If you're a fan of Hollyoaks you are probably well aware of the on-going storyline featuring poor Esther and her being bullied – tonight see's the start of a new twist and is also a first for UK TV.
Doc You is a website set up by Dylan and open to all of Hollyoaks – it starts as a 6th form project, where he asks all the 6th form to submit their own videos documenting their lives, but expands to be used by the whole Hollyoaks community – like any ‘real' social networking site it allows people to comment on any videos using their real name or anonymously.
But the twist is here – it's not only going to be shown in Hollyoaks this site is going to be live on the internet with content uploaded to it 24/7 for everyone to see, you will not only be able to visit the website but you can follow the progress on twitter and Facebook where all major updates will also be shared.
And of course like many social networking sites it's going to be used and abused with poor Esther being the victim.
It got me thinking – I know in the past when programmes have touched on areas that have I been through in my life such as Domestic Violence and Mental Health issues, it's brought all those feelings back to the surface and I was thinking I'm probably not the only one who finds this happening so I wanted to incorporate a bit of a forum into my blog through the time of this storyline and beyond. If you want to tell your story, or speak to someone who's been through or is going through the same thing then I want to make this a ‘safe' place for it to happen – if you want to share your story then you can pop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) I won't publish your name unless you ask me to, if you're going through bullying and need someone to talk to (I'll add some links and phone numbers at the bottom of this post to organisations out there who will help) but I was thinking of setting up a buddy system where you could talk to a peer through email so if you fancy being part of that give me an email as well.
To start this off I thought I would talk a bit about my past – of course you can read my Domestic Violence post here, it was written a long time ago so I apologise for any errors I admit I wrote it and never really checked it over for spelling and grammar.
I've never been a victim of full blown bullying but I've had some times in my life where I've felt looking back others actions were uncalled for, and I do think that however big or small something seem to you if it's bothering you it's worth talking about. So these are my small experiences but I wanted to include them so you all know you can talk about anything no matter the size.
My first experience of bullying was back in primary school, and it was started by my teacher and I do believe in many ways it was the start of my mental health problems, I was in year 3 and it was around this time my problems with spelling and grammar started to show through more, stick a year 6 book in front of me and I'd devour it in hours reading every word, but ask me to spell those words and I couldn't do it. Of course now it's known I have dyslexia and it's also known it is possible to have a higher reading age and a lower spelling age – but back then I was lazy. My teacher would pick me out as the ‘naughty' student, the disruptive one; even if I was sat quietly trying my best to do my work if anything kicked off it was my fault. I remember one day being sent to sit at the back of the classroom as two of my friends had been messing about and not doing their work and it didn't matter I hadn't been part of it, it was my fault my laziness and hatred of work was rubbing off on them. I was banned from taking part in a class experiment because of being disruptive (though I was far from it). One day we were in a spelling test and asked to spell the word shirt, I missed the ‘R' out and of course I had done it on purpose yet I had no idea what I had done, I didn't know any swear words I was a child, like every other time I couldn't understand what I had done wrong other than spelling a word wrong on accident. Her attitude of course rubbed off onto the other kids in the class and things were blamed on me left right and centre and in the end I would call ‘sick' to not have to go to school, I remember one day one of the lads was winding me up telling me to spell I / eye and wouldn't stop and I lost it oh she had a field day with that one. My lovely friend Ruth tried to stick up for me but that was lost on her – I spent the next few weeks sitting at her desk in disgrace at the front of the class so everyone would see me. To my parents she was of course lovely doing everything she could to help me. It wasn't till my teens I told anyone this, and to be honest even now it hurts to think back – because I do wonder if she hadn't treated me in such a way, made me feel so useless would I have suffered with my mental health and had such a lack of confidence and disbelief in myself.
In secondary school I spent a lot of time out of school due to being in hospital with mental health issues, this of course set off the rumours; I was drug dealing, prostitute with three children, when I went in to collect work I would notice people stopping, staring and whispering a few whispered too loudly thus how I know what they were saying.
Since I've grown up I've come across bits of cyber bullying names being slung, threats sent and I have been reduced to tears, luckily though I've become quick on the ban button, but it's also made me very wary of making friends, and means I watch everything I say just in case something can be taken the wrong way. The internet seems to make some people become someone else, they almost seem to forget it really is a living breathing feeling person on the other end of the computer and think they can do and say whatever they want.
Please get in touch if you want to take part in either the telling of your story (it doesn't just have to be about bullying) or if you just want a chat my inbox is always open and I'll always reply as soon as I can.
Hollyoaks have a fantastic Help and Support page with great places to turn to for all manner of situations please if you're going through any troubles and want to talk to someone click through to it and find the appropriate service for you: http://www.e4.com/hollyoaks/docyou/support.html