Ask Athena: You Don’t Own Me

Taking your narrative back from past abusers is your right — and nobody else’s business. 

Q: Do I have to accept an apology from a guy who bullied me mercilessly through high school? That was more than twenty years ago, but I’m dealing with a lot of trauma and a permanent bump in my nose and an ankle that’s never felt quite the same after he stomped on it.

When I got his email I couldn’t tell him to fuck off fast enough. But now everyone’s trashing me on the alumni page. How is he suddenly the victim? What about my pain?  ~ Done With Drama

A: Wow. Just wow. This was far more than bullying. It was criminal assault. I am so sorry this happened.

No, you do not have to accept the apology. It is one thing to give an apology and be truly remorseful. It is a positive thing for him that he has reached a stage of personal growth 20 years later than he should have.

For his sake, I hope he is doing something to atone for his behavior, such as going to schools and giving his testimony to stop someone else’s future pain. That’s where your classmates’ energy should go.

It is an entirely different thing to force you to accept the apology. And they shouldn’t bully you into forgiving him. You get to decide those on your own terms and in your own time. You may want to consider therapy for yourself to deal with the trauma. The therapy would be for yourself so that you can live your best life.

You don’t have to structure your life around what people on an alumni page say. You attended school with them 20 years ago, so who cares what they think? You can’t change them and their comments on social media.

If you want to keep up with alums, you may want to come up with a response: My feelings are my own. I will not use this forum to discuss something personal to me. Likewise, your feelings are your own. I will respect that and not comment further on this matter.  Go Wildcats (or whatever). ~ A

Break Free from Bullying

Bullying is a serious problem that can affect anyone at any age. If you are facing bullying, or you know someone who is, here are some suggestions for dealing with it:

  • Don’t ignore it. Bullying won’t go away by itself. You need to take action to stop it and protect yourself.
  • Seek help. Don’t suffer in silence. Talk to someone you trust, such as a parent, a teacher, a counselor, or a friend. They can offer you emotional support and practical advice on how to deal with the situation.
  • Report the bullying. Report the bullying to administrators/authorities and keep a record of the bullying incidents, (dates, times, places, and witnesses.) This will help you make your case and get justice.

AGREE? DISAGREE? Please leave your remarks below in the Comments.

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Read last month’s Ask Athena here.

About Athena 44 Articles
When she’s not advising mortals, Athena spends her time on earth in NW Philly with her husband, two sons and a day job where she’s paid to tell important people what to do (naturally). Send your questions to

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