I wrote this letter to Angel Bradley Martinez, the mother of Devin James Scott. He was bullied… to death. August 7, 2012, Devin took his life.
I write this letter with sadness in my heart and tears in my eyes. I have no words to make your pain go away. But I can share my story with you. I am sure you have probably wondered why I of all people would stand up and fight. Granted anyone in their right mind knows bullying is wrong, but not everyone has the strength to vocalize it. I did not know Devin, I am a friend of Donte’s but only on facebook. Why take such a strong interest then? Where do I begin…
I remember the day I was first bullied. I was in fifth grade, someone stole my backpack, pushed me off the swings and ran off. I cried all night and asked my mom why someone would do something like that. I had a bruise on my leg the size of Texas. Must’ve hit something falling off the swing. I remember my mom taking pictures of the bruise and bringing them to school the next day. I remember the principal said “Kids will be kids, I am sure we will find her backpack.” My mom was furious, she could care less about my stuff, she cared more about the physical pain I was in. Well a few days later we did find my stuff, a kid had put it on a special ed bus and dumped it out. Nothing was done.
I was always a little rebel in my family. I am one of six kids, three older siblings, and two younger, making me the middle child. We all know the middle child is the black sheep. That is exactly what I was. The rebellious black sheep of the family, with too much personality and a big mouth. Sixth grade came around, I was chubby, had dirty blonde long hair, had no sense of fashion and to make things worse I was smart and I had just gotten braces. Talk about the perfect setup for being made fun of. Well, me being a little pistol, decided to cut my hair one day. My long locks were gone. I looked like a boy and you know what.. I didn’t care. My mom was… well lets just say beyong pissed for lack of better words. But I marched into school not caring, because it was my decision. Little did I know that was the beginning of a bad day. I remember sitting in my computer class and all I could hear was “She looks like a boy” “Who let her do that” “She is ugly.” All of class the teacher sat at her desk and listened to these kids. Nothing was done.
Seventh grade comes along. I was a smart kid. I loved every subject and never got lower then an ‘A.’ The first day of school I sat in my math class. Sat in the back because over the years of having people single me out, I was finding it safer and more peaceful. I remember putting my other class books on the empty desk next to me but as I reached over to set them on the table I put a little too much strength into it and fell right out of my seat. Knocked my desk and the desk next to me over. I stood up with embarrassment and as I picked up the desks my teacher made a comment and said, “Ms. Stafford, I recognize the last name. Your sister was Kelsey right?” I mumbled something along the lines of that being correct. He replied with, “I can see you are not going to be nearly as much fun as her.” The whole class laughed. Nothing was done.
I was tripped in the hallways, whispered about, pushed into lockers. I was made fun and looked down upon. I was the nerd who came to school early to sit in the library. I was the kid who had a packed lunch in a brown paper bag because she couldn’t afford to buy lunch. Nothing was done.
If I remember correctly it was my sophomore year when I found a way to deal with my stress. I started cutting. At first it was just small cuts here and there. Then it grew to longer deeper cuts. I liked to watch the blood roll down my arm. I liked the pain. Physical pain I can deal with. I always thought if it was so easy to deal with physical pain, why does my heart break so easily. I never had close friends growing up. Always the kinds that disappeared when school ended. The kind you could laugh with but never cry with. Good people yes, but I never had anyone to talk to. I felt so distant from the world. So far from reality. I worked, I went to school, I came home. I smiled, but it never reached my eyes. I slowly molded myself into something fake. Still not the prettiest, still considered the ugly friend. But I was witty, I was funny and somewhere between my Junior and Senior year I lost myself. All the while still hurting myself, but no one ever knew.
I started drinking, started hanging out with the wrong croud. By the time I was 18 I had gotten a DUI for hitting a parked police car, gotten caught stealing, and was the person to go to if you needed drugs. I had no respect for myself, had no respect for anyone. I was a hot mess. There wasn’t one day that suicide did not cross my mind. I would get to the point where I didn’t care if my family would miss me or not. How I made it through… Well I didn’t.
I still suffer to this day. It is a different type of bullying. No one steals my purse, no one takes my lunch, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen in other ways. I am still the ugly friend, the second choice. I hear it all the time. Whether it is directed at me or just an overheard whisper.
So my reasoning behind taking a stand is not because I knew Devin on a personal level, it isn’t because Donte and I were best friends, its because I know exactly how Devin James Scott felt. And had our paths been slightly different I could have easily been the one to take my own life. And to me… that is something worth fighting for.
No one, ever, should feel what Devin felt. No one should feel what I felt. It isn’t right. And to witness all the missed opportunites in my own life for someone to reach out… makes me sick to my stomach. Devin should still be alive today. He should be sitting at the computer checking his facebook right now. He should be eating cookies, and telling his girlfriend they will be together forever. He should be kissing you good night, and telling his brothers he is going to kick their butt at Call of Duty tomorrow after school. But instead… he was pushed into a corner by his own classmates. Pushed into such a dark place that he took his own life. Nothing was done.
Well something is being done now. There are people who will make sure the name of Devin James Scott will be forever remembered. I am one of them. I can not take away the pain of a mother who has lost her son. I can not mend the heart of a sibling who no longer has a baby brother. But I can stand with them in the fight against bullying. So be sad dearest Angel. Let your tears fall and lay on Devin’s bed. Talk to him, tell him about your day, but do not lose hope, because your son is the reason I am telling my story. There isn’t one day that goes by that you and your family are not on my mind. There is not one day that goes by that wishes I could trade places with Devin so you could ahve him back.
I understand that smiling for you is like trying to remember someone you never knew. And it will never get easier. But I write this letter to you because I want you to know, that Devin and Donte, and your other son’s that I do not have the pleasure of knowing are reason I fight back. You are my reason. I will be with you everystep of the way. You can call me, you can write me, you can ask me to bring over ice cream and movies. You can tell me you are pissed at the world. My point is this.. you are not along. Your family is not a lone. And I won’t stop fighting for Devin. I don’t mind if you share this with anyone, especially your family, but I thought I would send it to you as a message in case you wanted it kept private or something. Stay strong, keep God in your life, and as hard as it is, take care of yourself. You play a big role in the change that is to come. I love you and your family.