I was recently presented with an opportunity to interview someone about their past experiences with bullying. Prior to the interview, Reese had only loosely mentioned she’d gone through a challenging phase in high school. While I was surprised, and naturally, a tad concerned, I had absolutely no idea the depths of what she’d been through…

Until she so bravely and courageously agreed to meet with me on Zoom.

Watch the interview to gain tremendous perspective and insight into bullying behaviour, the manipulations surrounding it, and the potential repercussions of its occurrence.

Not just one incident

First, I was saddened to learn that this was not one isolated incident but rather years of unfair torment that plagued this girl.

The cliques

Similar to many, Reese found high school to be quite different from elementary, particularly in the sense that, when it came to friendships, it was very “group based”, as she puts it. In other words, cliques were apparent and each person was associated with a particular group of people.

Since Reese was often with her best friend at the time, and because that young girl hung out with two other girls, Reese was inadvertently categorized into this small group of four. There was just one problem…the three banned together and Reese continuously found herself more on the sidelines than a core part of the group.

“Just joking”

One of the most disturbing and insightful parts of my interview with Reese is the point at which she describes this culture of fakeness and manipulation. In years past, acts of bullying were cut and dry. There was never a question of “hmm…was that bullying or not?” You either got the black eye or you didn’t. Today, it isn’t quite so straightforward.

Watch the interview and pay particular attention to how Reese describes the three girls’ behaviour towards her. Take note of the things they say, and what they nickname her. And then, understand the impact behind what happens next…when they retort things like, “just joking” and “don’t take it so personally, I’m just kidding around”.

Hiding behind what’s really going on

When people claim “it’s just a joke”, this is an attempt to mask what’s actually happening. Comments like these only place further blame and shame on the victim, and wreak havoc on their mental health.

Am I imagining this?

I guess it’s only a joke, then.

It’s okay, they’re my friends after all.

The thing is, they’re NOT your friends. They never were. Because real friends don’t treat one another this way. And most importantly, you’re better than that.

The courage to talk

Reese says if there’s one thing she wishes she did differently back then it’s to have spoken up, told someone and talked openly about her situation SOONER.

Her struggles were real and they were beginning to have serious negative effects on her quality of life, happiness and wellbeing. Thank goodness her mom came into her room one day, and thank goodness Reese found it in her to tell everything. This was the start of her recovery and exit from toxic relationships that found her the victim of three bullies who labelled themselves as her “friends”.

Success ahead

Today, Reese is a smart, intuitive, mature, empathetic, sweet, kindhearted and selfless young woman who is pursuing her career passions in early childhood education (where she has so much to offer!). You’d never guess that she endured such heartache in high school. Her bravery, courage and willingness to be vulnerable in order to start the conversation with me and share her story, is nothing short of truly admirable.

Let her voice and her story be relatable.

Let this interview show you that you’re not alone.

Let Reese’s tale demonstrate that it is possible to overcome a bully.

Let her tale be one that touches hearts and inspires change.

Thank you, Reese.

Do you have a story?

Might you be brave enough to share?

Let’s talk.