The effects of childhood bullying can stay with people well into adulthood - to the point where it affects everyday life.
While a small portion of people believe being bullied made them stronger, many have been impacted negatively by it.
From finding it difficult to trust others, to suffering crippling doubt and anxiety, here 19 people bravely open up about how being bullied has permanently affected them.
1. “I try too hard in friendships and also bail on them more quickly because I have a hard time trusting friends. Most of my bullying growing up came from girls who split their time pretending to be my friends and then destroying my self esteem so... I’m a bit of a loner as an adult.”
2. “I will never again trust the sound of laughter coming from behind me; I always assume this means someone is having a laugh at my expense.”
3. “If you compliment me, I will immediately become suspicious.”
4. “It’s really difficult to make friends now.”
5. “I have a hard time trusting that people are being sincere when they compliment me. My lizard brain tightens up and my instinct is to respond with a cutting remark instead of a thank you. Still working on that.”
6. “Absolute lack of self confidence.”
7. “Crippling self-doubt and anxiety.”
8. “It made me decide not to have kids. After being bullied by children so much, it gave me a negative view of children in general.”
9. “I have an unhealthy hatred of my own body. I was bullied for being overweight, and my parents told me that if I didn’t want to be bullied then I needed to lose weight. So, since I didn’t have any real knowledge on how to lose weight on my own, I just stopped eating and took on an eating disorder. Now I am much older and I am 30 lbs overweight. Even when I was in perfect health, I hated the way I looked. No matter how hard I try, I can no longer look at myself and be happy. There are good days and bad days. Some days I get compliments and I accept them, other days I get compliments and I wonder if people are just telling me what I want to hear. It is a constant battle I have with myself.”
10. “Poor social skills. When I was in middle and high school, many of my classmates basically made it a game to avoid me. I would only ever have like one or two good friends at a time because of this, and as a result, I’m not great in large groups of people.”
11. “In the back of my brain, part of me still prepares for any conflict to escalate into a physical fight.”
12. “Grew up bullied for being Asian, to the point where I absolutely hated my culture and rejected the label. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college when I met some really cool Chinese-Americans and Chinese exchange students that I realised I was missing out on a large part of who I was and who my parents were.
“It still messes with me, because anytime someone says they like Asians, I can’t help but feel that they’re lying or they simply like the idea of us. They’re usually pretty cool, but it bothers me that my first instinct is to think they’re worse than they actually are.”
13. “[It] Made me a stronger person. I can take anyone’s shit now with a grin and it doesn’t bother me. I can also think of witty retorts on the fly after years of coming up with them an hour too late. Honestly, I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but being bullied in elementary and middle school made me a better person with a stronger resolve and sense of perspective.”
14. “I’m kind because I don’t want others to suffer because of me but I’m very untrusting of everyone and I still suffer from a lot of confidence issues and PTSD. I think it was a big factor in my developing mental illness(es) and wonder if I had been bullied less if they would have come about.”
15. “I was often the target of ‘older boys compliment the ugly girl mockingly while everyone laughs’ stuff and now I have a boyfriend who thinks I’m beautiful but I can’t accept it. When he compliments me it feels like he’s describing someone else, or he’s mistaken. Same thing when other people compliment me genuinely.”
16. “It’s hard for me to talk to random people to strike up conversations. I have a hard time trusting people as well. Me talking to women is not easy too. I basically feel like I’m constantly being judged...”
17. “It made me stop talking as much, I got really withdrawn and shy. It’s been years, but that never changed.”
18. “I’m not afraid to stand up for myself or anyone else, and laughing off every potential insult instead of getting offended ruins the bully’s plans.”
19. “I think in a weird way it helped me. Because of it, I promised myself I wouldn’t be like them. I worked hard, and failed many times. But I am in a great place in life now. And I was horribly bullied. I had a diluted mixture of HCl thrown at my chest that caused some mild burning, jumped, insulted on a regular basis and had my car window smashed.
“They still work in the same jobs they had in high school (pizza place, etc). I work for a Fortune 500 doing what I like.
“In the end, I bettered myself and they did not. It sort of made me a better person. Yeah sometimes it’s hard for me to make an attachment easily, because I am wary of people’s motives, but I get through it, and have made wonderful friends.”