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stronger than you think

Supporting all those affected by bullying

Month

September 2015

Who am I?

Good relationships are built on compromise. Give and take.

Unfortunately is some cases, there is one person who takes and takes and takes and another who gives and gives and gives. With time the giver is left drained and broken. Unrecognisable even to themselves.

The following poem was submitted by Herlien – it speaks of such a circumstance…

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If you need help, please visit our Find Help page for links to helplines and support groups.

If you wish to share your story, or have a poem, song or drawing to submit, please email elsahowarth@gmail.com

Dear Dad – (Anti-Bullying Short Film)

From the site post —

“Dear Dad is an emotional anti-bullying drama centered around the story of a thirteen year old boy named Tim.
The film conveys the distress and depression of protagonist Tim who is unable to communicate with a well-meaning but ineffectual counselor who cannot understand why Tim is unable to ask for support and guidance from his father. ‘Dear Dad’ portrays the abuse Tim receives alongside extracts from counseling sessions which compound his sense of loneliness, alienation and depression.
The films open with the statistic that almost 70% of people in the UK have suffered from bullying before depicting Tim’s experiences at the hands of his antagonists and the deterioration of his mental health.”

CREDITS:

Written/Directed/Edited by: James Hardy (Twitter – @james_hardy98 )
Co-Producer – Oscar Rhodes (Twitter – @OscarRhodes2 )

Sound Mix by Tom Viney
Production Assistant/BTS Photos – Declan Emery
Camera Assistant/1st AC – Oliver Whorwood
Set Photography by Declan Emery & Oliver Whorwood

1st Assistant Director – Oscar Rhodes
2nd Assistant Director – John Matthews (Twitter – @mooneyejohn )

Tim – John Matthews
Kyle – Oscar Rhodes
Other Bully – Oliver Whorwood
Mrs Jones – Julia Batchelor

NETWORKS:

MoonEyeFilms on Twitter – @mooneyefilms
MoonEyeFilms on Facebook – facebook.com/mooneyefilms

More information on the film can be found at http://www.mooneyefilms.com

They deserve a beating

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During the time my daughter was missing I sheltered myself from the careless, cruel and highly presumptive comments made on Facebook. I chose to skip past it and have since forgotten most of them.

There is one particular type of comment that was made after my daughter had been returned to me, which I cannot stop thinking about. It varied in wording, but conveyed the message – they deserve a beating.

Comments like those were often followed up with –

  • My dad used to beat me when I was a child.
  • I deserved it.
  • I turned out okay.
  • It did no harm.

I would urge anyone tempted to make a comment such as these to stop and think. Ask yourself how such a comment could be taken or acted upon – and what lessons are we teaching our children.

I did not beat my daughter. The thought of beating her never entered my mind. The idea of beating anyone is abhorrent to me. I personally never felt like I was ‘winning’ at parenting after giving my child a slap on the wrist or a smack on the bum.

But my concern goes deeper than that and it involves the subjectivity of the concept of beating someone. What is a beating? A slap? A punch? Several slaps and punches? Kicking? Hitting someone with a wooden spoon – a belt – a stick – an electric cord – a baseball bat – a metal pole? When does it go from ‘discipline’ to ‘abuse’? When does it become unacceptable?

I would suggest that the answer would vary depending on the life experiences of the individual and the culture in which they were raised. So when you post “they deserve a beating” your idea of what that means, I am willing to wager, will be widely misinterpreted.

How would you have felt if you read that my daughter had been assaulted by us, her parents? We could point to your comment and say – “hey, you encouraged us” – “we only took your advice”. And you would say – “that’s not what I meant”.

It’s just common sense, right? I wish it was.

I read news reports that depict heartbreaking stories of child abuse at the hands of parents who simply could not see that their actions were child abuse. They had themselves been subjected to or witnessed abuses far worse than the punishments they doled out, or they hold certain beliefs that encourage violence towards children.

There is a lot of projection that happens in public discourse – even though people acknowledge their own uniqueness they will also make pronouncements as if their experiences are comparable with everyone else’s.  It quite simply is not. Please remember that when you dispense advice to the public, especially when it involves what could be seen as an endorsement of violence.


What are we teaching our children? Violence isn’t always bad? There are circumstances under which violence is okay? I would say that violence is never okay. When a person is forced to act violently in order to protect themselves or someone else, is it a cause for celebration? I would say no. Many, if not most, would disagree.

I can think of two news items that depicted retaliations against bullies. One involved a child who snapped, picked up the bully and dumped him on his head. The other involved a bystander intervening and king hitting the bully. In both these cases the comments section was filled with praise. “He got was he deserved” being the over-riding consensus.

Did he? Maybe. But I cannot look at those videos without feeling sick. And sad.

One punch can kill. I do not want any of my children to be responsible for maiming or killing someone – even a nasty bully. The risks are too great and the consequences too devastating. Don’t get me wrong, I know the feeling of red-hot anger and the desire to hit someone. My question is – is it worth it?

If you see someone being assaulted, what is the best course of action? Hurting the bully? Or intervening and helping the person being bullied. I would say that achieving the latter without having to resort to the former is the best way to go.


We have laws in place (here in Australia) that do not include corporal punishment. You cannot receive a death sentence, no matter what you do. But in our homes, on our streets and in our school yards some of us  are exposed to violence – and society endorses it to some extent and excuses it under certain circumstances.

The point I’m trying to make is this. Even if you were beaten by your parents and you are okay. Even if you feel that you weren’t harmed. What kind of future do we want to build? A better one where we use non-violent means to resolve our problems? Or one that perpetuates the bad (and confusing) ideas of the past?

What do you think?

Love youself by Khari (Anti-bullying Song)

It is heartbreaking when a parent finds out that their child is being bullied.

This dad responded in a creative and loving way. I have no doubt his song helped his child, and so many others.

You can find out more about Khari and his music here

From the website : Khari is a world renowned poet, spoken word artist, published author, and music producer. He has performed at over 100 venues throughout the country, gracing stages from New Orleans to the Nuyorican, Atlanta to Denver.  In 2010, he released his groundbreaking, double disk, spoken word album  “VICTORY” which sold over 100,000 copies.  The success of VICTORY cemented him as one of the top selling spoken word artists in the country.

Silent witness

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The short story below speaks of a single event, but captures many aspects of being bullied. In particular, the passivity of witnesses. The victim is left feeling abandoned, exposed, unprotected – and this can be harder to bear than the physical pain inflicted by the bully.

Whenever we can, we should befriend the vulnerable, and protect them.

Do not be a silent witness to someone else’s torment – no matter who the bully is…


She stands in the doorway, feeling exposed. Her flimsy nightie too short and too sheer to offer any protection.

He towers over her. Shouting words – accusations, threats. She wonders if he feels powerful, strong, impressive, in front of his drinking buddy who watches from the shadows.

His words have long ago lost its meaning. True or made up or exaggerated. There would be no negotiation, no discussion, no explanation. Just this shouting and then, perhaps, almost certainly, the punishment.

She wishes he wasn’t there, to watch in silence. But more than that, she wishes she was wearing something else. The fine cloth, barely covering her bottom, provides little protection from those watching eyes, and even less from the blows to come.

And it does come. Frenzied, painful, humiliating.

Afterwards she crawls into her bed. She hides her face under the covers – ashamed of her tears.

Stifled sobs catch in her throat.

Her mother presses freshly cooked pikelets into her hand. Almost too hot to hold. The butter drips onto the sheet.

She holds it as the convulsions slowly ease and then bites into it. It is doughy and tasteless and, like the apathy that surrounds her, hard to swallow.


If you need help, please reach out to someone. There are links to helplines on our Find Help page.

If you wish to share your story, please email elsahowarth@gmail.com

Poem by Zeba Khan – Sticks and Stones may break by bones

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you can follow Zeba on Facebook or Twitter

The note

IMG_1545I have already written something about the event that inspired the creation of this website. (You can find it on the About page).

* * * * *

The moments after discovering that my daughter and her friend were gone are hard to describe. I mindlessly ran from room to room in the hope of finding them somewhere in the house. I ran outside and looked up and down the street. But I knew, in my gut, that it was in vain.

I called the police, my husband and Holly’s mother. I sent messages to my adult children. Hysteria was bubbling beneath the surface, kept at bay only by pacing, pacing, pacing.

I must have gone in and out of Emma’s empty room a dozen times, but it was only while I was talking to my husband on the phone when I noticed the piece of paper on her desk.

It was a note. It read:

Dear our loving family.

There’s nothing much to say but we have found that we don’t belong here and that we aren’t happy. It’s our time to go, has been for a while now. We want you to know that we love you heaps, with all our hearts but this life has become too hard to handle. We’ll miss you all so very much and we hope when you look up and see the shiny, sparkly stars, you’ll think of us. Your names have all been in graved in our hearts
~ love Emma and Holly ❤

Emma’s hand-writing, but not her words. The strangeness of it accentuated the initial shock of reading it.

At some point during my reading the note out loud, my husband broke down and we lost the connection. The police arrived and I ran out to their car with the note in my hand. I was a complete wreck. The girls were dead, I thought. We are going to find them, dead.

How does one describe that feeling? There are no words…

I found comfort in the calm, reasoned way in which the police dealt with the matter. As they prompted me to remember what was taken from Emma’s room, it started dawning on me that kids intent on killing themselves simply wouldn’t take so much stuff. As the day progressed the list got longer and longer. Most of Emma’s clothes, her make-up, nail polish, photos, ornaments, and jewellery had been taken. She packed like someone who was moving, not someone who was planning suicide.

It became clear to me that they had either been picked up by someone, or they couldn’t possibly be too far away.

The search began…

Hopes and Dreams

IMG_1781A young lady, who wishes to remain anonymous, submitted a poem for us to share. We would like to thank her for her contribution.

She has experienced bullying from her high school peers over an extended period of time. Her poem reflects the emotional pain and feeling of helplessness that is so often associated with prolonged harassment.

We feel that it will resonate with people both young and old as bullying is not a new thing and the harm can be permanent.

It is about the loss of self, of worth, of hopes and dreams…

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If you are being bullied, or know someone who is, please reach out to someone – an adult who will listen and who can help.

Please go to our Find Help page for helplines and websites. You can also go to our Know Your Rights for more information.

If you would like to contribute to the site, please contact us at elsahowarth@gmail.com

Strain (Anti-Bullying Silent Short Film)

I came across the film, Strain, on YouTube. It has a powerful and important message. It tells the story of a young girl who is subjected to bullying. As the violence escalates, she finds herself abandoned by her best friend and she slips deeper and deeper into depression. It is a very good production and well worth the time to watch – and share.

While I was watching it I thought how common it is for bullies to isolate their victim. Once there is no-one willing to stand up to them they are free to do almost anything without consequences.

It may take courage, but it is important not to be a passive bystander. Befriend the isolated child. Defend the victim. Speak up against the bullies.

If my sharing this here inspires just one person to act, it would have been worth it. That may well be one life changed, or one life saved.

If your are the victim of bullying, reach out to someone today. Go to our Find Help page here

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