WHY DID PEOPLE BULLY OTHERS?
It was a question I had thought about often. Did they feel some sort of satisfaction when they saw others in pain? Or perhaps were they being bullied by others and decided to bully others in order not to feel so helpless? Despite all the hate I received on a daily basis, I didn't think I could physically force myself to purposefully hurt and injure another person; whether it was with my fists or my words. Did bullies not feel any kind of remorse for their victims? Or did they, and they just ignored the feeling?
Did they sleep comfortably at night, knowing that they were ruining someone's life? Who gave them this power; the power to control someone's life? To manipulate them into doing whatever they desired?
I didn't think people realized how hard it was to stop the bullying. When the school refused to take action to help the victim, what was the helpless student or young child supposed to do?
The people they looked up to had let them down.
Now they were alone to fend for themselves. How was it and why was it that bullying was becoming more and more of a popular trend? Did kids think it was cool to potentially make someone else's life hell?
Maybe I just didn't get it.
There wasn't exactly one moment in which all of 'this' started. It was more of a gradual process. A shove here. An insult there. A few rumors and gossip spread around the school. Although, soon enough, all of these incidents or accidents, as my fellow classmates liked to call them, started adding up and multiplying. I wasn't sure if there was a particular feature about me that evoked these feelings of hatred in my classmates. I wasn't sure if it was the way I acted.
I think it was just because they could.
No one was stopping them.
What I didn't understand was that the students actually seemed to enjoy bullying me. . . Or at least the smiles and grins on their face seemed to say so. I didn't like to think I was weak. I wasn't someone who sat back and simply accepted the fact that they hated me.
In the beginning, I did fight back. If they shoved me, I shoved back. If they insulted me, I insulted back. I wasn't someone to be put down so easily. But as time passed, and more and more students started engaging in this activity, the harder it became for me. They saw it almost like an activity or an event. Everyday that passed, it seemed more and more students joined in, until nearly the entire school was against me.
I struggled on a daily basis and they saw that. They took advantage of the fact that I was small, alone and weaker. It went from something small, to being shoved against a locker, to being punched repeatedly in the stomach.
Now, it had become normal.
Some may be horrified by what happened in this school but if someone was exposed to a certain situation over and over again, it tended to become more normal for them. Such as, if a child grew up being abused or watching someone being abused, they were twenty five percent more likely to abuse someone themselves when they grew up. Because to them, it wasn't something wrong or abnormal.
Pulling my hood up to cover my face, I pushed the school doors open, immediately angling my head towards the floor. I bumped into a few people, to which they gave me a dirty looks, but I ignored them and quickly hurried to reach the end of the hallway where I could escape to the safety of my classroom. My heart thudded in my chest in anticipation as I passed a few of my bullies. I held my breath as I stepped past them, in fear that they might catch a glimpse of my face.
"Hey! Look who it is!" A guy suddenly shouted, catching everyone's attention. I shut my eyes briefly in annoyance as I glared at him, wanting to punch him for making everyone turn my way. I lowered my head, tugging on my hood, trying to ignore the predatory gazes of everyone around me. Their sharp gazes all landed on me. Predator and prey. I was the prey. My skin prickled in anticipation of what was going to happen next.
"The Freak is back!" He declared again, straightening his back and heading in my direction.
Two minutes into school and already I was a target. I clenched the straps of my bag tighter as the cocky guy started sauntering towards me. His jet black hair was jelled back, with his black jeans hung so loosely on him, I thought they would fall off. He had a smug smirk playing on his lips, his dark eyes narrowed on me. His target. He knew everyone was watching, their hands on their phones, ready to start recording in case anything interesting happened. He basked in the words and looks of encouragement he was already receiving. He lifted his head a little higher, his shoulders pushed back as he seemed almost prideful.
He wasn't someone who came after me often. In fact, he usually stayed out of my way. Today, however, it seemed he needed approval from everyone else. You know what they say: new year, new you.
"Go on Zach!" Someone called. Loud banging on the lockers accompanied the loud shouts of encouragement. My stomach churned in disgust as everyone watched in suspense. He stood in front of me, blocking my path. Slowly, I lifted my head, my eyes trailing from his neatly pressed jumper to his sharply angled face. Unfortunately, while my hatred for Zachary was beginning to grow, I couldn't deny that he wasn't good looking. He had big looking brown eyes, with a small piercing in his eyebrow. Yet, his personality was completely off putting.
I clenched my jaw, locking eyes with him. His lips were curled upwards, in a small smirk that looked anything but friendly. He lifted a hand and pushed my shoulder not so gently. I stumbled back, while small sniggers and laughs could be heard. I felt anger ripple through me but I pushed it down.
"What's the rush Freak?" He cocked his head to the side, asking innocently. "I just want to talk." He blinked a few times, forcing a smile on his face as we stared at each other.
"Do I look like I want to?" I hissed quietly, narrowing my eyes. "Move the fuck out of my way. I actually have class to go to. You should try it sometime."
I heard a few gasps from some of the students and rolled my eyes. All I had to was say hi to him and immediately people would criticize me.
"What a bitch." Someone whispered loudly.
"Who does she think she is, speaking to Zach like that?"
Zach's face suddenly changed. Gone was the cocky, amused expression. His face dropped. Now, he glared back at me, a dangerous glint in his eyes. He stepped closer, trying to intimidate me.
I didn't step back.
Instead I hardened my glare, and raised an eyebrow, challenging him. My lips lifted at their corners as amusement came over me. He was always trying hard to appear as someone he wasn't. He wanted to fit in so badly he would do anything.
"You." He whispered lowly. "Do not tell me what to do." His dark eyes bored into mine as we had a silent stare off for a moment.
I had to admit, he seemed to have changed from last year. Something seemed more off about him. Before, it was like a puppy trying to be a lion maybe. Now, something in his eyes told me not to push him too far.
I heard the familiar clicks of cameras and I clenched my fists tighter. I dug my nails into my skin painfully. Pain ricocheted through my hand but I ignored it. Zach's eyes trailed down to my fists and he chuckled.
"Pathetic." He announced before pushing me again. I knew he was testing me; seeing how far he could go before I snapped. I stumbled back before he pushed me again.
My blood felt boiling hot as did my face. I was being humiliated in front of all these people but I didn't care much about that. I wasn't someone who enjoyed violence, in any form. But instead of reaching out and lapping him across the face, I leaned my head back a little, smiled, and spat right in his face.
Gasps of surprise were heard in the hallway and the whispers that had been going around stopped. I watched my small balll of spit land right on his cheek. Time seemed to slow down as he blinked slowly, not believing I had just spat at him. Zach froze and slowly lifted his hand, and wiped my spit off roughly. He looked down at his hand before looking back at me. He stood silently looking at his hand for all of two seconds, before roughly grabbing my collar and pinning me against a locker. A loud bang sounded through the crowded hallway.
"Shit." I hissed through my teeth as I felt a stinging pain through my back. The metal lock dug into my back but I ignored it. Zach tightened his grip on me as he pulled me away only to shove me against the locker again. I gritted my teeth in anger.
"You little bitch." He hissed, purposefully raising his voice so others could hear him. He slowly raised a fist and I knew what was coming. "You're going to pay for that."
I watched as he pulled his fist backwards and before I could even blink, landed a punch on my stomach. I gritted my teeth as I felt a searing pain spread through my lower stomach. I clenched my eyes shut, leaning my head back against the locker. While he appeared like someone who could barely pack a punch, I had to admit; he definitely knew how to.
"Come on." Zach muttered quietly to me. Our faces were close. His dark eyes peered into mine and he had a wolfish grin on his face. "You know I love hearing those screams."
"Fuck. . . You." I hissed, trying to regain my breath as he let another fist pummel into me. I squeezed my eyes shut in pain. I even began hearing some shouts of encouragement from the other students. I didn't even bother feeling hurt by it. Instead, I fell limp against his tight hold. I didn't try and fight it, i just let it happen. Struggling would; only tire me out. It wasn't like any one here would step in to help.
"I'd rather you do that darling." He remarked crudely.
"You son of a bitch." I growled as he suddenly dropped me onto the floor. The edge of a lock scraped my elbow but I barely felt it. Blood oozed down my arm, dripping onto my jeans. I glared up at him while he had the audacity to smile down at me. I wrapped my arms around my stomach protectively as I tried to stand up.
He only winked at me before sauntering off to class just as the bell rang. I watched as some of the popular students began patting him on the back. I heard them laughing and praising him for what he did. He looked back at me one last time, me on the floor. His face fell slightly for a moment as he stared at me before he turned back around and continued walking.
Students quickly began putting their phones away. No doubt I would see the video later on Facebook or Instagram. They always ended up on Social Media somehow. Apparently watching someone get beaten up was fun and entertaining nowadays. Some people shot me pitiful looks and began to idle behind as if wanting to help.
"What the hell are you guys waiting for?" I shouted hoarsly. "Get lost." I was slouched against the lockers on the floor. I had no energy or motivation to get up. My head began to ache and I began to massage my temples. The few students looked guiltily at me before hesitantly walking off. While not everyone in the school hated me, or even disliked me, a lot of them kept quiet for the sake of their own quiet lives. They knew if they got involved, thye too would become victim to the bullying I faced everyday. I didn't necessarily blame them; it wasn't their fault that this was happening to me. I more so blame myself for not taking serious action when it began. I always played it off as something unimportant.
It was only a joke.
It was only a small push.
They were only pranking you.
Yet, I soon came to the realisation that these weren't jokes. I certainly didn't find them humorous in any way.
"Fucking assholes." I muttered under my breath. I reached over and grabbed my bag that had fallen on the floor, and zipped it open. I brought some medical supplies with me everyday to school. As sad as it sounded, it did come in handy, in situations such as these.
I shuffled through my bag, pulling out some Arnica cream. Gently, with trembling hands I pulled up my top a little. I winced when I saw the harsh, red and raw skin. I squeezed some out of the tube and with shaky hands, pressed it onto the sensitive skin. I hissed through my teeth at the slight burn but after a moment, I relaxed a little.
I pulled my top back down and carefully lifted myself off the ground. I knew it would leave another bruise but it wasn't the worst beating I ever had. So, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I hauled my bag over my shoulder and started slowly walking towards my Maths class.
Being late was a usual thing for me. The teachers were used to it even and sometimes didn't even bother asking me why.
They knew exactly why.
The teachers in this school were useless. They didn't do anything to even try and stop the bullying. They simply sat in the Teacher's Lounge and drank their tea. They didn't care because I was pretty much the only student being bullied in the school. Our school was small, we only had over a hundred students. So, I assumed they didn't want to go through the hassle of dealing with the bullying simply for one student.
I didn't care much as long as I graduated. My mother needed me. In order to provide for her, I needed to graduate and get a good paying job. I was working at the moment at a small little bar, but the pay wasn't good and it certainly wasn't enough for my mother. My mother's medication was not going to pay for itself. But it was all I could do for the moment and she knew that. I had a family to care for, that needed me and counted on me. I didn't have time for self pity or to worry about myself.
I sighed as I reached my classroom and gently knocked on the door before walking in. Mr Smith raised a bushy brow at me. Mr. Smith was actually a nice guy. He was young, maybe in his early thirties. He had a lot of patience, something you definitely needed, when teaching our class. I liked him because he usually brought us treats on Friday's. Something small, like a small packet of Skittles or Haribo's.
"Miss White." He said, facing me. "Do you have an explanation as to why you are. . ." He looked up to the clock. "Ten minutes late to my class?"
The classroom was silent and I felt my face burn slightly in embarrassment.
"I was injured Sir." I spoke. I wasn't someone who lied. The teachers knew exactly why I was late but they sometimes felt the need to ask anyway.
Mr. Smith faltered for a moment before clearing his throat. "Take your seat Miss White. And try to be on time to class for once."
I ignored his jab and walked over to my desk, dumping my bag on the floor. The class resumed as normal; Mr Smith writing equations and explanations on the board while the majority of the class just kind of stared and did nothing. I discreetly rolled my eyes at them before taking out my notepad and jotting down all the notes. It was irritating because I knew half these people would come up to me just before Final's, looking for these exact notes.
The class went by quickly and before I knew it the bell rang and I sighed in relief. Mr. Smith shouted over us. "Don't forget! Homework is on the board. I expect it done for tomorrow morning!"
Half the students didn't even hear him and the ones who did simply rolled their eyes and ignored him. I stuffed my books in my bag and walked out, not before saying thank you. I was raised properly, unlike the majority of the people here.
The hallways were packed as usual as everyone tried to get to the cafeteria first. I lowered my head, trying to discreetly make my way through the crowd. I think I had had enough confrontation for one day.
I pushed open the cafeteria doors and sighed as I saw the long line. Despite being a target to practically everyone in school, I hadn't had time to pack a lunch this morning and I was starving. I made my way to the line, ignoring the disgusted looks I was receiving.
The cafeteria suddenly quieted down. The sound of heels clicking suddenly grabbed my attention and my shoulders deflated. That familiar sound was practically engrained into my brain.
"Anna!" A sweet, nasally voice called out and I closed my eyes, willing her to go away. A hand suddenly landed on my shoulder and I jumped, as I recognized the red, sharp talons. I slowly turned and smiled falsely at the raven haired girl.
"Jasmine." I replied, in the same high pitched tone. Her lips tightened in a scowl as she realized I was imitating her.
Jasmine Winters was someone I disliked. She often contributed to the bullying, enjoying watching me beinng bullied. I didn't know much about her. She wasn't stereotypically the rich mean girl, who tried to be perfect. She was simply another girl. Her parents were both teachers as far as I knew. She had a brother, Josh, who was working in a shop in town. She was perfectly average, like me.
Yet, she was liked amongst many. Maybe it was her looks. Despite how much I hate her, she was very pretty. Her long hair reached down to her waist, her large brown eyes seemed innocent and doe like. She almost resembled an angel, however I knew first hand she was anything but.
She digged her nails into my shoulder. "How have you been?" She asked sweetly, smiling at me. "How was your summer?"
I rolled my eyes and shrugged her hand off me. "What do you want?" She never spoke to me unless she wanted something, or to publicly humiliate me. I wasn't sure which one it was this time. Her glossy lips suddenly smiled as she saw something behind me. I turned to see what she was looking at before I felt someone dump something over me.
I gasped as cold water soaked me to the bone. Students began laughing at my expense as I stood there, still as a statue. I was beyond humiliated and embarrassed. My bag, hair and clothes were all dripping wet. My lips trembled as people began to smile, laugh and joke about me. I bit the inside of my cheek to stop my chin from wobbling.
Jasmine leaned forward and whispered in my ear. "That's what happens when you try and mess with my boyfriend."
I gave her a disbelieving look as she strutted off back to her table, next to Zach. He smirked coldly at me and I quickly averted my gaze. She sat down right on his lap, winding her hands around his neck. As far as I knew, they weren't dating before. So was his show this morning just to get her to notice him? He usually didn't sit at the popular table.
I felt pity as I looked at him; desperate to fit in. Jasmine shot me a nasty glare, and dragged Zach's face closer to hers as they began making out. I averted my eyes, not wanting to see the show.
"Nice bra Freak!" Someone called out. Laughter followed the comment. More crude remarks were being shouted and I felt myself shiver in disgust. I looked down and saw my white top was now completely see through and my black bra was on show. I took a deep breath, calming myself as I picked up my bag and silently began walking out. It took a lot for me not to turn back and scream at all the disgusting, hateful students. But I wouldn't stoop to their level.
I knew these people wanted me to get angry.
They wanted me to retaliate.
But I was drained.
I simply didn't have it in me anymore.