The time I got beat up after school

I’ve never told anyone about this, and looking back, silence may have been the kindest response. One day, as I was walking home from junior high school, another student attacked me in a parking lot, punched me, and kept knocking me down into the frozen snowpiles, screaming at me the whole time.

I was in eighth grade, and I barely knew the girl. We moved in separate circles. She was skinny, wore cheap and unfashionable clothes, had a bad haircut, smoked cigarettes, and always seemed angry. Even at the time, I sort of knew why she jumped me. It wasn’t about me, except that as a chubby, bookish, short girl, I was an easy target. Probably, I represented something she didn’t like.

Since I wasn’t really hurt — winter wear can make good protective padding — I continued home as fast as I could, although my resentment was off the scale. I didn’t deserve what had happened. In fact, I’d never even talked to that girl. She was angry, and she just wanted to beat someone up.

I didn’t tell anyone for two reasons. First, as a general principle, I tried to keep adults out of my business because they only made things more complicated. Second, if I told adults or even merely my friends, they would make things more complicated for her. She had enough trouble. Something was wrong in her life, and I didn’t want to add to it.

Beyond angry and resentful, I felt sorry for her. She needed help, and the most helpful thing I could do was to do nothing. I simply made sure to avoid her more thoroughly from then on. She moved away not too long after that. I’ve forgotten her name. I hope she got whatever she needed, and looking back, I have some guesses about what might have been going on with her.

Then and now, adults say children should report bullying. I didn’t, and I still think I did the right thing. I forgave her, gave her what grace I could, and moved on.

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