Mbombela, 2019- Lunch on the playground.

I am a shy, awkward Grade 11 and not one of the “in crowd”. I have been at my new school for 6 months and haven’t really made any friends yet. My classmates call me “the mouse”. I like to think of myself as “the mighty mouse” but that’s really just a lot of bravado on my part. They tease me all the time and I get bullied. It started with words but lately some of the bigger boys have started to push me around. The one time I dare talk back, they threaten me with serious violence. I am scared to tell a teacher. That will make it worse- that has been made clear to me.

It hurts me. I often cry in my bed at night, and at times I wet my bed. I haven’t told my parents. I am too ashamed. I am a Grade 11, after all.

Today is like any other day at lunch on the playground. I try and manoeuvre myself close to a small group that I think is least threatening. I am ignored, so find a place to sit by myself. Inevitably, one of “the boys” shuffles over with his mates in tow. The abuse starts. Why, I have no idea, but today I react and tell him to get lost. The next thing I know, I am on the ground. The beating is savage and relentless. I am vaguely aware of a teacher stopping things.

I am seriously injured. Apart from the lacerations, two broken ribs and a broken arm, I have internal bleeding and my spleen has burst. I also have a brain injury. After just over a week in hospital, I am discharged. Thankfully, there is no lasting physical damage, but my spirit is broken. I don’t return to my school and my parents find another school to for me to attend.

MPLL kicks in….

Our family is a member of MPLL. My mom tells me that the psychological consultations I received were provided by them. My parents are devastated and insist on pressing charges. I have no recollection of what happened. Through MPLL, we engaged the services of a private investigator who obtains statements and evidence, which assist the SAPS in prosecuting the perpetrators.

Thank you MPLL. The psychologist helped me realise that I was a victim and gave me the tools, strength and courage to grow as a person. I also learned how to manage situations in which I found myself bullied. I am now confident to face the world.