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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Strange case of bullying

The other day I read on about a dolphin that experts believe may be the victim of bullying. Not by humans, but by other dolphins. According to the article (found here) the dolphin has spent days swimming in the Bolsa Chica wetlands (Southern Cali) rather than leaving the preserve. The experts think it's being kept from leaving by the other dolphins.

Mercy. I thought humans - and perhaps gorillas or chimps - were the only ones to engage in bullying behavior.

I had my share. As a kid I was so different. While the other kids were just goofing around on weekends and during the summer, I had dance classes, pageants to go to (think Dance Moms and Toddlers & Tiaras). I also modeled. Was it fun? No. Did I enjoy it? Not at all.

Didn't matter to the neighborhood kids. To them, I was as strange as a Martian and as appealing. Unfortunately, my mom didn't make it any better. She bragged and bragged and bragged. One mother and grandmother down the street would come outside when I was walking to school and shout "Movie star!" and then they'd laugh and shout how ugly and stupid I was.

I wanted to die.

Even if I took a different route, it wasn't much better. There was always some kid who wanted to trip me or make fun. They didn't understand how awful it was to be in a dance competition or a pageant and not win - or worse - to be criticized by the judges for not smiling enough or saying the right thing or pirhouetting properly or whatever.

I'd always been shy. All of the negative attention only made it worse. If it hadn't been for reading and being able to escape into a library from time to time, I don't know how I might have turned out.

Because bullying was so painful for me, as I'm certain it is for those poor kids in those reality TV shows, I wanted to incorporate it into my latest release Sinfully Wicked.

Although the story is erotic romance and is certainly hot, I wanted to bring depth to all the characters, especially Mitch and Connor. They know what bullying was like. Nikki, the woman who loves them both, knows how she had a hand in it.

Thankfully, we're not kids forever. Hopefully, we can forgive as Mitch and Connor do, and teach our children to do better by their peers.

More info on Sinfully Wicked:


Paris said...

Bullying is usually generated by fear/envy but as children we rarely understand that concept and it makes it that much more painful. That an adult would stoop to that level is disgusting, yet we see it more and more nowadays and I have to tell you that I find it more than a little scary that an adult would think it's okay to bully a child.

That both of your male characters have come through this and come out better people speaks volumes about the depth of their characters. Sounds like an interesting book!

Tina Donahue said...

Thanks, Paris. I appalled at what adults do. It's never a fair fight when you pick on a kid.

Adele Dubois said...


What a heart-wrenching post! I'm so sorry for all that you went through as a child. Big cyber hugs. I'm glad, though, that you're putting the depth of your emotions into your books. Brava!


Amber Skyze said...

I was shocked by the dolphin story when I watched it on the news the other day.
I know first hand how you feel Tina. while I wasn't in pageants or anything, I was bullied as a child. I had to take different paths to and from the bus stop. Once two girls stole my pocketbook and emptied a can of spaghettio's in it. My mom worked real hard to buy me this special pocketbook, so it broke my heart.
Kids are with cyberbullying it's worse.

Tina Donahue said...

Thanks, Adele - thankfully something good came out of it. I definitely learned how NOT to treat other people.

How awful, Amber. I don't know how kids can be so cruel. Honestly, I didn't bother anyone. I just tried to be as invisible as I could.

Katalina said...

Oh my god Tina, this post was wrenching to read, but I have to say, look at the soul-beautiful person you are now.
If there's anything good to say about bullying perhaps it's that it does eventually teach the community compassion. I do wonder if bullies ever look back and question what or why they did it?

flchen1 said...

Oh, Tina :( It's so hard to understand how people (kids AND supposed adults) can sometimes be so hateful! I know that often bullying comes because the bully is feeling weak but it doesn't help the person bullied at the time.

I'm thankful you survived your own awful experience and have become such a lovely person, inside and out, with such meaningful stories to share.

Thank you!

Sandy said...

Tina, I'm sorry you had to go through so much as a child. I was bullied as a child. What helped to get me through it was a cheerleader at school belonged to my church. We became friends and people left me alone when she was nearby. Unfortunately, she died of cancer at 14. One of the good ones taken too early.

I think parents can cause a lot of the bullying. Sad about the dolphins. I had no idea they could be bullies.

Tina Donahue said...

Thanks, flchen - I know it made me a nicer person. I truly believe if you don't have something nice to say about someone - just don't talk at all.

Sandy, how awful that your friend died at 14. I can't imagine what that did to you. I didn't lose a friend until I was in college. He died in an auto accident. It was surreal. When you're that age, you believe you're going to live forever. I'm glad you had your friend's help for the time you did.

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Kat - thanks so much for your kind comments. I haven't seen any of those kids for a very long time. I can only hope they've changed. If for no other reason than to teach their own kids a better way to behave.

I really feel sorry for today's tweens and teens. My god, how do they survive with the FB and Twitter stuff - someone relentlessly targeting them. It must be a nightmare.

Sandy said...

Thanks, Tina. It was very sad.

I have learned in life that some of the most beautiful people are gorgeous on the outside and inside.

N.J.Walters said...

I'm so sorry for what you went through as a child. I'm constantly amazed at how mean people can be to one another. *hugs*

Mitch and Connor's story sounds emotional and interesting.

jean hart stewart said...

Have never understood cruelty. I really ran into it in college in my first year. Belong to a group in highschool so had protection from daring to have excellent grades. I can still shudder at the treatment I got at a sorority hazing. Been opposed to sororities and fraternities ever since.

Tina Donahue said...

Thanks, NJ - it takes so much more energy to be cruel instead of just being nice.

Hey, Jean - I hear you. Didn't belong to a sorority in college for just that reason. It was too much like being in a beauty pageant, trying to get people to like or approve of me when their opinion shouldn't matter at all.

Janice Seagraves said...

What those parents did to you was horrible. It's never okay to pick on a child.


Cara Marsi said...

Tina, thank you for sharing your bullying experiences. I was made fun of constantly the first two years of high school. I went to an all-girl school and I was shy and plain, and the cool girls picked on me mercilessly. I switched to a public school in junior year and those kids were wonderful. I don't understand how some people can be so mean. I've used the last names of some of those mean girls as villains in my novels.

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Janice - I agree - it's such an unfair fight. How can a child possibly protect herself against an adult?

Oh, Cara, I so understand. I went to an all girl high school too. It was almost as bad as grade school. Girls can be so cruel. Good for you for using the witches' last names in your books. WTG!! :)

Ashley said...

Sorry for what you went through. :( Having adults join in on the bullying is horrible. It is hard enough for children to deal with kids bullying them let alone adults who are suppose to protect them.

I know where you are coming from with the shyness. I was extremely shy as a child and the other kids who would make fun of me just made my shyness worse.


Glad you pulled through...Love your books!

Tina Donahue said...

Thanks, Ashley. If it hadn't been for my BFF I don't know what I would have done. She was real feisty. :)

Marianne Stephens said...

Bullying is such a problem, but hopefully, people are more aware of it and can step in to stop it. Schools and parents have to help stop this. Some kids, unfortunately, learn this from their home lives, and it just continues in their interactions with others.
Just like with physical abuse, kids need to know they can tell trusted adults about bullying and get it stopped.

Judy K said...

I totally understand where you are coming from. I was bullied a lot in school growing up. I was the small child of another religion and the easy target. The bullying went way beyond name calling into physical abuse in some cases. I could never defend myself. I ended up staying in my room when I wasn't in school or at one of my Mom's projects she had me take up, music lessons, dance classes, etc. So I understand the pain you went through in some ways. I don't think we ever really get over it. Somewhere in the back of my mind it's always there. However, ever since I found books to escape into, I found I was able to more on and learn to enjoy something in life. Of course back then, Bullying wasn't anything that people would do anything about stopping. I am glad to see that people are taking notice now and working on putting a stop to this cruel treatment of others. Judy King

Anonymous said...

Wonderful idea for an auction. :)

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