pain as a small child with no loving parent or responsible adult around, and no one taking you seriously? Was devastating.
Somatic therapists and bodyworkers say that trauma is permanently stored in the body physiologically. I’ve really started to believe this over the last few years and I wonder if some of my back and neck problems are a result of that trauma.
And what enrages me is when forner bullies “apologize“ to their former victims years later - and we are expected to forgive them and move forward together.

Is that enough, if there’s been physical violence and brutalization? Is that really enough? Where is the restitution?
I think, some years later, Vanessa the bully apologized to me. She felt badly for having bullied me, she told me. I wasn’t old enough to understand what her apology meant or how I should process it so I accepted it and simply said “OK. “
Yet here I am, years later, with those intrusive memories of what happened frequently intruding into my mind. That’s PTSD. That is absolutely PTSD, it fits the clinical description to a T.
So what would restitution mean? She could certainly pay for therapy. She could pay for somatic therapy. Do I ask her? Do I demand it from her? I think there’s a case to be made that victims have the right to restitution.
Because I suffered untold amounts from her years of verbal intimidation years before she slammed into me that cold day at the park.

So when you see authority figures telling kids to “toughen up “if they are bullied, some of those kids aren’t resilient.
Some of them don’t have skills because they were never taught or coached to have coping skills. And why should even resilient kids with good coping skills EVER suffer bullying?
And what irks me is that some of your prominent faves on here, with 20,000 or more followers, are self-confessed former bullies. But that’s all they say. They never talk about their victims. They never talk about restorative justice.
And I think they should. If they’re having those conversations with their former victims in private, great. It doesn’t all have to be public. And I don’t care that bullies can come from trauma themselves, that’s not the point.
We don’t forgive sexual assault survivors who go on to commit rape and sexual assault themselves.

if you were bullied, you have a right to claim your trauma. You have a right to be honest about it, always.
You have a right to be heard.

You have a right to want restorative justice. You have a right to want to beat the shit out of your tormentors.

You have a RIGHT to ask them to pay for your therapy bills.
You have a right to immediate counseling and care if you’ve experienced a bullying episode as a kid/teen/adult. You have an absolute perfect right to tell people that you’re not OK.
And you have a right to demand, as an adult, that your tormentor is held accountable. You have a right not to forgive and forget.

We know bullying causes kids to suicide, causes teens to suicide, causes adults to suicide. We know this so well right now.
So who is having conversations about restorative justice for victims of bullying? Am I the first want to bring it up? If you see or know of any other people who are talking about this, I would love to know.
Because today that trauma is coming up acutely again for me today, and I’m crying my guts out trying to write this thread. I can feel the physical pain all over again. That’s how PTSD works.
And I think we should start asking people who say on here “I was a former bully,” did you make / attempt to make restitution to your victims?

Did you do more than just apologize?

Did you ask your victim what they need?
Did you offer to pay for therapy or medical services for your former victims?

Did you express remorse without bringing your own trauma into it as an excuse?
Because that is what I want to start to see.

A brilliant woman on here recently coined the phrase “living apology. “

An apology that isn’t discrete and final, but a process of accountability. And improvement. And continuing accountability.
And why do we automatically accept and demand no further explanation when your faves on here say “I was a former bully. “ Or “reformed bully.” Why do we nod in sympathy and talk about how traumatized they must have been to do that?

What about their victims?
I want justice for their victims.

I don’t care that these self-described reformed bullies are active in social justice circles, popular, active in trying to reform society, active in anti-racism work, whatever, etc.

It should NEVER just end there, do you hear me?
Where is the interrogation? Where is the accountability?

That girl was recently violently pushed off the bridge and who hit the water and broke multiple bones? The older girl that did that to her? I want to smash her face in.
The rage I felt at that news story, and when I heard the older girl trying to deny what she did, and the triggering effect that it had on me where I repeatedly relived my own similar trauma for weeks – no one should have to suffer like that. Not the girl who was pushed, not me.
Not any victim of bullying. Not in grade school, not in high school, not in college, not ingraduate school, not in the workplace, not in your private life, not in your circle of friends. NEVER.
And that is why I have an anathema to pile ons on social media. On here. Anywhere online. Sometimes I participate in them if it involves racism callouts, etc., but I feel sick the whole time.
Recent random example: apparently people were pissed at me for not immediately jumping on the pile on on Jamie when scamcon broke.

I can’t. I just constitutionally can’t do that because I’ve been on the receiving end of that before. So shut the hell up.
I processed my grief and anger in private in person at first with @JaneFink before I started commenting about it online. And who are you people to expect me to perform rage and disappointment in a way exactly like yours on Twitter ?
Gamergate taught us that none of us have the luxury of being able to completely ignore what is said about us online or in person anymore. Because of search result ranking, etc.
So these poor kids/teens who commit suicide because of online bullying?

Even after they are done being bullied and dead, do you understand how retraumatizing it is to have their loved ones come across that shit still online?
How do we forensically handle that?

I don’t have the answers. But I do know that I have lots of questions and whatever we do now isn’t enough.
But I do propose a whole new conversation being opened up about bullying: what do we do when people say they are bullying someone or that they are reformed bullies? How do we make sure that their victims are still alive or safe?
And of course Comicsgate, Gamergate’s precious cinnamon roll younger brother: both are mass harassment and bullying of the most horrific kind. The resilience of the victims is staggering , but please understand that that kind of harassment is going to have long-term effects.
I can’t undo the trauma that was done to me. Victims of online or in person bullying can’t undo the trauma.
But I do want to see conversations around building a model of restorative justice. And what counts as restorative justice is of course going to differ from person to person.


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