Welp, I am back again. Oh and so soon! However, I am trying to get better at blogging more often.
This is the first of what I hope will be many stories I plan to share on here this summer. If you look back you will see where I used several resources with great suggestions on how to be a good friend. Plus, some of my own. Things I have learned as I have healed and grown.
I want you all to meet Lizzie. She is also a an adult who survived childhood peer abuse. This is a story of tragedy and pain. I want you to see how abusive her peers and even friends were to her. So, here is Lizzie in her own words…….
I was thoroughly abused in my childhood and teen years and it impacted my confidence and mental health. It has destroyed me. Here I share how this childhood peer abuse has affected me.
I do not remember much about my early life. However, I can remember clearly by the time I was three. By that time, we had moved to a different area twice. I was born in my mums hometown. My dad worked on jobs based on contracts so we had to move every so often. When I was a baby, we moved to a different town and after six months moved to my mothers hometown again. When I was two my sister was born. We lived in a nice neighborhood and I have so many great memories of this time. I went to nursery and playgroup. I was so happy and a mischevious thing. I could just be myself without anxiety and self-concousness; I made friends easily. My auntie, uncle and grandparents on my mums side lived close by even though my auntie lived abroad for several years.
When I was four. mum decided to move back to dad. I started a new primary school and I made many friends including a best friend named Charlotte. I was popular and when I had to move at the age of six, I was showered with cards and gifts from my friends and teachers on my last day. I had moved back to mums hometown for 11 months and made some nice friends at school. However, we had to move again as dad could not find work. When we moved back I wanted to attend my old school but there were no spaces available. So, I had to attend this new school as this is where my bullying began. They would make fun of my clothes, accent and call me names. I was chased around the playground by gangs of kids. They bossed me around and tripped me up. They even pretended that I had what was called the “lergy.” I spent lunch period wandering the playground with nobody to play with. I was never invited to birthday parties. There was one girl who had a birthday party at a indoor playground. She invited many in the class but not me. She said the reason was the bullies would turn on her if she did. I remember one girl saying “Go back where you came from. Nobody wants you here.” I had never been so lonely in my life. I still kept in touch with CHarlotte. However, she eventually replaced me with a new best friend. As primary school progressed, the abuse calmed down a bit. I still did not fit in with my class. However, I managed to make friends who were in the year below me. In my last year of primary school I would read books, writing stories and poems. I was even published for some of them. I still wanted to be a kid while others my age were in a hurry to grow up. They told me I needed to grow up and stop hanging around the kids a year below me. If not, I was not going to fit in at high school.
I started high school and left my friends from the year below behind. All the other kids that came from different primary schools were also in such a hurry to grow up. They were all into makeup, swearing, sex, bras etc. where I was immature in comparison. I did meet one friend who was probably more unpopular than I was. That seemed to bring my reputation so I figured I better stop hanging out with her. It seems so mean but at that age you are dying to fit in. The friends from the old primary school also came to high school and I was reunited with several of them. I was also reunited with Charlotte and she made it clear that she had other friends. She even joined in on the abuse when it happened. I made friends with another girl and we hung out on the weekends. However, she would turn against me and she along with another friend would ignore me. Also, they would run away from me and thump me on the back. In my second year of school, things went from bad to worse. I had gotten the idea that if I acted and meowed like a cat that people would find me funny and want to talk to me. Of course the opposite happened and I was abused again. I was trying to cope with this at school. One day I came home, hid under the covers and cried. Mum contacted the school and they referred me to the school counselor. She told me that I needed to make an effort to smile and be nice to them. However, I had given up and would not talk to anyone. My parents moved me to a small private school. Things were worse when I got here. Because of my previous experiences it had knocked my confidence and I felt incredibly shy around those I did not know. The kids picked up on that and I experienced the worse abuse I had ever experienced. The kids called me “retard” and “dumbass.” Also would imitate me, take the mick out of me push me down stairs, kicked my chair during lessons until I would fall over completely. They would sharpen pencils and jab them into me. They would pull up plastic and leave it in my hair. Also, I was intentionally left out of things. They made nasty comments about me even when I was in the room. They took this to the internet and to the Bebo website to slander me. Also, they said they made masks of me and use them to scare others. As a result, nobody would be caught dead around me. When I went out, there would be kids from my previous school and would verbally abuse me. I became frightened of going out and when I did, I felt as if everyone was staring at me. When I walked down the street I would hear voices and screaming. I had decided enough was enough, my reputation was shot here and I needed to get to a whole new area. I would go on holiday to dads hometown. I really liked it there and told my parents that I would like to move there. A whole new area and a fresh start away from the abuse. I hoped to be free of the abuse and be in a place where I had no history.
By the age of 14, we had uprooted and moved to my dads hometown. I had passed the exam to get into an all girls grammar school. By that time I had developed full blown social anxiety and paranoia. I also had low self-esteem and this was how the abuse and social isolation affected me. I was petrified to talk to anyone and show them the real me. This was because I was afraid they would think I was weird and as a result not want to be my friend. Of course being shy and distant from others did not win me any friends either. My grandmother passed away six weeks before moving there and it was too much to take on at age 14. During lunch and break times I would wander around the school or on the toilet. I remember walking into the lunchroom and see girls around me at tables and groups chatting and laughing. When I would perch myself down at a table, I would literally shake my legs under it. I would skip school and as I had no friends would spend a great deal of time in my room alone. Eventually, it got to where I would refuse to go to school. I still took my GSCE exams but did not do as well as I could have. I began to self harm by cutting myself on my arms. Once my mum and sister caught me with a lot of paracetamol I was planning to take. I started to see a counselor and mentor.
At the age of 16, we returned to the area we lived in previously. I had started college then. I chose a college which was over an hour away by bus to avoid running into any old abusers. As the other students had their friends from school, I had not known a soul. It was scary and I started roaming around the college alone. I would try and sit near groups of people so it would not appear that I was alone. The bus rides were horrible too. Many students took the same bus and would sit in groups and laugh and make lots of noise. I looked so stupid sitting as a “billy-no-mates” on my tod. I stuck college out and the second year I made three friends outside of my class. I would spend my free periods with them.
I left college shortly before the age of 18. I took a job as a carer in a nursing home. Two were for the elderly and one was for adults with mental problems. One of the nursing homes I worked in I was abused by my co-workers. I was also in an abusive relationship and my boyfriend dumped me. I enjoyed drama and dance and went to amateur dance and drama societies. However, being around the people would trigger flashbacks and panic attacks from being in school.
When I was 18.5 I had a nervous breakdown. My GP advised me to quit my job and referred me to mental health services.
A few years on, I am detained under the Mental Health Act in a psychiatric hospital. I have been diagnosed with depression, schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. I still experience really bad social anxiety and have low confidence. I also find it very hard to make friends. I do not know if I would have developed mental illness had I not been abused as a child. I know the abuse has had an impact on my confidence and definitely was the cause of my social anxiety. Everyday I wish I could turn the clock back to when I was that happy and carefree child. I really wish that one day I could rise above the abuse I suffered, get my health and confidence back, do what I want to do in life and make friends again. I hope one day I will be able to add a happy ending to the story and help victims get passed their own traumas.
I hope sharing my story has helped in raising awareness that childhood peer abuse is just as traumatic as other types of abuse. Thank you for reading.
Thank you Lizzie for sharing this with us. I am so sorry you had to live this during the crucial years of your life. You know how cruel people can really be. My prayer is that you heal completely. You deserve only the best.