Disability RightsLGBT RightsMy Life

I Was Bullied…

I was bullied at school, especially in Jr. High and High School. I was also bullied at home. I never had any break from it, and nobody ever stood up for me. I managed to overcome that, but how many kids don’t? If you see a kid being bullied, will you stand up for them, or let them suffer in silence?

From kindergarten through third grade, people used to call me duck, because I had a limp that resembled a duck’s waddle. This is because I have a muscle disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I remember walking down the hall and having entire classes of kids quack at me as I passed them. It was mortifying and yet, I held my head high and tried desperately to ignore them. Really, I wanted to just curl up into a ball and cry. I think that is why I had such a problem with being a duck in our kindergarten play. It reminded me of that horrible name I was called. At the time, I told my parents I wished I was dead, because life would be better dead then being teased so horribly.

Dominick as a kid

In fifth grade, I was made fun of for the way I dressed (I had no choice in picking out my clothes) and that’s when they started calling me fat. I used to be very skinny, but I was put on steroids for my asthma. I doubled my weight in six months, and that’s when my classmates called me porker, fatty, piggy, and made me self-conscious about every piece of food I put in my mouth. Some kids told me to stop eating so I wouldn’t get any fatter. Explaining I was fat from medicine didn’t help. It made it worse, because then I became a “liar” to boot.

Really, I was a little chubby, but to them I was fat. To make matters worse, my mother forced me to get perm after perm, making my silky, straight hair look like I had the head of a poodle. She dressed me in sweat or cotton pants and could never do anything with my poodle hair. I started wearing glasses that year and she made me get ugly plastic ones. I tried to find the smallest pair possible…but…they were pink.

I was also tripped on the bus and often had to crawl off of it, because I didn’t have the strength to get back up. The bus driver didn’t seem to care other than to call us unruly kids. The funny thing is that the primary target was my next door neighbor, who enjoyed taunting me on and off the bus. I couldn’t get away from that kid until his family moved, a few years later.

In sixth grade, a kid hopped on the back of my scooter at recess, held down my forward button and tried to ram me into some playground equipment to “flip me over”. I couldn’t get the kid off the back of my scooter or to let go of my controller button, and if I had not thought fast enough to switch the on/off switch and get my scooter to stop I would have rammed into it and injured myself badly. I remember being shaken up and very scared. My heart was pounding in my chest, and all the kid got was a yelling at from the playground monitors.

In seventh grade, a male student tripped me and the teacher walked out of class, leaving me on the floor next to my motorized scooter, unable to get up. I missed my bus home and the janitor found me a half-hour later, crying on the floor. He had to pick me up and put me in my scooter.

I was constantly teased for being fat, for my family being the way they were, for being disabled. I was told I should just kill myself because I was too worthless to stay alive. I was told I’d be nothing in life, and to forget my dreams, because I was pathetic. I was told I was a bad person and I must have done something bad for “God” to make me suffer in a wheelchair.

My mom got involved to cause trouble and get pity for herself, which just caused more trouble for me. I was teased because I couldn’t stand up for myself, for being a tattle tale (even when often others told her what was going on and not me), for being a whiner.

In tenth grade, after returning to school from a six months absence due to severe spinal surgery, as I wheeled around in a neck to waist back brace, I came upon an elevator full of dead mice. This was my elevator. The one I used to get up and down floors. The senior prank had gone horribly wrong when their live mice they wanted to let loose around the school died, so one of the guys wanted to prank “the kid in the wheelchair.” They poured the dead mice into the elevator hoping I would run them over and crush their bodies. As I was backing into the elevator unable to see down, a kid stopped me because he felt bad. He told me to get out of the elevator and got the janitor to clean it up. I was stuck upstairs while they did. I was a mess. Who would do this to me and why?

The school nurse would not let me go home even though I was a wreck. She told me I was fine and to deal with it. A disability mediator was called in and my doctor wouldn’t let me go to school. None of the people responsible ever got punished for this and the disability mediator made me return to school giving in to false promises by the school. I was let down, yet again.

I was not given an IEP almost every year I was in school. That is against the law. I wasn’t allowed a personal assistant to help me take off my coat. If my friend’s PA didn’t help me I often wore my coat all day. I never could get my books without help. If it was not for a girl named Rachel or a girl named Tiffany I would never have eaten lunch or got out to my bus to go home. I had to ask my classmates for help which was downright embarrassing. This led to even more resentment by my peers.

My home life was not any better. I was being abused at home, and so when I was 19, I wanted to die and I wanted to kill myself. Luckily, I found a way to save myself, but I still remember how horrible the bullies in my life made me feel. While others were out at homecoming, I was home alone wishing to die. While others were at the prom, I was thinking of ways to kill myself. While my peers were enjoying their teen years, with friends, I was dealing with so much other crap – issues of gender, the thought of dying from surgery, family abuse, that I have no real happy memories of this time.

I really hate to hear kids suffering in ways I can understand, to the point of feeling they deserve to die. How can people be so cruel? Bullying is a form of TORTURE. How can another person torture someone else? I just cannot comprehend how these people think.

This is what a bully does to a person. Were you a bully and if so are you sorry? My pain is not unique. My story is not unique. I am just one who managed to survive. I have moved past this, and yet, for every lucky one like me, there is another child who isn’t so lucky…a child who does not make it.

Over 85% of disabled kids are bullied in school. LGBT youth are four times as likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers. These are staggering statistics. Now what are we going to do to stop this epidemic?

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2 comments

  1. Dominick,

    Thanks for sharing your story! Sadly, there are very few people who get through childhood without confronting a bully! Often times, more than one.

    It must be stopped! Parents really need to make sure they speak to their children about bullies and how to deal with them, and most importantly making sure they are not raising one themselves!

    The lesson can actually begin at a very early age. When a parent is walking with a child and that child spots someone who is ‘different’ from them, how their parents react to the person, is how the child will react later on, they are literally like sponges.

    And I was a volunteer special ed teacher many years ago, and I was shocked and angry to read that your teacher ignored you that way! I had a no tolerance policy to bullies in my classroom and would never have ignored the situation.

    I hope that no adult ignores a child being bullied, and that no parent bully their own child!
    Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly recently posted..Anne Geddes Beginings Book Review – Ascending Butterfly Book Club Pick

  2. Thank you for so eloquently syiang what I’ve been trying to say for the last few posts over there at SDL. “Breaking Free from the Victim Trap” is an old book, but it explains, in detail the “game” you refer to. It’s played at home, at school, at work, in government and nationally. Making people aware of the game, and how to rise above it IS key. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

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