WARNING: This blog includes sensitive topics that viewers might find triggering or upsetting to read. This includes bullying, mental health, suicidal thoughts, and sexual assault.
This is my story…
When I started Year 7, I went to a big high school with a lot of students, some of my family went to that school, so I was excited to start there. Some of the teachers knew who I was because of my last name. Some had good expectations, and some had bad. I was lucky enough to have some of my friends from my primary school go to the same high school as me, which was nice as I would already have friends there.
I made new friends, like you would do, and you could say that I was quite popular in Year 7. My first year of high school was going great, I had no problems with any other students, I was doing well in all my classes and had a good reputation. Everything was going great.
During the summer holidays, I had fallen out with my best friend, so it was awkward when we started the next year. I then made a new friend, and this is how the friendship started. They were open, loud, funny and a bit cheeky in school, we were very different as I was quiet at the time, but we seemed to of clicked.
The more we started to hang out, the more things started to change and so did my behaviour. I started skipping lessons with them, getting into trouble, not doing homework, and was losing other friends, but at the time I did not think it mattered much, I didn’t notice what was happening in our friendship as they started to bring out a different side of myself.
One day after school, we were hanging out, having fun, when we met up with some other people in their group. They were nice people, and we were all messing around playing truth or dare. They dared me to kiss one of the boys there. At the time I had a boyfriend, so I said no, but they kept pressuring me to do it, and then pushed our two heads together so we ended up kissing. They then rang up my boyfriend to tell him what had happened, thinking it was funny and he broke up with me.
The next day at school everyone was talking about it and I saw they were comforting my now ex, because he was upset. I asked them why they done it, why they made me do that and why was they now all over him knowing it was there fault. They said they done it as a joke and that deep down they really liked him. It upset me a lot, but I just brushed it to the side as I didn’t want to lose my friend.
Red flags and rumours
Red flags had started to appear, and this was just the beginning, but I thought at the time things were good and we were the ‘’best of friends’’.
One day at school a rumour started to go around about me about having a STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) (I had never done anything sexual with a boy before, so I was confused as to where this rumour had come from.) Everyone in school was talking about it, even the years above me. They would laugh at me and wouldn’t even go near me. People I sat next to in classes, form or even assembly would ask to move as they ‘didn’t want to catch anything’. Everyone would talk and whisper about me. One day I asked someone where they heard it from, and they said it came from my best friend. When I confronted them about it, they laughed it off saying “it was a joke and that they didn’t mean it”, and that they was “sorry”, I believed them and I did not report it to the school as I didn’t want to get them into trouble. The rumour died down after a while and again I forgave my friend and things went back to normal.
Unfortunately, the peace did not last long. I had met a boy outside of my school and we had got close, and we had a physical relationship. Thinking I could trust my friend I told them but a couple of days later another rumour started going round the whole school saying I was pregnant with his child. Some of the teachers had heard the rumour and made me do a pregnancy test and told my parents about it. They were so mad at me, but I wasn’t pregnant. The guy I was seeing heard about the rumour and he never spoke to me again.
I couldn’t work out how this rumour had started, nobody knew that I was seeing him until I remembered that I had told my “friend”, which meant they had made the story up. The bullying got worse, everyone was coming up to me saying that I was a ‘slag’ that I need to ‘keep my legs closed’ and that I will get ‘more STI’S’.
I knew it was my “friend” that was the one spreading these false rumours about me, this time I stopped being friends with them, but they then became nasty towards me, making sure that my life was a living hell. They reminded everyone about the past rumours and made up more about me, I was becoming the high topic of the school, everyone knew who I was but not for the right reasons. I was all alone, I had no friends, my behaviour at school and outside of school had changed drastically.
I wasn’t who I had been anymore but near the end of academic year I had made a new friend and they did not believe any of the rumours or really like the other person anyway so that made life a lot easier for me.
Back to normal?
I finally thought things were going back to normal and they did for a while. For a period of time, I didn’t seem to have any problems, there were no rumours, no bullying, everything seemed quiet, and my new friend would stick up for me even if anything did happen. We became the best of friends, we even got called twins or sisters at school and outside of school. We spent nearly every day together. The summer of that year, we were having so much fun, going on holiday together, getting up to all sorts of stuff. We started to do typical teenage things like drinking, smoking, drugs and causing trouble everywhere we went. I still thought it was fun and I liked taking the risks, even if I knew we shouldn’t be doing it but as time went on my friend started to change and not in a good way.
When we started back at school my behaviour got worse, I was mucking about in school and was sent out of class a lot, which meant I was not learning anything. I was building a bad reputation and was getting known throughout the school by teachers and other students. Near the end of that year, I had to have a major operation.
The week before my operation my friend started to act a bit funny and distant around me and I had no idea why, we hadn’t argued or done anything wrong. The day of my operation we had planned that they would come visit me in hospital and it was the one thing I was looking forward to, but they had made some excuse at the very last minute as to why they couldn’t come. Later that day I had seen on social media that they were hanging out with our other friends, it had upset me, but I was more focused on trying to heal from my operation.
‘Don’t tell her’
A few days later, I was woken up to my phone blowing up with noise. There was over 1000 notifications on there. I had no idea what was going on and couldn’t really focus properly as I had only had my operation a couple days before. When I finally checked my phone, I noticed that I had been put in a Facebook group chat and there were loads of messages in there. I scrolled to the top of the chat to see what it was all about and that’s when I noticed that there was an image of a nude with the caption ‘Don’t tell her’ with a bunch of emojis. The message underneath had said that I had sent a nude to my best friends’ boyfriend last night and that that was the screenshot of what I sent.
I looked to see who was in the chat and realised that my whole school year, my whole family and all my friends from outside of school and more were in this chat. Every single person that I knew had seen this, I was getting comments saying “you’re a slag” “you’re a whore”” how could you do that to your best friend”” who would want to go near you” ”you should go kill yourself” ”I hope you die” and much more. I completely broke down and was crying, I didn’t know what was going on and the first thing I did was call my best friend up saying that I didn’t send the photo, it wasn’t me and that somebody must have made a fake account.
They said they didn’t believe me, and they said they hated me and wanted nothing to do with me and they weren’t the only one. Everyone that was in that group chat didn’t “like” me anymore and I began to hate myself. The abuse did not stop there, I was getting hate and bullied from everyone I was also getting death threats, and the” “image’’ started to spread around into other groups and chats on social media, I was continuously getting abuse from people. This image even got spread round to other schools in the area and I felt nearly everyone in my area had seen it.
Family support and the Police
My Dad then called me, I told him what had happened, and he called the police straight away and then told me to put a message on all the group chats to say the police have been called and to also take all screen shots of messages from people.
As soon as I put the message out all group chats got deleted, but it still didn’t stop everyone from being horrible to me. Nobody would believe a word I said, and I couldn’t take all the grief and abuse I was getting. I thought then the only way it would stop was if I took my own life and that night, I tried to take my own life. I felt so alone, so depressed, so betrayed by all the things everyone was saying to me. The people I knew and were once friends with were asking me to kill myself and I saw no other option. I am lucky I was unsuccessful, but I was still left with all the pain inside.
The following days we had the police come round for questioning which I was dreading as I didn’t want to read or re-live all the messages again, but I had no other choice as it had got so out of hand. I decided I wasn’t going to let whoever done this get away with it, so I gave them my statement and gave them all my social media logins so that they could track all the evidence with the image so that they could examine where it came from, and from who. The police advised that I take a few days off school to let it ‘calm down’ but I was still in recovery from my operation, so I stayed at home for a few more weeks.
A week later the police contacted me to say that the image had come from google images and confirmed the image wasn’t me, they also told me the group chat was made by my best friend! I was so shocked by their allegation I did not believe them; I could not get my head around why would they create that group chat? I had so many questions, what have I done so wrong for them to do this terrible thing to me?
My parents had contacted my school to let them know what was going on, but they had already heard about it from it going round the whole school. They asked if I could go in for a meeting with the head of year to discuss the issue to see if I needed any support before I returned to school.
At the meeting they had told us that 4 students were seen off the school premises at the time the first group chat was made. I was shocked when I heard this was my best friend, two other people who were meant to be my friends and my old best friend who had caused the problems before! The school confirmed it was them who had created the group chat, taken the fake image and made a fake account in my name.
My parents were so upset and angry, my dad had lawyers and a written article ready to go out to a newspaper to get justice for what happened, but at the time I could not take anymore and felt if I spoke out, my life would get worse than it already was. I was asked if I wanted to move schools as they felt “it would be better for me” but I was determined I was not going to let them win. So instead, I stayed off school for another month to try and let everything die down a little bit, although it still didn’t stop anyone from sending abuse to me on social media. I kept trying to ignore it, I knew the truth, but nobody else wanted to believe it, even the police confirming it wasn’t me did not help.
The day I returned to school, I was advised to not go into lessons, and to work in the principal’s office to ‘protect me’ from getting bullied in class, but I was still abused by anyone who saw me. Students would shout at me outside the room or if I was walking down the hall. I was telling them who the actual person was who had made it all up, but that again made things worse for me as they then beat me up in front of everyone in school and I ended up in hospital because they pushed me into a bench and I landed on my back and could not move, because of my operation they knew I was vulnerable but still chose to hit me.
The school only kept me out of normal classes for two weeks, I had to then go back in to lesson I had no support in school and wasn’t allowed to stay in the buildings at break or lunch time. I spent my break and lunch times sat in a bush all on my own crying and whenever I reported the continued bullying to them, they said they would deal with it, but they didn’t. I felt they really let me down.
After that, I felt that I couldn’t even leave my house because of the bullying and abuse, which continued until I finished school.
Because I kept taking time off school through everything that was happening, the school started complaining and punishing me if I didn’t stop taking time off. I asked for help and if I could talk to the school counsellor, that was arranged but their advice was” just ignore it” they had no idea what I was going through.
So, I gave up trying to ask for help with the school and my behaviour got worse and worse, I was arguing with all teachers, I was getting into fights and I was getting included or excluded all the time for bad behaviour.
There was this one teacher who had believed in all the rumours that were said about me and one day I was talking during the lesson to one of the boys and she shouted at me saying “get out of my classroom, you’re just the slag that everyone makes you out to be” that was the final straw I lost my temper and threw my stuff across the room. The teacher grabbed me and dragged me outside and said, “if you were my daughter, I would kill myself, you’re nothing but a disgrace that will get nowhere in life.” I reacted and pushed her to the floor out of anger. This incident got me excluded because none of the teachers had believed me when I told them about the things, she said to me and this was even though some other students gave statements saying that she did. They wanted to expel me, but my head of year thought that my behaviour was to do with the tough time I was going through, they said then I would not be offered any support from now on because I wasn’t helping myself. Luckily there was only a couple of months left until I had finished my exams, and finished school.
A couple of months before our exams started, I was then sexually assaulted by another pupil in school during break time. This person was then arrested from school and he got a restraining order while he was on bail. Everyone in school thought I was lying and that I was attention seeking even though I had evidence of him admitting it on messages and the police were investigating this. Again, I had everyone in school gang up on me, saying that I was a slag and that” I was asking for it”’ or it was what I deserved and that I lived up to all the rumours made up about me. The person in question was also allowed back in school after two weeks and was still in my class. I asked for him to be removed from my classes but all they said was his education was important too, they had no consideration for me, and it seemed his education was more important than my safety or wellbeing. All the stress and my mental health was impacting on me and I failed all my exams.
I would like to note that during the time in school when I was getting bullied, I was under Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). I had a lot of different therapists and councillors during this time, but they did not address the issues I was going through. One of the therapists I was talking to had asked me for my whole life story, from birth until then. I had mentioned in that time when I was younger, I was involved in a car crash and had hit my head. The therapist then decided that she wanted to spend her time telling me my brain had been affected and I had to do Maths, English, and speech tests to see if that was the reason to why my behaviour had changed. She appointed a CAHMS Professionals Trainee to do these tests. They ignored the reason to why I had access CAHMS which was about me being bullied and I spent 6 months doing these tests.
For this reason, I decided to discharge myself from CAMHS and I decided to go to a private mental health therapist and asked they take me seriously and help to support me with the bullying and abuse I had received. After a couple of sessions, she had concluded that I was suffering with heightened depression, anxiety, paranoia, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They said my best outcome to dealing with it was if I went onto medication. I didn’t want to rely on medication to help me cope, so I found other ways to help me which were doing things to keep me thinking positive, like listening to music to block the voices in my head and distract me. Also giving my headspace positive thoughts which made me see things in a different way. Another way was surrounding myself with positive people, even if that meant I had to get rid of some people in my life, it was worth it in the end. I was trying to find myself again, the old me before all of this happened, and learning to love myself for who I knew I was and not be the person the bullies were trying to make me believe I was.
When I was discharged, I had to give a letter to my school so that they could understand and know what was going on, I later saw that the letter was in the bin. It was then I lost all hope and respect for them, no consideration was given for my mental health and they offered no support.
When I had finally finished school, I felt free, I felt that it was the best thing to happen and that I won’t ever go back to the place I now call hell! When I left school, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders and felt I could now start a new, fresh chapter in my life and a better one.
During the summer term, I still had problems with people I had been to school with, if I saw them out in person, bumped into them in town or out and about somewhere. I got ‘jumped on’ twice whilst out in town by the people who had been my friends all because I was in the same area they were. I felt that I couldn’t go anywhere and that I had to have my eyes in the back of my head, which made my paranoia and anxiety worse.
I was meant to go onto further education near my area, but I knew so many people from my school was going there and I just could not cope with any more reminders of what had happened before or for my education to hear any of the past rumours, so I decided to drop out without even starting and went to a college in a different area.
There I knew nobody from my school, and it was my chance of a fresh start, it was the best decision I ever made. Nobody knew who I was or anything about me, it was a place I felt comfortable and didn’t have to explain or share my story or worry that someone would find out. I made the most amazing friends there, real friends who I knew would never hurt or bully me. I never had to worry about bumping into someone from my school. I was finally getting my life back on track and my mental health was improving.
The bullying had finally stopped once I started college. I decided to remove people from my school or anyone that bullied me in the past from my social media. If I saw them out in public, I would just ignore them and walk away and didn’t give them the reaction that they wanted, instead I acted calm and they soon realised that what they’re trying to do was not affecting me, they stopped, and it was all over.
Then a couple of months later when they saw that I was thriving without them and that I was happy, they then started to be nice and wanted to be friends again but too much had gone on for that ever to happen.
Who I am today
When I was being bullied, it knocked my confidence and wellbeing to rock bottom. I thought that there was no way out of the situation, I had major trust issues with everyone, including adults and unfortunately, I still do but I’m starting to get it back. I thought that I would never get out of that dark place I was in and that I would forever be alone. Today though and looking back the positive is the bullying has made me who I am today, and it’s made me stronger as a person.
My advice? The storm doesn’t last forever, and you will get through it, no matter how long it takes. If this is happening to you, surround yourself with positivity and good people and never feel that it’s your fault. I wouldn’t be where I am in life now, if it wasn’t for what I went through, I’ve learned so much about myself and how to read other people. I can see between the ‘’good,’’ the’’ bad ‘’and the ‘’fake”. Don’t ever doubt yourself or your gut feeling. If you know something is wrong, don’t let anyone tell you different, and speak up about the things that are hurting you, or if someone’s bullying you. Don’t ever suffer in silence. There are people out there that can help and support you and if you feel that the police need to be involved, do it.
Who would I hold accountable for not giving me the right support whilst I was being bullied? I would say both the school and police. The school did nothing to help me whatsoever, it seemed that they were more worried about how it would interfere with their reputation and stats, they didn’t want their school to be known for bullying., and although the police helped with identifying where the image came from and who from, I felt I was not supported enough to take the case any further. I wished that they had spoken to the school, instead of them arguing over whose fault it was, and who should take responsibility for the incident.
Advice for professionals
My advice to Mental Health professionals, would be to listen to what young people say when it comes to bullying and mental health, and if they specifically want to talk about a subject, don’t go off course and talk about something else as they will think you’re not taking them seriously. Make yourself be trusted, as they are trusting you with a lot of dark situations and secrets that they might not tell anyone else. I also would suggest not resorting straight to giving out medication, as there are other ways of supporting them, do not go for the quick fix unless it’s necessary.
Some people are afraid of the police, as they think you won’t take them seriously, or there’s ‘not enough evidence’ to do anything. Some people might be afraid to go to the police because they think the outcome will make the situation worse for themselves. Some might be too scared to say anything at all. Whether your being bullied online, or in person the police should take you very seriously and by not listening could cause a lot of damage to your mental health and end up risking someone’s life. Victims of bullying need their voice to be heard and them to be taken seriously, even if you think the situation doesn’t look bad, if a young person has contacted the police, it means, they are unable to take any more.
Help and support
If you’re being bullied, or know someone that is being bullied, please get help and support from either friend, family, someone you trust, school, the police; Don’t suffer in silence. If you would like to speak to someone online or on the phone, here are some support helplines you can go to:
National Bullying Helpline – Information and advice about all forms of bullying (nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk)
Childline – Childline | Childline
BullyingUK – Bullying advice | Bullying UK
Be kind to one another.
This is an inspiring quote that helped me to get over my experience:
If people are trying to bring you down, it only means that you are above them.