As part of our Anti-Bullying week, Jason’s Connection are featuring several stories on our Facebook page and our online magazine about the harassment and bullying those with differences, disabilities, or mental illness face in life. This is our own co-founder Jason Harris’s story.
I myself have been harassed all throughout my young life. For me it all started in the 2nd grade. There was a girl in my school who would often make fun of me. To be honest, I do not remember much of getting teased, probably because I am blocking it out.
What I do remember is around that time, this is when the self-loathing started. I lacked self-confidence, I was overly emotional, and occasionally, when spirits were extremely low, had moments of suicidal thoughts. Sadly, I then took that anger out another person who I then, in return, harassed. Sometimes the bully doesn’t even know they are the bully.
I would taunt this person while we would pretend to be in a game show during lunch. Every time we played, I told him he won money. I would then ask him a question he wouldn’t know, just so he lost what he had won. It was a mean thing to do but I think at that time I was so hurt that it felt like I was asserting some bit of control. I didn’t even realize the reasons for my actions at the time or the impact.
During elementary school, no adult ever intervened in what was going on. None. My friends never said very much about it. I had even forgotten that I had been made fun of it till a couple years ago. It was then the memories began to return how brutal the harassment felt. This was not the end of it.
When I went to my first high school, it didn’t take long before the teasing started. Now I will be honest. By the time I got to high school, I acted in some ways less able then I actually was as a defense mechanism. It was a stupid mechanism, but for some reason I thought it worked.
There were some really nice people in high school but I never made any friends. There were also a lot of people in my class that made fun of me. A girl once asked me if I had any tampons probably assuming I had no idea what that was. People would also kick on my stalls when I used the restroom.
I transferred high schools because I was having so much trouble. I transferred to a boarding school for people with Non-verbal Learning Disorder and Asperger’s. But regardless, that school was just another place for bullying to flourish. I was called names and hit by my ex-girlfriend. I never fit in very well, even though I had a few friends. I felt like a lot of people didn’t like me. People would treat me like I was stupid or unable. Once, I got my feet stomped on just for singing ABBA because I was not a woman.
One young man who made me fun of me consistently and even called me a pedophile because I was 18 and at that point my ex was younger by a year. He was even audacious enough to call me that in front of his parents and when they got mad at him, he told them it was a joke between the two of us. They took him at his word and never had another concern about it.
While I have not been harassed in a long time, the residual effect is still there. I still am trying to get back my self-confidence, as well as becoming okay with people and feel more assured that they are not going to make fun or hurt me.
I am still very wary of people and tend to get social anxiety as well as hyper vigilante about my own actions. I was in some ways lucky because it could have be so much worse and the effects more pervasive. No matter the situation, this still should be taken seriously and hopefully this week, will show you that it is a serious issue not just for kids in school, but it can have impact in adulthood as well.
Those who have also been affected by harassment and bullying, I want to hear your take – your experience. Please leave any comments you feel comfortable with for discussion below.
Jason P. Harris is the Co-Founder of Jason’s Connection – an online resource for those with unique needs, disabilities, and mental illness. He regularly contributes to the online magazine in his own series called Jason’s View and travels the country speaking about Hidden Disabilities.