So a wonderful person started this thing called #projectbandtogether because one of her friends was bullied for wearing a headband. This hashtag is a way for the stories of those who have been bullied to share their stories and know that they are not alone. I also wanted to let people know that I won’t be returning to Houghton College. This explains some of that.
So I’m here to tell you mine, and maybe some will think it’s over sharing. I don’t think so. I want people to know that these things happen. These things happen in college. They happen from a young age. They can affect you. I honestly cannot remember a time in my life that I was not struggling with bullying. I also love headbands so this project is definitely something I wanted to be involved in, although it took me quite awhile to type this up because I’m at camp. So here it goes, it’s a long one friends.
I can’t even remember what the earliest instance was. Whether it was my “best friend” making fun of me and telling me I was fat, ugly, annoying, unlovable, and making me self-conscious about the size of my breasts, or older guys making fun of my wild hair. Some would go as far as to tell me that I was “uglier than a horse’s ass” even though I didn’t know them well. Older boys at my brother’s soccer games would shove me around and poured Gatorade down my shirt while calling me ugly. No matter what age I can always remember guys and girls telling me I looked like shit.
Sometimes this would go as far as to include the people who liked me. People who liked me even just as friends were laughed at because they liked me. My childhood “best friend” would manipulate situations and friendships for a worse outcome for me. Often this included her lying to people and trying to date every guy I liked, in turn this lost me a lot of friends and thought that I just wasn’t good enough.
It didn’t stop there with friends though. I would call emotional abuse an extreme extent of bullying, which is something I experienced from some of my exes. One would constantly tell me I was ugly and that no one other than him would ever love me. I was often told by him how lucky I was to have him. When he left he told me I was only worth my breasts. He was degrading, sexist, and verbally abusive. His next girlfriend constantly posted about me, calling me ugly and crazy, and got my old youth group to join in as well. They named the youth group bus the “I hate Bethany Bus.”
So I left that friend group. It helped that I moved, and I thought everything was great. It was for awhile, I met a great guy and we started dating. The problem was after our relationship that the bullying and abuse appeared. He was abusive and malicious, putting me down in every way, and mess with my mental instability. At the end he told me had been trying to get me to kill myself. Why? To see if he could.
So I’ve faced a lot. And though I’ve faced a lot of bullying – never have I experienced it quite like I did while at Houghton College.
Walking into Houghton College I was bullied. I was bullied for the guy I had dated who was a local. I was bullied and gossiped about for the action I took against him with my college. Then…Yik Yak happened. If you don’t know what Yik Yak is, it’s a lovely location based app for college students to post anonymously. Sounds like a grand idea yeah? Nothing could possibly go wrong. Right?
Freshman year I picked up what we call a yik yak name, “Red.” Which makes it easier for people to pick you out on campus (it helps that Houghton is small and I’m one of the few people with red hair.) This name was originally started up by someone being nice to me – but very quickly did I become one of the people Houghton’s Yik Yak focused on – and not in a good way. The posts varied from talking about how ugly I was, how annoying I was, how weirdly I walked, what a bitch I was, how I needed to leave campus, how fat I was, and a couple times talking about and making fun of me being raped and my sexual assault. I was called damaged goods. I was called a liar. I was told to kill myself.
There were times I was afraid to leave my room. There were times I was too embarrassed to leave my room. There were times I would get depressed. There were times I would get suicidal.
I’m here to tell you that this is not okay. I have not had it the worst – not by a long shot. That is not okay. No one should hate themselves. No one should be subjected to destructive words. No one should reach a point where they want to stop living.
But I’m getting through it. I’m doing things that I need to do to be healthy. I’m trying to cope. I’m trying to separate myself from the toxic things. But I need you all to know something.
There are good people. You need these people.There are people who will support you. There are people who will fight for you. It is not an easy thing to overcome on your own. I don’t know if I could have done it without my friends.
While circumstances outside of my control are holding me back from returning to Houghton next semester, my friends have encouraged me to do what’s best for me. My friends do not want me to return to Houghton, because they know the toll it’s taken on me. (Spoiler! one of them is Liv) They know how toxic Houghton and some of it’s students were to me. My friends have fought for me through every step of the way. They have protected me and held me up. I would not be here without them, even the little things have saved me. I don’t even think they know how much their little things were huge to me. Asking me to eat with them? A hug? Being complimented? It meant the world to me.
Be like them. Be the person who protects others. Be the person who helps. Be the person who encourages. Be the person that stops bullying it’s tracks.