stronger than you think

Supporting all those affected by bullying


short story

Space Cadet – a true story

IMG_1782Space Cadet – that pretty much describes me when I was a schoolgirl.

In primary school I had friends, but kept to myself most of the time – preferring to move along the fringes and edges during recess and not getting too involved with anyone.

This intensified when I lost something at school and discovered two things:

1 – The lost and found was kept in a dingy room in a dark passage in a deserted part of the school, and

2 – The school janitor was a paedophile.

That triggered a full retreat into my own world – into my own mind.  This, by the way, was and still is a wonderful place to visit.

The idea to tell anyone didn’t even enter my mind…  Shows you how safe I felt…

In High School it was quickly discovered that paedophiles are everywhere.  The High School freak was a teacher who liked little boys.  We had a rifle-range at school.  After each session the freak would pick someone to help him put everything back in the ammo shed.  I have often wondered how many of my schoolmates entered that place little boys and left it shattered.

So to all those suicidal, emotionally crippled, deeply remorseful paedophiles out there, all I have to say is:  “Remember – it’s down the Road, not across the River” – Get it right, Freaks!!  I’ll even run you a hot bath!!

But I digress…..

Space Cadet remains an accurate description of me as a schoolgirl.  My state of mind was maintained by strict routine.  I never did things out of order.  It was – wake up, drink coffee, get dressed, make bed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, check school-bag, ready to go, arrive at school, put school bag in the correct row, dig into pocket for book currently being read, sit down somewhere out of the way, read.

I couldn’t, of course, read my book in class, so escaped into my own imagination – usually incorporating currently being read book into the images and daydreams.

The problem with being in dream world all the time is that you forget where you are altogether, and sometimes the happy thoughts spill over into a goofy grin, which isn’t always displayed at the appropriate moment.

I recall two such moments…..

I was in history class.  Mr Officious bully weirdo with moustache had his knickers in a knot about something or the other.  We didn’t do very well in the last test, or our behaviour just wasn’t good enough.  I am guessing – I really have no idea what he was crapping on about.

All I remember is being shocked into reality when his fist banged my desk.  Heart-attack time!  There was this huge red face with blazing eyes, flaring nostrils and quivering moustache right in front of mine.  Intimidating?  Not really, I was too busy preventing a heart-attack and wondering what he was on.  (And honestly, compared to my dad, he was a pussy.)  “Do you find it funny?”  “No sir”   And then blah blah blah blah (I was too busy thinking what a total jerk he was to pay attention to what he was saying).

The other time that I recall being caught with a goofy grin was in church.  The minister, an honest, trustworthy, decent human being, was being pushed out by the powerful members of the community.  You know the ones – they have money and like to have their interest looked after, their children promoted and everybody with a bit of say in the community firmly under their control.  Well, this bloke would have none of that, so he had to go.  And they won, as they do.

We were in church when he was giving his final sermon.  It was apparently scathing and he pretty much told everyone that they are on the road to hell.  Again, I am guessing, because I was there on body only.  My mind was off somewhere in another world.  No fists on desks this time – I was allowed to wallow in my reverie.  My mother were questioned, though, afterwards, by some or other busy body about why She was sitting there with a smile on her face while the minister was tearing strips off everyone.  But hey, let’s face it – why should I have felt chastised anyway – I was on his side.

So, what does all this mean – all this stuff I just wrote.  Does it have to mean anything?  It’s just a random recollection that found its way onto a page.

Silent witness


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

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…

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