He pinched my chin and called me a monkey

I didn’t see him coming until I felt a push on my back and I landed on the ground grazing my right knee. He was way stronger than me so resistance was futile.

I turned around to see what I was dealing with and there was my tormentor. This was a guy I had come across a couple of times and who got his kicks out of calling me names, words that were designed to hurt. It wasn’t hard – all he had to say was something derogatory about my face and the tears would rise to the surface, although I stopped myself crying. I got used to being abused by him, but up to then he hadn’t come physically close to me. Now here he was, his face smiling with evil intent, and there was nothing I could do.

Then the insults started, every one prefaced by the F word. “You should be in a f… zoo”, “you’re a stupid f… monkey”, and so on. You get the drift.

I was 10 years old and wanted to be anywhere but on that ground, but it was a lonely spot, close to houses, but also an area unlikely to be frequented.

He put his knees on my arms and sat on my chest, and I felt real pain. And fear. This guy wasn’t going to leave me go until he was finished. He started slapping my face, not hard, but painful all the same. He gave me a few digs on the side, called me “ugly” and spat at my face.

His hand patted my chin as if seeing it for the first time, and then his face changed, his nose and eyes suddenly contorted in rage. He grabbed my chin, pinched it hard, and started insulting me again. I tried to shove him off, but it was useless. He seemed more enraged and then grabbed my chin roughly, so much so that I thought he was trying to pull it off. Still the expletives flowed. He was smiling now, enjoying himself.

Me? I just wanted my ordeal to end, for that guy to get off me and leave me alone. I started crying – maybe I had been for a while – pleading with him to leave me, but he wasn’t finished yet. My nose was bleeding and between that and the tears, my rage and my impotence I was beginning to forget about the physical pain. I was humiliated, scared. Most of all I hated my face.

Just when I was losing all hope he got up, gave me one hard look, kicked me in the side and left. I couldn’t believe my luck and as I slowly stood up and gathered my thoughts I knew there was only one response – I ran home, looking over my shoulder every now and then to see was I being followed.

I never met my attacker again, and have no idea where he went. But I can see his face now clearly as if he was standing in front of me. I knew that day my face was radically different – much more so than I already guessed – that the disfigurement could frighten others.

What I didn’t know was that ridicule, humiliation and loneliness lay ahead and that I wasn’t well equipped to deflect the negative attention I drew.

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12 thoughts on “He pinched my chin and called me a monkey

  1. A tough one to share Tom. I am sure your experiences help many to deal with their experience of being bullied even if not so painful as yours. Keep it up. Chris

  2. What a tough story to write. It’s extraordinary- the complete departure from rational behaviour. It was like this guy felt that your face was his business, and as if your very existence was offensive to him.

    When you tell people about behaviour like this, most will either brush it off or try to rationalise it. Well done for sharing it. Maybe some day we’ll understand what the hell is going on in people’s heads.

    1. Thanks Paul. Hard to know what goes on in people’s minds sometimes, or why they feel they have to respond in a violent fashion. At least I’m around to tell the tale!

  3. That was hard to read. God knows what it must have been like to write it. I hope you are finding your writing helpful. I am, in many ways. Take care Tom!

  4. Really glad to have heard you on the last word podcast, and went to your blog as soon as I could. Look forward to getting more time to read it. The bravery and courage you have brought to my afternoon, is inspiring. I hope the image of the above attacker’s face, character and actions will pale swiftly against the overwhelmingly positive sentiments experienced by so many who heard you today. Best wishes, Colin.

  5. I am really enjoying your blog, Tom. I remember you in those early days. Back then I lived on Sharman Crawford Street, so I would pass along Frenche’s Quay, my way to and from school (Sullivan’s Quay). I was quite young when I asked my mother what had happened to you. She told me that you had been burnt in an accident. After that my couriosity was satisfied and I no longer noticed the scaring. We started saying, “hello” to each other after that, we didn’t say, ‘Hi!’ In those days. We never did have a conversation but it was more than I had with most other kids. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Tom.

    1. Well Philip, great to see we had a connection! I love writing the blog, although opening up about painful past experiences is difficult at times. Still, we move on.

  6. Hi Tom, you don’t know me but I discovered your blog last night & have been reading through older ones. I just read the one about the bully who assaulted you when you were only 10. I felt I had to respond.

    What I wanted to say was, God help you. God help that 10 yr old boy, who had to endure that, running home to your mother. The trauma, the anguish, the pain & suffering. God Almighty above, teenagers have enough ‘issues’ about identity & ‘fitting in’, without that heaped on.

    The way you describe what happened, is very clear & detailed, as if it happened yesterday. I suspect that episode changed your life.

    What loneliness you must have felt & what suffering you much have experienced. I was very lonely all through primary school & the feelings still stay with me.

    God bless you & God help you every day of your life.

    Even I, who don’t know you, ask the question, why? Why was it you, apart from all others, who who was ‘predestined’, so to speak, to suffer this? Why did it happen to you? It is not fair or right or just.

    1. Clare, thanks for reading the blogs and for your comment and support. The ‘why me?’ question was one that followed me around for many years. I used to feel so much pity for myself, felt so sorry that it was I who had been burned, who had to endure the stares, comments and bullying. It took me too many years to see past all that and realise the hurt was preventing me growing as a person. How else can you get on with your life?

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