Interview by Brittany Weekley.
Barbara Slenski was bullied from elementary school through high school. This is her story.
What happened the first time you got bullied?
“The first time was when they set me up and said that I punched a girl in the face at school. That was in the first grade.”
Do you think that that incident affected you in any way?
“It did. I felt I wasn’t trusted, and no one believed in me. I was going to get suspended for something that I didn’t do. Everyone was standing outside the classroom when I was being walked to the principal’s office.”
What happened after that incident?
“They called my dad to come in. He asked why I would do something like that. I got sent home for the day.”
Did your other classmates treat you differently after that?
“Yes. I was known for the girl who broke someone’s glasses, for a while, at least. No one really wanted to hang out with me, except for a couple of friends.”
Out of all the years you were bullied, was there was there one incident that affected you the most?
“When my house was vandalized in 2006. I was in college, and I was actually supposed to take my finals that week. I got a phone call that my house got vandalized. This was before I came out (for being gay). They wrote things pertaining to my sexuality and drew vulgar pictures on the house.”
How did bullying affect you in your adulthood?
“It affected my character, my self-esteem. I tried not to believe what they said. Getting help helped me survive the trauma of those years.”
Is there anything else you want to add to your story?
“My sophomore year in high school, I would always get picked on in English class by these two boys. The teacher had left the room, and I went off. I told them to leave me alone, and I told them they have low self-esteem. I didn’t deserve it.”
Do you think you handled it properly?
“I think I could have handled it better, but at the time, after being bullied so much, I didn’t care. Having people tell me to shut up when I was sticking up for myself … I think after that, the bullying actually stopped. I didn’t care how nasty I was at the time. I was at my breaking point. People have their insecurities, so they feel that if they can degrade someone else, it makes them feel better. That’s half of the problem. They don’t know what other people are going through. They don’t know other people’s home lives and stuff. I think if social media was as it is now, when I was in school, it would have been worse. What you do in the classroom doesn’t stay in the classroom anymore. Don’t let this defeat you.”
What advice would you give kids being bullied?
“Speak up. You’re better than that. Take a stand. Don’t let them push you around. Talk to your peers and your friends about it. If it gets too far, where you’re feeling suicidal, talk to someone before it’s too late. With technology, it can make or break you. One day you’re here, and the next day you’re gone.”
Please follow Barb on Twitter @BarbSlenskiBlog – Beautifully Imperfect – https://barbslenskiwordpres.wordpress.com/