Friday, June 21, 2013

How I Became The Anti-Bullying Crusader

My childhood was shattered when I was seven years old. My family moved to a new city. I was starting my second grade in a new school. Being a bit on the shy side, I was nervous, but excited. I hoped that I would make nice friends.

On the first day of school my world came crashing down. That was the day that the bully decided to make me his target.

 No one would defy him to be my friend.  They were afraid.  This could result in the bully focusing his abuse on them.  Even the teachers ignored the abuse. I was completely alone.  It was an unbelievably painful experience, with scars that run deep
Although there were daily incidences of cruelty, there is one particular event that left me so traumatized; I was inflicted with a life-long phobia. The bully was very good at football. He played with his followers every day at recess. As always, I stood alone, by a wall, wishing I were invisible,  counting down the minutes until the dreaded recess was over. This day, the bully wanted to have some additional fun.  While I was looking away, never wanted to make eye contact with him, he aimed the football at my face and threw it with all his might.  The ball hit me with such an impact that it broke my glasses. When the glasses broke, one of the lenses cut into my eyebrow, while the frames cracked, with a jagged piece piercing the bridge of my nose. The pain was unbearable and I began to cry.  This delighted the bully and he began to laugh. Soon the nervous laughter of his followers joined him in an evil chorus. This attack required several stitches, leaving scars,  both physical and emotional.

 It had a profound and damaging effect on my life. I never participated in any sports that involved catching a ball.  I was afraid of any flying objects.

Because of the bullying,  I suffered from anxiety, depression and insecurity. I spent sleepless nights with stomach pains caused by the terror of what new brutality the next day might bring.

I was a sad and lonely child.

One day I found my escape.

I discovered books…reading.

These books opened new worlds for me. Thanks to Rudyard Kipling and his ‘Jungle Book’, I could travel to India.  I was dazzled by Mowgli and his family of wolves.  I could see the jungle and became acquainted with all the characters- lovable or not.  I was enchanted.

 I discovered Nancy Drew. Everyone wanted to be Nancy Drew.  She was smart, fearless and cool.  She was wealthy.  I also fell in love with Trixie Belden and her friends. I felt like I knew these characters; as though they were my friends.
I read quite a variety of books; whatever I could get my hands on. We didn’t have much money, so my books were gems discovered at garage sales.
One day I found the book that changed my life forever. The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale.  His guides to life were simple:

If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

If thou can believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. Mark 9:23

One of his most powerful quotes says, “The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, and give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”

By putting into practice what I learned from Norman Vincent Peale, I slowly started to heal and become strong.

I went on to have a very successful career as a sales and marketing executive in the software industry. I worked this way for many years and made a nice living, but something was missing.  I felt empty inside.  I wanted to do something meaningful.

I started writing.

I wanted to write books that were fun and easy to read, but I wanted them to deliver a message of love and acceptance. I wrote four fiction books with one of them geared towards young adults/tweens called Hiren’s Magical Adventure. This mystery was loosely based on my own husband, Hiren’s, childhood experiences, growing up in India.

I also wrote a book on anti-bullying called The Bullying Epidemic- the guide to arm you for the fight. I offered the book free of charge, as a public service at first, but Amazon would no longer allow free books, so I started charging and putting the proceeds back in to the Bullying Epidemic Foundation.
But it was not enough.

Teen suicide was on the rise, along with other horror stories that were the result of the escalating bullying epidemic. Through my own research, I discovered that people were in desperate need of education on bullying.  Teachers were frustrated; not being able to recognize the different types of bullying and not being equipped to deal with the behavior. Parents still held on to the old adage of “Kids will be kids…” All the while, innocent spirits were being crushed.

 I knew I had to do more. That was when I decided I had to start speaking. I started to speak, on a small scale, at libraries and small venues. The word spread and people started calling me…and calling me.  I found that the bullying epidemic was more wide spread than I had imagined. Parents, teachers, coaches, camp counselors & students called me for help.  I was even invited to speak in Ireland, India and the Philippines. I offered these seminars as a public service and did not charge a fee.

There is so much more work to do.   I want to help the educators, parents and students. I know that we can put an end to this blight on society. This much I know is true.

“With ignorance comes fear- from fear comes bigotry. Education is the key to acceptance.” ~
Kathleen Patel, The Bullying Epidemic-the guide to armyou for the fight

For more information on The Anti-Bullying Crusader, please visit my other blog here.

1 comment:

Laura Emery said...

Powerful story Kathleen and powerful words! Thank you for sharing your experience which may help someone else! I'm so glad you found reading to give you strength and the confidence to make a success out of your life. I am sure you have touched many lives and will continue to do great work.
Thank you for being YOU~ Laura Emery