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Bullied: Should I Participate in a Bullying Documentary as a Victim?

 

I read this article on bullying last week.  The journalist called for people affected, both the bullied and the bullies, to be part of a documentary series by the ABC.  I have emailed the journalist and applied to be part of this documentary.

My story is quite different from the average norm of girl-on-girl bullying.  My story enters the realm of same-sex sexual assault.  Not something I hear a lot about.  Today it would make news headlines, if not the international news but back in 1975 it barely caused a ripple because I was so ashamed and guilt-filled by what happened I could not bring myself to tell another adult.  My parents had decided it was my fault and punished me for it.

Thirty six years on it’s difficult to describe without it triggering off a harrowing reaction from me.  Female bullying is usually something underground and subtle with snotty putdowns and social isolation, something if you were to describe what was going on and how you felt, you would be met with quizzical cynicism because each incident on its own could easily be explained away but add them all up and you’re looking at eating disorders and suicide ideation.

Mine was neither underground nor subtle.  During the summer holiday break between primary school and high school I spent three days getting repeatedly sexually assaulted by a group of girls who purported to be my friends.  Why did I keep going back?  Because they kept on promising that it would not happen again.  And I believed them – every time.

It was a blistering hot Western Australian summer and we lived in the bush where a beautiful natural pool had formed within a river system.  These girls and I walked down and met some boys and went swimming.  The first day the girls snatched my bikini top off and threw it between themselves with me crying and whining for them to stop.  They promised it would not happen again.

The second day I was stripped naked of both bottom and top and forced to walk around while they cheered and clapped and thought it was hilarious that I was searching for something that was out of my reach.  They promised it would not happen again.

The third day another girl, whom I had never met before, joined us.  She was much older.  She was 16.  I was 12 and the other two were both 14.  Alison, Belinda and Janice.  This time I was caught and had my bikini top and bottom forcibly ripped from me (again) and was threatened with violence so I ran up the concrete stairs to the “safety” of the public toilets.

I was so scared I thought I was going to die.  I felt physically ill.  I locked myself in but the toilet was open at the top and someone climbed in and opened it.  I was dragged out kicking and screaming.  There were three girls and several on-looking boys.  The girls punched me in the face, the arms and the chest.  They pulled me into the toilet and shoved my head into the stinking shit-filled toilet and flushed it.  They tormented and tortured me and I have little recollection of the time span except that it was quite long, perhaps an hour.

Alison was clearly the ring-leader and not only instigated the proceedings but directed orders to the other girls.  Belinda repeatedly punched my nose saying “bleed, you bitch.”  I was unable to fight back; I was frozen with fear and simply gave up.  They poked at my naked vagina with a stick and made fun of my budding breasts.  They talked about penetrating me.  Thank goodness that never happened (although upon telling this to a female psychiatrist many years later she sounded disappointed that this had not happened and said disdainfully “oh, so you weren’t raped then, were you?”).

The worst part was I felt I deserved this, that I had brought it on myself.  When it was all over, I ran for help to a nearby house wrapped only in a towel, and told my parents, they went around to all the girls and boys houses and was told the same story.  I had taken my clothes off and danced for the boys and they thought they would teach me a lesson.  My parents believed them.

Previously when I was with these girls I was always the scapegoat, the whipping girl, the runt of the litter, the one who always got picked on because I would cry and not fight back.  I was their favourite target when they were bored and in pack mode.  I hung around them because they were tough and popular.  In reality I was a reject, a nerd and later on became a card-carrying library refugee.  I was told I was “scragged” (clothes removed forcibly) because I was annoying and irritating and they wanted to teach me a lesson.  The boys never touched me, they did not join in and neither did they do anything to stop it.  I think they were as scared of the girls as I was.

When high school started, the entire campus knew what had happened and a good friend of mine came up to me and asked “how could I let them do that to me?” and that is a good question I have asked myself every day ever since.  So I have asked myself that question 13,140 times and I have yet to come up with an answer I am truly satisfied with.  I’m not sure that I will find the answer by appearing in this up and coming documentary, but I am willing to give it a go.

But first of all I want your opinion.  This is the first time I have ever publicly told my story.  I want to know if you feel being part of this documentary is safe for me or do you think it will trigger and regress me?

How will it affect my teenagers if their friends see my story on TV?  I want to know if anyone else has experienced same-sex sexual assault whilst still at school?  Or if not school any other place.  If you don’t want to comment below, my email address is [email protected] I would love to hear from you.  I would love your support and your opinion.  I need your support and I need your opinion.  Many thanks in advance for this.

Bullied: Should I Participate in a Bullying Documentary as a Victim?

Sonia Neale

Sonia Neale was recently awarded the Inaugural Barbara Hocking SANE Australia Fellowship to study and research Borderline Personality Disorder overseas in the USA, Canada, UK and Ireland. Her previous Psych Central blog was called Therapy Unplugged. She is the author of two books, The Bad Mother’s Revenge and Death by Teenager, both published by ABC Books/Harper Collins. She lives in Western Australia, is married with three adult children, has studied psychoanalytic psychotherapy, has a Certificate IV in Mental Health and is studying for a Psychology/Counselling degree. She currently works as a peer support worker in the mental health field. Please email her on davson at iinet.net.au


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APA Reference
Neale, S. (2011). Bullied: Should I Participate in a Bullying Documentary as a Victim?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/unplugged/2011/01/bullied-should-i-participate-in-a-bullying-documentary-as-a-victim/

 

Last updated: 24 Jan 2011
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Jan 2011
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.