We Won’t Learn from Amanda Todd

We all make mistakes. It’s something we do to assist us in our growth.  You’re either strong enough to take it, or you aren’t. That’s a fact of life.

Amanda Todd was punished for a webcam show. She flashed someone, that was all. For that, the man she flashed stalked her, sending pictures of her to everywhere he could, making her life a living hell.

Let me tell you something about this type of girl. I could have been her.

I never flashed anyone. I never had friends in school. I went to a private school, and my father worked his socks off to get me into it. The teachers were lovely, and I learnt a lot while I was there for the 12 years of my life, but I never had the sort of personality that would allow me to integrate as well as I wanted to. It wasn’t through lack of trying.

My family, although not dysfunctional, had its issues. My paternal grandfather hated me. I discovered when I was 18 that it was because I was adopted, but in the meantime, I had dogs.  They’re hardly judgemental. I didn’t have money, and that didn’t bother them. I didn’t have the latest game consoles, and again, they weren’t bothered. In the meantime, one of the girls I was in school with was given a GameBoy for Christmas, left it in the evening a little too close to the fireplace, and it melted.  On Boxing Day, her parents bought her a new one. Perhaps my disgust stems from a partially socialist attitude. But again, I didn’t care.

I tried with these kids, yet whenever we broke up for holidays, it wasn’t uncommon for them to return talking about the trip the ‘entire class’ went on. The ‘entire class’ didn’t. I never received the invite. I would have turned it down, because I would have had to. My parents couldn’t afford to let me go to the class discos (so 80s, I know!), and I had been left out so often that I didn’t want to go anyway.

I continued my virtually friendless life until I met a man when I was 15. I lost my virginity in a car in a ditch. The earth didn’t move.

Rolling on to work experience, I was supposed to be a local newspaper’s minion for a week. They pulled out, and I found my own work experience: a garage in Lewisham. On my last day there, I was raped. It wasn’t the last time that happened to me, either. The experience changed me though.

There are some people who seem to have a radar for girls like me. They can sense that you’ve gone through something horrific, and they use that to their advantage. They’ll talk to you, make you feel special, make you ‘fall in love’ with how gentle and understanding they are, and you will give yourself up to them. You’ll do it willingly, you’ll believe for the entire five minutes that it’s what you want, and it will last forever. It doesn’t, though. These people are predators. They home in on the ones they know are weak, and they strike.

In Amanda’s case, a boy shows her attention, and she fell for it. His girlfriend afterwards beat her up, clean forgetting it took her boyfriend being a cheating bastard for Amanda to have  been able to get that far. That type of girl will never show regret when she reaches adulthood, either. It will always be the ‘other woman’s’ fault, and never her future husband’s.

I fell into that trap over and over. Who’d have thought that men could lie, saying theydidn’t have a girlfriend, or they weren’t married. When we’re in that frame of mind, we don’t believe anyone would lie to us because our chosen truth is that they really do care. I was called a slag by a girl in my year who wore a miniskirt and tight shirt to school, a stark contrast to my baggy jumpers and long skirt. But that day, one boy stood up for me. He looked us both up and down as I stood there trying in vain to keep a hold of myself, not let her know that her words hurt me, even though in Layman’s terms, she was right. I was already at that point where I couldn’t remember names or faces, just the stabbing pain that went through me every time I tried to think, “could I have been different?” This boy said to her, “No, love, you’re the slag.” And that was that.

I continued to make mistakes, not coming to terms with things, but sometimes I could forget.

It was a blessing that this happened in my last year of school. My last few months, in fact. I didn’t cut myself, I didn’t get threats, nobody attempted to beat me up. I did, however, from everything building up inside me, think that I was nothing.

I wanted to commit suicide. I didn’t have the willpower though.  Maybe some people think it’s the easy way out, killing yourself.  It’s not though. It takes great pain to do such a thing, and those who think otherwise may never have felt that sadness. I didn’t, otherwise I may not be here now.

What saved me in the end were books and writing. My experiences have shaped who I am, and a lot of people might not like me, but now, although I wouldn’t consider that I have many friends, the ones I do have I would die for, and they would do nearly anything for me. My acquaintances think I’m quirky, but not one of them would or could say I’m less than honest, nor a bad person.

I’m at peace with the people I thought were against me in school. Some have even, out of the blue, apologised for how they treated me. I don’t hate them. After all, they made me who I am and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Kids can be cruel, and you only have to look at the comments on the embedded video to know that to be fact. They don’t see anything wrong in how they treated her.

In an ideal world, we would accept everyone based on their actions towards us, and not punish them for something they did at one point in their past. This, I suppose, has some very obvious exceptions. We’re not privy to everybody’s secrets, but a girl stupidly flashing someone in previous years is no reason to hate her.

People are sadly judgemental. It’s what we do best. But surely, if our species is so intelligent, we should be able to overlook physical appearance, minor errors – anything but the covert evil of stalkers, murderers, rapists and paedophiles. We can’t, though.

It takes a special person to be able to look at someone and help them. I’m not sure I’d have turned out this way, with all the love I have for pretty much everything and everyone, if just one person had asked me, “Are you ok?” I, however, wouldn’t wish to change my past to find out, though. It’s a shame that Amanda Todd will never grow up to be able to make that judgement.

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