I am happy to share author, Suzanne Kovitz’s debut novel information, as I think it is a very interesting take on the way people look at bullying. Suzanne take a very unique look at the story of bullying in her debut novel “Enemy Self”. The novel is a cross-genre young adult psychological thriller/sci-fi/fantasy. The high school bully switches bodies with her victim. The story is in the victim’s perspective, experiencing life as the bully, desperate to find a way to reverse the switch. The victim experiences flashbacks and drug trips as her mind slowly transforms into her enemy’s mind. Sensitive issues such as incest, rape and child abuse are woven into the plot. Enemy Self is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Greetings & Readings, both as paperback and e-book.
Raise your children to accept differences in other people. COMPASSION.
Suzanne, herself, was an outcast throughout grade school, a victim of bullying. She graduated reluctantly on stage. There was little mention of her in the yearbook as Suzanne was unpopular. Sadly, Suzanne’s social isolation started in 4th grade and ended in 12th grade. Those days she stood at 5’1”and only about 80 to 90 lbs.—very tiny and skinny boned with lots of chronic health concerns. Her parents raised her with traditional values including act like a lady and respect others. They advised that she ignore the bullies and be a role model for them which made matters worse. Suzanne wasn’t witty with comeback lines and too tiny to take on a fight. The emotional pain, scars and loneliness which she endured during those years were permanent. Suzanne was branded for nine years of grade school.
Being the non-conformist that she was, Suzanne was different and different was unacceptable and not tolerated in grade school mentality. Suzanne was a team player, not a competitor. She came to school to learn, not to fight to “fit-in”. Though she seldom lay her pen to rest since she learned to write, Suzanne could never bring herself to write about her high school woes. The most challenging aspect of being an outcast was not having friends. Because Suzanne was no one. The outcome was low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, and hopelessness.
Suzanne endured emotional abuse daily. She was considered “dumb” by her classmates. Kids would whisper and cackle about her behind my back. Among the many insults, stupid, bulimic, anorexic and toothpick were a few she remembers. Suzanne was afraid to raise her hand in class, that someone might snicker at her or challenge her. Suzanne was literally alienated her entire class: not to be spoken to or sat next to. For years Suzanne had to face the feeling of emptiness throughout the day. She sat by herself, alone in a cafeteria full of students in groups, sharing, inviting, laughing and celebrating without her, year after year.
Locker doors were shut in her face, her notebook was popped because she refused to wear blue jeans, the back of her chair in class would be kicked or pushed or a “kick me” sign would be posted on her butt without her knowledge. Suzanne was once cornered by a building and a tree, kicked by several girls at summer day camp. Needless to say, she never went to sleep-over camp. She would dread getting up in the morning to face her nasty neighbors at the bus stop.
Spit-balls were scraps of paper placed in someone’s mouth then crumbled and placed into a straw to be spat at Suzanne. Furthermore, the teacher asked her to clean the mess of wet paper balls piled beside her desk. For reporting the incident to the teacher, Suzanne was shoved and threatened into the girl’s restroom after school hours. Fortunately a social studies teacher, who Suzanne wasn’t favorable to, overheard and spotted the scuffle as she was passing by and stopped the bully in progress.
Isolation came at a cost, however. To this day Suzanne has trouble standing up to others and afraid to take risks. It took years to build her self-esteem which most young adults acquire by their early twenties. Suzanne has never experimented with illegal (street) drugs or alcohol as most baby boomers have in her generation. On the other hand, she never experienced a sweet sixteen party, tail-gate party or any other social outings, except for her prom which my mother insisted on.
“Kids will be kids” they used to say. Our society thinks it’s acceptable for kids to be cruel to other kids because that’s what kids do. Kids are not emotionally mature enough to understand differences. It would be a pipe dream to eradicate bullying behavior altogether, unfortunately due to human nature.
Suzanne’s message is simple. Raise your children to accept differences in other people, teach them compassion. Children need to learn to respect and embrace differences. They need to develop team building skills from preschool years and on because they don’t understand that what they say or do may hurt another and how that feels. After all, our differences are what makes us unique. There is not one of us that is better than the other. We each have strengths and weakness, possess gifts and curses in life.
Any form of humiliation should not be acceptable behavior among children and should not be tolerated. When the damage is done and these “bullies” become adults, many of them genuinely don’t remember the pain they inflicted upon their victim. Most don’t even remember that they bullied the underdog in grade school to fit in or don’t know why they did, whereby permanently traumatizing their victims, who DO remember precisely what happened thirty years later. Unfortunately, some of those childhood bullies grew into adults who continue to berate and taunt the “underdog”, perhaps in relationships or throughout their career.
BIO: Suzanne Kovitz is a member of the Baltimore Jewish Writer’s Guild. She had articles published in local newspapers including the Baltimore Jewish Times, Baltimore Examiner, Owings Mills Times and Community Times. One article was regarding school violence. Her two favorite non-fiction readings include the New York Times Bestseller, “A Child Called IT” by David Peltzer, and “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch.