Don't Be Defined by a Bully
Guest reporter Natasha talks about her experience standing up to bullies, and offers some advice on dealing with being bullied.
When I was a teenager I was always told to stand up to bullies and to just be myself. I was told you shouldn’t let yourself be defined by anyone, especially not a bully. It was not until I really did stand up to bullies, though - with the support of my friends and family - that I truly understood how important it is to stand up for yourself against bullies.
My Personal Experience
My personal experience of being a victim of bullying has helped me to understand why people are afraid to stand up to bullies.
Every day that I came to school I was afraid of being tormented. I would get to school and they would grab me, push and shove me around, and they then would pin me on the floor and draw horrible things on me. I had to live with it day after day. It was not until it became nearly unbearable that I stood up for myself. I told myself that they couldn’t take control of me.
After I stood up for myself, something changed. It was like I had created a bubble of self-confidence around myself. From then on I didn’t need to know why I was being bullied. I just dealt with who I was and took my life as it came day by day.
Those who have been bullied know that it's not easy to live with the anxiety it causes. Talking to friends and family helps, but you still have to live with the anxiety. When I stood up to my bullies, though, as frightening as it was, the bullying stopped.
Standing up and staying "stop" is not something that comes easy, but when I did, the bullying stopped. I’m a normal, everyday Australian, but what makes me strong is that I have the courage to stand up for myself. For me, it made the world of difference.
Of course standing up to a bully is only one option for dealing with bullying. If you need help finding out ways to handle being bullied, organisations like Kids Helpline (new window) Headspace (new window), or youthbeyondblue (new window) have lots of tips and advice on what you can do if you're being bullied.
Through personal experience I have learned that you always need someone to help you. Even if you're a private person you still need someone to talk to. It may not be a friend - it might be a trusted individual like a teacher, an adult, a fellow student, or a next-door neighbour.
I spoke to different people about being bullied. I began talking to my best friend, but due to the nature of high school, it was hard to confide in her fully. The person who I ended up speaking to was my next door neighbour. I spoke to him nearly every day and he just sat and listened and helped me deal with everything.
It's different for everyone, though - everyone has their own person to confide in. Even if you don't, or you're just not sure who to talk to, you can always contact Kids Helpline (new window) Headspace (new window), or youthbeyondblue (new window) to talk to someone about what's happening to you.
Look Out for Your Friends
It's not just the people who are being bullied who need to think about how to deal with bullying. If you know someone who is being picked on or bullied, as a friend there are things that you can do, too.
A great organisation that is trying to encourage people to support their friends who are being bullied is BackMeUp (new window). BackMeUp Ambassadors Ruby Rose and Cody Bell are helping to inform the public about a new way to stand up to bullies. The BackMeUp campaign asks teenagers around Australia to submit a two-minute video about how you would back someone up who has been cyber-bullied.
Backing a friend up who is being victimised by bullies is very important, because you need the support of your friends and family when dealing with bullies. The BackMeUp campaign shows how important it is that bullies are not allowed to treat others the way that they do.
Standing up for yourself - or even someone else - does takes courage. No-one can dispute that. I encourage everyone to stand up to bullies. In my case I started by standing in front of a mirror and giving myself a reality check about who I was. Standing up for myself was the most important decision I have ever made for myself.
Where to Find Help
If you are struggling with bullying, you should confide in a friend, a teacher or someone else that you trust. You can also contact Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or www.kidshelp.com.au (new window). Just remember you're not alone, and don’t let a bully define who you are.
If you or someone you know need someone to talk to, for any reason, about anything, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, 24 hours a day.
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