I've always been an awkward person. Weird, even. I was targeted for bullying in many places as a kid growing up. A bit of it happened at school, but that was really only just whispers among the popular kids that I was weird, so I could just hate their guts from a distance and they could look at me funny and that was it. No all out assault. Unsettling and frustrating, definitely alienating, but not violent.
I am lucky that way. The only time I really encountered violent bullying was at Camp Ramah, a sleep-away summer camp. Just camp. Just two sessions. Just two three-week slices. No years of torment. I could just walk away. But those six weeks have left a scar on me. It has left me with psychological issues that I am still dealing with to this day.
(Warning, graphic bullying description ahead) Many times, when I have been bullied it has only been by one individual. That's easy enough to deal with because other people will be there to support you. At Camp Ramah, I was bullied by nearly every girl in my age group. They called me lots of things. Lesbian, pervert, loser. They made strong implications that I was 'retar*ed' when I hung out at the special needs cabin as a refuge. They belittled my accomplishments. They harassed me and took pictures of me when it got so bad they made me cry. They threw sand in my face. I LIVED with these people. There was literally no escape. The worst of it, though, was when they intimidated the few friends I did have into ceasing to be friends with me. It really shook my trust in people in a way I never really thought about till just this moment as I'm writing this down.
Telling the counselors had little to no effect. All they did was give everyone a lecture on not bullying. There was NO REPERCUSSIONS FOR ANY OF MY ABUSERS. I don't use that word lightly. If someone is systematically bullying and harassing you, that is a form of abuse and should be treated as such. Never forget that. Harassment and abuse are both crimes, and you have the right to demand protection from that from any authority figures that may offer it. And if they refuse to offer that protection, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO DEFEND YOURSELF.
I'm 23 now, and I've been able to find lots weird people who like me for my weirdness and I like them for their weirdness. You don't have to wait until you're 23 to find people who get you, though! Find a group online that you share a common interest with and get involved in the community. If you have social anxiety, talking to people online can be a lot easier than talking to them in person.
Finally, I want to say to anyone who's struggling with bullying right now, if you need someone to talk to, feel free to contact me at on facebook. I'm not a trained therapist or anything, but if you need someone to talk to, give me a holler.
By writing some words below, you are showing your support and letting everyone know they're not alone.