Cicela Hernandez felt the stab of every cruel word.
Harsh comments about the way she dressed or the hair on her legs, which was longer than many of the boys’ in her class.
There were girls who, with intention, made her feel like she wasn’t good enough, pretty enough. Like her family didn’t have enough money to fit in.
She felt ashamed. Humiliated.
So Hernandez turned the tables. She became the bully.
She picked out classmates who were smaller than her, going into the girls restroom and pushing them around. She believed that others couldn’t — wouldn’t — hurt her anymore if they were afraid of her.
But, at home, Hernandez was a victim of sexual abuse in the house she and her mom shared with another family. She was the one who felt scared.
She needed an ally, a friend. Someone to speak up for her when she did not feel safe enough to do it for herself.
And, in truth, she wasn’t alone. more