Not Just for Friends: When I Found My Childhood Bullies on Facebook

Posted September 8, 2011 by

Photo of barbaragreenberg

As I was writing an article about teaching kids how to deal with bullies recently, one thought led to another and I looked up my middle school bully on Facebook.  I must admit that I also looked up a high school bully. These were two girls who had literally made me sick. I remember the stomachaches that used to accompany me to school during the times that these two girls tormented me. Two very separate years, but two very similar experiences. You see, I always loved school, but these two relentless girls introduced anxiety, stress, and nausea into an equation that had formerly consisted of learning, eagerness, and excitement about going to school.

Bully #1 entered my seventh grade year with loud concerns about whether or not I needed to be wearing a bra. While we stood on line waiting to exit the classroom she “whispered” her concerns to the other girls. And all this while I stood there shaken up but pretending to be calm and collected. I looked up W. on Facebook and there she was. How ironic. She is in her adulthood a teacher and one who certainly looks like she should not leave her house without wearing her bra. Maybe I learned something from her. Perhaps it’s partly because of her that I now know how to appear calm even in the most stressful situations.

Bully #2 entered my life in high school. She was very interested in my hair — in pulling it, that is. She followed me around school and took every opportunity to yank my long hair. I found N. on Facebook with a very retro Farrah Fawcett hairdo and a deep leathery tan. I don’t know what she does, but with all due respect to cosmetologists and hairdressers, I would guess that she is somehow involved in that industry. Maybe she just didn’t like the way my hair looked. Couldn’t she simply have suggested a different style rather than offering up daily tugs and doses of misery?

Here I was faced with photos of both of these women and all that I could think about was why didn’t they look guilty? Did they remember how mean they were? Do they teach the children in their lives how to behave kindly toward others? Or did they grow up to become mean adults?

Their Facebook information was public. Even now, they let it all out — private info and all. In case you are wondering I have NOT friended either of these two women.

Do I sound angry? If so, it’s because after all these years my eyes still burn when I think of these two. There are some things that one just doesn’t forget.

Have you spied on any of your former bullies? What would you do if you found them?

About

Barbara is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their well-intentioned but exhausted parents. She is the co-author of Teenage as a Second Language-A Parents Guide to Becoming Bilingual with Jennifer Powell-Lunder PsyD and the co-creator of the website http://www.talkingteenage.com.

Popular on Empowering Parents

Reader Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Anna (Edit) Report

    The whole “people change, people mature” thing is BS. How do you explain that at the same age, some ppl, no matter what they go through at home, are able to behave and treat ppl like decent human beings while the others are just sorry excuses f human beings i.e. bullies? What are their excuses? If someone of your past gets wants to befriend you on FB, isn’t it supposed to be because of the GOOD ol’ times? If there were no GOOD times at all, why should I (re)introduce them in my life? Those ppl haven’t changed or matured in a bit because if their memories served them so well that they can remember your face or your name, they’re absolutely capable of remembering what they did to you. Yet, they play dumb, act innocent and just send you a friend request, hoping that you have forgotten and that you’re gonna comfort them in that false self-image of their of how perfect and nice they’ve ALWAYS been. Hell no! My POV on the question: “Once a bully, always a bully!” I am not interested in ppl who need years of maturity to act like basic decent human beings. If at 8, 12, 16, 18 or 21, a lot of ppl were able to not do to ppl what they wouldn’t want to be done to them, don’t tell me it’s an age-related thing! You were not worth it, you’re still not worth it; go find a friend somewhere else, better yet, go hide somewhere else!

    Reply
  2. Maryann (Edit) Report

    Sorry just to finish my comment, don’t look for validation to remedy what happened in the past when dealing with immature kids who said stuff that they wouldn’t say as adults.

    Reply
  3. Maryann (Edit) Report

    This article caught my eye. The recurring theme here is that the people who were the bullies grew up and probably matured. Why look people who were negative up from the past? Keep it positive. We all deal with crappy people at one point or another.

    Reply
  4. Kate (Edit) Report

    Alissa:

    I found myself in the same boat you were-I did not look for these people, they found me! Would you believe me if I told you I had 4 people I did this to, 2 I have blocked?

    Also, I could care less about why these people wanted to reach me, and have deleted each one!

    I gave a chance to one gal, only to be bored to tears by her constantly misspelled postings about how wonderful her husband is. She was deleted after posting #2.

    Yes, I really don’t understand the mentality of people who bullied you, who now want to be your FB friends-it seems like I’m in good company of those who feel the same way!

    Reply
  5. Alissa (Edit) Report

    My childhood bully has sent me three friends requests over the course of a year. At first, I didn’t recognize her maiden name and had to ask some of my schoolmate FB friends who she was. I was mortified!! How dare she request I be her FB friend!!! I deleted it.

    Second one I at least expected some kind of note with the request. Along the lines of “the requirements of my 12-step program are that I apologize for all past bad behavior…” Nothing. So I deleted it.

    Third one I had to block her from contacting me because I realized she was not going to give up. She was either mindlessly friend collecting or really did not care how much she tortures people. How can she not remember all the mean things she said to me? All the physical harm she caused me? It truly baffles me.

    Reply
  6. galileosstar (Edit) Report

    I grew up with my bully living right across the street from me. She was a vicious and vindictive person that made whoever was her target for the day a living hell. I also found her on facebook and I sent her an email just to see if she remembered me and curious to see if she would acknowledge how she treated myself and others. She sent me a friend request… has never acknowledged how she was but seems to be a completely different person now. She offers daily uplifting quotes each day so I am torn as what to think because of how she was when we were younger. I am not sure if it is genuine and question if she has really changed. I don’t regret sending the email because I am in a great place in my life and what is done is done. I also had girls that did not like me in middle/high school send me friend requests.. I know they have not changed any so I am confused as to why they sent requests but again I am happy with my life and they get to see that.

    Reply
  7. EverHopeful (Edit) Report

    I recently read a book by a victim of bullying. She made an interesting point…when people treat bullying as “just kids being kids” then there’s no reason for the bully to remember what they did as wrong, and therefore no reason to feel bad or seek to make amends. I’ve seen people on Facebook who ranged from downright mean to conceited to plain indifferent, and while I recall every humiliating moment and face who turned the other way, I remember I am better off now and a MUCH more compassionate woman for the bullying I suffered in school.

    Reply
  8. Tammy (Edit) Report

    I find this blog post interesting from a psychologist. Seems strange to me that you even went looking for these 2 individuals on the internet. Having suffered from Depression and having a child who has Emotion Disregulation Disorder, I have learned that if you repeatedly dig up the past the emotions return, our minds are made to link smells, sites, sounds, etc. to the emotions associated with them. If you found you were drawn to these women, maybe your mind was telling you there was something you needed to let go of, in order to proceed. When you are teaching others about bullying and the impact they have, do you also let those who have suffered its effects know that especially in the younger years, these children do not realize what they are doing or the impact it has? I have actually been forced to deal with bullies from my past, and they did more than comment on my physical appearance or pull my hair. My bullies made my life a psychological hell on a daily basis, that ended in my transfer from the school for my safety and mental health. Well, fast forward 20 years, and this young lady becomes a very close and intimate friend to my Sister-In-Law. Next thing I know every major event in my Husband’s brother’s life I had to be in the presence of this person. Finally at some point she came over and spoke with me. Turns out she doesn’t even remember the events. Was absolutely embarrassed and devastated that she acted in such a way. Blah blah blah.. are we friends now.. No way.. But it was at that point that I realized that in order for me to move on, I needed to give up the past. My past has shaped me into who I am today, yes, but my past is NOT who I am today.

    I think that it may be time for you to do the same. Stop searching and wondering if they remember, who are they now, have they changed, and return to focusing on you. Because in the end, it is none of your business what happened to them and whether or not they think about you.

    (I want to stress I was not going to write anything, but the more I thought on this post, the more I felt the need to say something. As a psychologist, you should realize this is not a healthy post. It definitely does not bring those dealing with these difficult items in their past any closer to dealing with them or releasing the unhealthy emotions and moving on with the wonderful person they have become!)

    Reply
  9. jenna12475 (Edit) Report

    Thank you for posting this. I have seen the girls that used to torment me regularly on facebook as well. What I didn’t expect was for them to “friend” ME?!?! I accepted. Partly because in no way did I want to give them the impression that I ever even THINK about all they put me through, but also because I am proud of the woman I became & the strength I have because of them. I wanted them to see that no matter what they put me through, I never ever stayed down =)

    Reply

SEARCHING FOR SOLUTIONS TO DISRESPECT?

Join our NEW Total Transformation® Learning Center!

Practical, affordable parenting help starting at $14.95/month BECOME A MEMBER TODAY!

Empowering Parents is the leading online resource for child behavior help

150,000+

Parent Coaching Sessions

7.5 Million

Global Visitors

10+ Years

Helping Families