Literally every time I hear someone say that bullying is a form of abuse I feel this sense of relief wash over me. Like, validation. This person won’t think I’m being silly or it wasn’t that bad or I need to toughen up. It was actually a tumblr post that helped me admit I’ve been abused. Like, I’ve had a mental health professional confirm to me that it counts as abuse. The NSPCC lists it as a form of child abuse. The things I’ve been through fit with descriptions of abuse. But when you say that word, bullying, you never know what people will think it means. Because it’s used to mean such a wide range of things.
I wish we used the term peer abuse more. Because bullying is like, taken seriously one minute and made into a joke the next. And you’re not expected to still be profoundly affected by childhood bullying as an adult. School isn’t supposed to be traumatic. I feel ashamed because there’s this air around the topic like, it’s just kids playing games. It wasn’t even always just the kids, but it’s like I’ve internalised that attitude that I am the joke. I am a living joke and if I expect to be treated as a person, that’s even funnier.
And I see that on this website a lot too and it puts me on guard, because with some people it won’t matter if I’m sincere and reasonable and polite, they’ll figure out a way to make that a joke because all they want to do is laugh at others. And I mean some people I know rationally wouldn’t do that, but it still feels like there’s always a chance. That’s what it’s like constantly in my head. Say and do all the right things, say please and thank you and did you apologise enough times for existing? One wrong move and you could become a living joke again!