Have you experienced bullying and how did you cope?
Hello, and thank you so much for hosting me on your blog! I appreciate it!
I was a cute, slightly built child growing up in Australia. Seriously, you have to ask?
The short answer to that is that when I was younger, I fought back. I fought hard and sometimes I got bloody and beaten, and other times the other person quit fighting so I left them alone. The only thing I can say is I never started a fight. I’ve stepped in on way too many battles that weren’t mine and gotten a range of responses from ‘thank you’ to ‘go fuck yourself.’
(I just asked my boyfriend about this, and he laughed and said “Never started a fight, eh? But did you ever consider backing down from one?” I was taken aback by that response, and had to admit, no. The option had never occurred to me.)
So, you see, I’m not exactly a poster-child for non-violent conflict resolution. But I’m trying to improve. Having my children grow up has forced me to confront an even more insidious form of bullying; social exclusion. This came recently from a person who found out I’m gay and didn’t invite my kids to their kid’s birthday party, when they invited everyone else. They even pulled me aside and explained that to me. There wasn’t a damned thing I could do about it. If someone doesn’t invite you to their home, you can’t go, can you? What I didn’t expect was what happened after I carefully explained to my kids what had happened and why it happened. I pointed out to them that it wasn’t their fault. What I underestimated was my childrens’ fury on MY behalf. Here I was worrying about them. I hadn’t expected them to get mad on my behalf. I hadn’t anticipated that they, being confident little tykes, would tell ALL their mates at school quite openly what had happened and why.(Way to come out to the whole school, yay.)
I’d like to say no-one turned up at the party, but lots of parents didn’t find out about this until after the party had happened. Afterwards, the person concerned threatened me with a libel suit if I didn’t stop answering parents honestly when they asked why I wasn’t there. I pointed out that truth is anabsolute defence against slander or libel and asked if they really wanted their case to go to court and hit the papers? They asked if I wanted the fact that I was gay publicized like that and I countered by asking if they wanted the fact that they were a bigoted arsehole publicized like that? At that point people grabbed us both and reminded me about ‘non-violent conflict resolution’ so I left it at that.
But then, to compound the issue, my kids came home the next day and said nobody was talking to this person’s child. I told them to go back to school the next day and put a stop to all the nonsense and invite the kid to play with them again because this child had done nothing. Had a birthday, poor kid.Had an ass of a parent to put up with too. But not actually done anything wrong.
The thing is, this whole situation brought some things home to me. Sometimes there seems to be nothing you can do about bullying, but the best thing is to spread the truth about what really went on. Even if it embarrasses you, even if you don’t WANT to tell everyone why you are being bullied? Well, damn good question. But when I admitted to those parents that this guy had excluded my kids because I was gay, not ONE of them seemed surprised by the fact that I was gay. Rather, their reaction was that he was an ass. Turns out he had bullied quite a few people in the school and all of them had been afraid to speak up before then.
Of course, the issue is much more complex than I can cover here, but this has been my most recent experience of bullying (sadly, one of many). It’s insidious, it feeds on lies and it can rapidly poison an entire community. It’s up to all of us to counter with turning over the rock and exposing these creatures for what they are. I guess the best thing I can say about my experiences is I can help my kids deal with bullying because I know a fair bit about the mindset. But also, there’s one other thing: there are far more decent people out there, than there are bullies. All you have to do is ask for help and you’ll be amazed how people will rally around you.
Sequel to Billabong and Walkabout. Book Three in the series.
New South Wales, Australia, 1876. As captured outlaws, Jim Kelly and Mark Turner face the gallows. Help comes from an unexpected quarter, but their hasty escape goes wrong and now Jim’s life hangs by a thread. Mark is driven by desperation to form an alliance with an infamous bushranger who may hold clues to his mysterious past. But as Jim and Mark’s relationship intensifies, it is also tested. Their secret is discovered, tempers fray, and jealousy flares.
Author Bio: Jack Byrne is an Australian who lives and works in the Australian outback training horses, doing farm work, and trying to stay out of trouble. He writes from experience (sometimes unfortunate experience!) and has been shot at (“a case of mistaken identity”) and bitten by a snake before. He writes on a laptop with a satellite connection and likes to ride or drive out to locations he is writing about to get a real feel for the surroundings.
He is happy to hear from readers. He can’t promise an instant reply as he goes out working sometimes for a week or so, but he will get back to readers as soon as he can.
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