Hey Ya'll, my name is Callie Chili. My history with bullying has been treacherous and enlightening. At first, I was the kid everyone wanted to be friends with, even if I was a bit dorky. Because I had the dad that everyone wanted. But when I was 7, my father committed suicide. My "friends" quickly turned on me, and I became the girl whose "daddy was too stupid to work a gun." By the time i reached the 6th grade, my lisp, pre-adolescence awkwardness and slight stutter ranked me to the "#1 dorkiest girl in school," where i was bullied and hazed daily. My sister, who was not outgrowing her boyish figure, began getting tormented for being a "dyke," "she-man," and "lesbo" around the same time, and being related only increased our peers' hatred for us. During the summer of 11th grade, my ugly duckling self became somewhat of a beautiful swan, and my entrance into Junior year was different. However, after my repeated denial of love to my male peers became annoying to them, the bullying began again. This time, it was more sexual harassment. Why I didn't report it at this point, I can only say this, I did not have the words to explain it. No one talked about bullying really to us. I thought the harassment was "normal." As the severity of my bullying escalated, it became clear how non-normal my bullying had become. Before the opening night of my senior year drama club production, I was raped in the basement of a male friends home. I was a virgin. When I finally came out about what happened, my peers reacted with denial and anger towards me. They blamed me for what happened, said I asked for it, and supported my rapist. After, I learned that he was bragging about it, and there were several others "in" on it. When i felt that there was going to be no escape from my hell and was several weeks late on my period, I attempted suicide in my bathtub. Luckily, I survived. Becoming so close to death, i realized what I could have done to my family. I realized what I could have lost. My mom always had told me after dad died that suicide was a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and she was right. I began looking for out-of-state university, but I knew that I needed a new power to make it until graduation. I began pressing myself to help my friends get out of their depressions, and spent many nights on the phone talking peers down from suicide, panic attacks, or just needing to talk. I was thrilled to be accepted into DePaul University in Chicago. As of this year, I am officially a graduate from the Peace, Justice and Conflict Resolution double major with Women and Gender Studies programs. My concentration is in Youth Nonviolent Intervention and Outreach (focused in sexual violence, LBQTQ issues, and class). My time at school has given me the words to address my history of bullying and overcome it with the label of survivor. In addition, I have helped my beautiful sister overcome her history of bullying and take pride in her LBGTQ identity. She has been out and in love for several years now, and has continued the path of helping by getting her partner out of a gay-hating environment. Together, we have created COPE: Critical Outreach Protection and Empowerment. Although we are still in our formative stages (awaiting my return to our Michigan HQ for full lift-off), our mission is to create a nonviolent network of support through workshop education, social networking, conflict resolution training, individual and collective empowerment, fitness motivation, and creative identity exploration. The Bully Project is an inspiring organization doing necessary and great things, and we hope that one day we will be able to add to the strength we have here and end violence for all.
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