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The right choice

The story of Casey Heynes is doing the rounds. Heynes is a high-school student somewhere in Western Sydney, Australia, bullied for a very long time, and then finally reciprocated. Here’s some stuff about his story.

Now I’m going to tell you a story of my own.

Okay, in my primary school there wasn’t much of a pecking order. Nor was there any bullying. It just didn’t happen. However, high-school was a different story. On the first day of year 8, a pecking order was established.

My position wasn’t on the lowest rung of the social ladder. I occupied the rung just above the blind albino girl with the Braille typewriter.

However, she did not constitute a valid target for bullying. Not even the most reprehensible bully at the school would go so far as to pick on her, in case it was somehow contagious.

So, that left me, and one or two others down near my level who weren’t a part of the special handicapped class.

I was bullied.

What does that mean?

It means that at least once each day, another student from further up in the social hierarchy hit me hard enough to knock me off of my feet. Most days this happened more than once.

Initially I tried telling a teacher, but then I just got hit harder and more often. Nobody got punished for it, other than myself.

I started frequenting the library more often, and leaving the school as late as I could while still being able to get a bus that would take me near home.

Teachers began to question this behaviour, and some noticed the extensive bruising. I was sent to the Guidance Counsellor because they suspected that I was suffering from abuse at home.

I wasn’t. Being sent to the Guidance Counsellor had much the same effect as trying to get help from the teachers. People thought I was reporting them, and the beatings became worse and more frequent as a result. Most things seemed to have that effect. Like acing exams.

Then, one day, on the tennis courts (I was not actually one for tennis – I didn’t do well in most physical activities, on account of all of the bruising – but tennis was a particular favourite of our physical education teacher), one of the boys down at my end of the social ladder decided to raise his prestige and social status by… well, beating the hell out of me. I mean, why not? Everyone else did. Maybe he felt it was a club he could join.

He was actually pretty strong, despite the jolly pudginess that had put him down among the laughing-stocks like me. He hit me from behind and sent me staggering, and then just came at me with huge roundhouse swings aimed at my face.

The class and the teacher looked on. The teacher and a few of my classmates were silent, while others cheered my attacker on. Everyone was fascinated.

I stepped back away from each clumsy, powerful swing, until I could go no further, backed against the high chain-link fencing that surrounded the courts.

My attacker raised his hand one final time… and I had had enough.

I lashed out with my knuckles. I’d never hit anyone or anything before and had no idea how hard was necessary. I rammed my knuckles into his throat, and followed-through until my arm was straight out from my body and he was on the ground.

I’d crushed his trachea and badly concussed him, and the teacher called for an ambulance, which arrived and took my assailant away. He would not return to school until the following year.

I picked up my things, and went home early.

The next day, I went to school as usual, checked my exam results on the notice-board (I’d scored the highest in the school’s history), walked to the Office, and collected my report-card there, telling them that I was dropping out of school. It saved them the trouble of suspending me, certainly. They nodded. No student, staff-member or teacher spoke a word to me.

I went back home again, and cried for the rest of the day.

The next day, I threw away my academic results, and started looking for work. Nobody has ever asked me for my academic results, which is handy considering I threw them away.

Less than two years later, my would-be assailant was assigned to my then-workplace on a work-experience programme. Inside of two weeks, he’d staged an accident which I presume was intended to kill me, because it came within roughly one inch of succeeding. But that’s another story.

For two and a half years, I stood up to the bullies – an exemplar of non-violence, not even uttering a harsh word – and was beaten and kicked every single school day. During the holidays I’d suffer the same if they saw me in the street.

The whole time I had felt that I had not had any other choice. That day on the tennis courts, I suddenly realised that I did.

To this day, I do not know if I made the right choice.

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Categories: Personal.

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