Three simple words. Can be said to a family member, a friend or even a stranger.
Yesterday I finished watching ’13 Reasons Why’. A series created by Netflix. WARNING: This post will definitely provide spoilers. So if you haven’t finished it, go do it! If you haven’t even started it! GO DO IT!!
After I finished the series, I was in shock. I had the usual mental breakdown when I realised another series I was obsessed with was finished and I would have to find a new one. After that, I had to process what I had watched and most importantly: What I had learned. The series explores how the actions of others can affect someone. Even to the most darkest extreme.
We meet Hannah. The teenage girl who decided to end her life after a string of forms of abuse from her school peers. Some, whom she once considered as friends. She leaves 13 tapes, each one is a reason of why she decided to end her life. Each reason is a person with an act that is a form of bullying. Whether the person saw it as that or not. It starts of with a picture of Hannah spread round the school, she has girls spreading rumours about her and slut shaming her. She has the boys groping and objectifying her. At this point, Hannah has no choice but to realise the school is against her. All except one boy: Clay.
Sidenote: And Tony, but we don’t see much communication between them two.
Clay is someone she can use to escape from the abuse. He doesn’t judge her based on what people say or write. He is her friend because he wants to be. He falls in love with her, simply because she is herself. However, he has no idea what she is really feeling or even what is really happening to her. On reflection, this is both of their faults. Clay never properly asks her how she is or if she wants to talk. he thinks it’s better to ignore it, because that’s probably what she wants. Hannah never approaches him and tells him something is wrong and she needs help. In fact, Hannah never really asks anyone for help. Maybe because she thinks no one cares? Because the school is already against her? Even her teachers seem to have a lack of education on how to handle these type of situations. When Hannah anonymously admits to her teacher she is under the impression that perhaps she would feel better if she did not feel anything at all i.e. End her life. The teacher then allows the class to suspect someone wrote it for attention!!!!! The sad thing is, some of my teachers when I was in school did this. They would class suicide as ‘silly’ and ‘selfish’. We were never sat down and spoken to properly. Never given information on who we can talk to. Not even how to handle a situation if we think a friend is in danger of self harm.
Now, I’ve been incredibly lucky in my life. I have never been bullied, I have never suffered from depression, I have never felt the need to seek professional help and I have never had a suicidal thought. Like I said, I have been incredibly lucky and I will never take that for granted. Despite all of this, the reality of the number of people that do go through all of the above is astronomical. Especially in teens and young adulthood. Nowadays, people are at more risk of cyber bullying than any of the more ‘traditional’ types of bullying. This especially saddens me, as a lover of technology and social media, it upsets me to think people use these platforms to bring other people down. I’ve seen some horrific things that have been written by some people. Some have threatened to rape the person they are targeting, some have threatened to kill. Some even tell the person to kill themselves so that ‘the world can be a better place.’ WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?! What would drive someone to write things like these?
I actually had a conversation with my hairdresser about cyber bullying. It all started when we were discussing the petition Katie Price was asking her followers to sign. Simply to make cyber bullying a legal offence. First of, we were amazed nothing had been done about it sooner. Secondly, we both discussed why people would want to attack others like this. Yes, cyber bullying is done in schools and it is a way to keep the bullying going on once the victim goes home. Which totally destroys any sense of safety the victim has. However, a lot of the time, cyber bullying is done to people the bully does not know themselves. So they bully someone and send abuse to someone they have never met. Now to you or me, that may seem outrageous and pathetic. The same way we would view ‘regular’ bullying. How can you put down somebody you don’t even know? Let alone, at all? I could never watch a video or read someone status on Facebook and decide to write a comment telling them what a horrible person they are and they should do us all a favour. Not on a Youtubers video or a friends comment. I just could not do it. So is it something you’re born with? Or is it naivety?
’13 Reasons Why’ explores different characters and their own personal impact on Hannah and her journey to end her own life. Out of all the tape victims, I would say there is only one pure evil out of all of them. You know who I mean… Ep 9 and 12. The rest of them? They look like confused kids with their own stuff going on who ended up blaming Hannah for their own mistakes. Why her? Well, have you ever heard the expression: We take our anger out on those who we know will forgive us? I reckon that’s a contributing factor in this case. Amongst other things… *ahem*.. being a jerk. But does that make it okay? Absolutely not.
So, how can we stop something like cyber bullying, for example? Unfortunately that remains to be seen. Although there are thousands of charities and helplines, the cyber bullying will continue as long as there is someone with a computer and willing to write these things. But what we can do, as individuals, is to simply not take part. Ignore it. Don’t even try and stand up for the person as you may become a victim yourself. The less attention the bully is given the less enjoyment they get out of it. If you know the person who is being bullied, offer a friendly face to talk to. Ask them if they want help setting up a new account and they only add friends who they trust. Just letting the person know you have seen it and care about their well being as a result, will make a lot of difference.
Sidenote: If you are currently bullying someone in any way and proud of it, you can go ahead and leave this blog.
’13 Reasons Why’ does not shy away from making the audience feel uncomfortable. In my opinion it is because the topic it explores itself is uncomfortable. As a result, we do not talk about it enough. But, no one should be blamed for that. It is not your fault if it never crossed your mind or you would rather just not talk about it. It means you would rather believe it doesn’t happen. Please do not take this as you do not care. Because that’s not true. If you watched the series and were affected in any way, it means you care. If you hear a story or see something and feel something. It means you care. During the series, we see that Hannah witnessed a rape. Bryce decided to take advantage of a drunk and passed out Jessica. Locked himself in her bedroom with her and raped her. During this Hannah was in the closet scared and frozen. Jessica’s boyfriend Justin was downstairs waiting for it to be done. He felt he owed Bryce for looking out for him in the past, so he let him get on with it. Now, this is where it gets tricky for me. Are Hannah and Justin at fault? My answer: YES. Justin decided his best friends sick pleasure was more important than his girlfriends safety and wellbeing. Not only did Justin let it happen, but he did not tell anyone. It didn’t necessarily have to be him who stopped it. It could have been a group of guys that broke down the door and saved Jessica. I know, I was close enough to even attempting to save her myself. Fully aware that it’s a TV show!!! As for Hannah, she evidently did what other people did to her when she was suffering. She let it happen. Don’t get me wrong. I am fully aware that in that situation you would be frightened, you would freeze and you would fear that maybe the attacker would start on you. I understand that. But let’s reflect on this like it were any other situation, not just rape. To do nothing, is just as bad as doing the abuse yourself. Even if you do nothing at the time, you can still do something after. Tell someone you can trust. Speak to the victim themselves and let them know you will help them in any way you can. You owe them that much. Unfortunately, later on in the series, Bryce decided Hannah is his next victim. He rapes her at his house party. Let me make this clear, despite Hannah not helping Jessica, Hannah SHOULD NOT have been raped. Not by Bryce, not by anyone. This was not karma, this was not a punishment. This was Hannah becoming a victim again at someone else’s hands. Nobody should ever ‘deserve’ to be abused like that. But, is it possible Hannah thinks she deserved it? Probably. Maybe why she could never say the words out loud before she decided to end her life.
Whilst I have you here, let me say this. If you are ever with someone in a sexual environment and you feel like you need to force yourself on them a little bit or ‘convince’ them to carry on. That is rape. If you feel your partner is hesitant or that they may want to move and you keep going. That is rape. If your partner tells you to ‘hang on a sec’ or tells you they have changed their mind and you continue to undress them and end up having to pin them down. That is rape. If they say “no” and you pretend not to hear. THAT IS RAPE. It is never okay. It is never a mistake. It is abuse. It is violating someone. It is wrong. How dare you try to strip that person of their humanity. You have the choice in what type of person you become. Do not become that person. It is not something that can or should be brushed under the carpet.
If you feel you have been or are being bullied. I strongly urge you to speak to someone you can trust. There may be times you do not get the answer you want, but that does not necessarily mean that it’s the wrong one. I understand that ’13 Reasons Why’ may put you off speaking to your counsellor, for example. But the series was not trying to suggest all counsellors are a bit…. well…. shit. I believe it was simply to suggest that it’s not just teenagers/ young people who can handle these type of situations in the wrong manner. Like I said before, some of us just like to believe this type of behaviour simply does not exist. If you feel you can’t rely on anyone with your fears and wants to cause yourself harm or even thoughts or urges to commit suicide, contact your nearest helpline. A simple google search could change your life.
I’m sorry if you were reading this and expecting some type of review singing the teams praises on creating this series and it all be nice and cheerful. Or that I would come up with some deep message that would stop all bullies.
The whole point of this blog post was to show ’13 Reasons Why’ has the power to affect all types of people. Not just victims of bullying and assault, but also the bullies themselves. Maybe give them an insight on what their actions can really do to someone. As well as, people like me. Who have been lucky enough to not experience anything like this. Allow me to get deep here: I am aware that anything could happen. I could meet someone and they could change my life for the worse, but at least I now know what my true opinion is on these matters. Hopefully that has given me the strength to handle it in a safe manner and to also help those whom I think may need it. The world is already becoming MORE of a frightening place. We, as humans, need to come together and show support.
Remember: Want To Talk? Three words that could save someones life.
Be safe people. You are worth everything.
Much love xxxxxx
P.s. If you ever need some support or want to talk to someone please look up your local helpline and change the course of your life.
I’m Being Bullied: http://www.stompoutbullying.org/index.php/information-and-resources/
Am I suicidal? : http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Suicide/Pages/Introduction.aspx
US Text Helpline: http://www.crisistextline.org/
Worldwide List of Helpline: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines