Bullying comes in many different forms. There's the kind we see in movies, where a kid is shoved against a locker or in a bathroom stall. Others may have experienced cyberbullying, with people calling them names on social media. But the scariest type of bullying is the kind that's so subtle, it just feels like a normal part of friendships. The truth is, all forms of bullying are wrong, manipulative, and in some cases, traumatizing.
Ateneo Junior High School recently made headlines because a video of a student bullying his classmate has gone viral online. According to GMA, "After making the student choose whether to kiss his shoes and his private part or be beaten, the student proceeded to beat the other."
Ateneo Junior High School Principal Jose Antonio P. Salvador released a statement on Facebook:
In light of this issue, victims of bullying have been bravely sharing their personal stories on social media. Cosmopolitan reached out to anyone who'd be willing to tell their *worst* bullying experiences. Here, five people get real about one of the hardest things they had to go through.
"I changed myself to fit into whatever was 'normal' to them."
The first time I experienced bullying was when I was four years old, in pre-school. I remember I was seated in the playground while watching my classmates play by the jungle gym and swings. Out of nowhere, an older and much bigger student went up to me and pulled me up from the ground by grabbing my collar. She shouted in my face, "Why are you so weird?!" Then threw me on the ground. I was left confused and wondering if I did anything wrong to make her feel that way. It was also the first time I heard the word "weird" used as an insult, and it wasn't the last. As I grew older, there were always a group of girls who'd nitpick how I acted in school. To them, I recited in class too much, I knew too many things, I worked too hard, and I did "things" (whatever those were) just to get noticed.
After a couple of years pretending it didn't bother me, I changed myself to fit into whatever was "normal" to them. I didn't recite as much (if at all), I stopped running for class officer and joining student-led activities, I let my grades drop, and started partying and drinking underage all because I wanted to be fucking cool. When I entered college, free of all the girls that tormented me, I found friends and a community that accepted me for all that I was including my weirdness. There are times, though, that this insecurity creeps up to the 28-year-old me. I sometimes still question if what I'm doing would look cool and acceptable to those girls from my past. But then I shake my head and tell myself, "I'm weird and it's fucking awesome." —Jacinda
"Because I liked to dress up and I was naturally friendly, the girls called me 'malandi' and talked behind my back."
I was bullied in fifth grade, a year after I transferred to my co-ed school. Prior to transferring, I studied abroad and was exposed to a lot of "maarte" stuff: lip gloss, nail polish, short-shorts, you name it. Because I liked to dress up and I was naturally friendly, the girls called me "malandi" and talked behind my back. The guys were the sweetest, though—which made the girls get even nastier. I didn't have anyone to eat lunch with, I cried myself to sleep every night because I felt so alone, and people were spreading rumors about me. I turned to my studies instead, and ended up making it to the honor roll. I turned that negative experience into something good, and it was how I fended for myself. One thing's for sure though: Kids can be incredibly mean. —Jillian
"She apologized to me soon enough and was extra nice to me that whole year to the point where I knew she was faking it."
I was bullied for the first time when I was in grade 2. This girl in my class picked on me a lot because I was quiet and didn't feel like socializing with other girls who weren't my close friends already. It was mostly petty—she would hide some of my things, steal from me, and forcefully hold my head against my desk until she got bored and let me go. I told my parents about it right away and they told me that I needed to tell my homeroom adviser about what was going on. She was very efficient and arranged a meeting with the girl and her parents right away. She apologized to me soon enough and was extra nice to me that whole year to the point where I knew she was faking it, but I told myself that this was better than seeing her get away with everything without being reprimanded.
Like most women my age, I [experienced] sexual harassment multiple times. I do consider this bullying still, and this caused me to develop a more "palaban" attitude. I took up boxing and martial arts knowing that I needed to use my skills to defend myself and the people around me. Although I've never had to get physical with anyone, I have confronted people who harassed my friends and have adopted a zero tolerance policy for disrespect in any relationship I've entered. Bullying is unfortunately still a reality, and it's everyone's responsibility to stand up for victims and ensure that perpetrators get punished accordingly. —Erika
"They didn't know that I could hear and feel them…"
I was bullied in the workplace. As a young adult, fresh out of college, I didn't know a lot of stuff. I was still adjusting to my new environment. My older, more experienced colleagues would talk about me behind my back instead of talking to me directly or calling me out for my shortcomings. They didn't know that I could hear and feel them…and I would feel ganged up on every time. They would always say, 'Ah bata kasi e!' or "Wala pang alam 'yan." It felt so disabling. They were tight, and I felt so alone. After work, I remember crying a lot of times to my mom because of these [experiences]. I dreaded going to work and I would always leave early. I told myself that If ever I become a manager, I would never treat my younger teammates that way. I eventually resigned. Good riddance. —Mells
"I was continuously taunted, embarrassed in public, and was even made to drink soda until I vomited it all out because I was a geek and being a geek wasn't cool."
Back in grade school, there were two people who made my life utterly miserable simply because I liked things they didn't understand—they listened to Mariah, while I had Rachmaninoff in my Walkman (my mom's a pianist so this was the kind of music I grew up listening to); they collected Tiger Beat magazines while I collected Sailor Moon merchandise.
I was continuously taunted, embarrassed in public, and was even made to drink soda until I vomited it all out because I was a geek and being a geek wasn't cool. I don't know how or when I snapped, but I remember finally talking to our guidance counselor about it, and them tearfully asking me to pull back my complaint because there's a huge possibility that they'd get kicked out.
Looking back, I realize that there may have been a lot of things lacking in their lives for them to treat others the way they did. If there's one thing I'm grateful for, however, it's that the experience taught me how to stand up for myself. The confidence I have built through the years has led me to my own tribe who understood and accepted me the way I am. This isn't to romanticize bullying. It's something that has to stop. I only want to tell those who have gone through or are still going through the same thing that you're stronger than this, you're better than them, and you'll be okay." —Charlene