How to deal with a bully from my childhood
February 8, 2005 10:01 PM   Subscribe

HIGH SCHOOL BULLY QUESTION.
I'm 30 now and very recently discovered an old school reunion site which brought up a couple of questions for me. When I was 13-15 I had a really nasty bully through the first part of high school (I'm in Australia). She made my life so freaking miserable and then, when we could leave school at 15 she left. My questions are as follows. Has anyone ever had the chance to confront their high school bully?? or (even though I know we're wonderful folk here on mefi), been confronted by someone they bullied?
I don't want to do anything but tell her that she made my life miserable and that it left lasting scars on my childhood.
PS She's not actually on the reunion site but I was toying with the idea of tracking her down.
posted by Civa to Human Relations (76 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was popular in high school, but I say forget the bitch.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 10:08 PM on February 8, 2005


Seriously, I think letting go is the best thing to do. Is it easy? No. I hate hate hate this woman at my old college that said some horrible things to me that really broke my spirit at a time when it was weak, but whenever I begin to ruminate, I remind myself that I'm just wasting my time- that she's not ruining her sleep being mad at me. It's a process, but I think it's one worth embarking on.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:10 PM on February 8, 2005 [1 favorite]


Dwelling on hatred is bad for you. Some nice revenge without dwelling on it too much can be fun though.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:18 PM on February 8, 2005


Don't be offended if she doesn't remember who you are.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 10:24 PM on February 8, 2005


I ran into my junior high bully at a concert a couple years ago hundreds of miles from where we grew up. It went like this: "Hey, transona5, remember me?" "No..." (I didn't recognize him.) "[guy who used to throw flour on you when you walked home from school], remember?" "Oh yeah. What are you up to?" "Bumming around Carbondale [also not where we grew up]...I'm just here for a visit." "That's cool."

When I saw his similarly bullying friend in a bar, he told the people sitting around him that he was too embarrassed to talk to me and avoided making eye contact the whole time.
posted by transona5 at 10:29 PM on February 8, 2005


I highly doubt either of you are the same person now you were then. History trends toward her fate being worse than yours.

Let it go.
posted by mkultra at 10:31 PM on February 8, 2005


You always run the risk that they'd be pleased with themselves for having such power over someone... even if they act like they were sorry, or try to convince themselves they're sorry. I vote let it go.
posted by agropyron at 10:38 PM on February 8, 2005 [1 favorite]


And while I wouldn't have considered "confronting" either of these guys or any of the other people who made my life miserable, I do wonder if the stigma against failing to "let go" just allows the bullies to win again, by sparing them from any possibility of one day facing a confident adult who can see through their bullshit.
posted by transona5 at 10:39 PM on February 8, 2005


One day, not too many years after school, I ran into a girl who had been a bit of a bully. She was working in a record shop. There around her neck hung a lambda, one of the symbols for gays/lesbians. I commented on it. She gratified me by breifly hanging her head, a silent aknowledgement that she had harassed me for being gay, and now was herself a member of the family.

I bore her no ill will, she had been only a mild participant in the ongoing crap I endured. Before that time we had even been friends.

A couple other times I ran in to people (non-bullies) I remembered from school. What was amazing that, although I had dropped out ASAP, feeling abused and harassed, I discovered that a lot of people had a higher opinion of me than I ever would have guessed. I suppose that might be typical.

But confront old bullies? I can't imagine having the oppurtunity. We don't move in the same circles, I'm sure. I am far removed from that life, both geographicly as well as other ways. Many of them would still be stuck in the rust-belt. Bhu hahaha!
posted by Goofyy at 10:55 PM on February 8, 2005


There was one particular boy i went to school with who i always saw as my enemy in one way or another. i remember feeling angry at or humiliated by him throughout much of elementary school (and even occasionally in middle and high school).

i went away for college, and in the middle of my second year in college, fell ill and spent a month in the hospital, from which i fortunately recovered.

The following summer, i was back in my hometown, at a bar where a number of folks were congregating from my old school. I saw the guy and was really reluctant to even make eye contact with him because i was afraid of how a confrontation would go down.

He walked straight up to me, and said something like, "dkg, i heard you were really sick. i was worried about you. i'm so glad to see you're doing better." He was unquestionably sincere about it. We still didn't have much to say to each other, but just hearing that from him was enough to help me let go of the old grudges, which was incredibly good for me. I don't know that i would have been able to let them go without that interaction.

Had we clashed again, i don't know that i would have been able to let them go either, of course. As it was, i didn't even need to "confront" him at all. But seeing him and finding out a little about who he had become was definitely important.
posted by dkg at 11:41 PM on February 8, 2005


high school + adolescence does strange things to people.

At this point, you probably won't be confronting the bully, but an adult with the same name.
posted by Hicksu at 12:11 AM on February 9, 2005


Imagine yourself having completed each of the (three?) major possible outcomes

1. You drop it.
2. You confront her and force her to face her misdeeds, and leave her feeling very small.
3. You confront her and fail to have any impact on her.

Really ruminate on each of these three. Let yourself feel how each scenario leaves you feeling.

For scenario 2, it is easy to imagine a momentary high as you witness the gulf between your own righteousness and her deservedly dirt-level self-respect, but then at the end of the day it will occur to you that all you've done is strut your superiority over someone whose actions destroyed their own sense of worth. It'll probably end up feeling like kicking her when she's down.
posted by NortonDC at 12:28 AM on February 9, 2005


No true good can come of this.

This is one more vote for letting it go.
posted by mosch at 12:50 AM on February 9, 2005


1. Read the Jon Stewart short story "Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold" in Naked Pictures of Famous People.
2. Laugh at her
3. Laugh at yourself
4. Move on with your life

I'm the same age as you.

After meeting my own high school bullies, I found they are either sad, broken people, whose viciousness got them nowhere after graduation, or people who've scammed their way so far up the food chain that I'd never get the chance to confront them, anyway.

Either way, I finally learned it's a waste of energy to be upset about being tortured all those years ago. And now being over 18 means that any vindication is much more difficult, legally speaking.

Just let it go.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:51 AM on February 9, 2005 [2 favorites]


Wait until you are sure she is there, make sure no one is around and fire a .22 pistol in her ear. Do not attempt to get her attention with anybody else still around. From a distance it sounds like a tire blowing out, so make sure it doesn't happen in a place with a lot of echo. Pick up the shell casing and wear latex gloves. When you get home, purchase new shoes and give the old ones along with some old clothes to the salvation army. Take the pistol, unload it, dissasemble it, and clean it throroughly with cleaning solutions. Attempt to drink so much that you forget details to the murder. Doing so will ease the transition back into your normal life. You could also just move on instead.
posted by Dean Keaton at 1:27 AM on February 9, 2005


I also vote for letting it go. Confrontation sounds good in theory, I'm sure, but I seriously doubt you'll feel better for having done it, if you actually do. A little story:

When I was in high school, I was bullied to the point of honestly being afraid for my life, on occasion, just walking to my locker to get things in-between classes. Although it was a group of guys who harassed me, it was one in particular who delighted in making me wish I was dead. When I finally made it to graduation, I left town and never looked back. (Although my parents still live there, so I at least make it back to the area fairly regularly.)

One day, shortly after moving back to my home state, I stopped at the grocery store on my way to my parents house. Without realizing it, I'd ended up in that former high school bully's line. He immediately recognized me and went red in the face, clearly still filled with hatred for me but doing everything he could to not get fired for abusing me. (I only realized this in hindsight, as you'll see.)

He really was red and he was taking a long time to do something very simple, so I asked if there was anything wrong. Through a clenched jaw, he said something like, "Don't you fucking play dumb with me, you fucking faggot," which caught me completely offguard, as I still hadn't recognized him at that point. I was about to demand to speak to the manager when I looked at his nametag, paused, and finally put two-and-two together. I said simply, "Oh, I'm sorry I didn't recognize you. I haven't thought about you in years" (which was only partially true, but that doesn't matter.) He was so angry that he actually threw my groceries into a bag and told me to "just get the fuck out of here." I didn't even have to pay for them.

The point of this very long comment (and I do apologize for that) is that moving on and leaving him behind was the best revenge possible. I still wasn't completely over everything that had happened to me, of course, but I'd at least grown up. In the meantime, he was stuck in his high school mentality, kicking around all the same tired old haunts, and generally doing nothing with his life. I suspect that your bully is doing much the same and you're both better off leaving each other behind, regardless of whether or not you've gotten over the damage that was done.
posted by ibidem at 1:31 AM on February 9, 2005 [4 favorites]


Yeah, let it go. Sometimes school bullies sort themselves out and turn into decent people, but for the most part the kind of karmic retribution they will reap as adults is more punishment than you could ever possibly dole out in any kind of latter-day confrontation.

True story: several years ago, before I moved away from my hometown, one of the kids who used to beat me up in junior high called me out of the blue trying to sell me life insurance.

I laughed so hard that I literally couldn't speak. I managed to recover well enough to choke out a polite refusal and hung up. He had become a telemarketer making cold calls to sell insurance policies... perfect. No cutting remark that I could have devised would've improved on that situation.
posted by enrevanche at 2:17 AM on February 9, 2005


In reality you will be normal, well adjusted and functioning. The bully will have become a loser who lives in his mom's basement.
posted by fixedgear at 2:48 AM on February 9, 2005


If you're 30 and still stewing on this after 15 years then 'letting it go' is probably something you've already tried, unsuccessfully, to do.

Two things I've noticed about people are that they usually have an idealised memory of school life, and they are nearly always still embarrassed by their childhood misdeeds, especially if they were never punished.

I say give her a call. Then let it go.

~erases name from list, pats rifle, applies lipstick~
posted by Ritchie at 3:05 AM on February 9, 2005


I bumped into one of these types in a bar. He was totally drunk. Said to me "Look at you, you're doing what you want to do with your life... and I'm a failure in a dead-end job."

That just about sums up the karmic retribution element of these things. Let it go, she's not worth your attention.
posted by skylar at 3:11 AM on February 9, 2005


I actually became good friends with most of the people who bullied me in junior high. The rest eventually apologized to me - usually over beers at a party.

If your bully's become a decent person, he or she'll give you closure.
If your bully's still a cheap, miserable, scummy bastard, then enjoy that delicious Schadenfreude for a moment - then forget the whole thing and move on with your life.

Either way - you win!
posted by ruddhist at 3:14 AM on February 9, 2005


i'm with the minority here - it's clear this is bugging you, so do something about it. no-one can be sure how it will end up - the result could be anything from you smacking them in the face to them bursting into tears - but most likely you'll end up feeling slightly embarassed and confused. big deal. you probably end up embarassed and confused at least once every day (or is that just me? ;o), but having done that, you'll have finally ended this whole thing.

i say that because i'm trying to think what's best for you. really that's what i'd recommend more - you sitting down and thinking what you would like. and don't give a second thought to how it might affect the other person. for once in your life you're allowed to say "fuck 'em", as they did many times to you....
posted by andrew cooke at 3:31 AM on February 9, 2005


I went to my high school reunion last year and many of the people who were mean to me in high school were there. None of them were bullies in the physical sense, but some of them were damned cruel with verbal taunts and insults. I didn't confront any of them, but came away with a reasonably happy feeling that most of them lead boring, dead end lives while I had moved on from the sucking pit that is the town we went to school in.

One in particular who had been really unpleasant to me was there and instead of confronting him, we had a "nice" conversation. I talked a bit about my love of seeing live music in small clubs (because nothing says pretentious city girl with too much money to spend more thoroughly than indie music lover who goes to shows all the time) and he talked a bit about his life. He seems a nice enough guy that I almost feel sorry for how completely uninteresting it must be.

I'm uncomfortable with just how much glee I feel at how things have turned out. But then, I was uncomfortable for the five years that these people taunted me, too.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:32 AM on February 9, 2005


I just attended our 15 year re-union (Northern NSW Australia) via the same site that you mentioned. A more apathetic bunch you would not find: Best. Weekend. Ever. Although there was a good turnout I was surprised that a few of the boys & girls admitted to being worried about their appearance or things from the past to the point of not wanting to go. Forget it, just go, and enjoy yourself.
Hicksu: At this point, you probably won't be confronting the bully, but an adult with the same name.
So very, very true.
posted by fullysic at 4:48 AM on February 9, 2005


I vote for letting it go, also. But if you run into an ex-bully at a bar or at a restaurant or something, I suggest chatting instead of avoiding. I've run into a former bully of mine since graduation, and had a chance to talk to him, and he's expressed his regret. He's a great guy, and I'm glad we've been able to talk about it. I think it's helped us both.
posted by Plutor at 5:21 AM on February 9, 2005


There was a great first-person article in the WSJ a couple years ago by a reporter who tracked down the guy who bullied him through grade school, to confront him and just learn about him. Highly recommended.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:38 AM on February 9, 2005


At this point, you probably won't be confronting the bully, but an adult with the same name.

Upon first reading this, I thought it was easily one of the most insiteful comments in the thread. Then I thought about it some more.

Most of the people that were bullies in my pre-college years ended up taking a lot of that anger that they could no longer direct at the folks they picked on, and swapped "Civa" with "wives and children". I don't think people change very much past the age of 12. If they were an asshole then, there's probably a good chance their an asshole now. Which brings me to...

"let go" just allows the bullies to win again

The problem is, if it's been bugging you for this long, it's going to take some OK Corral-level shit to go down before the words "CASE CLOSED" can be stamped on the file if you want to do them what they have done to you, and even then, it'll never be the same. Things affect you differently when you get older. It would probably take something drastic and certainly illegal (like kidnapping them or stalking them) in order for you to really feel like justice has been properly served.

Since that's (hopefully) not an option, you should let it go, because nothing gives an egotistical asshole more pleasure than knowing that something they did 15 years ago still bugs you. Don't give them the pleasure. As for your own sanity: maybe a karate class might allow you to get some of that anger out.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:43 AM on February 9, 2005


I have to agree with the majority here. You're talking about someone who dropped out of school at 15, literally half a lifetime ago. The odds are pretty stacked that her life isn't all too fabulous. Would it make you feel better to see her miserable?

I still live in my hometown, so I occasionally run into people who made me pretty miserable in high school. The best encounter was with a guy who made fun of me constantly. A few years later he hit on me while I was working as a DJ, not remembering who I was. I've also had some of the not-so-nice girls come up to me in supermarkets and so on, mostly blathering about how great school was and such. Most have kids, and look like they're ten years older than me.

I don't bring up how mean they were, and neither do they. If they remember, I think going out of their way to say hello and be nice is a non-apology apology. If not, well, it's clear most peaked back in school, and calling attention to what assholes they were nearly a decade ago would just make me an asshole today.
posted by Kellydamnit at 6:55 AM on February 9, 2005


Sure, bullies are people too. But don't let the Dr. Phil moments obscure the simple fact that what we quaintly refer to as "bullying" is the abuse of human beings, pure and simple. It's on par with spousal abuse and the neglect of the elderly. And while you and I may have long since escaped it, somebody else is going through it as we speak. There's a system in place that allows and encourages this sort of behavior. In a middle class suburban neighborhood, such an institution is about the most genuinly evil thing you're likely to uncover (unless you happen to live next door to a child molestor or serial killer). So with respect to individual bullies, it might indeed be the best thing to "let it go." But I worry that, in the real world, that will translate into tolerating the institutionalized abuse of children.

On a more personal note: While there was never a shortage of bullies in my life, the one who caused the most damage over the years was my brother. We're both over thirty now. Recently, at a family gathering, he picked a fight with me and then punched me. A couple of relatives pulled him off me. Various dramatics ensued. Long story short: this was the first time in his life, as far as I can tell, that it occurred to him that he shouldn't hit his brother. Since that night, he's gotten into a fight with my father (who is just now realizing that his son has had a violent temper his entire life) and been told not to come back to the house. At this point, it seems pretty obvious to everyone that either he's going to have to go through some sort of major change (therapy, religion, drugs; whatever) or he's going to end up in prison.

So. Forgiving and forgetting is a wonderful thing, but I wonder how many childhood bullies are out there now, all grown up, beating the crap out of their wives, family members, and children because no one ever held them responsible for their actions.
posted by Clay201 at 6:56 AM on February 9, 2005


Two remarks.

The reverse of your situation. I was back in WA state visiting an old elementary school teacher of mine and on my way to the old school this random chick came up to me. She said that she remembered making fun of me and was sorry for it. At the time it made me feel like utter crap since it reminded me of the very large bad part of my childhood, and I thought that she did it to make herself feel better, not me. Now I'm not so sure.

Story related to your situation. I recently read a SF story called something like "A Perfect Murder." Fellow wakes up one morning in his house, kisses his wife and kids, gets a gun, tracks down a former bully. A twice-aged, broken man answers the door. Fellow introduces himself to broken man, broken man's eyes light up in recognition, hoping to have this fellow he needed so much back in his life again, but the protagonist just walks away.

Maybe just not being there is enough to satisfy you - "she won't bully me ever again." Personally, continual self-exploration and education helped me get through years and years of being one of the lowest kids on the totem pole. You could always add, "And I'm more successful (personally or financially) and don't allow people to bully me now" to the list of things making you feel better - provided you don't become a bully yourself of course.
posted by lorrer at 6:56 AM on February 9, 2005


I was the bully in middle school. I was extremely mean to one girl, so much so that she changed schools. She came back to the high school, but before I formed a conscience, she moved away. My cruelty haunted me for years. I looked for her everywhere. Finally, I found her on a google search a couple of years ago. I e-mailed her and apologized and told her how bad I had felt. She forgave me and played down my part somewhat in her reply.
It felt good to be forgiven.
Have you ever heard the quote, "Not forgiving someone is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die."
I live in my hometown and run across my former school bullies all the time and, to a person, they lead sad, small lives. I tell my kids that-anytime someone is mean to them, it is a reflection of pain they have in their own lives. We try to remember to pray for them in their pain.
Civa,
It would probably make you feel better to just see this person, because she is probably living a pathetic life.
posted by davenportmom at 6:58 AM on February 9, 2005


The best way to get back at the bullies is to lead a fulfilling life in spite of their way-back-when taunts. Six months agowe had a *gradeschool* reunion. I was a dork back then, and I'm a geek now, but all those formerly "cool" kids with three kids, two mortgages, and no life listened to me in awe as I told tales of going places, and working truly odd jobs. At fifteen years in the past, most people are going to have changed quite a bit (the only dork bigger than me talked to and got the number of the class hottie), and those that haven't just deserve to be laughed at.
posted by notsnot at 7:10 AM on February 9, 2005


I have (sort of) confronted some bullies. This happened about five years after graduation in a reunion. It wasn't very dramatic. I just asked them why they had behaved that way towards me. Both of those guys said that they had been immature and stupid. Apparently they didn't have anything against me especially, I had just been convinient and easy target for their idiocy. I wasn't completely satisfied with this. Nor did I really feel much better about them or myself, not like I had hoped. But after that I could let it go and I have rarely thought about those experiences. And certainly they have lost most of their emotional impact even when I do remember them. So I guess it was a usefull thing for me.

I think you need to decide how much you are still bothered by those experiences. If this is just something that came up after years of not really caring or thinking about it, then I say let it go. But if the bullying is still on the top of your mind after all these years, confrontation might be worth it. But if you do decide to confront your bully, be prepared to feel underwhelmed afterwards. Even if everything goes fine, it might not be as cathartic as you hoped.

stupidsexyFlanders: Indeed, a very good article.
posted by severiina at 7:10 AM on February 9, 2005


Two times in my life, I've had this sort of thing happen.

1) When I was in 8th grade a girl beat me up so badly that I passed out in the snow and could've died of hypothermia -- I was very lucky one of the principals was passing by about 20 minutes after the whole thing or maybe I'd have died.

Anyway, About 5 years later, I was working at a pet store. And one of my co-workers was this phenomenally cute brunette named -- let's say -- Jen. One day, a girl came in and talked to Jen for a while, saw me, and just LEFT.

Jen came up to me and said "do you remember that girl?"

"No, did I go to school with her?"

"Uhhhh. Did you ever get beaten up really bad in like 8th grade?"

"Oh! that was HER?"

"Yeah. She said she felt really shitty about it and she had no idea what to say to you because she figured you'd want to kick her ass and she'd deserve it. So she left."

I pondered this for a minute.

"Jen. That was FIVE. YEARS. AGO. I was eleven. She was probably, what, 14?"

"Yeah."

"I've changed a lot in five years, I'm sure she has too. Have her come back in, we'll have lunch."


And that's the story of how I bought my bully lunch at the mall food court.


*****

#2: In 9th grade, a year later, I was on the Scholastic Bowl team. I was twelve - two years too young for ninth grade. Almost all my teammates were 18 years old, seniors, and male.

They all called me "Pat" after the SNL character and would sing "It's time for androgyny!" when I'd come into the room. It's only lately that I've finally dismissed their crap as THEIR crap -- that it wasn't that I looked awful, it was that I was TWELVE, and therefore androgynous and awkward and silly. But they pulled no punches.

The worst to hear from was a guy named -- let's say -- Eric. He was the captain of the team, the smartest, the geekiest, and I therefore thought myself to be totally in love with him (in spite of the fact that he mocked me mercilessly any chance he got). I remember him doing so a little less than the others, but that could be bias. I might have just forgiven him more due to my crush. Those boys made my life a living hell, every day, and I briefly considered just dropping out of school when other kids at school picked up the "It's time for androgyny!" song.

Anyhow, after he graduated I vaguely kept tabs on him. Lost track a few years ago. And I was posting a comment to totalfark (don't laugh) when someone said, "Did you go to [whatever] High School in the late 90's?" to me.

As it turned out over IM, it was Eric. And the first thing he said after all the initial pleasantries was that he was sorry, and that they'd all treated me like absolute horseshit.

We talked for a couple hours about old times and new, and now we talk once a week or so. It felt good.


*****

I guess what I'm trying to say is, are you the same person now that you were at 15? Probably not, I'd hope. Do you think the bully is? Do you believe in punishing people now and making them feel bad for something they did when they were a different person ages ago?

I'm 20, almost 21. I'm sure already I'm not the same person, that I don't have the same reactions I would have at age 12, or 13, or 15.

That bully has -- in all likelihood -- long since grown up. It's time for you to do the same.
posted by u.n. owen at 7:24 AM on February 9, 2005 [1 favorite]


Remember, living well is the best revenge.
posted by driveler at 7:26 AM on February 9, 2005


and they are nearly always still embarrassed by their childhood misdeeds, especially if they were never punished.

Yes...I was going to say, consider the possibility that your bully may have matured, now know better and be very sorry.

I was no a bully and was never particularly popular, though I was not bullied either. However, at my elementary school there was one girl who was constantly harassed and taunted, mostly by the boys in the class. When she walked past in the schoolyard they would freeze and claim that she was so ugly they had turned to stone. I was not one of the participants, but I was one of the people who stood by and probably I even laughed sometimes.

I still feel terrible about that. And in fact, from time to time I run into this person. She smiles at me and greets me kindly and sometimes we chat for a few minutes. She is a cashier at a very low-end supermarket, now. Which first makes me feel more guilty and then gives my "liberal guilt" for thinking she hasn't gone very far in her life.

When I run into her I'm seized by the impulse to apologize. I never have, because it would be awkward and I just don'e have the guts, and because I worry that it would only remind her of things she would probably rather forget.

So put me in the embarassed-by-childhood-deeds-I-was-never-punished-for camp. I'm not sure what this means the original asker should do, other than consider the possiblility that this bully has grown up and learned better.
posted by duck at 7:26 AM on February 9, 2005


I went to my 10-year reunion a few years ago, and it was quite revalatory. I didn't have any bullies per se, but there were guys that did intimidate me. But a surprising number of these guys at the reunion had truly seemed to change--they were genuinely warm and friendly. Alternately, some of the guys I was friends had become bitter and nasty, I'm guessing cause they stayed in our shitty hometown.

I had a falling out with a friend in university, and we had been friends since elementary school. We got into a stupid fistfight (actually, he just decked me out of the blue...long story). We both knew then and there that our friendship was dead, dead, dead. I spent a lot of years hating him, wasted a lot of brain time just thinking about him, and then just last year, at Christmas, through mutual friends, we spent some time hanging out. A few nights drinking beers at the local pub. At first, he seemed quite changed, much more mellow and quick to laugh. We had some decent conversation (the alcohol helped). By the second outing, though, I was fully noticing chinks in his armor. I concluded that he really was, more or less, an asshole. Unhappy in his life (though his wife is a wonderful person), his job, his subtle yet constant insults and digs at virtually everyone betrayed his insecurity. I don't like this guy, I realized. I just don't want to be around him. That visit with him was a good thing, I don't beat myself up with bad memories anymore. Poof! He's just kinda vanished.

So it may be for you if you decide to talk to this person. Just keep an open mind that she might feel remorse for her behavior, in other words don't think of it as a confrontation of any kind.

Or, an equally valid thing to do is nothing: the best revenge is good livin'.
posted by zardoz at 7:30 AM on February 9, 2005


Thanks for all the stories, folks! Just hearing about other bullies get their just desserts makes me feel better about mine.
posted by equipoise at 7:31 AM on February 9, 2005


SOrry for joining late. I was dragged to a reunion last year. I still see old friends when I visit, and it was pretty boring, but it was great to see the bastards that used to make my life hell.

I was an easy target, very small, very gay, and very shy. I met two guys who used to bully me who turned out to have grown into nice men. (One apologized to me and explained that he is deaf in one ear, and the fact that he could never understand me pissed him off. I grilled the other's girl friend, and she confided that my former bully feels bad about his past). I actually like these people as adults.

Some terrible people stay terrible, and I don't think there is anything you can do about it. But it's very liberating to be in a room with someone who used to terrify you. Your lack of fear will also help you deal with your anger. I was planning on telling a few people off, but seeing them without the fear of childhood pretty much killed my anger.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:58 AM on February 9, 2005


This thread is good.

Two thoughts:

(1) I wasn't a bully in high school, but I was an arrogant, selfish jerk. I rotated girlfriends constantly (breaking up with them ususally as they found out I'd moved on to the next), treated my friends poorly, and put my wants before my friends' needs. I don't like to think back on the "good old days" of high school very much because those are the kind of memories that pop up.

I think (I hope, anyway) that I grew up alot after my senior year of high school and in college, and now I'm a nice, balanced fellow. I still feel embarrassed and ashamed thinking about some of the stuff I did, and somewhat guilty because I've been blessed all my life with good fortune and surrounded by good people. I have a happy life and a great family.

If somebody e-mailed or called me to say "you really made me feel like an asshole," I would feel awful. There would be nothing for me to do but acknowledge it and apologize. I suppose if that is what they wanted, it would be a small thing for me to do, and I would gladly do it. But there's nothing that the bully can do now to make your life any happier, right? Unless you think seeing that person in misery will make you happier?

I realize that this doesn't exactly fit, because I was mean, but I was never vindictive or directly insulting or out to get anybody, like some of these bullies above seem to have been. But it's something to consider.

(2) One summer when I was in college, I worked in a freezer at a frozen foods factory. It was a hard job. I worked with two of the biggest bullies you ever met. They didn't like the college boys that would come in over the summer, and each year it became a sport to torment them. They'd make us do their jobs, write and say all kinds of degrading, hurtful, rude stuff, and just generally make the job miserable.

I used to fantasize that one day I'd buy that goddam factory and drive up and fire them. But the day I left, I felt so free, and I knew that those guys were stuck there. That was their life. And I never went back. I still drive by the factory when I'm back home (it's on the way between some friends' houses) and feel anxious, but its enough for me to know those guys are freezing their asses off in there and I'm not.

On preview: I'm one more in the "embarassed-by-childhood-deeds-I-was-never-punished-for" camp so succintly identified by duck.
posted by AgentRocket at 8:03 AM on February 9, 2005


Bitter people never win.

You will be amazed at how much better about yourself you will feel when you greet them with a smile and treat them like a good friend.

What's going to make you feel better? Managing to get the last word, or making sure that someone lives the rest of their life in peace?

Yep. Thought so. :-)

If they're still horrible people and don't accept your kindness, you can simply ignore them for the rest of your life, content that their own hate and misery is punishment enough for them.
posted by shepd at 8:03 AM on February 9, 2005


stupidsexyFlanders, that was a very moving article.

There was a girl in high school who was in several classes on the Constitution team with me (yeah, I was a geek) and I just could not stand her. We fought all the time when we were on the Constitution team...the teacher ended up putting another girl in our group to kind of be a buffer. At our 10 year high school reunion a few years back, we had a nice chat and sat and laughed for a while about how much we used to fight.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:06 AM on February 9, 2005


My twentieth H.S. reunion will be this year. I googled up my bully and it looks like he's an air conditioner repairman for a school district in South Carolina.

Key to letting go was having let go already of a strong hatred I had for my stepmother, who was not nice. I hated her for years after she left, and then one day I realized I was holding onto it for nothing, and the bubble just sort of popped.
posted by atchafalaya at 8:11 AM on February 9, 2005


davenportmom: My experience is much like yours.

I was a member of a group in elementary school that for some reason chose one poor new kid to pick on and then did so relentlessly, mercilessly. There was nothing in particular about him that was pick-worthy, we just decided he was "it". I knew it was wrong at the time but I got caught up in the frenzy and did it anyway. He ended up as an outcast and loner through high school which I suspect was at least partly because of our, of my, "welcoming".

Nothing I've done in my life has left me more ashamed. I lie awake at night thinking about it.

I've also tried to find him via Google so that I could in some meager, insufficient, way I could apologize. Unfortunately he has a common name. I've tried to contact some of the names found but none of them hve been him, or he hasn't responded.

So, Larry Riggs, if you're reading this and you know it's you I'm talking about: I'm sorry. Really, truly sorry. I hope things turned out well for you despite my worst efforts. I hope it's at least some consolation to you to know how much I've suffered from my actions.

Civa: track your bully down and kick her in the shin, punch her in the nose, whatever it takes. You'll fell better and I'll bet she will too.
posted by TimeFactor at 8:14 AM on February 9, 2005 [1 favorite]


When I was in high school, I was one of the nerd class, so I knew something about bullies. But the #1 nerd was regularly pummeled by a guy on the football team, unless he did his homework for him (think Marty McFly's young dad in Back to the Future). Somehow I managed to avoid that fate, but I think it was as much luck as anything else. Mostly for me, the abuse was verbal in nature.

All that being said, I moved away and never looked back. I went to an engineering school, so everyone was a nerd and I fit in, and have done okay (not fantastic financially, but I am happy in most other areas). Bottom line is that I am satisfied with the way my life has worked out. A few years ago we had our 20th HS reunion. I considered going but didn't make it. I tracked down some old classmates and found that some were quite successful (one of them being head pediatrician at a major children's hospital). Maybe they did better than me, but I wouldn't want to trade with any of them... and I think that's the point I'm trying to get to- if you're happy now, does it really matter what happened in high school? When I think about it that way, it's easy for me to let it go.

If I ran into an old bully, I don't think I would feel any ill will one way or the other. If he was impressed by how I turned out, fine, but if he still though I was a dweeb, that wouldn't much matter to me. Why would I care what someone I didn't like anyway thinks about me?
posted by Doohickie at 8:40 AM on February 9, 2005


For some strange reason, the high school bully in my class liked me. Two years after graduation, he was killed driving drunk.
posted by mischief at 8:48 AM on February 9, 2005


Do not become the character in the Ben Folds Five song "One Angry Dwarf and 100 Solemn Faces." He spent his whole life trying to prove his childhood tormentors wrong, and then it turns out they don't even remember him. When I first heard the song, I thought "Hooray for the little guy! Those bullies finally got their comeuppance!" And then a couple years later I realized how very sad a song it really was.

Don't be that guy. Don't define yourself by what others have cruelly done to you. If letting it go means a handful of bratty kids go unpunished, well, then they should go unpunished for the sake of your mental health.
posted by kindall at 9:10 AM on February 9, 2005 [1 favorite]


There was a great first-person article in the WSJ a couple years ago by a reporter who tracked down the guy who bullied him through grade school, to confront him and just learn about him. Highly recommended.

Just don't read any of the other stuff on that site if you value your sanity. You see, the Skull & Bones Society has forced a look-and-say (whole language) method of teaching reading on our schools in order to keep the populace illiterate and under control...
posted by kindall at 9:27 AM on February 9, 2005


Check and see if she's hot, first.
posted by borkingchikapa at 10:03 AM on February 9, 2005


I found my bully in the database of the state prison system. That was vidication enough! I would say give it a few google searches (and maybe check out the hometown prison system), and leave it at that. If Google doesn't know who you are, then you must be a nobody, right?
posted by MrZero at 10:12 AM on February 9, 2005


driveler: Remember, living well is the best revenge.
But what happens if your not living well and the bully is? I'm reminded of this exchange:

Frasier:"Living well is the best revenge"?
Niles: It's a wonderful expression. Just don't know how true it is. Don't see it turning up in a lot of opera plots. "Ludwig, maddened by the poisoning of his entire family, wreaks vengeance on Gunther in the third act by living well."
Frasier: All right, Niles. [heads into the kitchen]
Niles: [follows him] "Whereupon Woton, upon discovering his deception, wreaks vengeance on Gunther in the third act again by living even better than the Duke."

Still I'd let it slide. Use a symbolic act or something to help. I found what let me go was putting my mental list of bullies to paper and then burning it. One bad side of looking a person up like this is the bully could be Bill Gates rich or something and the pure injustice may drive you over the edge.

Dean Keaton: Take the pistol, unload it, dissasemble it, and clean it throroughly with cleaning solutions.

If your going to take this route then don't forget to grind the gun down to slag with a bench grinder after cleaning. Then scatter the slag into the ocean. Good luck even proving you had a gun let alone that it was the one involved in the murder.
posted by Mitheral at 10:28 AM on February 9, 2005


I was bullied as a young adult when I joined the Air Force at 18 y.o. I was a military cop and the vast majority of my coworkers were men. There was a group of guys that revelled in bullying me. It wasn't simply hazing it was flattening my car tires, not relieving me for latrine breaks, not letting me go to the chowhall, telling the shift commander that I had VD so that I was ordered to the base clinic to have a VD test (I didn't by the way), and other assorted drama. This was intermingled with extremely overt sexual harassment as well. Not so much physical violence, but emotional violence. It really had an impact on me for several years, then I got over it. I figured that it was a group-think phenomena and it didn't make my life any better to dwell upon it.

Last year I received an email from one of these guys. He vaguely alluded to not being a nice guy all those years ago. I replied and asked him if he was referring to how he treated me. I wanted him to admit his behavior. He said yes. I think that he expected me to forgive him. I didn't. I remember sitting with my hands poised over the keyboard, but I simply could not bring myself to grant him the absolution that he sought. Instead, I told him very nicely about my life, including my successes but not dwelling on them and that was it.

It is absolutely true that success and a good life is the best revenge, at least in my case.
posted by Juicylicious at 10:36 AM on February 9, 2005 [1 favorite]


This has been enlightening.
posted by docpops at 10:57 AM on February 9, 2005


A few years after leaving school, I was visiting my parents and flipped through the local newspaper. The previous week the guy who bullied me had killed himself - sat in his car with it running, and a length of hose from the exhaust to the interior, with all the windows up.

Mine's another vote for the move-on-let-it-go approach.
posted by normy at 11:20 AM on February 9, 2005


"Let it go" is good advice, and I definitely wouldn't track her down. For what it's worth, here's my story:

I was never actually bullied (probably because I only had to go through one semester of high school in the US -- can you imagine that in the schools I went to in Japan and Argentina, other kids actually respected academic achievement?), but there was a guy who sort of tried when he got drunk a couple of times. Nothing happened, but it was embarrassing and didn't help my general social discomfort. Well, many years later I went to a reunion, and there he was: a meek, paunchy, balding guy, probably an insurance salesman or something, I don't remember, clearly disappointed by life. I shook his hand, smiled, and went away unburdened.
posted by languagehat at 12:17 PM on February 9, 2005


I also think you should move on. However, I do not believe that you need to forgive your tormenters.

Nothing can erase the horrible years that those people inflicted on me. I will never believe that it's okay. But I can choose to move on and not allow those years to rule my life now. The bullies had power over me, and I won't allow them to still have power over me. That time is over. I'm stronger now.

I saw the #1 bully at a bar a couple of months ago. He came over to me and said one of the same things to me that he used to taunt me with when we were in school together 10 years ago. It made me mad. Really really mad. But I was there with my friends, looking hot, having a great time and I thought he's still stuck acting like he did when he was 12. He still feels the need to try and bully me in the same way all these years later? Wow. Seeing him and hearing those words brought back a huge rush of unpleasant emotions and for a moment I thought that I was gonna leave. But I decided that I wouldn't let him wreck this night. He is not that powerful, damnit. It was a bit difficult for me to relax after that, but I made a point of it. And I went to bed feeling good. I didn't let him win.
posted by raedyn at 12:21 PM on February 9, 2005 [1 favorite]


A good comprimise might be looking up your bully on Lexus Nexis. You could enjoy the knowledge that her job sucks, she's divorced, or has terrible credit.

Keep in mind, people do change, many for the better. Those who don't still have to live with themselves. I haven't met a lot of happy nasty people.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 12:30 PM on February 9, 2005


I think it's hard to let these things go because of what the bully represents. For me, I think the bully was an early encounter with injustice and the arbitrary nature of cruelty in life.

Psychologists have talked about the idea that we have a "just world hypothesis," which means that we believe that, overall, people get what they deserve - bad things will happen to bad people, and good things will happen to good. After being brought up to believe that, the bully was, for me, an early lesson in the falsity of the belief that I could escape suffering by being a nice person. I think it's much harder to let go of the idea that the world is just than it is to let go of the particular indignities we may have suffered at the hands of some jerk.

*I* think the best revenge is living creatively! Use those bad experiences - maybe write a story, or a memoir, or create a performance piece about your experiences being bullied.
posted by jasper411 at 12:37 PM on February 9, 2005 [2 favorites]


Two bully stories:

1) I had huge hair and big glasses and was generally unattractive through middle school. I moved to a new school in 7th grade and while I wasn't teased as much as I had been at my previous school, I still wasn't treated the best. One boy in particular was especially mean, and since he lived on my block, I was taunted on the bus each morning and afternoon. He moved away in 9th grade and moved back in 11th. By then, I had cut my hair, lost the glasses, learned to not dress like Blossom, and was considerably less nerdy. I knew who he was, but he didn't remember me, and he ended up asking me to prom. Though I didn't completely throw it in his face, I did ask, "Why would you want to date someone you called (insert horrible nickname here)?" The look on his face was priceless.

2) My boyfriend in high school was constantly teased for being gay (which he was, but wasn't out yet). I was full of the teenage angst and anger in high school, so when one younger kid shouted a name at my boyfriend in the hallway, I turned around and punched him in the face. We both were suspended for a while. On a trip home this past year, I ran into that kid in the grocery store. He was wearing very nice suit, so I assume he had a fairly decent job. I gave him a half-hearted wave, and the only thing he said was, "Still have the faggot boyfriend?"

So, the moral is: you never know. I'd say if you really want to confront the bully, go for it, but be prepared for any number of reactions, many of which might make you feel worse.
posted by Zosia Blue at 12:53 PM on February 9, 2005 [1 favorite]


Writing a story might be good advice -- it worked for me back in college to "exorcise" my junior high bullies (let's just say I was into U2 back in the days and in a part of the country when U2 were considered "fuckin' faggots" and Motley Crue were thought to be the apotheosis of cool). I wrote something for a writing class about how they'd all ended up living horrible lives (frankly, I have no idea if they really did; not only did I leave my hometown, so did the rest of my family and my friends, and so have no way to find out). Some time later, I realized with a mild shock that for the first time I didn't even remember all of their names.

Now, a good 20 years out of junior high, I can barely remember any of their faces or most of their names, and only think of how dreadful they were to me if I try to remember specifically what they did. (And it was pretty bad, to be honest -- there were teachers/parents who had to intervene several times for the sake of my physical safety.)

I don't particularly forgive anyone -- some, I'm sure, are nice people now who regret it; some, I'm sure, are not -- but in the end, by living a life I wanted to lead and leaving them behind, I was able to forget a lot of them. Also, I find the fact that U2 became the biggest band in the world while Motley Crue became a bunch of paunchy C-list celebrities to be an amusingly metaphoric revenge of sorts.
posted by scody at 1:19 PM on February 9, 2005


i wonder how much of a self-selection effect there is here? it seems to me that people are making excuses to avoid confrontation ("be mature", "let it go", "moral victory" etc). at the same time, people are often replying because they have experience of being bullied. so it might be that by the very nature of your question you're getting answers from people who are inclined to "turn the other cheek" (again, and again...).

disclaimer - i was bullied exactly once, hit the bastard back and kept hitting 'til we were pulled apart by a teacher. so my sympathies lie elsewhere. i'm also aware that i'm getting close to blaming the victim here - that's not my intention and apologies for that.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:52 PM on February 9, 2005


i was bullied exactly once, hit the bastard back and kept hitting 'til we were pulled apart by a teacher. so my sympathies lie elsewhere.

Yeah, well, what if you were a girl being bullied by a boy -- or group of boys? (That was primarily the pattern of what happened to me, though two main tormenters were girls.) Or a small boy being bullied by larger boys? I'm not trying to be defensive or belligerent, Andrew -- just pointing out that "hit back" is often times simply impossible, by the very nature of bullying.

it might be that by the very nature of your question you're getting answers from people who are inclined to "turn the other cheek" (again, and again...).

I wonder, again, if you might have it backwards -- kids who are inclined to "turn the other cheek" (or somehow appear less likely to fight back, for whatever reasons of physical size, personality, social isolation, etc.) seem to me to be ones who are often more vulnerable to be targeted by bullies.
posted by scody at 2:01 PM on February 9, 2005


i'm not sure what points you're trying to make, scody. if i was someone else i wouldn't be me and wouldn't report what happened to me, would i? but my argument would still stand - it seems likely that people are replying here if they have been bullied, and that might be correlated with avoiding confrontation. your second point suggests you've got my argument backwards.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:14 PM on February 9, 2005


I was not bullied (always tall and big for my age, and generally hard-headed anyway), and as I suggested above, I believe the best way to evaluate her options is to test their impact on her own emotions after everything has played out. That's a call she would have to make for herself after ruminating on her feelings in these imagined scenarios, but I suspect that dropping it is a strong contender when evaluated with this perspective.
posted by NortonDC at 2:52 PM on February 9, 2005


andrew cooke, perhaps we're somehow talking at cross-purposes, then. Civa's post is asking about feedback from people who've been bullied (or did the bullying), and if/how they confronted their bullies (or victims) long after the fact. Also, from the nature of her description (and most of the stories here), "bullying" seems to me to refer to prolonged torment, not just a single event as you describe.

Your response about how you stopped your bully by hitting back seemed to suggest that what people should do (or should have done at the time) was not turn the other cheek -- in other words, when bullied, one should hit back and thereby put an end to the bullying, case closed. It's great that it worked in your case, but as I was trying to make clear, that response simply isn't always possible for a whole host of perfectly legitimate reasons -- and in any case, didn't seem to be what Civa is asking.

it seems likely that people are replying here if they have been bullied, and that might be correlated with avoiding confrontation.

Possibly, although I was actually pretty confrontational in a lot of ways at the time when I was bullied (over the course of three years at two different schools) -- at one point, in fact, the more confrontational I got, the more the bullying escalated.

But leaving that aside and assuming for the time being some correlation between getting bullied and avoiding confrontation, then isn't it beside the point to expect (in a thread asking for feedback from people who have been bullied) to hear from people who advocate confrontation with a bully -- that is, the same group of people who (presuming the above correlation) are less likely to have been bullied in the first place?

A simpler explanation may be that those of us who did get bullied for a prolonged period of time just learned growing into adulthood that confrontation doesn't always work. Honestly, I'm not trying to get into it with you* -- just felt that your initial "I hit back, so my sympathies lie elsewhere/sorry for getting close to blaming the victim here" response seemed to miss the point of the question and subsequent answers.

*and not because I avoid confrontation as a rule! ;)
posted by scody at 3:10 PM on February 9, 2005


Dean Keaton:

As suggested by the NLA book from Paladin Press on how to be a hitman, run a rat tail file down the barrel to obscure any identifying marks (do .22 pistols even have rifling?), and remove the firing pin and pound it flat with a hammer. Then take a drive out to the countryside, and hopefully find a water-filled drainage ditch alongside the road. Every few miles throw a different piece of the pistol out the window, into the ditch.

In junior high school I was bullied mercilessly in PE class. Moved to another state. Started 9th grade in one school and was largely ignored. Moved to a different part of town after one quarter and was ignored there, too. Started my sophomore year at one of the (at the time three-year) high schools and for two years was subjected off and on to more bullying. My final year of high school was in a different town, but somehow I decided to stand up to the bullies there and what-do-ya-know, they left me alone. After that I hardly ever gave a thought to the bullies from the other schools. Suddenly I was over the whole bully-victim thing. I made my own closure.

With my 20 year reunion coming up this year, there won't be a need for confrontations. Or busting a cap in someone's ear hole.
posted by friarjohn at 4:03 PM on February 9, 2005


Standing up to them! Why didn't I ever think of that?

Seriously, when it works, it's great.
posted by transona5 at 4:36 PM on February 9, 2005


a while ago i met one of my more serious tormentors ... he'd turned into a local bar rat, had been in jail and his partner in bullying had been in and out of prison ... he just looked small and insignificant to me ... confronting him over it would have been pointless so i didn't

there are others, but i wouldn't go out of my way to seek them out ... i'm more interested in the people i liked
posted by pyramid termite at 7:15 PM on February 9, 2005


Standing up to them! Why didn't I ever think of that?

It's one thing to think it. It's quite another to do it. It only took me about a decade to work up to it.
posted by friarjohn at 8:27 PM on February 9, 2005


I'm with scody...the more confrontational I got, the more the bullying escalated. I was bullied throughout seventh grade by a group of about five large eighth graders, but for while, it just consisted of low-level violence, insults, and sexual harassment.

One day, I was walking down the hallway when they all stood together, blocking my path. I was walking with a friend, another seventh-grade girl, and there weren't many other people around. I decided I'd tried ignoring the bullying for too long, so I told the girl in my path to move. She got closer and stared at me. So I said, "Move, bitch." She slammed me up against the lockers and held me there by my throat while she yelled at me. She finally dropped me on the floor and they all stalked away. Yeah, standing up to them didn't work out so well for me.

Interestingly, I recently reconnected with the friend who was with me that day, and she said that she felt about as powerless that day as she ever has. She remembered it as clearly as I had. I feel incredibly lucky to have her back in my life...and besides, I hear that my primary bully, Mr. Star Quarterback, suffered a terrible injury that shattered his knees. Hope that makes it harder for him to pin down little girls.
posted by equipoise at 8:53 PM on February 9, 2005 [2 favorites]


I'm in line with jacquilynne and u.n. owen.

I think meeting the bully would do you good, but not if you're out for revenge.

Closure is what you need, if you can get that by letting go, great. If not, maybe just saying to the bully "Hi, I wish we'd gotten along better in school." might get you the closure you seem to need.
posted by forforf at 10:07 PM on February 9, 2005


Track her down, then decide. Much depends on what you find.
posted by pracowity at 11:47 PM on February 9, 2005


Your response about how you stopped your bully by hitting back seemed to suggest that what people should do...

i was just trying to explain my background, since i was raising the question about whether people's responses were correlated with their experiences. i explicitly said that i wasn't blaming the victim - ie that i wasn't criticising how bullied people behaved.

[me:] it seems likely that people are replying here if they have been bullied, and that might be correlated with avoiding confrontation.

Possibly [...]


we agree then. that's all i was saying - that this is a possibility (one i thought interesting to consider - perhaps because i have a background in the sciences where hidden bias in data is an important topic).
posted by andrew cooke at 12:24 AM on February 10, 2005


I went through some pretty bad social shit in high school. I mean, really pretty bad, some of it. I don't have any desire to confront or find or know about any of those people. Before my parents moved from my home town I saw some from time to time. It just didn't matter to me, they were just strangers, no more or less important than people I went to school with but never knew or interacted with at all. My life today is so much bigger and the things in it are so much more important to me than even the darkest periods of my youth.

Civa, I guess it depends on just how bad the treatment was - if the issue were sexual abuse, say, I doubt so many people would be telling you to "let it go" - but the fact that you are thinking about tracking this person down and confronting them sugggests that events that happened 15 years ago are still having enough of an impact on you that you feel an urge to do something about them. I hate to get all Dr. Phil on you but I think that a more reliably worthwhile use of your time and mental energy would be working on resolving those issues. What the "let it go" people don't acknowledge is that if something did a number on you emotionally the whole problem is that you can't let it go. Solving that problem means going back to the memories and emotions and dealing with them in a way that allows getting on with your life. Counselling might be a necessary part of that.

Is letting go allowing the bullies win again? Letting their actions continue to have a negative impact on you is letting them win. For me, now, the idea of my past bullies "winning" or "losing" with me, is meaningless: they are simply irrelevant to my life. I guess my worry is, if this potential confrontation is being seen as some sort of path to instant closure, chances are it's gonna fail. This person, by your description, had 2 years of your life. You're still thinking about it after 15 years. Seeing them is not going to clear up whatever is sticking with you after all that time.
posted by nanojath at 12:50 AM on February 10, 2005 [1 favorite]


About confrontation: It doesn't work universally as an anti-bullying method. In many cases this is due to the different methods of socialization experienced by girls and by boys. Often, girls tend to bully using a psychological element in addition to the threat or use of violence. Mockery, ridicule, and exclusion are very effective methods of establishing dominance for girls -- and dominance is what bullying is about.

So even if the bullied person stands up and confronts a girl bully, or even physically attacks in return, the bully will usually not drop the tail between the legs and slink off like boy bullies commonly would. The girl bully simply adds another notch to her belt, because not only did she goad you into attacking her, but she can now laugh over the idea that she got under the skin of the victim that much. And so the bullied person still hasn't gotten anywhere, and the bully enjoys a win-win dynamic -- mock the victim if the victim takes it quiety; mock the victim if the victim fights back. I've seen this appalling behavior dozens of times as a teacher.
posted by Miko at 6:35 AM on February 10, 2005 [1 favorite]


Treat him like you always wish he would have treated you...

If he (she) acts like a jerk... that just tough... that's just life.

"A gentle answer turns away wrath." - The Bible - New International Version
posted by bamassippi at 11:34 AM on February 17, 2005


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