Being bullied can be a seriously traumatic experience. Sometimes it’s easier to put your head down and act like it isn’t happening. Or after it’s happened, to forget that it ever did.
But these people actually got the chance to confront their tormenters.
This piece is based on a Quora Question and an AskReddit thread. Links on the last page.
1/11. All throughout my teen years, I, and several other kids on my street, were bullied by a slightly older kid named Jason. Despite his small sizeor because of itJason was the biggest bully any of us had ever run across. Everyone was afraid of him, and everyone hated him.
Jason was a third-degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do by the time he was twelve. He was incredibly skilled, super fast, and used his martial arts knowledge for evil. Even though he was only about 53 at the time, he was intimidating to everyone.
About fifteen years later, when I was working at a gas station, I saw him pull up in his rich kid car and come inside. In my head, I was going over things I would say to him, and tried my best to build the confidence to say them. I knew he could still kick my ass, but I didnt care. I wasnt afraid of him anymore.
Much to my surprise, he recognized me and smiled when he came to the counter. He must have known from the look on my face that I was recalling all of the terror he had put me through. He kind of chuckled and said something I wasnt expecting.
Hey man, Im really sorry for the way I treated you guys back then. I was a jerk, and I totally know that now. The problems were mine, and I fully admit to them.
I was speechless, but accepted his apology. Then we had a nice conversation for about ten minutes. He was really pleasant, and had obviously undergone a major personality change.
I would later find out that he was actually an MMA/UFC fighter with several championship belts under his belt.
That fighters name? Jason Reinhardt.
-Shawn E. Crapo
2/11. A guy in high school just didn’t like me, nor I him. We got into a big fight (he broke my nose and I knocked a couple of his teeth out) off campus. No police were involved, but it was a pretty bloody affair.
Anyway, about 10 years later I saw him sleeping on the street near where I worked. (continued…)
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I woke him up and asked him what was going on. He told me about his life after high school. He got his girlfriend pregnant, her parents made them get married, divorce a year later.
He got into drugs and ended up alienating everyone. I asked him if he was still using and he said no, he couldn’t buy a dose anyway.
I felt bad for him so I asked if he’d like to stay in my guesthouse (a one room cottage, set up like an apartment) for awhile. He took me up on it and got a night’s sleep in an actual bed for the first time in years (his words).
I bought him some clothes and fed him for about a month until I found him a job with a contractor I was doing some work for.
Long story short, it’s been 6 years, he now owns a contracting business, has a new wife and a new baby boy, and just bought the house down the street from me.
3/11. We met at a bar where a large number of our old high school class happened to be meeting up. He described me as his arch-enemy. I told him I hadn’t thought about him in 10 years. That was all the confrontation I needed.
4/11. I got a transfer at work from one work location to another. At the new location a scummy, wannabe biker started calling me Cupcake.
After the second or third time he did so I asked him if he had a family, kids.
“Why?” he asks.
“I’m just thinking how humiliating its going to be for you when you have to explain to them that a man named Cupcake beat you to a pulp.”
He left me alone after that.
5/11. This girl used to torment me all through high school and middle school. Really went out of her way to tear me down. Whenever we had a class together, she would make her extreme dislike for me apparent and, of course, other kids followed. I couldn’t open my mouth without some kind of ridicule.
Of course I was miserable, and my dad would try to cheer me up. “Don’t worry kiddo, one day she’ll be working at a McDonalds and serving you fries.” He actually referred to her as McDonalds for years.
A couple years after graduating high school I went to a Hardee’s with my dad for dinner. (continued…)
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And there was McDonalds behind the counter. So I go up to place my order and before I finish she says, “you don’t remember me, do you?”
“Oh, I remember you.”
“Oh… so, would you like fries with that?”
“Why yes, yes I would.”
Way to go, dad. Called it 9 years in advance.
6/11. There was a kid in my fourth grade who had been picking on me for about 2 years (it was a small school, and unless a new kid moved into the neighborhood, every year we had the same kids in class).
I was bullied and ridiculed by this kid, and finally I had enough. I had tried to befriend him, I even lowered myself to laugh when he made fun of me. I hated myself after doing that. He had friends, I did not. Such was the life of my introverted self.
I talked about this to the one person who I knew would listen and offer me advice; my grandfather. When I talked about it to him he would always ask me, How do you feela abouta this? (Italian accent.)
And every time I would feel angry and humiliated, but also frightened. He told me one day my anger would overcome my fear, and I would know how to respond.
He was partly right. On the day I responded I was still afraid, but I didnt want to be angry at myself any more.
So when the taunting on the playground began yet again, I shoved my tormenter as hard as I could. His audience was shocked, but they kept chanting his name and encouraging him to beat me up. He did not disappoint them. A playground monitor broke us up and took us to the principals office.
I got it pretty good, but I did not cry. And I did not hate myself any more. And though the bullying did not stop completely, it never reached the level it had before.
When my parents told my grandfather about my trouble at school, he put his arm around me, and smiled. He told me I would remember this, and he was right. It happened in 1964.
Fast forward to 2004, and my old tormentor approached me while I was working a police detail at an outdoor concert.
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I had not seen him since I moved from the old neighborhood in 1966.
He made it sound like we were friends from the old days, asked about how long I had been with the police department, etc. My answers were short, and to the point. I reminded him what a pain he had been when I was little.
He detected the wall between us, but amazingly still asked for my phone number in case he needed help some day. He took out his cell phone, ready to enter my phone number into it. I remembered all that had happened to me those many years ago.
I told him my number is 9-1-1, and walked away.
Maybe I could have been bigger about it, but Im not sorry.
7/11. I work as a prison guard. That means I get to confront my high school bullies every day.
8/11. When I was in middle school the class bully was always seated directly behind me. He never picked on me to the level he did with some of the other kids, but he still did his best to be a nuisance. Flicking me in the ear, poking me with his pencil, stuff like that.
One day, I finally had enough and spun around with the intent of just punching him square in the jaw.
He jumped up from his chair and leaned back, causing me to miss, but resulting in him losing his balance and falling backward, taking his desk and the desk behind him down like a couple of dominoes.
I smiled smugly while the rest of the class laughed. The teacher broke it up before it escalated, and we both got in school suspension for two weeks.
Under normal circumstances, that might sound like an okay punishment. After all, “suspension” is supposed to mean “mini-vacation”. But at my school, suspensions didn’t mean you got to go home; you had to serve them in the detention room.
That meant that this bully and I were going to have to spend the next two weeks together in a small, cramped room. (continued…)
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Over the next two weeks it was just the two of us and the detention teacher. We actually kind of ended up being friends.
Turns out the kid didn’t realize he was a bully, or that anyone thought of him that way. He had two older brothers who were always doing crap like that to him, they’d trip him or punch him in the gut as he walked by, call each other awful names in passing conversation, then they’d all laugh and go play together. He actually thought that was just how boys played.
He never bothered anyone after our two week stint in the hole. I think he genuinely felt bad once he learned how other people saw him.
9/11. I kept in touch with the entire high school class through Facebook once it came out. This guy who bullied my friend and I pops up one day, and asks if he can use me as a job reference since we were working in the same field.
Adult bully seems like a total sham. His resume looks like it must fake. But I agree to meet him for drinks and see if hes changed.
10 minutes into the meet-up and he’s telling me about how hes cheating on his wife with girls right out of high school.
So, of course, I told him he could use me as a reference. And, of course, I was sure to tell all his potential employers the whole truth about him.
Maybe you think that’s petty, but my high school best friend moved to Europe because of this guy. And he obviously hadnt changed at all.
10/11. Arguably even worse than a bully is a friend-bully. Its the person who you have in your circle of friends, someone who you spend a great deal of time, and consider them close to you. However, they belittle you when they can and put you down in front of others.
I had one such friend in middle school. His name was Greg.
I didnt have many other people in my life, so I took what I could get. Greg was bigger, stronger, and had no problem with wailing on me when he was angry or frustrated. Only with my parents choice to move to a different town was I able to get away from him. Only later in my adulthood did I realize how bad Greg was in my life.
One summer during my time home from college, I was on a road trip with some friends.
We stopped into a gas station, and while we were there taking a break, fueling up, getting some snacks, I saw a familiar-looking gas station attendant. (continued…)
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He was sickly looking, pale and missing a lot of teeth. His hair was greasy and he looked all around miserable. It was Greg.
He didnt even recognize me, but I knew him immediately. I couldnt stop staring at his emaciated frame and smelling his reek of cigarettes, oil fumes and sweat. He was nothing short of repugnant. He saw me staring, and he finally said.
“What?!” (coughhackphlegmspit) “What you want?”
For a moment, I just wanted to grab him by the neck and thrash him with his crescent wrench. But I let it go. Gregs best years were behind him, and mine were ahead. I just shook my head and grinned and replied:
“Nothing. I just mistook you for someone I knew a long time ago.”
As I left the station I felt completely liberated from the childhood friend-bully in my past. I could have beat on him, but what good would that have done? Short term satisfaction with a long-term sense of guilt and insecurity. just like a bully.
11/11. A kid that bullied me in high school ended up addicted to drugs. I saw him 10 years later as I was leaving a drive-thru and yelled his name. He turned and I saw the scratch marks on his face.
I asked him what had happened and he told me he got kicked out of his home. Instead of laughing at him or belittling him, I handed him the bag of food I just bought for myself as well as my cigarettes. He almost cried because according to him “never in a million years would I have thought that after all the crap I put you through, that you’d help.”
I told him we were stupid kids and shit happens. I visited him once a week and just talked with him and kept telling him to get off the drugs. I moved away a short time after that so I didn’t know what had happened to him.
One day, I got a friend request from him on facebook, he kicked the drug habit and was working as a barista for one of those corner coffee shops. He is now married and living a life worth living.