The After Effects

by Saadio Aden

The alarm clock went “ding….ding… ding.” I woke pretending I couldn’t hear it, because I didn’t want to get up. My mom was yelling at my sister and me, “Get up girls it’s time to go school.” I didn’t understand why she was so excited. I miserably dragged myself out of bed; I just wanted to crawl and hide and the blanket. It was a cold day in March 1999, I was fourteen years old, and it was my first day of school in America.

I was scared. My sister and I got ready, but we were not happy. We knew we had to go to school, and mom would not let us stay home. We walked to the bus stop right across the street from our house. A few minutes later, a big yellow bus pulled up right next to us. We looked at each other and my sister said, “Here we go.”

As I climbed the bus’s three steps, my feet were shaking, my heart was beating, and my hands were sweating. Once we got to the last step, we could feel everybody’s eyes burning at us. Three rows from the bus door there was an empty seat next to a student. I attempted to sit there, and the student took his back pack, and put it on the seat next to him. I just kept walking. My sister was also trying to sit next to another student; that student also put her bag pack on the seat next to her. One student after another placed their pack backs on the seats next to them. With my eyes full of tears, I looked at my sister with shock. She held my hand very tight, and I felt she might break it. To make matters worse one of the students shouted, “Aren’t you supposed to ride a camel, not a bus?”

Everybody laughed, including the bus driver. Those were the most hurtful words ever. Mark Dombeck, Ph.D., director of Mental Help Net, writes about bullying. He states “it is not necessary to be physically harmed in order to suffer lasting harm. Words and gestures are quite enough. In fact, the old saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never harm me’ is more exactly backwards.”

My sister and I stood against the school bus door all the way to school. When the school bus stopped, the students shoved us through the door. My sister’s “hajiab,” her head scarf, came off. One of the students pulled her scarf off her shoulder, and threw it back at her face. I thought to myself, once we got to school, things were going to be better. Boy, was I wrong. We had different classes, so we parted ways.

As I was walking around to find my classes, I asked some students if they knew where classes were. Some of them competed ignored me, and some of them pretend they don’t understand what I was saying. I just wanted to crawl under a rock. Once I found my class it was almost half way through the period. The teacher said to me, “You must be our new student. welcome. Have a seat anywhere you want.” I thought to myself, “Anywhere I want? Every seat is taken!” The rest of the day just ended with me trying to find my classes and getting lost. I even missed lunch. To make matters worse, I missed the bus and I didn’t know my home phone number. When my sister got home, she told my mom I missed the school bus. My mom and my uncle came to get me. When I saw my mom I started crying. That was the worst day of my life.

This happened almost seven years ago. It affected me as child, and it is still affecting me as an adult. It made me a shy person, a loner, passive, angry, and depressed for a long time. Dombeck “summarizes some of the effects bullying victims may experience.” They are:

  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Anxious avoidance of settings in which bullying may occur
  • Greater incidence of illness
  • Lower grades than non-bullied peers
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings (In one British retrospective bullying experiences survey I came across (of unknown scientific value), 20% of the sample attempted suicide secondary to having been bullied, whereas only 3% of participants who were not bullied attempted suicide).
  • In the long term:
    • Reduced occupational opportunities
    • Lingering feelings of anger and bitterness, desire for revenge
    • Difficulty trusting people
    • Interpersonal difficulties, including fear and avoidance of new social situations
    • Increased tendency to be a loner
    • Perception of self as easy to victimize, overly sensitive, and thin-skinned
    • Self-esteem problems (don’t think well of self)
    • Increased incidence of continued bullying and victimization

Being bullied as a child shaped me as an adult. I still I am not the same person that I was before I got bullied, but I am determined for it not to affect me anymore.

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One Response to “The After Effects”

  1. Olga Frederick Says:

    Saadio,
    Thank you for sharing this story with us. I understand how personal it is, and I can imagine how hard it was to write it and to live through the same day again. I had tears in my eyes as I was reading it. Kids and teens can sometimes be so cruel. But I really hope that they regret what they have done in the past once they grow up.

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