Ryan Woollard was bullied the whole way through school, but he wants you to know that you are not alone and things do get better
It all started at primary school…
First came the odd, flippant remark about my physical appearance, then came the name-calling and the homo-hate because my mum is married to another woman. It seemed childish at first, but it started to happen on a regular basis and every time it did, my confidence diminished that little bit more. It got to the point where I didn’t have any self-belief; I hated my appearance and I constantly doubted my abilities. My school work began to suffer because I couldn’t concentrate – the stress constantly distracted me.
I had hoped it might be different, but at secondary school things got even worse. In my first year, a boy that had bullied me in primary school came up to me and told me that a teacher would like to see me in the cabins where our classes took place. The cabins were at the top of a hill. As I started walking up there I noticed there were a few boys loitering near the top but I thought nothing of it. I guessed they were just hanging out.
As I approached, one of them stepped in front of me and said, ‘Let’s forget what’s happened between us and shake hands’. I had never met him before in my life, but I thought if I just shook his hand he might let me carry on walking. He didn’t. As I reached out, he punched me, and as I fell to the ground he got on top of me and continued punching.
Luckily a girl saw this happening and managed to intervene, but I was so embarrassed by what had happened, and that I had fallen for their trick – I couldn’t bring myself to tell anybody.
“The stress constantly distracted me”
As I was leaving school, two boys taunted me about how I had got beaten up earlier that day. I didn’t understand how they knew? I hadn’t told anyone. I thought maybe the boys who had done it had boasted about it to their friends, but later that night I discovered the incident had actually been filmed, and posted on YouTube for everyone to see.
I didn’t go to school for the following three months as I was too afraid of what might happen. The boys that attacked me barely got reprimanded for their actions. There were days when I considered ending it all, but I knew I couldn’t do that to my family, it just wouldn’t have been fair on them.
I eventually went back to school, but because I was so scared of rejoining my classes, the head of year decided to keep me in isolation for a while. It was just me and a few textbooks in an empty classroom.
It wouldn’t be the last time I was physically attacked at school.
I felt so alone, like no one understood or cared. Dealing with bullying is something no one should have to go through. The people doing the bullying just don’t see the long-term consequences and how it affects those they target. I used to bottle a lot of my feelings up, but now I write songs and poetry as a way of dealing with what happened to me. I was lucky that I had a supportive family around me in my time of need, but I know that some people don’t have that support network and that’s why I want to share my story, so you know that you are not alone. No matter how dark some days may seem, there will always be someone there to believe in you so please, never give up hope – the future will get better.
I am slowly rebuilding my confidence and learning to believe in myself again.
Written by Ryan Woollard
If you are being bullied don’t hesitate to contact Ditch the Label.