I was bullied in school in grade 5, not by the other children but my teacher. It was a very traumatic experience for me and resulted in nightmares and crippling fears for many, many years. My mother was aware and very upset about it but was too afraid of authority figures and too scared & unsure of herself to confront the teacher about it. I was terrified and felt very much alone and helpless.
My very lovely and gentle father eventually rang him one night to ask him to lay off. He found it very difficult to confront him and at the time seemed very ineffectual to me and I was upset about this. I now see he did the best he could. However it worked anyway as, like all bullies, my teacher was a coward and after one last outburst did indeed back off.
I was able to look back later and see the teacher only bullied those he perceived would not fight back and it was not a flaw in me that caused his behaviour. The other children he bullied were similar to me, quiet and well behaved and totally undeserving of his cruelty. He was truly a pathetic creature.
This experience has given me is a deep and abiding dislike of bullies and a distrust of authority figures. My friends and family know that if a bully is around they will not last long around me. I have an instinctive ability to detect them and I strangely do not fear them in the least. My body goes into defence mode even if it’s not my fight.
I don’t thank my teacher for this, it wasn’t his intention to create strength in me, he wanted to crush the spirit of a 10 year old girl to make himself feel more powerful. The outcome of his behavior is thanks to me alone.
My entire life and politics are a reaction against bullies and it is why I am so passionate about human rights and animal welfare. I can’t stand to see anyone being exploited or abused by those in positions of power. I have confronted strangers in public when I witness bullying. It isn’t easy for me to do this as confrontation is not my natural mode but I find it impossible not to.
It is also why I dislike politicians such as Tony Abbott so much. It is my inner bully detector which has served me well and is never, ever wrong. I guess it’s the 48 year old me doing what I wished someone had done for the 10 year old me.