Anti Bullying Week 2019 is between the 11th and 15th November. In this blog, our Founder Shoned shares her personal experience of bullying:
I have had experience of bullying behaviour towards me in the past and it wasn’t nice. I can’t say its affected me and it wasn’t sustained but I do believe in standing up to bullies but acknowledge that’s easier said than done. I guess there are different degrees of bullying and if it’s affecting you then its important to tell someone or ask for help. I’d like to start off by sharing this support link: www.nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk
The worst incidence for me was when I was 17 years old. I’d got on to the College bus and the only seat left was near the back. So I sat down, minded my own business and put my headphones on. There was a gang sat behind and I felt that one of the girls had taken a dislike to me but I just ignored her.
The next thing I could smell burning so I turned around to a load of loud sniggers and muffled laughing. I started to think they were burning the seat and every time I turned around it would stop. I got off the bus at college and could still smell burning and hear a few whispers behind me.
Everyone departed their own way and I headed for the toilets, when I got there I had the shock of my life. My long hair that was the length of my back had been burnt and singed to bits, parts remained long and the damaged parts were up to my shoulders and the smell was disgusting, I brushed it and bits and clumps came falling out. I don’t remember crying or feeling distraught as one would imagine, although looking back makes me feel upset for the young me, I just remember feeling foolish and embarrassed and I was more ashamed than upset that it had happened without me realising what was going on.
Since college lessons varied I didn’t see the girl in question until the weekend, I bumped into her in the town. We had a few words which ended up in an argument. The next time I saw her she called me over and apologised, not for burning my hair but for the argument! I accepted her apology and forgave her, but I will never forget. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right?!
Many years later in my forties I was at a very distinguished reputable awards ceremony. I was a proud finalist and attended on my own as I’m confident and sociable and also attending awards can be very expensive for small companies. Although the kudos of being shortlisted is beneficial for the company, it can run into hundreds of pounds per person.
Unfortunately for me I got seated next to a poor excuse of a representative on behalf of one of the event sponsors. This was no reflection at all on the event organisers who were very professional. So this man arrived with an entourage of 4 with complimentary tickets on behalf of his company, of which he was the only employee! From what I could gather, one was his friend, a girlfriend and his personal trainer. His guests were nothing but pleasant and they arrived a little late, along with him who’d had a few drinks, which is fine.
However what was what not fine was when the man in question became rude and unpleasant towards some of us. He behaved like we should be privileged to be in his company reminding us he was a sponsor when it was actually the company that he worked for that was the sponsor. I am very easy going and get on with most people but I found him challenging and it was like having a child on the table with 2 of his party excusing his behaviour and his girlfriend telling me he’s usually a nice man!
I appreciate when people have a few drinks their tongues get looser, and I’m certainly no prude and can take a bit of banter, but he was disrespectful. We had paid to be there, where as he was on a company jolly which infuriated me even more. I ended up leaving earlier than anticipated as he took the shine off it for me and I found the evening to be an unpleasant experience. You can’t reason with a drunk person so it made sense to just leave. However, in the morning after reflection I decided to contact him. I did not involve the company he worked for, I just wanted him to know his behaviour was unacceptable.
I told him that I couldn’t believe he was representing a professional company who were also the event sponsor. I told him he needed to brush up on his emotional intelligence, particularly since he was bragging he had 300 staff under him. There was nothing humorous about his attitude and he behaved like a corporate bully on the night trying to make some of us feel inferior. I reminded him that respect is something that’s needed on all levels in business and I felt that he had none towards me so I got my point across loud and clear and received an apology.
I do feel that if you are wronged you have a voice, and as scary confrontation is, if you don’t use your voice you are permitting whatever is happening to take place. I certainly don’t enjoy confrontation but nobody is better than anyone and if I don’t get respect I will speak up. Once I’ve said my piece I can park it but that’s not always the case for the person on the receiving end!
As the old saying goes, ‘if you cant say anything nice don’t say anything at all’ and another favourite is “be kind”, i’m quite fond of a good old fashioned f**k you as well, but one must always stay classy 😉