Jennifer R. Hubbard
I was the victim of bullying and peer abuse several times during my childhood. The abuse
petered out around the time I started high school, but I carried the shame of it for many
years afterward. It wasn’t anything I ever wanted to talk about with people who didn’t
already know, because to my skewed way of thinking at the time, it was like admitting
there was something wrong with me.
The summer after tenth grade, I went to a sort of creative-arts camp for five weeks.
It was a place where I found total social acceptance--the first time I’d entered a new
environment of kids my age and not been bullied. I studied creative writing there, and
sometimes in class we read our work out loud to one another.
One day, a girl began reading her work, a nonfiction piece about having been bullied and
abused by kids at her school. I was writing in my journal as she wrote, and my thoughts
went something like this: “Oh my God I can’t believe she went through the EXACT
Even though I’d seen bullying happen to other people, I’d never really understood that
it was happening in other places. And that it was something you could talk about. And
write about. It was an electrifying moment, the moment I saw both bullying and writing
in a new light.
• It wasn’t my fault, and I wasn’t alone.
• We could delve into the truth of our own experience, and shape it creatively.
And still, for me, that is the value of writing about darker subjects: that moment of
recognition, the knowledge that we are not alone in our difficulties. I’ve lost touch with
H., the student who read her work that day, but we became friends that summer and I will
never forget what she taught me about courage and truth.
Bio: Jennifer R. Hubbard is the author of the young-adult novel, The Secret Year. She blogs at http://jenniferrhubbard.