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LICAB: In Their Own Word's - Kiersten's Story

In 9th grade, I experienced harassment to an unexplainable level. I went through my school career under the radar by most, especially the "popular" ones. I wasn't too interested in having many friends, and always kept my friend group small. Most of the group consisted of my 2 sisters (I’m a triplet). I had a few guy friends that I met that past summer (8th grade into 9th) that ended up developing feelings for me. The feeling wasn't mutual and I had mentioned that I valued our friendship and didn't want a relationship. He didn't take it well and ended up really angry with me. I felt so guilty and wondered what would have been different had I said yes. He would threaten me in hopes he would guilt me into dating him. He stalked me at all times, knew where I was, what I was doing, and sometimes would even follow me there. I was terrified. I knew an obsession developed. Which at that age especially was quite concerning. college graduation ceremony wears

After months of harassment, stalking, name calling and threats, my parents and I had no choice but to pull me from school and continue schooling from the safety of my home. It was a crazy but relieving transition, I thought it would stop the problem but only made it worse in my case. Instead of changing schools or not returning I went back to face the fear that made life so difficult the year before. Some days were harder than others. With periods of quiet and torture, it was like riding a rollercoaster, some points I was on top of the world and others I felt very low. Police reports were filed, a restraining order was issued, but they somehow knew what buttons they could push without violating the order.

Returning to school I immediately experienced gut-wrenching pain from the flashbacks I had while in the building. I wanted to run but everywhere I went I was reminded of what had happened. Having been so traumatized for such a long period of time I suffer from anxiety as a result. Which you could imagine ruined a lot for me the remaining years of high school. I was okay with skipping my junior prom, senior prom, and even my graduation. I feared being stuck at prom with these students and I feared being bullied while attending my own graduation.

Instead, I decided to have my last hoorah! Enjoy my senior prom, and attend my graduation! After all I had endured I felt I owed it to myself to enjoy my prom all dressed up with my sisters, and celebrate such an accomplishment. Graduation day, I walked up towards the podium with my 2 sisters lined up behind me and when my name was called, instead of walking right up, I turned around and high-fived my 2 sisters, because that was my victory. I won that day. I won the fight, and walked away free from all the pain. No more late nights of crying, no more fear of having to enter that building and no more fear of not being safe.

I want teens and kids alike to see that you CAN make it through! I am proof. Bullying is so traumatizing, why fight this alone? Let the trustworthy adults in your life help. They love you like nobody else in this world. I promise, it does get better! Don’t let them deprive you of a chance to make amazing memories.

*All stories represent the actual words of those who've dealt with bullying and agreed to share their stories to help grow the conversation