Before the phenomenon of bullying-on-the-internet, there was bullying-old-school. Being a quiet, emaciated kid helped put me on the wrong side of the Bullying equation. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. I recall bits and pieces of those times, flashes of remembrance that make my heart flutter like a caged bird, tensing my body with the recollection. One of those fellows used to bully just about everyone, I swear he was crazy. Used to go around biting people, sometimes for no reason and most times at the slightest provocation or refusing to let him have his way, like cutting in line or not letting him have your spare pencil. He did stuff like this one too many times and one day, in class, I snapped, dragged him down, slammed him to the ground on his stomach, sat on his back and proceeded to try and rip out his leg. The teacher stepped back into class and the situation was hard to explain. On the plus side he stopped bullying me from that point onward.
I think there are times when it’s best to ignore the bullying and other times when you just have to take a stand. That can have consequences though.
This other time in boarding school, a senior thought it pretty funny to harass me verbally and constantly. I ignored it for a few hours but he didn’t quit. We were practicing for the school musical and stepped out for a break, and he continued to get in my face. There was a bit of pushing around. This fellow had more than 10 kilos on me and that fight was pretty one-sided in his favor. Best not to pull punches, I thought. So I punched him on the nose and he bled, which angered him, and he caught hold of me and pushed me toward a drain pipe that was sticking out of the building. One of those pipes designed to let the water drain out the terrace. Rusty and sharp it was, and he pushed me with a fair bit of momentum. I had a vision of the pipe tearing through my stomach like a needle piercing cloth. Time slowed down and what flashed through my mind was, “Shit!” and “What would the guys in WWF do?” (Yep.) Inches from being shish-kebab’ed I brought my right leg up and placed my foot on the wall, taking the full force of his push on it and pushed back, missing the pipe by inches. The guy sobered up pretty quickly then with the realization of what he was about to do.
I think one can’t ever predict the outcome of situations like these. Bad things may happen when you let anger take the driver’s seat.
I don’t think there’s an appropriate response to bullying in general, or even in individual situations. Stay quiet and you’re subjected to more of it but fight back out of anger or pride and you risk a lot more than just verbal assault.
I’m much more likely today to walk away or deflate a situation than get into an altercation, the outcome of which lies beyond my control. In situations where neither helps, it’s best to go on the offensive. I don’t advocate violence, but other people may not share my ideals. I strongly recommend learning self-defense. You never know when someone may wish to bring harm upon you or your loved ones.