Bullying: Why I can’t just ‘get over it and move on’

Last weekend I decided to confront someone about the way they had been talking about me for months behind the closed doors of a Facebook group. I told them that the things they were saying were not just unfounded and with no real cause. They were vile and much the same as I had heard being bullied as a child all those years ago in the school playground. Their response?

‘People are bored of the whole bullying thing. It happened, it was shit. Get over it and move on.’

I hadn’t mentioned my childhood bullying but they obviously realised that their behaviour amounted to that – bullying adults. They really couldn’t understand why, even now, 16 years after leaving school and three years after writing about being bullied, I was still talking about it. Why being bullied was still a topic of conversation for me.

Bullying: Why I can't just 'get over it and move on'
Being Bullied

Does bullying still affect me years later?

You see, being bullied isn’t something that affects me now in day to day life. It’s something that happened and it definitely shaped years of my life and contributed to the person I am today. But, it happened such a long time ago. I’ve written about it and it was cathartic. I should just get over it and move on, shouldn’t I?

But really, how to move on from bullying?

I’ve heard people saying the same to others with medical conditions, people who have children who suffer with medical conditions, people who are abused, who are victims of crime, who are in a traumatic event or who lose family members in different circumstances. That they should all talk about it to friends or family or a service like BetterHelp, or write about it and then just get over it and move on.

But that’s the thing. Whenever you experience something, whenever you feel wronged by society, the government, health care or anything else. Whenever you lose someone, whenever you have something terrible happen to you – it changes everything. And it has a huge impact on your mental health.

First, you come to terms with what has happened, you find out why it happened and you try to mend things as best you can – your home, your family, yourself. But then you realise there are other people out there, other people who may have experienced the same thing or who may experience the same thing in the future.

And you want, more than anything else, to stop other people going through what you did. You want to make change, raise awareness and make the world a better place for your children, and your children’s children.

Bullying: Why I can't just 'get over it and move on'

And that is the same for adults who were bullied as children.

But, the childhood bullying effects on adults is huge and varies from person to person. I am incredibly lucky that I am one of the adults who were bullied as a child who has walked away pretty unscathed.

I have dulled memories of everything that happened and I still have issues with confidence and meeting new people but aside from that I am pretty scar free. And I am lucky. Bullying recovery can be such a long, hard process for many.

Can you stop how bullying affects adulthood?

Instead of just getting over it and moving on you do what you can. You talk about what happened, the reasons why it may have happened and what life is like now. You talk about the little things that could have made such a big difference and you hope that by sharing your story it may make that difference to someone, somewhere.

It may stop them being mean to the little kid at school, it may stop a child having to eat their lunch in the school toilets and it may make someone go and sit with that child who is by themselves all the time. It may prompt a parent to talk to their child and it might make a child open up to their parents, to their teachers or to a friend. It might just help a little.

Gandhi once said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. I don’t talk about my experience with bullying to give myself something to write about, to have something to post on social media or to make myself feel good. I write about it and I talk about it to make a stand – and to make change. I don’t want other children feeling the way I felt as a child.

Why was I bullied?

I was bullied relentlessly because I was ginger, because I was shy, because I had braces, a large forehead and glasses. I was bullied because I didn’t have designer trainers, because I wasn’t stick thin and because I lived in a council house.

I was bullied for pretty much anything the children at school could think of. But, I am glad that I went through everything I did before the times of social media, before your life, even as a teenager, is amplified by Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

I know that if I went through what I did in the world of today I would have found it harder to cope, I wouldn’t have been able to get away from the abuse and those hours at home in the evening, instead of being respite would have been a continuation of the hell I endured at school.

Bullying: Why I can't just 'get over it and move on'

Why am I still talking about being bullied at school?

And that is why I am still talking about being bullied at school. Because if I went through what I did, and it affected me so much and made me feel so low, so stressed and so down on myself how do children of today feel when they are experiencing it pretty much all day and all night every single day both at school and online?

I saw a news video where Lucy Alexander was talking about her 17 year old son Felix. He had taken his own life after years of torment by school bullies and she’d written an open letter to parents everywhere. The main emphasis of the letter was to teach children ways to ‘be kind, always’ – and it really is that simple.

It’s so hard to think of how many lives have been lost, and how many lives have been torn apart by children just being mean, day in, day out. The bullying and trauma children suffer is massive and if I can talk about what happened to me, and if it means that one child will go to school and be kind, if one child will stop being mean to someone – and walk in the other direction instead of calling them names – if one more child can get through school unscathed because someone has read about my experiences and it has changed something for them – then for me, that is enough.

So no, I won’t just get over it and move on as my story isn’t just about me any more. It’s about the world my children are growing up in and it’s about the experiences they have in life, and that their friends have. It’s about the bigger picture and for me, that is worth talking about.

If you are being bullied or are trying to come to terms with bullying that happened to you at some point in your life, visit Bullying UK for more information. They have helplines for bullying and there is always someone that can help.

I’ve also written about when bullying becomes a police matter – if you’re being attacked physically, verbally or mentally do consider talking to the police.

Bullying: Why I can't just 'get over it and move on'

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  • Spot on Donna, excellent post. Thankfully I’ve never had to deal with bullying but it’s one of my biggest worries for the children and kids (and adults it would seem) can be so cruel! Thankfully you’re super strong and came out the other side. Xx

  • I’m quite shocked that someone said that to you to be honest. My husband suffered a lot of bullying at school, we both did, but him more so and it still affects him. It also affects the way he parents as if anything bad happens at the school it triggers off a worry he’s got that the same thing could happen to our children. He has actually had some counselling not for that specifically but it was something they addressed and it definitely helped him x

  • I don’t understand the mentality of people who bully. What do they acheive exactly?

    You have been nothing but helpful and kind to me, and for that i will always be thankful!

    • I always kind of felt bad for my bullies, I still do actually. I kind of wonder what happened to them to make them so hostile towards other people.

    • Bullying give a sense of power like after a victory of an encounter, but much more intense, temporarily raising self-esteem and injecting a sense of self-confidence for both the feeling of having absolute control of the situation and the feeling of having a higher social status. If made in group, add to all of that the pleasure of social approval and feeling of belonging given by the supporters.

  • I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been bullied can imagine the way it can erode your self esteem. I was bullied too, and although I don’t really think about it anymore, I am fearful for my children and also passionate about teaching them to always think about how their words can make another feel and to be kind. Not just the ones not getting involved but also the ones befriending the victims and making them feel better. Louise x

  • Hit the nail on the head there, D. It’s not about “oh, woe is me” wanting sympathy and attention – it’s about raising awareness of the cruelty that can be experienced and the lasting effects it has throughout a life. I can only presume that this person you have spoken to has never experienced any kind of trauma, bullying or challenge in their life – and it is sad that they find joy in picking apart someone else’s life.

  • How dare anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t feel. I wasn’t really bullied but had the odd spell of being picked on by the cool kids and even that has stayed with me. You’ve come out stronger and you’re a great role model to your children x

  • I’m so sorry an adult has bullied you on Facebook. It’s bad enough that kids do it, never mind adults. They ought to feel ashamed. Keep talking about it, it’s important and brace and you should be proud of yourself.

  • I love this post. I too was bullied at school and now I experiencing similar to what you have been too with others online. It’s a horrible experience and I really feel for you and love how you have stood up for yourself. I hope that eventually my situation will blow over too.

  • I’m shocked that somebody, a supposed adult, would say that. They clearly have never been bullied or were the bully. Bullying is a subject we should be talking about and well done you for doing so!

  • Love this post! It was only the other week that I was on the receiving end of some vile words from another blogger. What was said was borderline bullying, and in my eyes, this person is just as bad as the children at school who unleashed hell on me via their tongues. This group you mentioned is for pathetic people who obviously have nothing better to do with their lives. The sponsored posts have dried up for them; no PR wants to work with them, and the bloggers that once respected them have seen their true colours. Let them talk about you, I’ll let them talk about me, look at what we are achieving in life Donna both online and offline, isn’t it fantastic?

    You keep doing what you do because you’re bloody brilliant at it, you are better than them.

  • Your feelings are your feelings and therefore always justified. How dare someone treat you like that. From someone else who was bullied, just wanted to send a big hug and tell you I think you are bloody amazing! Xxx

  • It always saddens me when i hear stuff like this in an adult world. It really shouldnt happen! Your feelings are your own and you need to experience that and not have other people tell you otherwise. As someone who was bullied through school, through uni and through adulthood it upsets me that people can be like that. Fantastic post as always!

  • Brilliant post, perfectly written. It’s the bullies who have and are the problem. I think as long as we speak up against them, we reduce their power to have any effect. Keeping the conversation going is sooo important, so no, you shouldn’t just ‘get over it’. You are doing the right thing, and your blog is (I’m sure) much better than theirs (whoever ‘they’ are!) xx

  • Such a heartfelt, beautifully written post, Donna. I agree with you 100%: if you just move on and stop talking about it, its pretty much the same as burying your head in the sand and pretending that because you are not experiencing bullying right here right now, it doesn’t exist. Bullying is very much present, particularly in secondary schools and it needs to be nipped in the bud, tackled as soon as it’s noticed otherwise the irreversible could happen. The death of a teenager because of bullying could so often be avoided… Keep talking, shouting about it so that people who are being bullied have the strength to talk to their close friends and family rather than rocking themselves to sleep and thinking they are not worth living. As for adults believing like teenagers and bullying other adults, now that is completely beyond me… There are no words. xxx

  • Brilliant post. Ive 3 children myself and fear everyday that bullying will cross their paths. Minor incidents have happened to date and dealing with those have been heart-breaking enough. Well done to you. I’ll help to spread the word.

  • I’m sad that there are people out there who never grow out of this behaviour. I tend to forget that people like that exist until something like this happens. I’m sorry you went through this both at school and again as an adult. Brilliant post to raise awareness of the issue.

  • I was bullied at school and was told by my parents to cope with it ! it was aweful and I took an histrionic overdose. When my son went to secondary school he was bullied by words, violence and cyber bullying and the schools way of dealing with it when I spoke to them was to tell the class that he was being bullied and would be reporting to the head every day to report any incident. I was so shocked because it made it so much worse for him- eventually I took him out of school and taught him (not very well ) whilst I went through two appeals to get the school I wanted and transport as it was in a rural environment and at that time I couldn’t drive. I got the county councillors, Police, the Department of Education and my MP involved and eventually got Ofsted to make a unannounced inspection which highlighted the problems. my son loved his new school and did well . I say if a child is being bullied it could effect the rest of their life but help is out there – It took me six months and a lot of worry and tears but I got there. Don’t put up with these weak and obviously unintelligent adults who are bullying you they are probably jealous of your success and happy life.

    • I am so sorry you both went through what you did. I hope you are both happier in life now and that it hasn’t affected you too badly long term. Thanks so much for reading x

  • Oh Donna what is wrong with people??? I’m so sorry that first someone was being cruel to you in a FB group, when are they going to grow up and I am sorry that you had this comment thrown in your face like it was nothing. Well done you for confronting them in the first place. I hope you are ok and well done you for writing this. x

  • People can be so unkind and for no reason. Thankfully I’ve never really suffered bullying. Or when I was at school it wasn’t classed as bullying – nowadays it probably would have been. Being called a boffin, a group of girl friends decided they wouldn’t play with me and ostracised me for a couple of day. But it didn’t really impact me because they got over it, a boffin was a good thing for me, it showed I was working hard, and tbh I had enough confidence in myself to know that it was their problem and not mine. Nowadays it would be classed as bullying and you never know to what extent it would end up with social media.

    It does make me a little worried about children growing up and going through school life. It seems every little thing can be picked out. I’m just hoping that N has enough self confidence and a good enough support system and friends to stay away from any bullies.

  • Such a great post Donna, beautifully written and one that I can sadly relate to. I am so sorry that you were bullied and that someone in your adulthood has been so rude. Sadly I truly believe that there are adults out there who behave like the children you speak of and it saddens me. I too was bullied throughout high school Donna, it still haunts me now. Sadly I don’t think these experiences ever leaves us, as to whether they make us stronger I’m not so sure. When something triggers a memory I feel very exposed just like you do I am sure. Well done for approaching this subject, and like you speaking of something like this may just save someone the torture x

  • Bullying is something which should never be tolerated and it scares me that my children will soon be of the age where they will venture into social media, I want to protect them from the dangers that lie there but I know I won’t be able to. I was bullied as a teenager, by boys for being too thin. They regretted it in their twenties when they decided that ‘thin’ was actually ‘slim’ and what they liked. I blew them out big style and moved on but their taunts stayed with me into adulthood. There are some mean and nasty people in this world but I believe we need to keep focusing on the positives, tell ourselves every morning and that we are happy, lucky and fortunate and that it WILL be a good day. Don’t give those morons a second of your thoughts, they don’t deserve it x

  • I am 53 now. I was bullied back when I was in Jr high and I have lived my life full of hell ever since. I have noticed that I cannot make decisions I am not feel the confidence that I need as I live through my adult life. Would I like to beet the crap out of every classmates some more than others? You bet. But that would make me just as bad as they are. One day they will reap what they have sown. I also believe that if I were left alone my lifes partner would totally be different as well. Some days I wish I could die because of the past and twice I almost was successful. Sorry I just keep going on but I have hope in God and I will be brought to him when he needs me.

  • whereto start.my parents got married when i was 6 months old so not being wanted i was starved and beaten daily plus emotional abuse.at 20 met at dance. he was just as bad.after 45 years of it he died. but i never moved i dont know how.

  • Thank you for sharing this. I was bullied at school, particularly for being in a wheelchair and learning to walk, but also because my surname was one letter away from the ‘bully’ so I was always directly behind her in every alphabetical lineups, so there was no excuse. It still sticks with me today and I can’t say it has made me stronger or where people say ‘they were just jealous’ etc etc, so thank you for sharing your thoughts. Just like you said, I can’t imagine how this feels for current teens with social media, but even within adults it is hard to see parents doing just that – using social media in ways that affect other adults mentally, which in turn is still bullying! I hope the only ‘positive’ comes from being more aware of protecting my own little girl from bullying too and just being kind to everyone x

  • Exactly, I have been bullied @ school & as an adult, I also have BPD, I have to take a ton of medication & sedatives so I can cope now years later