Being bullied in school has long-lasting effects. People that are subjected to it almost never forget it and sometimes, the memories can be downright debilitating. But what happens when they run into that bully long after graduating from school?
People of Reddit shared what it was like to confront a bully later in life, with some amazing results. Content has been edited for clarity.
"My then-fiancé took me out to dinner in my hometown where we had our first date to celebrate my new promotion. I recognized our waitress right away as the girl who had been mean to me in 6th and 7th grade (the only years we had classes together). She didn't seem to recognize me, I had gained a lot of weight and the restaurant was dark, so I let it go and treated her like any other waitress.
When the bill came I asked my then-fiancé how we should tip. She was a great waitress and deserved a generous tip like we usually do but the urge to stiff her was there as payback. I decided to tip her generously and let the past go. But I did leave a note next to the tip: 'Here's to believing that people do grow up after high school.' And I signed it 'Class of 2006.'
The next day I got on Facebook and she had sent me a message. She said she had recognized me but I looked happy so she said nothing and she treated me like any other customer. Then she apologized for anything she might have done to me in school. It was a hard time for her and she didn't like to think about who she was then.
Some bullies do grow up and I'm glad we both did the right thing."
"At the tender age of 14, and standing a bit over five feet tall, I was sent to boarding school. I had braces, a 'body-perm,' and weighed no more than 70 pounds. About as scared as a rabbit in a thunderstorm, I kept my head low and tried to stay 'under the radar.' A group of older girls somehow noticed me anyhow and began harassing me -- at first in small ways such as making snide remarks, but quickly escalating to physical abuse. Walking back to the girls' dorm after class, my heart rate would increase as I planned out my route through the lobby and up the stairs to my room. Much of the time, I'd get intercepted and if nobody else was around, pinned to the ground and given sailor taps (someone pinning you down and rapping repeatedly on your sternum using their knuckles) while being laughed at. One of the girls, in particular, seemed to really have it out for me and long after the others lost interest, she'd still openly make fun of me and corner me at every opportunity for a bit of physical abuse.
I'd lie in my bed at night conjuring all sorts of scenarios in which I could humiliate her. It was all for naught, though, as morning would come and I'd still be the nerdy little kid who'd be wise not to try anything. She'd still be the pretty popular girl who walked around pulling a wake of disciples in her path.
Many years later, now standing well over six feet tall and known within my circle of business as an attractive woman who was not to be messed with, I scheduled a lunch meeting with a few possible vendors to be located at the shopping mall I was helping develop. Seated with representatives from major companies, our waitress approached the table. She was a wreck of a woman -- crispy-fried bleached-blond hair, pock-marked complexion, and cheap clothing stretched over a body several pounds too large for it. As she fumbled around for a pen in her apron, our eyes met and it would be difficult to describe what was exchanged wordlessly as we recognized each other. The tables had turned dramatically. Vengeance was mine.
I said it was nice to see her after all these years, and that I couldn't think of anyone I'd be happier to have as my server. The meeting went well, table service was impeccable, and I left a tip equal to our tab for the meal. Haven't seen her since, but now when I think of her I get all warm and tingly with the deliciousness of winning."
"I was bullied a lot in middle school, and (for unrelated reasons) ended up going to a different high school from most of my classmates, and obviously didn't keep in touch.
I was back home from college for Christmas a year or two ago and was at the mall with my little sister and my fiancé. I recognized a girl from my middle school across the food court, but we had never been friends, so I simply made a mental note that she was there and went back to eating.
A few moments later my fiancé and sister both got up to use the restroom and I was by myself. The girl gets up, comes over, makes nice for half a second (Oh hi, how are you, haven't seen you in forever, blah blah,) and then immediately transitions into how I look pathetic and desperate sitting by myself, and how it's no wonder the people I was with left. I am completely taken aback and it takes me a moment to form words. I hadn't seen this girl in 6 or 7 years and hadn't said more than 5 words to her.
I picked up my purse, stood up from my table and said 'We're grown-ups now,' in the most condescending tone I could manage through my surprise. I wanted to say something about how she needed to stop acting like a child, or how there were no teachers around to stop me from leaving, but in that moment I had too many thoughts and couldn't express them all at once eloquently, so I just left. I think, or at least hope, she got the message."
"I actually married my bully!
Here's the story.
I was an awkward little lesbian in 7th grade. Everyone spread rumors about me and tormented me in the P.E. locker rooms. I wasn't even out, that's how gay I was. Everybody else just knew.
So anyway this group of 'popular' girls would do awful things like take away my glasses and put them in their shirts so that they could humiliate me if I tried to reach for them. This one girl, B, wasn't the ring leader, she was just a lame follower. She called me a psycho lesbian, threatened to beat me up, and told me to stay away from her best friend, who I was in love with. I hated her and the rest of the group.
She moves away but moves back when I'm in high school and we start hanging out. Turns out she was going through a lot of stuff in middle school just like everyone else. She apologizes. We end up best friends. One night, we end up making out. I think it's just this straight girl experiment thing. But, then she says if I want to keep kissing her, I have to have a relationship with her. I was like, 'What?! B? That witch from middle school actually wants to date me?'
Anyways, we give it a go. Now it's 6 years later, we've been married for almost 2 years, and still going strong. I always like to tell people how she used to bully me in middle school when they ask us how we met."
"I went to boarding prep school and there was this one girl, we'll call her D, who was always so awful to me. My first interaction with her was when I came back to my room in the second week of school my freshman year and found her ranting about my clothes with my roommate. I overheard them before I walked in to find her cutting up a sweater of mine. She said she was doing my roommate a favor so she wouldn't have to look at that sweater again. At this point, I had never even seen her before. I was shocked and confused and didn't say anything.
Over the course of high school, I had a lot of interactions with D, all of which sucked. Once she cornered me because she was under the impression I was dating a new hot junior. I was actually dating his roommate (X) and he and I were just friends. He had a girlfriend back home with the same name as me and she told me I should dump him because I wasn't good enough for him and he should be with someone hotter. She would always have something mean to say whenever we passed each other in the hallway. She was very proud of her Italian heritage and screamed at me in front of a group of 10 or so people because I had the audacity to say that I was half Italian, which was more than her. She didn't believe me because my last name wasn't Italian like hers? Hello, it's on my mother's side? Whatever. She said I wasn't good enough to be Italian. While I was good at hockey, she was on the varsity team and made sure I didn't join by making me feel very unwelcome even though the coach asked me each year to please try out because he liked what he saw of me on JV. The list of stupid stuff goes on and on. I was pretty shy at this time and already had fairly low self-esteem, so her attempts to make me feel like garbage worked more often than not.
Fast forward 5 years and I'm gearing up for our big reunion. It is a weekend-long event full of lobster tails and open bar and something you look forward to from your freshman year of high school. Leading up to reunion weekend, I was nervous. My mom gave me the advice to think of the people I went to high school with as new people, as they will have grown up and it's not fair to judge people by who they were in high school. A small group got together a few weeks before reunion weekend and D happened to be there as well. I remembered what my mom had told me, so when D came up to say hi, I was pleasantly surprised and optimistic about where the conversation would go. She started out nice enough but then said, 'I heard you live with X, but I know that can't be true because you are not cool enough to even be friends with X and you didn't even know him at school.' As you remember, X and I dated back in high school, which was pretty common knowledge. X and I had remained friends and even became roommates post-college. I reminded her of such and she just walked away.
When the reunion came around, I warned my boyfriend to stay away from D. I just wanted to have a good time and if we avoided her, we would have a blast. My boyfriend didn't believe that someone could be so awful, so the first thing he does when I point her out to him is walk right up to her. She's having a conversation with another girl and he waits politely to join in. D turns her back to him and continues talking. After a few minutes, he says excuse me and introduces himself as B. She looks at him with disgust and says, 'you're (my name's) boyfriend, right?' and he replies in the affirmative. She then responds with, 'that's all I need to know,' and turns her back once again to him. He comes back laughing and telling me I was right.
The reunion was fun despite her presence. I managed to avoid her. I have to admit that my confidence has soared post high school and that a lot of guys find that attractive. As the second night was winding down, I found myself in a circle of guys from my class who were all very curious about my life and very flirtatious. Among these guys was D's ex-boyfriend, whom she had stayed with all through college and had recently broken up with, and the guy she had declared as 'hers' for the weekend. Even though I had a boyfriend, they were all much more interested in talking to me than her. At one point I saw her literally crying, wasted, in a corner by herself.
The final day of the reunion, my boyfriend and I came to the dining hall for breakfast. We sat down at the table for our class and D was there, looking worse for wear. We ignored her and B had the whole table laughing at his jokes and stories. I looked up to see that she was the only one not laughing.
It felt good to see her so miserable from her own doing and to watch the misery increase as she saw how happy I was and how awesome my boyfriend was and how the guys would have rather hung out with me than her.
Our 10-year reunion is coming up next year and I can't wait!"
"Growing up, my wife had a cat that would go everywhere with her. It would ride on the handlebars of her bike and in her backpack. The two were inseparable. Then one day the cat disappeared. A couple days later in school, a kid came up to her and told my wife he'd shot the cat with his bow. The cat screamed and screamed, he said. And he laughed. Broke my wife's heart. Apparently, after killing the cat, he would taunt my wife relentlessly. He told her he shot it with the bow, then buried it while it was still screaming.
Fast forward a couple years later, the bully has 'found god' and is a preacher. My wife shows up to one of his services, stands up in the middle of his sermon, and asks if he remembers how he tortured her cat when she was a little girl. Everyone is speechless. The bully stammers. My wife tells everyone that the man standing before them, preaching about love and kindness, murdered her favorite pet and made her childhood a living disaster. From what she describes, he looked mortified and stammered and started tearing up. He may have just been embarrassed or truly apologetic, we don't know. But my wife isn't one to forgive and forget so easily, believe me, especially when it comes to an event that still haunts her. She waited for him to respond, but he remained silent and just sort of helplessly shook his head, mouth agape. My wife kind of nodded and left it at that. She walked out but is fairly certain he didn't finish his sermon that day. She says that from the look of terror in his eyes she'd gotten her point across. She felt a little better, but not knowing exactly what happened to that cat still tears at her.
Later he did reach out to her via Facebook to apologize after the church incident. He said he regrets what he did. He said that he's changed. My wife thanked him for his apology, but said she did not forgive him, nor would she ever forgive him. She has moved on and is happy, but she would never forget the pain he caused her. And she is happy he supposedly changed, but she hopes his actions continue to haunt him, and serve as a reminder that no matter how good and decent he may be today, he's still the monster in her nightmares."
"This girl at school tried to get me kicked out for bullying her. My high school was attached to the middle school so we'd been at school together for 7 years, though I'd actively been staying out of her way as I knew she didn't like me. I did nothing to her. We were the only girls in the class, the teacher was a young woman who flirted with the boys and chose favorites/people she hated and this girl took a dislike to me due to that. By that point in my school career, I was just keeping my head down and trying to get the grades to leave them all behind.
We were on a trip and had got put in a room together along with a friend each. For the entire trip I made a point of not being around her unless I was asleep, I chose seats away from her on the bus, went in a different direction during free time and generally stayed out of her way to avoid trouble. On the last night, she and her friend said they were going to talk to some of the boys downstairs, so I and my friend said goodnight and went to sleep. An hour later the teacher we shared burst in demanding what I'd done to this girl as she was crying her eyes out and claiming I'd been making her life awful all week and not giving her a moment's peace. Luckily my friend who was also in the room stood up for me and told the teacher (truthfully) that I'd actually been making a point to do the opposite.
One day, I walk into our class with an acceptance letter from my first choice university in my pocket, which this witch had spent the last year telling me I was too stupid to get into. She missed both her first and second choices and sat crying on the phone trying to find a university to take her.
Four years later I have my degree and I moved back to a town near where my family lives to work as a manager in a busy and successful restaurant. She comes in fat as ever with a work party and sneers when she sees me waiting tables. Her face when they asked me for the manager to complain about me (for no reason I might add) was priceless. 'That would be me, how can I help?'
Turns out she works as a coffee slave in a cafe in the local shopping center, and last time I walked past I saw she'd stolen some of my business ideas and passed them off under her name. She still comes to the restaurant occasionally but I let my second in command deal with her table as I can't promise to be impartial, I even make sure I go nowhere near their food or drinks so there's no room for her to complain.
It's a small victory sure, but it makes me feel a bit vindicated!"
"This one is a classic.
This girl used to torment me all through high school and middle school. She really went out of her way to tear me down. Whenever we had a class together, she would make her extreme dislike for me apparent and, of course, other kids followed. I couldn't open my mouth without some kind of ridicule.
Of course, I was miserable, and my dad would try to cheer me up. 'Don't worry kiddo, one day she'll be working at a McDonalds and serving you fries.' He actually referred to her as 'McDonald's' for years.
A couple years after graduating high school I went to a Hardee's with my dad. And there was 'McDonald's,' behind the counter serving burgers and fries. So I go up to place my order and before I finish she says, 'you don't remember me, do you?'
'Oh, I remember you.'
'Oh... so, would you like fries with that?'
'Why yes, yes I would.'
Way to go, Dad! Called it 9 years in advance!"
"I got beat up after school for a while when I was about 14. The girl who started it/got other people to join in had known me my whole life, and had heard a rumor or just decided she didn't like my face or something. She'd yell different things, so I don't really know, or understand, why she did it.
Five or six years later, I'm on the phone with my dad and he says 'Do you remember that girl you went to school with, Julie?' I never told my parents she used to beat me up so I was a little confused why he'd bring her up. 'She pulled out in front of a semi truck and got killed, just thought you'd want to know.'
Weirdest feeling! I don't really feel like a huge sense of justice has been served or anything, but I guess I'm just really relieved that there's no chance she'll come flying out of nowhere and start attacking me."
"In middle school, I was bullied for liking pro-wrestling and 'alternative' music. The strange thing was, my main bully liked pro-wrestling as well, he had a WWF back-pack for god sake! I guess I just liked the wrong guys? I don't even know. ANYWAY. They would sit next to me and whisper awful things to me, especially in one class in particular, until I just ended up in the nurse's office every day in order to avoid them. My parents were splitting up at this time and neither of them seemed to notice that I was failing classes or getting notes sent home. The kids would yell at me as I walked down the hallway, make fun of my clothes (I was fairly poor in a fairly upper-class small town) and generally just make my life horrible until I changed schools.
Now I'm in my late 20's. I've certainly come out of my ugly duckling phase, thank god. I have a job managing a fairly successful band, I travel the world 9 months out of the year, and the last time I ran into my main bully, I was on tour. He was a bus boy at a restaurant in the same town we happen to have a show in. He didn't look bad, maybe a little larger, but I had heard from mutual friends that he knocked some girl up and ended up stuck in this terrible town, never really did much of anything after high school. He definitely recognized me, and I made sure he knew I recognized him.
But the real kicker? Eating dinner with me was a famous (as in cross-over to mainstream media famous) WWE World Champion, who I happen to know through mutual friends. I've never felt more like I've 'made it' than at that moment."
"I was very severely bullied throughout all of high school.
I got death threats for being gay. I've made up with most of the girls. We're not friends but everyone is an idiot at 14. Except this one girl. She was basically the ring leader. She hired a lesbian working girl to show up at my house at 3am to tell my dad I'm gay and a bunch of other stuff. I bumped into her one day and I tried to be civil like I am with everyone and thinking that yes everyone can grow up. Not her apparently.
She opened with 'are you still a [mean word for a lesbian]?'
So I punched her."
"In high school, there was a group of girls that were constantly mean to me for absolutely no reason. They just decided they didn't like me.
10 years later the ring leader of the group friend requested me on Facebook. I declined it of course, but not before I took a quick glance at her page though and was glad to see that she is a 'recovering' addict and looks like garbage.
I also heard that she spent some time in jail for leaving a friend to die that had overdosed."