It started in 5th grade, where a viscous rumor spread that I was a lesbian. Despite it’s complete absence of truth, my female peers (10-11 years old) started bullying me by making rude remarks about my clothing and hair, calling me every insult like “homo, freak, lesbo, carpet muncher” and worse, and sending me harassing emails with threats and statements such as “Do you know why you’re a nasty lesbo? Because you’re so ugly and gross that no guys like you so you had to become one” and “Lesbians are evil and don’t deserve to live like the rest of us. Please save us all and go kill yourself.” (This was back with AOL and you could add a background to your email – the favorited was rainbow stripped with the female gender symbol with two identical, interlocking circles.)
My mother eventually discovered them and reported this to my school, bringing in copies of the disturbing, graphic emails. A “mediation” was held with the two girls who sent the most emails, although proved pointless because there were no repercussions for their actions, which only led to more, much worse abuse.
I anticipated high school for it’s possibilities of new friends and a fresh start. Unfortunately, my clean slate was very short-lived, and the torment and rumor mill picked up right where it left off. But the middle school bullying did not even compare to the pain, humiliation, and emotional damage I experienced because of the bullying in high school. My freshman and sophomore year I dealt with similar incidents and comments as middle school. Junior year until my graduation, the torture was unlike any other, and that nobody should ever have to face.
I had been dating somebody since the completion of my sophomore year. In mid october of my junior year, homecoming weekend, I decided to attend a party after the dance, where I was a victim of sexual assault. I was distraught, confused, scared, and overwhelmed. It was absolutely devastating; you would think people would turn and support the person in need, but unfortunately in my situation, instead of being supported, I was further mocked, ridiculed, and harassed.
For the next three months, the torture was unlike anything I’d seen or experienced. My peers spread rumors, the most common being “I lied and said I was raped so I wouldn’t admit I was cheating on my boyfriend.” Pornographic images were drawn of me in the bathrooms, specifically me giving a blow job. In addition, in one of the bathrooms, taking up the entire length of the stall door, it read in all caps “ANDIE MANGOLD IS A SLUT”, with other comments around it like “whore”, “she has herpes too”, and “lesbo”. My house was egged. I received many prank calls, where people said, “you’re such a slut”, “you’re nothing but a liar, you weren’t raped, you really wanted it and you liked it,” and much, much worse. My phone number was changed, but somehow people still managed to get a hold of it and prank call. 5 times I went to my high school administration and asked that they remove the writing of me being a slut. They said they tried to scrub it off, but since the door is hard plastic they can’t just paint over it, and there isn’t enough money to replace it. That message was left on the door for 4 years, 2 years after I graduated, where my sisters were responsible for dealing with comments from their peers about it. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. People then started calling me anorexic.
5 days after turning 17 in early January, I was committed to a hospital because the abuse in school was so bad that I was going to attempt to commit suicide. I stayed there for the remainder of my junior year, struggling to finish my schoolwork for my honors and ap classes. Once again, instead of being supported, the rumor mill continued, as people said things like, “She killed herself”, “She got pregnant and that’s why she had to leave school”, etc. Not only was this destroying my life, but also the lives of my sisters and friends, who had to deal with this while I was away.
I returned to school for my senior year. The administration was going to hold me back a year because of all the schoolwork I missed. I insisted that this was not an option, and their compromise was that I no longer take honors classes and take college prep instead. I struggled to complete my work from my junior year as well as complete my senior year work simultaneously. I couldn’t apply to any colleges until it was all finished, and it severely hurt my GPA and transcripts. Somehow I managed to get it all done, and applied to Rowan University on the last day they were accepting applications. Although my grades were not quite where they should’ve been to be accepted, the deciding factor in my acceptance was my essay, which was about my painful experiences and fight to survive my high school years.
The bullying continued throughout the year until my graduation in 2009. The one thing I really remember thinking that day was, “I’m finally free, and against all odds, I survived.”