Most people are aware of the principal forms of abuse and for better or worse we tend to label them individually. Thus we have sexual abuse, physical abuse and psychological abuse (although I would suggest that psychological abuse is an inevitable concomitant of the other forms).
There is, however a form of abuse that usually carries a different label and that’s because to recognise it for what it really is would force a lot of parents, teachers and others with responsibility for children out of a comfort zone.
I’m talking, of course, about bullying and, whether you want to face it or not, bullying is a form of abuse.
If you’ve read my story you’ll be aware that I was bullied throughout my time at Grammar school. This started with teasing and name calling as well as references to my sexuality; I was 11 at the time! Realising that I was physically weak and unable to defend myself seemed to inspire much bigger and stronger boys to take things further and start physically assaulting me.
Masters chose to interpret the sometimes blatant injuries inflicted on me as “boys will be boys” style roughhousing, a normal part of Grammar school life; apparently. Had the Masters known the trouble I got into at home over the damage to my uniform, and to me, would they have taken a different attitude? I have a disturbing feeling that the answer to that is no.
There’s an old saying that a successful lie requires the consent of at least 2 people; one to tell the lie and one to accept it. Masters and Parents alike chose to accept my lies that my own clumsiness had caused my injuries and nobody bothered to question how “I walked into a door, Sir” could result in a torn blazer and trousers, or the contents of my satchel strewn along a corridor.
There are two principal reasons why I consider bullying to be a form of abuse.
In the first place, bullies are opportunistic and prepared to act with almost blinding speed when presented with the smallest window of opportunity. In that respect the boys who bullied me were no different to the predatory youth who made my life hell with his sexual attentions.
In the second place, and I’ve talked to other people who were bullied, the victim’s response is often alarmingly similar to that shown during other forms of abuse. The lies and denial are the same as is the depression. The motivation to silence is very simple; fear of reprisal.
When you can’t understand why this is happening to you it’s unbearable. The only thing I gained from this experience was an almost inhuman bladder capacity; I was terrified of having to use the boys’ school toilets.
We were victims of childhood abuse in our differing ways and here we'll share something of what happened to us.
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