Elizabeth Bennett

 
Elizabeth is an Adult Survivor of Peer Abuse and knows first hand how this leaves life long affects on a person. Through healing on her own she has managed to come through the ashes and gone from victim to survivor. Read Elizabeth’s story and open your eyes to some hard core clinical facts that come with this form of abuse.
 

 

A note from Elizabeth: First off, the glory for every bit of this goes to Jesus Christ. I went through some horrific situations for a very long time. I have looked back and seen how all of this was part of GOD’s perfect plan for my life. HE takes messes and makes missions. HE certainly took mine and did just that. If you wish to know Christ, email me and will help you. I have healed from the psychological part in this and am praying for healing over the physical stuff. It’s been a crazy ride but would never want to change any bit of this.

Elizabeth’s story in her own words:

I was born a child of curiosity, precociousness and feelings that ran very deep. Some would say that I am an old soul and can vouch for that. I walked and talked early and am an only child. One thing I never learned as an only child was to fight back and even today I am not that good at it. I also learned during these early years that people were not always so nice.

As young as three years old I remember being pushed around by the kids in the neighborhood and having rocks thrown at me. If I was outside riding my bicycle or even went outside they would taunt me. Threats of “you cannot play if you do not do this or that” were all too common. There were times when they set me up to get into trouble when they should have been in trouble. No adult intervened as I was being too sensitive. Yes, I was and still am sensitive and cried easily. Not everyone is wired to have thick skin yet nobody seemed to understand that. At school, nobody wanted to play with me either. I was different and it was annoying. If I did play with someone I was always “it” in tag and trying to stand up for myself only got responses of being spit at or pushed into mud puddles. Once again, I was in trouble and for not staying clean. I never told because who would believe me? I learned very early on that it was me against the world. Also, that standing up for oneself got you into more trouble than it was worth.

In the 3rd grade, my parents decided to move me to a private school. A whole new environment with a group of spoiled children. These were some of the towns best and brightest around. The taunts continued, the crying on my part continued. During the day, I would put my head down on my desk and everyone would walk up and just hit it. Why? No reason it was just something to do. The taunts eventually led to the abusers hiding my clothes in the locker room after gym class. My parents were frustrated because I was not making the grades they wanted and was having trouble with my peers. Once again, I was the bad one and everyone else was good. Also, I was an easy target because I was emotional and sensitive. Abusers always go after those perceived as weak. I was just tired of being misunderstood. Even today I feel misunderstood a lot.

At this point in life, I was learning that friendship meant being mean to others. It meant taking the blame for others behavior. Keeping everyone around me happy and begging GOD every night to let me have some peace. I suffered headaches and stomachaches. At the same time, I was tired of these Queen Bee’s terrorizing everyone around me. This behavior really got to me and made me mad. I learned that certain behaviors and rules did not apply to them and man did they fly under the radar of the adults around them. I started to create a fantasy world at this point just to cope. I had my parents on my back every day about grades and at school I had these abusers who would not leave me alone. Then, the kids at home would not stop the abuse. It was the only way I knew to cope.

The beginning of 4th grade was an extreme makeover in my life. My family moved into another neighborhood and the private school was closed due to funding problems. YAY! I could breathe and look up instead of down every day. The kids in the neighborhood were not little terrorists (yet, that came later). However, I encountered the Queen Bee of the street who I will call Jill. Jill was younger than I was but was cute, charming and everyone thought she was great. The two other girls on our street were introduced to me through Jill and we all were friends together. The things I soon learned were that Jill called the shots. There were rules that applied to everyone else and rules for Jill. If Jill and I both wanted something, the other two would immediately side with Jill and insist she have it. Or, if Jill had someone visiting that did not live near us, we could watch them play together but were not allowed to play. Or, if the three of us were already involved in something and Jill came along, they dropped everything and did whatever Jill wanted them to do. The behavior of the other two was confusing to me because one minute we would be laughing and playing and the next, they would ignore me or snap at me all because Jill came along. Now, Jill could talk to us any way she chose and treat us any way she chose. Her behavior really annoyed me yet the other two saw nothing wrong with this set up. I started vocalizing my own thoughts which was a huge mistake. This led to Jill telling her mother how horrible I was and her mother orchestrating a situation that I had no idea would happen and change my life completely. Until this incident I had no idea how powerful Jill really was and how far she would go to destroy any person in her way.

The 7th grade brought many changes. Everyone had hit puberty which led to hormones gone amuck. Toys were stored in the attic and being cool was in. It was all about having the right clothes, hair and make-up. One of the two girls on my street was in my set of classes that year. For me, I was excited as I considered her my BFF and we finally got classes together. However, instead of it being a time of celebration it was a nightmare. Like any young girl going through puberty we were fussy and emotional. We got on each others nerves. However, what I had come to me was nothing resembling normal. My friend decided to turn on me along with the other girl and Jill. Soon there were whispers in the class and pointing. Lots of people would look at me, point and then whisper. This filtered into the other classrooms and the school bus. Taunts were made, the hair pulling started and it grew worse. One night my mother and I went out to get fast food and she saw a lady she knew from another church in the community. That lady asked what was going on with Jill and her mother. My mother was confused and the lady stated that Jills mother and Jill were spreading lies in their church about me! Yes, a woman from another neighborhood and another church had made my mother aware of the vicious lies going around and this woman did not live anywhere near us! We were flabbergasted! No wonder everyone was pointing and whispering. These lies started flying through school and I had no idea where to turn. I did not know who to trust. One day I would have a friend and the next they were joining in the gossip. I would go to church and the same thing happened. Anywhere in the community I would go there would be stares, giggles, whispers and nasty comments. The bus rides consisted of hair pulling, threats of “kicking my butt” and having objects thrown at me. Do you know the sad part? It started with Jill and she was still in elementary school and not even in middle school where this was going on. Oh, but don’t think the kids at the elementary school were keeping quiet. They were on the bandwagon as well. I could not escape this and it was always my fault. If I would stop being so sensitive they would leave me alone. Maybe if I tried to talk to them they would come around. What was it I was doing to anger these people? When I sought help these are the responses I got. Nobody ever took responsibility for their actions. My parents went to the school and nobody cooperated with them in helping me. Everywhere I went I was the bad kid and that was that! Humph!

At this point, I was ready to kill myself. It was too much and hard to handle. I suffered headaches, stomachaches, had nightmares, could not concentrate and my clinical depression was triggered at this point. Every day was a nightmare. Why did this happen? I did not follow Jill’s rules and I was a fussy pubescent girl. So I paid for normal reactions to my body with my reputation and my physical and mental health.

At the start of the 8th grade, my parents went to the school and insisted I be moved away from these tormentors and not have classes with them. I was scheduled to have many classes with them but only had one and that was orchestra. Orchestra was horrible because everyone in the class was involved with the rumors and games. I would go to class and they would all be there. For a couple of weeks, a couple of the abusers would get together and think up ways to make me cry or try to make me cry in class. By this point I just wanted to be left alone but no could do on their part. I even remember them placing bets on who could make me cry first on a particular day. As for me being moved out of the classes with them well they knew it was because of them and decided I needed to be punished for my parents moving me out of those classes. Oh and my 13th birthday was just memorable. I had one of my so called friends from church let me know that nobody liked me at school. One of my abusers moved over to her school and shared that sweet bit of information. As for the abusers in the neighborhood, the day of my party, they gathered in front of my yard and yelled “Marco! Polo!” as it was a pool party. Several parents who came to pick up their children noticed this when the left and let my mother know they were doing this. Yet, nobody tried to stop them or get involved. What did I learn from my abusers at this point? Lets see, having normal pubescent reactions were not allowed to me. I did not cater to a Queen Bee so I was slandered throughout my community. Friendship meant selling your soul. Any act that was not my doing was still my fault. Oh and that my own well being was not validated. Yes, I was in pain but showing it just made others happy. Rules and opinions were not allowed of me. Oh and that I was scum of the earth. At 13 I almost took my life. My grades were terrible, I begged people to like me, I did not know how to socialize like a normal person. I was a psychological mess and it was my own fault.

Oh 9th grade…..a time when I was trying to be optimistic. We were going to be merged with kids from two other middle schools and it was my chance to meet new people and get away from my abusers. Little did I know that abusers attract more abusers. That year I would do anything to be liked. I tried hard probably too hard to be accepted. Yet, the abusers from middle school found the abusers at other schools and they jumped on the bandwagon. The rumors from Jill had calmed down but it was still social suicide to like me. Jill was in middle school at this point and her popularity was still in tact. Her followers were still doing her dirty work. During that year all of my hopes vanished and I was clinically depressed, physically weak, mentally unstable and I finished the year with 3 F’s, 2 D’s and a B. The B was in orchestra. I repeated the 9th grade at a private Catholic School where my BFF at the time was Sadie. Sadie and I had a difficult history as I had met her in the 4th grade. We use to fight with each other and I abused her. Well, Sadie and I patched things up but she was bent on getting revenge and she got it. See, Sadie and I would be BFF’s until someone else came along. Then, Sadie would befriend them and turn on me. Then, the one she befriended turned on me. Sadie would take my secrets and use them against me. Also, she knew how off balance and insecure I was so she used it to her advantage. That year was a huge blur to me as I was friends with two other girls but more or less a tag along. Sadie had her big buddy and when they stopped hanging around together, she came back to me and would try to get me against the other two girls. It worked and I thought this was normal and what friends did. They turned on you, told all of your secrets, used stuff against you and then came back to you when they tired of that someone else. I thought this was normal and it’s not! Not only was I dealing with this confusion but I got mono that year and missed a lot of school. We were only allowed twenty days to be absent so I spent many days has half days. All of this abuse caught up with me physically and emotionally I just could not function.

My teen years were a blur. A lot of backstabbing behavior. I remember drinking and smoking to cope with these issues. The depression was out of control and I attempted suicide twice during high school. My grades were in the toilet and I stopped eating and got rid of food. I was 5’8 and weighed 85 lbs when I was seventeen. Everyone kept getting angry at me for not trying, being spacey and if I had stopped behaving as I did maybe people would not react to me as they did. As for normal relationships well I let people use and treat me any way they chose. My insecurities were out of control and there was nothing healthy in any of this. Someone would pull something or try to manipulate me and I would react which only led to me getting more isolated. Again, it was always me as the bad guy. Never mind that I lost trust in family, allowed people to damage my property and threaten me. This is a period of life that I believe I blocked out because it got to be too much.

College…..the first two years I had the issues and insecurities. However, I was out of the environment and away from these abusers from my past. I was tired of being the third wheel everywhere I went. I found a new coping mechanism and that was to study and study all the time. My grades were excellent during those years but I was lonely and again did not know how to maintain normal relationships. My Junior year of college I transferred to a four year school and was put in another situation that had my triggers going off like gangbusters. I had planned to room with a friend from high school who had been there two years already. The summer before we started school she and another girl called housing and tried to get me moved out of the room. It did not work as they needed my permission before having me move. So she chose to make my life a nightmare instead. Being there two years she had established herself and I only knew two other girls from my previous school. Instead of them helping me they sided with this particular friend that I will call Mandy. Mandy had a lot of power and influence over the girls in our suite and the other two fell under her spell. I was nervous wreck and that only angered the other two girls. Mandy had gotten a good many people against me and they used psychological manipulation to get me out of the room. It worked and I moved out. However, Mandy was just getting started. She would prank call me in my other room and had gotten people we knew in high school against me. Yes, I was a wreck and I cried constantly. However, I was tortured and nobody would help me. One night I went out and drove around. I was crying and a police car pulled me over. I kept screaming that I wanted to die. He called my parents and they were angry at me for waking them up and for me to stop this nonsense. I really knew then that it was me against the world. After that semester I moved off campus and got as far away from Mandy as I could. I was that scarred and traumatized. I spent a lot of time alone coming face to face with myself and did a lot of drinking that nobody knew about just to numb this pain. To this day I do not want Mandy any where near me. Deep down I believe she is dangerous and knew the damage she was capable of. I did manage to make a couple of friends in school but dove into my studies full force. I graduated with a 3.1 and had a heck of a lot of issues.

By 1993 I reached a point of no turning back. The depression was overwhelming, I was having nightmares every night. I would drive by places like my old school and get highly upset. It would bring back horrid memories for me. I was doing good to make it through the day and I just could not take it. I went to the Doctor and he put me on lithium. I was officially diagnosed with Bi-polar II illness which is mainly clincial depression with not so high “highs.” During my first year of college I was told by a Counselor that I had “Manic-depressive tendencies” but did not get a diagnosis. One thing that started clicking was therapy. I had been in therapy since I was fifteen and could never be reached. It took getting on medication to start to get to work. It was hard because my issues were from the peer abuse and of course that is not a clinical issue right now and certainly was not then.

I found myself in the workplace to be a psychological mess. I was a people pleaser trying so hard not to make enemies of my co-workers or get them upset. I feared the abuse that badly. The more and harder I tried to make nice the worse the abuse got. You see, abusers seek people who are not healthy and at the time I thought I deserved every bit that I got. I was always afraid my co-workers were out to get me. They sure did get aggravated with me. Good solid Christian people who snapped at me constantly, blamed for things others did and slandered me for trying to deal with my own stuff. In three jobs I was abused at work. The abuser would always be charming and knew who to abuse and not abuse so the boss would usually fall under their spell. One time an abuser threatened me in private. At another job, one kept playing games and keeping everyone upset and I had had enough. So, I snapped back and told her off. It all came out like verbal diarrhea. Her response? “Do you see what we have to put up with?” This is classic verbage for abusers at work. Anytime I help someone who goes through this at work, their abusers tend to resort to this type of language.  My mental state was not good. My social anxiety had kicked in during my college years so I was terrified of socializing. I honestly did not know how. I sought relationships with people older than me and I still do. It is because of this abuse and I felt and still feel safer with people older than myself. What I did not realize was that these events were my triggers and triggers are what keeps clinical depression alive. Clinical depression is a serious and fragile problem and it was controlling me. The games people played in these places of employment had me going off like gang busters. By the time I was 31 I had a nervous breakdown. All of the insecurities, depression taking control, social anxiety, PTSD….it all caught up with me. I was physically and mentally spent. I had ulcers, high blood pressure and was over weight. I was diagnosed with borderline diabetes. It took me a year to recover and I almost lost my life. I was thisclose to death. Yet it was still my fault. Always my fault. Nobody got it and nobody helped. I was told I was too sensitive and if I did not do and say such things people would not act like they did. I spent a year just healing from this experience.

After this major event my father passed away and my mother got sick. So, I got down to business and realized I was a mess. I started taking my life back. I got my medication straightened out and got control of the depression instead of it controlling me. Then I started learning and realizing that these things that I took upon myself were not my fault. It took me quite a while to learn that. I was still scared of socializing and tired of going places. I would take ativan before going into any social situation and always came home emotionally tortured. The Internet became a big help in me learning to face my social anxieties. As a matter of fact I took it upon myself to relearn social skills. As I had a degree in Psychology and Guidance and Counseling, I had the knowledge to take this upon myself. I got toxic people out of my life and got those who insisted on being around them out of my life and set boundaries. I placed myself in social settings on purpose so I could desensitize and man was that hard. I also found myself working on this peer abuse work full time instead of part time as I was doing since 1995. Through this work I did a lot of healing on my own (with GOD’s help of course!). I had and still have an online support group for people struggling with all of this. Nobody has any idea how valuable this has been and has saved me a lot on what would have been therapy bills. My work has been a force that has brought to light this problem and some harsh realities of it. I even moved to California which got me out of the toxic environment. I encountered a peer abuser there as a neighbor and learned to cut her loose as she was toxic for me. Getting out of the environment helped me to heal tremendously. People started pointing out how I was abusing myself and I did not realize it. Most importantly, I learned that all of this was not my fault. I had been carrying a lot of my burdens along with those of others and mainly my own abusers. The most important thing is that I became close to Jesus Christ. You see, I grew up in the church but after what happened with Jill, I stepped back from it. Jill and her mother were such big Christians and did what they did to me. Lori Drew became a household name after Megan Meier killed herself in 2006. What people do not know is that Jill’s mother was very much like Lori Drew and that case was very much like my experience with Jill. After my breakdown I turned to Christ. The only way I could go was up as I had hit rock bottom. I give every bit of this to Jesus and know HE loves me unconditionally. People will never measure up to HIM. I know a Christian by their fruits which I could not see ten years ago. I have come a long way!

Today I have the wisdom to know the difference when I encounter an abuser. My depression is under control as I control it and not the other way around. Socializing is still hard but am getting there. I now speak out to different organizations on this because I know exactly how it messed with me. I do not want anyone else to go through this. I have good supportive friends who I am secure with even though they live in different states. Basically I have turned all of this around and used it for the greater good. The psychological stuff is nipped, now lets get to the physical stuff!

Have I encountered any of my abusers? One wrote me an email several years ago and apologized. I accepted the apology but have not made an effort to become friends. I see these people on Facebook and have had to block them. People do not understand that as they think I should just let bygones be bygones. What they are not getting is that seeing them would trigger every bit of this in me. I cannot risk it as I have come too far. One day I will be able to unblock them but the time is not right. I have forgiven them and pray every night that they be blessed. It is self-preservation more than anything.  Mandy sent me a request and I blocked her. Through the grapevine I learned she has grown worse and not better. I pray she comes to know Jesus.

Please, if you are dealing with this please contact me. I can help you. I know what you are living and I know what these people who have committed bullycide lived with. If you are dealing with this abuse your rights are being violated and you deserve to live a happy life as well. These abusers are sick and need help. If you come into contact with an abuser please know its not your fault .  You do not deserve to be mistreated. Nobody does! Besides, GOD don’t make no junk! Just sayin!

I can honestly say I am now healed from this psychologically. Please pray I will heal from the physical stuff as well.

The rest? It’s still unwritten…..

Copyright 2006. Elizabeth Bennett. All Rights Reserved.