Some people might feel that using the word ‘torture’ about bullying is a bit of an exaggeration; but that is what it can feel like when you’re on the receiving end of it.
Mentally, your emotions are all over the place. You start to feel totally worthless and can even start to dislike yourself, thinking, “Well, I must be really ugly, stupid, etc, if all these people seem to think so”. Even though you know in your heart that you’re not, you can’t help feeling that maybe you are.
Your confidence levels are zero, and you want to fade into the background so that your tormentors won’t notice you and leave you alone. My nerves used to be so bad that I shook like a leaf as I approached school. I hated it when the teacher asked me a question or I had to read out loud, as I would hear a few of them (sometimes more than a few), sneering and making fun of me, even though I was a more fluent reader than many of them. Sometimes in that situation, I started to stammer, which I still do today if I’m angry and trying to get my point across.
Physically, I never felt well. I always seemed to have a stomach ache or headaches. I often left the house fasting, as I felt too sick to eat anything. I dreaded lunchtimes because I never seemed to be on the same table as the few friends I had in another class. I didn’t even like eating in front of my own class. I’ve only recently got over my phobia of eating in a cafe or restaurant or in front of people I don’t know. I also suffered bad headaches which I think were stress-related and I found it hard to sleep at night at the thought of the following day.
All these things contribute to a very real mental and physical torture, so I don’t think it’s the wrong word to use in this situation. At the time it felt like hell on earth.
Related: Anti-Bullying Week 2013