There's no title for this.

I've been bullied since I started first grade. The first time I remember being bullied, it was by first grade teacher. On one occasion, I went to him to ask about the questions he'd printed for us to do on the chalkboard. Once I asked him my question, he drew the entire class's attention to explain how ridiculous the question was. I felt small, even for a seven-year-old. And it didn't stop there. After asking if I could use the restroom and being denied, I wet myself in the classroom. That's when the bullying from my peers started. 

They followed me into a stall when the class took it's bathroom break an hour later and taunted me about the stain on my pants. I had to be sent home because it was too late in the day for my parents to bring me new clothes. I was secretly glad. 

I was invited to a birthday party during my second grade year by a girl whom I'd never really thought paid attention to me much. She wasn't mean to me, she just didn't acknowledge me. I was still excited for the party, though. It was a slumber party and it was a lot of fun for the first few hours. We played games, watched movies, and sang karaoke. At one point during the party, the girl hosting and her friend accused me of picking my nose and then forced me to coat my fingers in hot sauce so I wouldn't do it again. I had to keep reminding myself not to touch my eyes. The morning after the party, myself along with a few other girls from our class woke up covered in condiments and with the clothes from our bags stuffed in the freezer. The girl hosting the party and her friends had planned this in advance. 

After a while, I moved out of the town where these things happened and things got better for a little while. I had a few good friends and I was doing really well in my new school. It turned out that one of these friends had been bullied herself throughout most of her schooling career due to an non-contagious skin disorder. In order to cope with the constant ridicule, she became very aggressive. In middle school, she bullied other people. One of these people was a girl in a few of our classes who was frequently tormented at school due to the fact that she had an autistic brother. In locker rooms and at lunch, two of the girls I was friends with would make comments to her about how she smelled and pointedly move away from her should she seat near us. 

This is where I feel terrible. I know what it's like to be bullied. In fact, the same girl that was bullying the girl because of her brother had bullied me as well. I know how isolating and awful it feels to always be afraid that someone's going to throw a mean comment at you. But, while they were saying those comments to her, I didn't speak up. I didn't tell them to stop. Sure, I didn't participate, but I might as well have. I didn't do anything to help her. Any defense I ever gave her to them was when she wasn't around to hear it. It was inexcusable. I should have said something. I should have stopped them.

I apologized to her before I moved, but it was a very small fraction of what I should have done. I told her I was sorry, for what they said and for the fact that I didn't stop them. I remember how sadly she smiled at me when she told me it was okay, she was used to it. It wasn't okay and she shouldn't have been used to it. I told her that, too. And I think she sort of knew it, because she nodded again. I wish so much that I could go back and stand up for her like I should have from the beginning. I haven't heard from her recently, but I really hope that someone had the courage to do what I should have done and helped her. I really hope that. 

Before that girl began bullying her, she'd been bullying me as well. About a month into our friendship, she'd sort of started it. It was just little comments about how much I weighed or how annoying my laugh was. But then the comments turned into punching my arms and legs and started leaving bruises. There was even one time we were walking down the road and she tried to push me in front of a car. I didn't tell anyone about it. I didn't even tell my parents until I turned eighteen and we'd moved away. 

So I've been bullied and I've sat by while other people bullied someone who didn't deserve it. I know both what it feels like to be that scared and to feel that lonely and how awful it feels to know that you could have stopped someone feeling that way and didn't do it. Bullying is serious, it hurts people deeper than can be put into words. And I don't hesitate to stand up for people now. I won't let myself do that again. Even though I'm in college now, I still see the signs of bullying in my university. If it isn't stop in elementary school, middle school, and high school, it doesn't just stop itself. It keeps going and gets worse. I sincerely hope that this portion of my story is helpful in some way because the stories I've found on here already have been very helpful and inspirational to me.

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