Voice (A Personal Story)

There are times, when it is very difficult for me to receive a post. Angelica wanted to share her pain of her brother’s death here with us and I truly cannot speak any better than she has. I wish I could tell her everything is OK, but in truth a life lost to bullying is a life unrealized. I hope that some comfort comes from her sharing her story here. Please also remember that my autobiography, “A Ladder in the Dark” is now available on Amazon and at online retailers. I hope you will want to read it and learn more about how we can all try to prevent this kind of pain that long-term bullying causes. ~Alan Eisenberg


Boy with backpack sadSome moments my life feels almost normal. I’ll listen to a song and think, oh, Jonny would love this one. But that moment is soon ruined with the painful realization that he won’t. It hurts to think of how much he wasn’t able to experience. He had his life mapped out, but the burden of what was going on currently completely overshadowed it, and he could not see any way of making it that far out into the future.

Home was his only safe zone. And it pains me to know that it wasn’t enough. Our love wasn’t enough to save him. To read comments on how we should be focusing on his family and home life as the issue is just a knife to the heart. Many days, my brother would come home a little worked up and irritated, but we thought it was just normal, 16-year-old stuff. He would go to his room for about 15 minutes, and come out his normal, happy self. There were no signs of suicidal thoughts and he was not depressed. He was happy when he was with us, and always loving and caring.

The bullying he endured occurred primarily on school grounds, mainly verbally. There was some cyber bullying, but it was minimal compared to what happened at school. How are we supposed to protect my brother, when he is being taunted at school? To a group of kids chanting derogatory terms at him on a regular basis, to purposefully tampering with his shop project, glasses, and other possessions.

I suppose you’re wondering how we didn’t know. My brother saw what bullying did to my sister and I. He knew that if he told our parents, they would march into school and persistently demand that the situation be fixed. He also knew, that if they did that, it would only paint a bigger target on his back. There are serious flaws with the reporting process of the bullying policy that he saw firsthand. How was he supposed to have faith in an adult, when so few had helped us when we were being bullied?

When I moved here in 7th grade, I came to hate Edgar. My parents thought it was because of moving from a bigger to smaller school, but for me, it was because I was being bullied. I was not accepted and it was extremely difficult to make friends. For me, it was the rumors. Girls talking about how I would sleep with anyone, was on drugs, never showered, smelled bad because I defecated myself, and there was a lot of body shaming. The list goes on, and it only got worse. I reached out to a teacher, told her what was going on, and you know what she told me? Since I was new, it was EXPECTED. That I should shower and take care of myself. Another girl in my class was a victim of the same thing. This same teacher had us write on a piece of paper what we would say to her if we could go up to her in a judgement free zone. That quickly turned into writing what people hated about her anonymously and the teacher gave all the slips to her to read. That teacher is still employed, in case you were wondering.

I think it was around 8th grade when I started cutting myself. It went on for a while because I always wore baggy clothes because I had grown to be ashamed of myself and my body. It wasn’t until my little sister, Allison, told my parents did it eventually come to a stop. I took the time to figure out who I was, accept my individuality, and accept that it was okay to be different. I worked hard, to make sure others felt welcome, even though I wasn’t accepted. New students from the Catholic School weren’t always given a warm welcome. I made sure to become friends with them. When a foreign exchange student came, I made sure to become friends with her, and we still are, to this day.

My little sister, Allison, faced bullying with the edge of technology. Her situation upsets me so much, and since it was only a year ago, I’m assuming it is what discouraged Jonathan from reaching out for help. Sometime in October her Junior year, she was chosen by a group of girls. It started with things being thrown at her car at lunchtime. Then, our house getting toilet papered with some very derogatory terms written in our grass. But that wasn’t enough for these girls. Allison worked hard to not sink down to their level. They started showing up at her workplace, McDonald’s, to taunt her. One girl took it so far as to LITERALLY THROW a shamrock shake in her face, because she “made it wrong”. They started a Twitter campaign against her, in an attempt to get her fired. Around that time my parents found out how far it had gotten because she had broken down. They took screenshots of the tweets before they all got deleted, and reached out to the guidance counselor. The guidance counselor did nothing. They reached out to the principal and they had a meeting. The outcome? Allison had to WRITE an APOLOGY to HER BULLIES. My parents watched Allison for a while because they feared she would make an attempt on her life.

The flaw is, there is no report at school of any of this happening. There is no system or chain of how events get reported and resolved. When Jonny’s peers were being dumped in a dumpster, purposefully tripped in PE, or peed on in the locker room, with minimal resolve, how was he supposed to have faith in the system?  Part of the problem is the growing nepotism at the school, and it slowly trickles down to the kids. I could go on and on about the problems within that school.

It pains me, that my brother will never meet my children. I hope that I have a son, so I can name him after Jonny. As much as I want to protect my future children, they will know what happened to their Uncle, and understand the hard struggle our family has faced. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but I will continue to be Jonny’s voice. Change NEEDS to happen.

~Angelica Wesener (read more of Angelica’s posts on her website.)

Cyberbullying Infographic Tells the Story

Jen Martinson of Secure Thoughts contacted me with this very important and interesting infographic for cyberbullying that Secure Thoughts developed. I asked her if I could share and she also shared the below message with me for you to read. Thank you to Secure Thoughts for all the important work they are doing. Check out their website. ~Alan Eisenberg


A lot of us know what bullying feels like, but in recent years, an even more prevalent trend has been the onset of cyberbullying. This means using the internet—whether it’s social media, email, or another medium—to attack a victim, making them feel harassed, embarrassed, or some other nasty combination of feelings. It’s ridiculously prevalent amongst teens, with some studies estimating that 70% of teens will experience cyberbullying at some point…and yet most adults are unaware or unworried about this phenomenon, which can cause students to miss school, use drugs or alcohol, or even have long-term health problems or self-esteem issues! You can see an informative Infographic at Secure Thoughts.

Here are some things you need to make sure you’re doing:

  • Know what your kids are doing online. Blocking sites may not always be the best route to take: your kids may be able access those sites at friends’ houses or at school anyway, so then you’ve only further limited your control over things. Instead, create an open environment for using the internet. Put the computer in a neutral area in your house and check the browser history every so often to see what your kids are spending their time doing.
  • Limit the amount of computer time your kids have. Your kids may pitch a fit, but make sure they’re doing their homework, reading books, and talking to people outside of a computer screen as well. If their whole lives aren’t on the screen, cyberbullying will generally have less of an impact.
  • Promote safe web practices. Talk to your kids about limiting the amount of information they post online, outlining specific reasons why they should. Make sure your kids have created decent passwords that can’t be cracked by just anyone. Use a strong VPN (Virtual Private Network) to get a more secure internet connection that leaves personal information less susceptible to hackers. And do whatever else you can to make sure your kids realize that using the web is not without its responsibilities—it’s a tool, just like a saw or a hammer, and it comes with rules.

But the real, number one thing you’ll want to make sure you’re doing is educating yourself—knowing what risks there are and working to prevent against them. For more information, let’s take a look at this infographic:

Cyberbullying

Changing the Bad into Good

A Ladder in the Dark bookThree years ago, I fell into a depression. This should not have surprised me, as I started a website called “The Long-term Effects of Bullying”. Unfortunately, I knew that what I wrote was true, but thought that I had been recovered. But it wasn’t so. As anxiety and then depression overwhelmed my whole being, I truly realized, even 5 years after starting this website, that I still needed help myself.

I did have choices. I could continue to do nothing and blame my low self-worth and my anger and resentment on the bullying that happened to me as a youth. I could take medicine that would mask many of the symptoms, but never fully cure me. Or I could seek true help from both books, groups who deal with the same thing, and professionals who knew ways to help people like me.

I think you know that I took the third option. It was still a long two-year climb out of depression and anxiety, but it does and for me did get better. Of course the biggest challenge was to come face to face with the bullying that I went through and accept it was in the past and could not be changed. Then, and only then, could I move forward.

Today, I am happy to say that I have and will continue to realize my true dream, which was always to help bullying survivors to overcome and thrive in life. Is it a lot of work? Yes, of course, because every day we see the results of bullying in national news where another child has taken their life, or a county is being sued, or new statistics come out.

Before I fell into depression, I had set some goals for myself. Many goals I couldn’t realize, because I didn’t have the self-confidence to move along with them.

1. Start a real company to try to help bullying survivors recover

2. Write a book of my experience with bullying

I am happy to say, that you can turn bad into good and I have now met both those goals and am moving forward on this journey that I hope you will continue with me on.

Bullying Recovery, LLCIn February, I started my company called Bullying Recovery. It will work on many ways to try to reach out and help both bullying survivors and long-term bully to find recovery and move forward to thrive in life.

I am also happy to announce that Bullying Recovery’s first product is my biography, called “A Ladder In The Dark”. It is my story of how bullying changed my life, the long-term effects (C-PTSD) that I went through, and how I found my recovery through the help of many people. My book is now available worldwide through Amazon and Smashwords.

So, I am here to tell you that dreams can come true and that you can get better and meet your goals if you let yourself find a way out of the hole. Three years ago, I thought my life and good days were over. Today, I believe that my good days are still in front of me and it feels amazing. It was very hard work (probably the hardest work in my life), but now I feel that I am truly healed of my bullying damage. There are and always will be some scars, but I hardly notice them anymore.

I also want to share another good thing that has come out of the bad of my bullying. Along the way, I have met a wonderful community of people who also share the vision to help deal with bullying issues. Recently I met Dr. Robert Wright, Jr. and Christine Wright, M.A. of the company “Stress Free Now”. They had found me through another group that liked what I was doing and interviewed me and wanted to do a Podcast with me. We talked through email the phone and realized that we enjoyed what each other was saying and doing.

They are both amazing people and I now communicate with them often and we share our visions. After we did the Podcast, they have continued to support and help me. You can listen to our Podcast called “Bullying: How to Heal the Hurt” through the following links:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/stress-free-now/id991567073

Stitcher Radio: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/stressfreenow?refid=stpr

Podomatic: http://stressfreenow.podomatic.com/entry/2015-06-19T06_25_34-07_00

StressFreeNow: http://www.stressfreenow.info/alan-eisenberg-discusses-bullying-how-to-heal-the-hurt/

Blubrry: https://www.blubrry.com/stressfreenow/2724735/alan-eisenberg-discusses-bullying-how-to-heal-the-hurt/

I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am to Bob and Christine and how wonderful it feels now to realize you are not alone and that a community is out there to support you or me or whoever needs the help. I am just one voice in this wonderful community of people who understand that bullying is not only wrong, but damaging and that we can make a difference.

Please consider reading my book, joining a discussion on my new business website and being a part of this community. If you are currently in pain, due to bullying, reach out and we will answer. You are never alone. I was never alone. After 8 years of sharing with you my thoughts and stories, I can finally say with all honesty that I believe it can get better if you let it and seek out the help you may need to overcome a tough mental challenge. Here’s to the future and the bright glow of a day when we can say we have made a change in the issue of bullying and the damage it does.

What Is “A Ladder In The Dark”?

I am happy to announce that, after eight years of blogging about the long-term effects of bullying, doing countless speeches to groups on the subject, and fighting for the issue to be recognized, that I am adding author to the mix of learning. Ironically a new study in England shows that bullying does have a correlation to adult depression. I don’t call this good news, but just news that we needed to hear. Hopefully it will lead to further change.

But first, I am getting set to release in book Paperback and eBook format my book titled “A Ladder In The Dark: My journey from bullying to self-acceptance”. For long-term readers of this website, this book is not a surprise as I mentioned it at the beginning of the year.

So what is “A Ladder In The Dark” and why did I title it that?

Good question, the ladder is symbolic for the idea of being in a very dark place, which seems to  have no escape, because it’s too dark to see. But for me, there was a ladder in this dark hole that I call anxiety and depression from youth bullying, but I couldn’t see it to escape. The book is about my journey of how I got to this hole and how I did finally find the way out. The book is a biography of what I went through and how I finally found my self-esteem years after the end of bullying, dealing with anxiety, and a dark depression.

For those interested, you can read and review the first chapter of “A Ladder In the Dark” at the Createspace site. I also have a video commercial for the book so you can learn more. I will announce here when it is released, planned for July 2015. I am very excited to share this announcement with you and look forward to your feedback:

Please share any feedback at the Createspace site or here on the blog site. Also visit my new company website at bullyingrecovery.org to learn about the other ways I am working to help change minds on the subject of the long-term effects of bullying.

~Alan Eisenberg

The Decision to Leave

I am proud to have guest blogger and author K.P. Gazelle share here writing here on the Bullying Stories site. It is always wonderful to have young adult authors share both their knowledge and wisdom through their words on this site. K.P Gazelle is the author of The Color of Happiness, a contemporary young adult novel. Gazelle has been connected with young adults in some way for as long as she can remember. She’s obsessed with coffee, books, and big dreams. Visit her online at www.kpgazelle.com. ~ Alan Eisenberg


The Decision to Leave
K.P Gazelle

Her puffy eyes and wrinkles stood out even more under the fluorescent lighting. She had to be older than my mom. How could I yell back? And what was she doing in the middle of my classroom shouting at me in front of my students, anyway?

At this workplace, not too long ago, life crept into an unbearable state of unhealthiness. Moments like these were not too uncommon, and I soon found it increasingly harder to get out of bed each morning. I would try motivating myself with pep talks and reminders of how I was touching the lives of young children. But even that can only take me so far.

Adult bullies are trained in their strategies and tactics because they most often have been bullies their entire lives. It’s a lot harder to pin point what an adult is saying or doing to qualify them as a bully, but they’re bullies just the same. And being targeted hurts.

The thing about being bullied, whether as a child or an adult, is that it makes you doubt your self-worth, plummets your self-esteem, and makes you question the reason for your existence. Sometimes, it breaks your soul.

But what’s important to remember is that the bully is the one with the problem, not you. And that your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.

I suffered for two long years, during which I exhausted every resource I had to improve matters. My complaints fell on the deaf ears of our human resource department; my director turned a blind eye.

I was alone.

I knew I had to leave, but how could I just walk away? How could I leave after giving so much of myself to the students and school over the years? How would I continue to support my family? And my identity as a teacher—what would I do with my life?

It took months and months of intense contemplation, consultation, and prayer until I finally found the strength and courage to send in my resignation letter at the end of the school year. A decision for which I can never thank myself enough.

Sometimes, removing yourself from a toxic situation is the greatest service you can do. Because, let’s face it, you are worth much more than any paycheck and above anyone’s abuse.

Bullying Recovery – Support a Book and a Company

Bully-RecoveryRecently, I have embarked on an adventure to turn my passion into a reality to help others that suffer with the long-term effects of bullying and C-PTSD to recover and thrive. I have mentioned one of my initiatives, which is to write a book. I am happy to announce that the writing of the book currently titled “A Ladder In The Dark: A Journey from Bullying to Self-acceptance” has been completed being written and should be edited and released by this summer.

I am also happy to announce that I have formed a company around my feelings on the issues of the long-term effects of bullying called Bullying Recovery, LLC. It is with great hope that I plan to try to devote my full-time to the issue of bullying and working toward the recovery of those that suffer from its long-term effects.

It has been eight years that I have devoted much of my free time at no cost to this issue. As the issue and the demand of my time continue to increase, I would like to be able to make this side work of mine, my full work. In order to do so, I have decided that you and people you know can help me through crowdfunding the startup costs and continued rising costs of publishing the book, that I believe will help many people who are currently suffering.

I have set up a site at:

http://www.gofundme.com/bullyrecovery 

You can go there and donate as little or as much as you can to help me continue to do this very important work on the issue of bullying. Through your dollars, I will be able to publish the book and get it distributed, set up more speaking engagements, and start a company with the main focus being the psychological recovery of people who suffer with C-PTSD. I would also like to work with the schools/universities to set up better research and support for school administrators and social workers to learn how to detect and work with bullying victims and bullies.

Please consider making a donation and following me at: http://www.gofundme.com/bullyrecovery

I truly believe that, with you help, I can continue to make a difference and even bigger impact on the issue of bullying than I have over the last eight years of work that I have done pro bono. Thank you for considering to help me with the cost of book publishing and starting up my company. I will continue to keep people updated through the Bullying Recovery Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bullying-Recovery-LLC/1567410660204123 and through my twitter page @bullyinglte

Please consider liking both to receive more updates and thank you for supporting me and this cause for all these years.

Bully Incident: – The Sewer (1974)

This is the second in my repeats of stories past as I have been writing my novel. I think many kids feared sewers, particularly after Stephen King released “IT”, certainly a book that tied to the fear of sewers. Since writing this story many years ago, I realize that things like feeling trapped or claustrophobic are common place feelings for people with C-PTSD damage from bullying or abuse. It is the idea of not being able to escape. To help confront this, I would force myself to sit in the middle at movie theaters, go to the barber and try not to panic in the barber chair and go to crowded places. Even though I wanted to run away at the height of my anxiety, I forced myself to stay through the panic attack and eventually, I stopped having them. There is only one way to go with anxiety, and that is confront it head on and go through it. Just as the kids who become adults do in Stephen King’s novel, IT. ~Alan Eisenberg


I have mentioned before how our brains have a tendency to put certain memories in the far backs of our heads. They are forgotten there, until sometimes a trigger can bring them forward.

Pretty much all of my stories I have told on this blog are from my days in Lexington, MA. But, something triggered me to remember the earliest incident I can recall the other day. I’ll call this the Sewer Incident. It’s more of a minor story, but still was an early bullying in my life. I don’t know why I had forgotten it, because when I recalled it, I realized how scary it was when I was only 6 years old in 1974.

We were living in Bowie, MD at the time. I was in 1st grade and took a long bus ride to school. I recall only fleeting memories of what happened, but my older sister was with me to help me recall more.

ITThe bus stop was at a sewer. I was a pretty small kid and, of course, there were kindergarten to 6th grade kids at the bus. One of the older kids had taken the sewer cap off the sewer. Of course these were very heavy metal things.

For some reason they chose me that day. They put me down in the sewer. I can’t recall if it was a bet or just a forced concept, but they made me climb down there. Then they put the lid back on it.

It was dark. I yelled for them to let me up. Instead they sat on it and taunted me from below. I recall just crying and being quite scared. Years later, the author Stephen King made me realize I was not alone in my fears of the dark sewer in his book “IT”.

My sister was yelling for them to stop and let me up. When they didn’t, she started running home and told them she was going to get my parents to come down. Once they heard that, they changed their minds and let me out.

OK, not the worst story and probably more of a joke to them than true bullying, but still something that scared a small 6 year old. I recall years later being offered the chance to go down the sewers at my college for what was billed as a fun night of sewer running by my college friends. I respectfully declined the invitation.

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