My name is Julia, I am almost 22 years old, and I am in my senior year of college. I have been bullied off and on throughout my life. I was always the introverted, intelligent, good girl. I preferred having a few very close friends, than having many acquaintances. And I blossomed later than a lot of people my age. There were moments of bullying in my life that have stuck with me, even traumatized me. When I was a little kid, strangers at a park made fun of my crooked teeth and called me names. When I was in fifth grade, one of my best friends practically forgot about me because of her friendship with the new girl. When I was just entering puberty, two girls at camp teased me about my leg hair while my best friend just looked on silently. I became self-conscious and shameful of my appearance and of my body, and I became more distant from people. When I went away to college, I became best friends with my roommate. She started bullying me at the end of freshman year, and I didn't even realize it. She constantly criticized me and made me feel guilty and ashamed about normal, healthy things - growing up, trying new things, letting loose, discovering myself, going to parties, flirting with guys and dating. By the second semester of sophomore year she suddenly decided to completely ignore me, while we were still living together. She didn't look at me, talk to me, go to class with me, eat with me, or respect me in any way. She was a bully, and I was one of her helpless victims. Because of this bullying, I fell into a downward spiral of depression and anorexia. The eating disorder was my only way of coping with the distress. I was lucky to have the support and love of my parents, who listened to me during my struggles and helped me get into a treatment program when the semester ended. I am proud to say that I have been in recovery (and in therapy) for nearly two years. It hasn't been easy. I have struggled with relapse, other self-destructive coping behaviors, and the loss of another friend who also turned out to be a bad person. But I have overcome it. I am a stronger, more self-aware, happier, and healthier person. I know a lot more about who I am and what I want. And I know how to protect myself and stand up against bullies. I know I can reach out and get help. I know I can say no and confront someone who is being hurtful. I know I can make a difference.
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