Written in response to Create Change CCO Chyler Leigh’s article ‘Bullied and the Beast’. We find this submission to be quite unique because it speaks from the bully’s perspective. We admire the author’s courage and honesty in sharing her story.
Your letter was both beautiful and heartbreaking, and for me it stirred up some emotions and memories I’d been keeping well-hidden for over 25 years.
Yes, I have been bullied. But this letter isn’t about that as, you see, I have also been a bully.
Starting senior school at 11, I quickly became a target for bullies for many reasons that I won’t go into now. Being a target, it was inevitable that I ended up in a small group of friends who were also in the bullies’ crosshairs. We were a bunch of misfits who just didn’t belong to any of the popular groups. I realised early on that I was the strongest of this group, not physically, but emotionally and mentally, so it seemed natural that I became the leader.
There were so many times I abused my power as the gang’s leader, and I became manipulative in order to get my own way. I would belittle, bribe and blackmail these girls who trusted me and needed friendship.
I was a bully.
One particular incident stirs in my mind, and even now it makes me feel so ashamed.
I remember one of my friends, Nicola, sitting on a bouncy castle sobbing her heart out, when instead she should have been jumping around and having fun. She was crying because I claimed she owed me money for a bag of doughnuts I’d bought earlier that day. I’d bought them to share with everyone, not out of kindness but because I wanted everyone to see how “generous” I was. Our small gang had spent the day at a visiting Fun Fair and by the end of the day it was just me and Nicola left. I’d spent all my money and I didn’t like the idea of going home with an empty purse. So I bullied Nicola. I bullied this poor girl who had trusted me and thought I was her friend. I’d spoilt the wonderful day out she’d had. She said she needed to go home before she spent the last of her money. She was worried her mum would be cross if it was all gone.
And I bullied her.
I forced Nicola to give me that money. I reminded her of the bag of doughnuts and told her she owed me for them. I took her remaining £1 coin so I wouldn’t have to go home and confess I’d spent all my money instead.
I bullied her.
Her heart broke as she sobbed; part in fear of going home; part in disappointment that such a lovely day had been spoilt; but mostly because her friend whom she trusted had betrayed her.
This whole letter has been hard to write, and I’ve had to do it in several stages because I’ve been so angry and disgusted with myself. But, this next bit is perhaps the hardest to write; the hardest for me to confront.
I took the coin out of her hand and left her there alone with tears pouring down her face, and I walked home smug in my own victory.
I was a bully.
Over the years that followed I am glad to say I didn’t do anything like that again. The reason? The girls in that group had the sense to want nothing more to do with me.
I never apologised. Instead, for many years I told myself that people who are bullied become bullies. I used that to justify my actions. And, while there is some truth in that statement, it does not justify anyone ever bullying another person.
I’ve tried to trace Nicola over the past few years, but with no luck. I want to tell her I’m sorry. Sorry for making her cry, and for taking her money. Sorry for emotionally blackmailing and manipulating her. I’m sorry for being a bully.
Instead, Chloe, can you accept my apology? I know you weren’t there that day at the fair. But you were a victim and I was a bully…and I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry for what I did.
I was a bully, and I’m sorry.
The Bully Hidden Within Me