My name is Ellie and I'm 16 years old. For the last three years, since moving to Auckland and starting at a new high school, I have been bullied by a group of five girls.
It started off small. The girls would whisper about me, make sarcastic remarks and ignore me. I felt so confused and wondered constantly to myself, what I had done to offend them? I hoped it would pass soon because it really hurt.
I later learnt the initial cause of their hatred towards me was that one of them, (a tall girl with shoulder-length brown hair, called Jane*), had liked a guy in our class. His name was Harry* and Harry told his friends that he wasn’t into her. He actually liked me.
Little did Harry know what a painful and isolating effect his innocent, flattering comment would have on the next three years of my life.
The bullying picked up steam as false rumours were spread about me having an STI and cheating in tests. One morning I overheard a group of guys at school laughing and saying, "Jane said that s*ut Ellie sleeps around so much and that she caught something nasty".
I ran to the bathroom in tears, shocked that someone could make up such a lie and doubly shocked that it was me that they were talking about.
The words we say about each other have a really big impact but it seems we have become so disconnected to the fact that it's a HUMAN BEING that is being talked about. A daughter, a sister, a person who is capable of so much kindness and love.
Before long, barely anyone at school spoke to me. I convinced myself it would get better, that the bullies would lose interest or would forget about me over the holidays. But as time went on, it didn't stop. It only got more intense and more painful.
Then, the stealing, verbal harassment and online bullying started. Texts from private numbers started arriving 5,10, 20 times a day saying things like; "You f*cking ugly b*tch. No one likes you, just leave our school.” Or "You w*ore, no man will ever want you’re so basic and ugly."
I felt so lonely and confused. I began to not only hate them but myself too.
I started skipping school, telling my parents I don't feel well or just not going to class. I regularly got a new phone number but it didn’t last long before they would get hold of it and abuse me. My grades, which had been reasonably high before, began declining. Not only did I miss class but I couldn’t focus, I avoided people and didn’t want to attract attention by doing well.
I felt so anxious, depressed and I could barely eat or sleep.
The shame of telling my family or teachers that my peers hate and bully me felt too much to bear. I already felt small enough, I didn't want others to know about it and judge me for it, too.
So, I kept it locked inside.
I read self-help books and watched YouTube clips in an attempt to understand what was happening to me and to soothe my deep, dark suffering. I tried to keep in touch with my old friends but they lived in the South Island and had new friends and lives now.
I tried to focus on the good in life, I exercised and tried to learn about what was happening...why my bullies might be doing what they do to me and how I can respond to them. I tried to cheer myself up by going through old cards and messages from friends and family to remind myself that I am loved. But I have to say, it was very, very difficult.
One day, in September 2016, I arrived at school and one of the girls, Lauren*, who had been bullying me and making my life a living hell asked if we could talk. I didn’t want to but she started speaking rapidly, apologising for the hell she has caused me. Saying that it eats away at her and asking if she can make it up to me.
Make it up to me? Make it up to me?!?! I doubted that was possible.
She apologised very convincingly for the suffering she had caused me and said that she and her friends had a falling out and she was no longer friends with them. Lauren invited me over to her house after school and asked if we could start over and be friends.
I’m not really sure why I went to Lauren’s house that day. I guess I was so lonely and desperate to be accepted, to belong, to forgive and forget about this living nightmare.
We watched a movie on my iPad and hung out until it was time for me to go home. Whilst I was in the bathroom, Lauren, unbeknown to me, took my iPad out from my school bag and hid it.
Thirty minutes later, by the time I got home and realised my iPad wasn't in my bag, it was too late. Lauren had watched me unlock it and noted the password. She had opened my Facebook and IG and sent messages, made posts and shared photos. Photos that weren’t naked or sexual, but screenshots of my messages and photos that were personal and I would never put online.
It was the straw that broke the camels back for me. I was devastated and absolutely broken. I was vulnerable and had been taken advantage of so cruelly. I crawled up into a ball and cried my heart out. I didn’t want to live anymore. Life was too hard, too painful. I couldn’t go on facing this bullying, the messages, the rumours, the stealing, the lies, the hurt every day.
The mental, emotional and physical pain of bullying had taken away too much of my life and brought me to question my existence as a human being. The pain was excruciating.
My mum came home from work to find me in the foetal position, crying hysterically on my bed.
Frightened, I shared everything about the nearly three years of excruciating pain and torment.
I felt the weight lifting from my shoulders as I shared first with mum, then with Dad when he got home later. I had a rush of relief when I realised I didn’t need to “fix” the situation myself. My parents didn’t judge me, they only wanted to support me and to help change the situation.
Mum was devastated and blamed herself for not noticing what was happening, which was painful for me to see, whilst Dad was angry and protective. There was simply no way they could have picked it up as I was so guarded and kept the pain close to my chest. I had become expert at hiding it.
Mum, Dad and I went to meet with our school Principal that same week. I was scared to tell the Principal everything and present him with the evidence.
I guess I feared how my harassers would react. Would they make my life even worse? Was that even possible at this point? I decided to take the risk, knowing underneath that I would never return to the school.
The girls got suspended from school and they had to undergo counselling with the guidance counsellor upon returning.
I really don’t wish them harm but I just want them to feel how their words, behaviour and actions hurt so deeply. I want them to get help so that they don’t treat anyone else like they treated me.
In what felt like a miracle Dad got offered a job transfer to Wellington just a few days after I opened up about everything I was going through. It was a no-brainer. I could start over at a new school and leave behind the years of torment. Not everyone who goes through bullying is lucky enough to get a fresh start, so I feel pretty happy and grateful for the opportunity.
I haven't heard from any of the girls at my old school since I left last September. I have been at my new school now for four months now and I have fallen in with a really nice group of friends. The stress and anxiety I felt it so much lighter now but it is a work in progress.
My job now is to rebuild and part of rebuilding for me is going through therapy and learning to heal my wounds and forgive those girls who bullied me.
To anyone else going through bullying or even peer pressure, I want you to know that you aren’t alone. If I could do anything differently, I would have opened up earlier. I wish I didn’t waste nearly three years of my life suffering in silence, hoping for it to go away but not acting on it.
Your life is too precious and you are too precious not to have the help and support you deserve.
Ellie’s painful story about bullying is one of many and there are support options available:
And, of course, you can contact us here at RealYou for support. We have two qualified counsellors on board, answering your questions. We would love to connect with, and support you.
* indicates a name change
Lea Fruean is authentic, dedicated and inspirational. Not to mention ranked second in the world Junior 60kg division ...
Major companies such as Google and Nike encourage their employees to take time out of their working day to nourish th...
Food was kind of like a bad relationship for me. I knew I shouldn’t go back to it but being alone, feeling rejected a...