Bullies by Joseph Begay

I read this on Facebook one day. “Break the silence and stop the screams.”

I remember being bullied in school. I was smaller than a lot of my classmates and I was shy. They stuffed me in a waste basket. When nothing happened to them and I could only cry, things got worse.

                They pulled down my pants in front of girls. They pushed me against the lockers. They held me down and got girls to touch me in private places. I wanted to die.

                But no one snitches. That’s a fundamental rule. You can’t tell.

                My cousin came to my rescue. He got his friends to tell the bullies to back off. And they taught me to fight. I learned to hit and hurt and go crazy when I was bullied. That was my choice. Be violent or be humiliated.

                I got bigger and a rep for fighting back so they left me alone and started on smaller boys.

                I didn’t like myself. Again, I wanted to die. I hate thinking I have to go feral to defend myself. That was when I realized that life is unfair. I thought a lot about dying. There didn’t seem to be a different future.

                It was not until I got into the Spirit Journey Youth group that I started thinking about what kind of life I wanted. It was all those reflections we did on what God wants us to learn from what happens to us.

                I was in 12th grade before I made some rad choices. My friends and I got together with those who were bullied and we told them we had their back. That wasn’t enough since it was meeting violence with violence but it made me think about someone beside myself.

                My grandfather told me that it was totally against our culture to let that go on. So, finally we talked to the bullies who were Native and told them straight out, “It’s not our way.”  Some listened.

                We helped some kids. And some of the older ones stopped being bullies. There were still a lot more guys and girls who find pleasure in giving pain.

                What has happened to me is that I can talk to the younger kids who are now being bullied in school and give them some options like always going in a group. I’m not going to solve the problem but I can let them know they are not alone.

                 I have changed. Breaking the silence and stopping the screaming is important to me. I can speak out with confidence because I went through it. And we can work toward solutions that go beyond fighting or humiliation. I don’t have the answers now but at least we are not silent.

Joseph Begay



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