Karen Severson writes for NoBullying about her experience with bullying before it became more common to discuss in the media and how she changed her life around.
Before bullying was talked about or expressed in the media I was convicted of 2nd Degree Murder for participating in the death of my childhood friend. The crime occurred on October 1, 1985 and I was arrested on July 27, 1988. I spent nearly 24 years in prison, finally paroling on December 9, 2011. This was a crime of bullying before bullying was a common word.
This was many years ago and all of us involved were friends at one time, but a thing called “jealousy and insecurity” became a driving force that fueled each one of our fires. I was one of three girls who collectively killed a fourth girl. You see, bullies don’t work alone, they are like pack animals and stick together when hunting for prey. Alone I was nice and cordial to people, but with another mean girl or two like me, we would gang up on someone we deemed weaker than us. It was all about intimidation. We made ourselves look and feel better when we hurt others.
I was called a “mean girl” by the media as they didn’t know what to make of it. This was rare as most crimes of this nature were committed by young adult men, not teenage girls. Bullying wasn’t a term used then but the “mean girls” label took root and blossomed. Unfortunately, there would be other “mean girls” to later follow suit and the term “bullying” began to rise.
In my book, “My life, I lived it” I tell of many contributing factors of how I became a mean girl. I don’t make excuses and tell “why” I was so mean, I simply open up my life candidly and share “how” someone like me could be involved in something so horrible. You see, I wasn’t born mean, no one is, and yet I became someone that terrified people when I walked by. I don’t blame anyone or anything in my past that “made me do it” I simply didn’t know how to cope with life’s problems. I didn’t know I had options and I didn’t know anyone would listen to me. I internalized everything that I didn’t have coping skills for so I turned to drugs and alcohol to numb my inner pain and then I became a bully who expressed my hurt externally on others.
In my book you will find I became an addict, an alcoholic, a cutter and tried various suicide attempts, all because I didn’t think anyone cared that I was hurting. The signs were there but no one knew what to look for. So I went to prison a young 20 years old, already a mother at 15, and began a life sentence. One afternoon, after I went to a parole hearing where I heard what a horrible person I was, I walked back onto the Main Yard and I had an understanding or an epiphany. I knew that something had to change and I realized it was ME.
So I went on a personal journey to change my life. I started searching myself to find out how I could be the person I had become. I literally turned from hating and hurting others to genuinely caring and helping as many people as I could. I discovered change is possible and it’s never too late.
That narrow road I chose to walk down has proven to be the path of a life-long journey and it’s one I will walk the rest of my life. My goal: To help others understand. There is no need to be a bully, it has to stop!
My motto: Get a K.L.U.W.E. (Knowledge, Learning, Understanding, Wisdom and Experience). I have a KLUWE, let me share it with you. This is Karen’s website.