Living With A Bully




Karen’s Story


My name is Karen I am the youngest of seven children.  I was born with mild cerebral palsy that went undetected until adulthood; I have also been diagnosed with dyslexia! 


However, I am very artistic and as a child loved to spend many hours turning shoe boxes into beautiful doll houses making each figurine and piece of furniture from scraps of material I found around the house.  I was also very good at dressmaking and this ability was to help support me in my adult life!


My life took a downward spiral when I entered my first year of high school. 


For some reason, my year tutor took an instant dislike to me.  This teacher told me at every opportunity that ‘I was the most brainless and thickest individual they had ever had the misfortunate to teach’ and there was not a day that went by without this teacher belittling and bombarding me with offensive and abusive remarks about my looks and appearance. The teacher’s verbal attacks became more focused and so deeply personal that it almost pushed me to the point of wanting to die! 


Then during the first half of my second year of high school, one of the sixth form boys (Tom) started up a conversation with me and within weeks of that initial conversation he asked me out!  I was bowled over that the oldest boy in my school wanted to take me out and I jumped at the chance, because until this point, thanks to my year tutor I had been totally isolated from my peers!


But from the outset Tom was controlling the relationship insisting I shouldn’t mix with others at school, (fat chance of that).  I went with the flow and did as he demanded.  Tom and I married on my nineteenth birthday, had two daughters, the eldest born on our second wedding anniversary, with the second following some eighteen months later.


Although Tom had a well paid job, he gave me very little money yet he refused to allow me to work to supplement the little I had.  His manipulation extended to forbidding me to leave the house unless it was to take the girls to school, doctors etc.  He would always take me shopping, and the shopping trips always ended with Tom accusing me of eyeing up the male shoppers and/or staff!


If he caught me with a magazine, especially if I was looking at dresses etc. he would snatch the magazine out of my hand, rip it to pieces and start throwing punches while screaming at me that I wanted those slutty dresses to impress my fancy man. 


He was volatile and something as innocent as watching the news could bring about a violent change in his demeanour, especially if there was a male news reader.  In an attempt to minimise his violent outbursts, I stopped going out shopping, watching TV and anything that would give him cause to lash out!


The girls on the other hand had a good relationship with their father and they could do no wrong in each other’s eyes!  And if at any point I felt the girls required correcting they would complain to their father that I had told them off!  Tom would go ballistic and on a few occasions would beat me in front of them.  My daughters took their cue from their father even though the girls never raised a hand to me, they verbally abused me daily and their verbal attacks were most vicious!


I finally found the courage to leave my husband and my daughters.  By then my youngest daughter had turned eighteen.  I was able to find two part time jobs and, coupled with my dress making skills, I was able to afford to rent a small flat and support myself!


Within weeks of me leaving the matrimonial home my husband moved another woman in.  This didn’t bother me at all.  However even though my husband was quite happy to move his partner into the marital home, to this day he still feels bitterly resentful of me!  I believe this is because I had the audacity to leave him.


The most hurtful of what I had to endure and have still to come to terms with, is the malicious, vindictive and quite callous behaviour of my daughters towards me.  My mother and two of my older sisters had been trying for a while to warn me of my daughters’ behaviour and I even fell out with them for what I mistook as a criticism of them!


Eight months after I left my husband my daughters came to see me, always visiting separately.  They were both full of remorse and blamed their father and each other for their unacceptable behaviour towards me.


Maybe my year tutor was right, maybe I was ‘the most brainless and thickest individual that walks this planet’ because I fell for their lies, because I so wanted to believe them.  In spite of everything, I did love my daughters!


It was a couple of years before I realised that the girls were playing me, (playing both ends against the middle as my mum put it).  Unfortunately I did not realise just how malicious they really were.  Before I knew it they had drained what little money I had in my bank account, my younger daughter being a past master at it.  She left me in hundreds of pounds of debt because I took a loan out in my name to help her!


I still feel the most devastating betrayal was to find that my daughters were regularly feeding information to their father so that he knew where I lived, shopped and worked and he soon started turning up and standing outside my work places!  He never approached or said anything to me, but then he didn’t have to; his presence was enough to terrify me!  What finally broke me were the unforgivably cruel and nasty untruths my daughters told about me to anyone who would listen!


The only option left for me was to move away from the place where I was born and had lived most of my life!  I not only left my husband and children behind, but also my parents and siblings.  I felt I had brought shame on my family because of the way I disregarded and disrespected them, defending my daughters’ despicable behaviour.  But I was doing what any mother would do, believing in and protecting my young when in fact my own caring family were desperately trying to protect me, trying to open my eyes to the deceit and spitefulness executed by my spouse and offspring!


Fortunately, my family never gave up on me and eventually found me when I was at my lowest ebb, in a really bad place psychologically!  My eldest sister took charge and I went to live with her for a while!  As soon as I arrived at my sister’s she arranged an appointment with her GP who made emergency referrals for me to be seen by the local Mental Health Team and Counselling Services!


It’s been nearly five years since my family found me and brought me home!  I now live in sheltered accommodation.  I still have difficulties leaving my home alone and being outside generally.  It is believed that my progress is being hindered by my fear of bumping into or seeing my husband and children around the area where I live.


I recently found out that I am a grandmother of three boys, but I have never seen them and I doubt I ever will!  My husband and daughters’ contempt of me is still as strong as ever and their lies have been extended to fit their stories of a treacherous wife and incompetent mother!


When CURB received my letter and followed it up with several telephone conversations, they explained to me that they were looking at the theory that domestic violence maybe one contributing factors in generating a school bully.


I believe it is highly likely my daughters were school bullies although I have no evidence of this; throughout their time in school I was never contacted by their school expressing any such concerns!


However, my sister’s older children did mention that their cousins were in a few scuffles which my daughters apparently instigated with several of their peer group.  Plus they recall seeing their uncle at the school a few times, attending meetings with members of staff.


If my husband was called to meet with staff members over our daughters’ unruly behaviour, he did so without consulting or informing me!     I also have no doubt he would have protected and defended them without hesitation, laying the blame fully at the victim’s feet!


I am a strong believer that ‘Children do learn what they live’ and my daughters had an accomplished and expert bully to learn from and learn from him they did!


I will never forgive but know I must come to terms with my children’s intolerable and offensive behaviour.  But I now realise I no longer have to take responsibility for their actions; their actions are for them to shoulder and theirs alone. 





Annabelle Story


My name is Annabelle and I am 49 years old.  I am an only child who grew up in a semi-detached three bedroom home that was kept immaculate.  I had loving and caring parents who during my childhood set boundaries and ground rules.  I did push the boundaries as children do and I often questioned my parents’ reasoning and need for some of their stringent principles.  I also wondered why my views often fell on deaf ears!  But regardless of this I always felt loved and safe.


Unfortunately, my parents were killed in an accident when I was in my middle teens and I had no other blood family living; I was left isolated, vulnerable and exposed!


The sudden death of my parents left me in a state of denial that would often turn to anger.  I was constantly assured my feelings and actions were part and parcel of the grieving process! 


However, towards the third anniversary of my parents’ death, my closest friends began to express concerns I should have begun to come to terms with my loss!  Their comments and opinions finally caused a rupture in our friendship that cost me the only constancy I had known since childhood and the subsequent loss of my parents.


There followed a lengthy period where I would drink myself into oblivion on a daily basis.  During this time, I met a guy called Daniel in my local pub.  Daniel was everything a girl could want or more to the point, he convinced me he was!


After a short period of knowing each other Daniel and I married.  Everything appeared fine during this period, but what I didn’t realise Daniel had been grooming me from the outset!


Two weeks after our second wedding anniversary I gave birth to our first born Simon.  My elder daughter Katie was born a year later, Susie two years following and four years later my twins Daniel JR and Harry arrived.


When Daniel JR and Harry were born, Daniel Senior became more violent towards me because he believed as there was no history of twins in his family I must have had an affair!


Daniel got to the stage when he totally convinced himself that I had been unfaithful throughout our relationship/marriage.  His new found paranoia resulted in the beatings becoming so vicious I felt I was not going to survive the attacks. 


The psychological assaults were equally as severe; Daniel’s mood swings were so unpredictable I was left living on a knife’s edge twenty four seven.  The breaking point came for me when Daniel threw boiling water over me leaving me permanently scarred.


Unfortunately my children witnessed a great deal of the abuse I suffered at their father’s hands and this has without doubt left my children with long-term psychological scarring!  When I finally found the courage to leave Daniel, my eldest Simon was fourteen, Katie twelve, Susie ten and the twins six years old. 


Eventually, after many unsuccessful attempts I found somewhere for me and my children to live.  However, Daniel always managed to find us and for several years we had no option but to keep on the move!  It also took seven and half years to gain a court hearing with the view to obtaining an injunction against Daniel.  Regrettably, the order was only for one year and for the following five years I had to keep returning to renew it.


Notwithstanding the anguish and worry my ex-husband wreaked over the years, my children, especially Simon and the girls adjusted immediately to their new environment.  They were no longer agitated and anxious, furthermore they settled immediately into their new schools.  The twins, even though relaxed and content within their home life, were not as fortunate in their school environment; they were victims of extreme bullying from the outset.


This brought another set of problems to be tackled.  My complaints to the school, its governing body, LEA, and children’s agencies was futile, none of them did anything constructive to address the bullying that was rife there!

After several visits to my twins’ school and many discussions with their Year Tutor, I finally managed to secure an audience with the Headteacher.  This teacher was on the defensive as soon as I stepped into the office!


After having to endure a lecture of almost an hour’s duration on - “The alleged allegations of bullying my children were being subjected to” the Headteacher further astounded me by the conclusion (delivered in a well-rehearsed fashion) that “The main reason the twins were being targeted and attacked by their peers was because they were already born victims of sorts!  Hence, they needed to grow a spine and toughen up because if they didn’t, they would always remain vulnerable and susceptible to bullying”!  I was left reeling!


I feel this sweeping statement was born of disinterest and ignorance.  I was most certainly dumbfounded.  However, I did manage to collect myself and ask the Headteacher was I being given authorisation to encourage my children to ‘To do unto others as they are doing unto them’


The Headteacher was horrified at the suggestion so I asked for clarification and advice regarding ‘Growing a Spine and Toughening Up’. 


The Headteacher replied that my sons should “Ignore each physical assault, all verbal threats and pay no attention to every sordid and upsetting remark directed at them”!  I was then strongly advised that ‘If my children did retaliate in any shape or form they would be instantly excluded from school’!


At this point I enquired if the offenders/bullies who were assaulting my children on a daily basis were given the same ultimatum.


The Headteacher refused to comment!


Despite and not because of the Headteacher’s advice, my sons did not allow their experiences in that school to blight their lives.


There is an unusually positive outcome to the story - not every child exposed to extreme domestic violence will go on to become an abuser/bully and regardless of the trauma of losing my loving and most amazing parents and enduring years of domestic violence, I alone steered my children into becoming the well-balanced, well-adjusted and even-tempered young people they are to date.


My daughters are not only working full time, they are both happy married and have children of their own.  Two of my three boys hold good positions in the city and are also amazing fathers and husbands.  My youngest son did struggle on a social basis initially, but he now has a lovely girlfriend, he is in full time education and I have every confidence he will graduate next year.


Because a child lived and/or lives in a volatile home environment it is not a foregone conclusion that a child in such a situation is more likely to be the one that will go into school and attack another child!


I have found the majority of child victims of domestic violence avoid confrontation, which is why they are more likely to suffer bullying at the hands of their peers!


What I will say to any parent is try to give as little information to your child’s school as possible, especially any personal background bad, good or other because if you ever have cause to complain to your child’s school they will use your information as a weapon to beat you with!