I asked Amy from ‘Standing Up For Victims of Bullies’ to share her story because she truly exemplifies what the ripple effect legacy is all about. She has begun a ripple that saves lives and gives hope to the hopeless. I certainly am touched by her efforts to bring awareness to stop bullying and suicide as are so many in this world. Thank you Amy for your beautiful heart and your ripple effect… a true legacy that is changing the world. ~ Tammy
“I figured it was time to tell you of my own story. A lot of people will look and wonder why I created “Standing Up For Victims of Bullies (Child or Adult).” Why would I want to be such a strong advocate for others who cannot stand up for themselves. The answer is simple. I want to show others that there IS hope, and although they may be facing horrible circumstances, there are ways to pull up out if it.
I was adopted at the age of five, but my biological mother gave me up as an infant, so I moved from foster care to foster care for five years. As we all know, children are supposed to be loved and cared for, and they are supposed to feel safe. I didn’t get those things, so I had severe trust issues and abandonment issues at a very young age. My adoptive parents are good people, but they were also a bit dysfunctional. My father was verbally abusive, and I would be in tears every day. He was controlling, and if I tried to stand up for myself, I would be told that I was talking back and he would ignore me for days. My mother (in my eyes, but she sees it differently) didn’t say a word, and would allow for it to happen…telling me that I should just let things go, and move on from my anger. I grew up without a voice, and that carried with me for several years. Actually, I am just now learning how to use my voice, and to be heard.
I may not have been physically bullied in school, but I was socially isolated, neglected, made fun of, and very insecure. I am 42 years old, so we are talking 20 plus years ago, in the 1980′s. I went to a high school in Houston, Texas where there are now 3316 students enrolled. In a school that big, you either were well known, or you were lost in the shuffle. I was one who was lost in the shuffle
Like I said earlier, I come from a good family, but my parents did not believe in buying brand name clothing, or anything that was expensive. They taught me and my sister the value of money, and how to work for something. Because of that, I did not wear what all of the other girls were wearing. I didn’t wear make-up until I was 16, because I was not allowed to. I was not popular. I had no niche, and I was miserable.
Instead of playing a sport, or being in the band or choir, I played the cello. Being in the orchestra was nerdy…and I was made fun of all of the time. I remember one time, my orchestra class was to put on a performance in the school auditorium. I was so embarrassed and scared of being teased, that I hid in the bathroom the entire time and missed the performance. I was in trouble with my parents and the orchestra teacher for this, but I accepted the consequences of that, much better than if I had been seen with “that group of people.”
I was told that I looked like a “slut” by the way I carried my books across my chest, rather than holding them by my side. How the heck could I be a slut, if I had never even kissed by a boy at this time? I was told that I needed to stop saying hello to the “popular” kids because I was trying too hard and they thought I was weird. I would be acknowledge outside of school, but never in school.
I was failing my classes…I was miserable at school and I was miserable at home. I began to act out at home. If my parents knew then what most parents know now (of putting a child in a juvenile home or mental health unit), they probably should have. The depression I had always had but kept at bay, came out full circle. I engaged in things that were not healthy for me. I tried hurting myself on several occasions. ANY attention (even negative attention) was far better than no attention. I changed schools. I went to a private school, and things got much better. They encouraged diversity and welcomed newcomers. I flourished. I made new friends, I was able to play my cello without being made fun of, and my grades improved. Changing schools was the best decision my parents ever did for me. I am grateful for them for knowing that something needed to be done.
Throughout my young adult life, however, I still had issues. I sought out men who were not good for me (I had boyfriends who were physically and mentally abusive), I was raped in college, and I simply did not like myself. My depression and self harm grew more and more each day. Each rejection (from a boyfriend, or friend) hurt deeply. I was married and divorced all in the span of 10 months, due to my depression at the age of 30. I didn’t know what was going on with me, and I felt like a complete failure as a woman. I finally sought help for my depression and anxiety, and things began to turn around for me.
I moved to Iowa (where I live now) and married the man of my dreams. He is my best friend, my confidant, and my soul mate. We have two beautiful children (our son is 6 and our daughter is 10), and I am fulfilled. However…I do still suffer from depression and anxiety, and I have just been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. In doing some research on that, it is completely understandable why I developed such a disorder. I am in therapy now, and I have a huge support system at home. I do have bad days, when I am just angry and full of pain, but I try hard to work through those things. I have a strained relationship with my mother (My father passed away in 2006, and I was able to talk to him before he died, and we had a good long talk. I have forgiven him, but I still have painful memories), but I am learning that I will probably never get from her what I need. In her eyes, there’s nothing she could have done to “save me” from my father. However, she is doing the same thing with my relationship with me and my sister, whom I no longer speak to for various reasons. She will not stand up for me, because she doesn’t want to make waves with my sister. Yet, she can make waves with me, and trigger me to the point of frustration. I need to learn to let go…something I think will be a constant struggle.
These are the reasons I created the anti-bullying community, and why I am such an advocate for victims and for spreading awareness about mental health issues. I think it’s important, and I think we need to ban together to stop people from being hurt and abused.
Where I am now….I have a special education degree, and I just graduated this summer with a Human Services degree with a minor in Psychology. I have spent the remainder of the summer with my children, and on October 13, 2011, I am starting Graduate School to become a mental health counselor. I have done various jobs in the community that involve helping young people realize their potential. I have realized that bullies are just small people who have their own issues, and rather than recognizing them, they prey on other people, to make themselves feel better. I have taught anger management, social skills, conflict resolution, among a variety of other things. I DO understand what you might be going through. It is NOT hopeless, however. I am a happy adult, who has a lot of past baggage, but quite frankly, that baggage plus what I have learned, is who I am today. I wouldn’t change that for the world. I love and I am loved. It is the best feeling in the world.
I write …. I write a lot. It is a major coping skill for me. I have an online blog about growing up and my depression (it is much more detailed) and I hope to one day publish it into a book.
You are not alone. You can do this, and you will be ok. Just reach out and ask for help. That’s all it takes.
Thank you for reading this.”
~Amy Hewitt Bonin~
(Creator of Standing up for Victims of Bullies)
You can find out more about Amy and her group at Facebook or her blog page below: