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Dumbed Down

As a child, I would talk to myself a lot. I enjoyed playing with my dolls and had a overactive imagination. I was also indecisive, always getting into things, and was always happy if not fussy. I was described as a “creative” and “eccentric” child. Its still a noticeable quality but is now overshadowed by my now aggressive personality. As a child, I was also diagnosed with a developmental disorder which made learning turn into a chore and caused my mom to pull me out of school several times. She was concerned for me socially because I wasn’t making any friends. I was an awkward child and would get called “weird” by my peers. At 7, my mom put in a private school called St. Germaine. It was a Catholic school and we’d go to church every Wednesday between lessons. My teacher deemed me as “unruly” and ended up kicking me in the back. My mom pulled me out and homeschooled me at age 8. At 9, I went to Rainbow Elementary. I met a girl named Daykia and we became best friends. We played at recess together whenever we could and we had a lot fun together. I also joined girl scouts that year as well. I was on the honor roll and also participated in our class spelling bee and nearly won! I felt normal for once in my life.
Daykia moved away. A group of girls began to taunt me everyday. I became ostracized. I quit girl scouts and was once again put into another school. But it got worse. On my first day of school I convinced myself that this was a fresh start and that I would make new friends. I was social and talked to the kids at my table. Rumors started to spread that I had a mental disorder. Many kids said I was dropped on my head as an infant and that I was retarded. One of the biggest rumors was that I shoved a cat’s tail up my vagina.
Then 2009 came and things got even worse. After years of switching schools, this was second year at my new elementary school. Fifth grade began on a good note but then my teacher started to verbally abuse me. If I didn’t answer a problem right away she would go around asking if everyone got it. Then she would tell me if I got it and if I said no, she would go around and repeat it to the class until I gave an answer. One time she held back the class and refused to let us go to lunch until I spoke up and gave a complete answer. After she released us, everyone told me how retarded I was, and told me to skip lunch or go on a diet. One of my bullies told me that I was so dumb that instead giving a job interview, I’d have to give a blow job instead. I started to feel this pressure to fit in and began to have self-destructive thoughts. I would scratch words like “ugly” or “bitch” into my skin. I also started eating in the office or would eat in private because I felt embarrassed. My mom would constantly tell me to act “normal” and it ruined how I thought of myself. She would tell she wished I was like the other kids in my class; I was literally on the brink of committing suicide. I was physically beaten up twice in school which caused me to stay home for three days straight because I was scared of being hurt again. My mom even went to the principle about my teacher’s actions towards me but he excused it as “she’s just being strict”. She found out what my mom did and punished me by redoing homework assignments because she thought my mom was doing my work for me.
After the first week of sixth grade, I was being sexually harassed by boys from my previous class. They yanked onto my bra and address me using vulgar language. I gained weight and was encouraged by my peers to kill myself. I pulled my teacher aside to tell her what was going on but she told me that good old saying, “boys will be boys”. Weeks went by and I started to get harassed online. It got to the point where I forced to deactivate my account. In 2012, I left middle school to become homeschooled, but it didn’t end there. I returned to my Facebook account a year later to find cryptic messages sent by the same people.
Today, I feel I’ve spent more time trying to erase the last 10 years of my life than actually live it. I feel like I’ve been dumbed down just so that everyone else can get ahead of me. I hope there’s justice out there for mentally disabled kids like me who have been mistreated. I pray that one day we’ll be taken seriously rather than treated like an embarrassment. I’ve just turned eighteen this past November and will be graduating in Summer 2017 and I’m beyond proud of myself. And whatever you do…stay proud!

— Brianna, age 18


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